Buying vs Adopting a Dog


So you’re looking to get a pet; specifically a dog. Whether this is your first or third time, it’s important to consider what goes into the process. From finding the right breed, to the right food, to the right healthcare plan, carefully choosing everything you’ll need for your new companion is crucial. But what about where you’ll get them from? In making that decision, you have two basic options: buy from a breeder or pet store, or adopt from an animal rescue or shelter.

A survey done by, published in an article titled Adopting Vs. Shopping For Dogs(author was specified as Petlife with no others credited), asked 997 dog owners how they acquired their most recent dog. 373 owners purchased from a breeder or store, while 389 adopted from a shelter or rescue. According to the survey, the main reasons people purchased from a store or breeder rather than adopt was because they were looking for a specific breed, would’ve liked a puppy over an older dog, or wanted to ensure their pet was healthy. On the other hand, most who went to a rescue or shelter did so because they wanted to give a home to a dog in need, didn’t want to support unethical breeding practices, or wanted to free space in a shelter/rescue.

Your next thought is probably, “What’s the difference, and which should I choose?” Well, there are a few ways you can answer this question: by looking at cost differences, health issues, and morality reasons.

Costs ($$$)

Knowing how much money goes into a pet is the first step you should take. Besides food, shelter, and other additional costs, the place a dog comes from will determine what you spend. And whether you’re having financial problems or not, logic suggests you’ll want the cheaper option when finding your pet. In that case, adoption is actually less expensive than buying. According to How Much Cheaper Is Adopting a Dog vs Buying One? by Sierra Hansen on, the initial cost of a new puppy from a breeder is up to $6,300, while the initial cost of adopting a dog from a shelter only goes up to $1,869. Although puppies are typically more costly than older dogs, especially if you’re signing them up for a special puppy school, most of the price difference comes from the medical costs that rescues and shelters cover-which can cost up to $1,000 your first year and $500 after. 

Health Issues

Making sure the pet you buy or adopt is in good health is crucial. To quote Petlife, “Concerns over health outcomes weighed into respondents’ decisions as well: Almost 34 percent purchased a dog from a store or breeder because they wanted to be sure it was healthy.” This may not have been the best reason to select buying, however. “Of the 997 dog owners surveyed,” Petlife says, “57 percent of those who acquired their pet through a store said their animal came with issues or ailments. Compare that to those who took in a dog from a family member or friend or those who worked with an AKC-backed breeder: Over 34 percent of respondents in the former category said their dog came with issues, while the number was more than 27 percent for the latter.” On the other hand, health issues immediately after adoption from rescues/shelters did not commonly appear.

A Moral Decision

The most prominent reason people adopt is for a moral reason-to save a rescue or shelter animal’s life. According to ASPCA’s Pet Statistics, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide each year. Of these, approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized. Many of these are perfectly healthy, happy animals that simply stayed in shelters too long and were forced to be put down due to overcrowding. There’s a common misconception that all rescue and shelter animals are there because they’ve caused trouble. In reality, most animals are put into shelters for reasons out of their control. Most of the time, their owners were unable to or no longer wished to care for their pets for personal reasons.

From cost differences, to health differences, to morality, all this data suggests adoption is the best choice when searching for your four-legged friend. In the end, though, wherever you go is your decision. But before you commit, there’s one more thing you should ask yourself: “Am I ready to take on the responsibility of loving and caring for this animal for anywhere from 10-20 years, and can I put in the time and money essential to do so?” If you feel unsure answering, you may want to reconsider if a pet is right for you. But if you’re still sure of your decision, pick the breed that fits your lifestyle best, and make sure the place your pet comes from is safe and reliable.

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