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Where to Get a Dog


Rescue vs. Breeder


Both Rescues and Breeders can be good places to get a dog from. Some people prefer one or the other. Each have their own pros and cons. Lets look at some of the main pros and cons.


Rescue

Pros:

  • You are giving a dog a home that may otherwise not have a home.
  • Mix - You often get mixed breeds at rescues although there are a lot of pure breeds you can also get.
  • More hearty - This could be argued but we often find dogs that have a mix in them tend to be a bit more healthy. They are often not as picky on food in what causes them health problems.
  • Can get some really nice temperament rescues.
  • Older - May not need any potty training and may already know some commands.

Cons:

  • Not sure what you are getting - You may not know the parents of the dogs so you don’t know the natural traits and characteristics this dog may have.
  • Socialization - Getting an older dog, you may not know what previous experiences they have had. You may one day find they are terrified of something or aggressive to another.
  • High Prey Drive - This dog may have been on their own for a while. “Fast food” (such as rabbits) could have been part of their diet.
  • Aggression - This dog may have spent time in the “School of Hard Knocks” where they learned what it was like to be the bottom dog in the pack. Many people think rescues have had a bad life and want to spoil them to show them how good they have it now. We have seen quite a few rescues come to people’s homes and be extremely good to start. Then after being spoiled they can quickly think it is their job to protect the pack. They can then start becoming very aggressive to other dogs or people. When getting a rescue, even if they have had a bad life it is very important to provide very clear rules and leadership. These dogs like to know that they have a capable leader that will keep them safe.
  • (Touchy subject - This is something nobody wants to address or talk about. Many have not considered it. It needs to be discussed so here it is) -Inadvertently promoting mistreatment of dogs - People have good nature in their hearts but from an economics point of view they can be supporting mistreatment of dogs without knowing it. The people may say they rescued this dog from a Puppy Mill or a family that mistreated the dog or a breeder that had poor living conditions. By rescuing a dog from there, in an economics point of view, they are inadvertently supporting “product” from those people allowing them to sell more dogs that could be mistreated.

    If you want to stop a company from selling a poor quality product you just stop everyone from purchasing their product and the company will go out of business. If there were no way to move the “product” of mistreated dogs then people would stop doing it.

    This is a highly controversial topic. We have met some rescue group founders and they have the biggest hearts you will ever see. Their heart is in the right spot. They may have sacrificed everything in their lives to help dogs that need a home or are mistreated. They may think (not all) that everyone should just rescue a dog instead of getting a dog from a breeder. If that were the case then that would mean Ethical Breeders that treated dogs with care and ensured they went to a good home would no longer be able to do what they do (it is expensive to do it properly). This would then mean the only people being supported would be those that mistreat dogs or breed too many dogs.

    Rescuing dogs is great but from our point of view we think it would be better if dogs never had to be rescued in the first place. What if there was no mistreatment of dogs or puppy mills? How could this be made possible? We have thought about this lots and the only way we can envision this is for Rescue Groups to help promote ethical breeders and educate the public on how to choose an ethical breeder. Rescue Groups would essentially be promoting the competition of their nemesis (puppy mills and mistreatment of dogs). From an economics point of view that would essentially collapse the profit for puppy mills.

    The problem is that many of the Rescue Group founders we have met think that all breeders are bad and everyone should rescue a dog instead. If somehow they could see the difference between good and bad breeders we think it would really help their cause in promoting fair treatment of dogs.

    This of course is all easy to say but much more difficult to put into effect. We love dogs, We have made them our life. We don’t ask ourselves the question of how we can
    help mistreated dogs. We ask ourselves the question of how can we stop the mistreatment of dogs.


Breeders

Pros:

  • Specific Traits - You can get a dog with the exact traits and characteristics you are looking for. You can get a hyper or laid back dog. You can get a dog with high drive or a couch potato.
  • Specific Temperament - You can match the perfect temperament to what you are looking for in a dog. If you want to spoil your dog then you need a very easy going temperament, a dog that will see you as the leader no matter what.

Cons:

  • Could be supporting mistreatment of dogs. If the breeder doesn’t want you to come see where the dogs live or they want to meet you in a parking lot then there is a good chance the dogs are not looked after well. A good breeder will be proud of where their dogs are kept and will insist people come out to see their dogs.
  • Lacking Knowledge - A lot of people assume that since a breeder breeds dogs, they may know a lot about their dogs, their traits and what they are suited to. It is better to educate yourself on the subject and ask the breeder a lot of good questions. A good breeder will be able to answer 98 - 100% of the questions you ask.
  • Gotta pay the bills - Every puppy gets sold no matter what their traits and characteristics are. Not too many decades ago breeders bred for specific traits. These were dogs bred for a certain job. When you got a dog from this breeder you could be certain you were getting the traits you wanted. This breeder didn’t want their name tarnished by selling dogs that couldn’t do their job. Nowadays people rarely buy a dog for a specific job so breeders often don’t worry if they will do the job they were bred for. This is why we meet a lot of Retrievers that don’t retrieve. Their are guardian breeds that don’t guard and terriers that could care less if a mouse went running through the house. Dogs that often get the highest price are those whose parents win dog show competitions.

    It is very interesting that dogs were originally bred for specific jobs and during the process of being bred for specific traits they got to look a certain way. Sometimes these looks had purpose such as a short haired hunting dog. Long hair on certain hunting dogs could mean they pick up all kinds of burs and twigs going through the bush. Some were bred to have longer hair to help protect them in the bush. Guardian dogs were bred to guard and some were bred to have long thick hair so they could protect livestock in the winter. Other guardian dogs were bred to have short hair for hotter climates so they could do their job and not be hiding in the shade. All of these dogs began to look a certain way and have certain characteristics. Now with dog shows they often judge a dog specifically on the way they look. So breeders breed for looks and some of the desirable traits those dogs had could be bred out in the process so they could maintain the look of the dog (not always). Sometimes dog show judges decide certain looks win more than others. German Shepherds are a good example. The sloped back German Shepherds often win the most. However these dogs often have bad hips so Law Enforcement Agencies often get their German Shepherds from Europe or they have their own breeding program to breed for straight back German Shepherds so the dogs have more longevity in the field.

    So it seems for many the emphasis has shifted to looks and not traits. There are still breeders out their that breed for traits but a lot more seem to breed for looks. We just envision how this would have went years ago when a farmer was getting a dog or dogs for a specific job:

    Farmer: “I don’t care how pretty you think your dog looks. Will it protect my sheep or won’t it? Will that other dog retrieve or won’t it? Will that dog kill vermin or won’t it? I don’t care if your dog looks like a one eyed monkey, if it does its job it can stay. If it won’t, I’m not feeding a mouth that won’t do its job!”

    So now when you go to pick a dog from a breeder, the parents may both have the traits you want but the pup you get doesn’t. The bills gotta be paid so every pup gets sold. If you want a pup with certain traits it is best if you temperament test the pups yourself or have the breeder show you the tests that were done. Keep in mind a lot of breeders don’t temperament test anymore. This is why we sometimes get clients that say “This is the first dog I have had to bring in for training. I have had this breed all my life and they were all great but this dog is crazy, it won’t listen!” One of two things usually happens for this to occur. Number 1 - the breeder doesn’t breed for personality traits. Number 2 - The people filled out the form to get a dog and said they have had this breed of dog for 20 years. The breeder may then think these people are quite experienced and knowledgeable so the breeder gives them the most difficult dog out of the litter. If you are getting a specific breed it is good to make sure you get the traits you are looking for.

  • Health Problems - We asked a veterinarian once if there were any pure breds that didn’t have health problems and she said no. Every breed seems to have their own specific health issues. A good breeder knows what the common problems are so they breed healthy dogs to other healthy dogs. A lot of money can go into x-rays and certifying joints and eyes. A good breeder will be able to show you the test results.

  • Too good at their job - This sounds crazy we know but many people have not seen a dog at work. There are some people that think dogs shouldn’t work at all. We have been talking about some dogs being bred for looks and not having their desired traits, well some dogs still very much have their intended traits. We get an amazing amount of phone calls from people who essentially want to train their dog to not do what they were bred to do. Here are some examples:
  • Guardian Dogs - My Rottweiler is too protective. I just want him to know he can be friendly with everyone.
  • Terrier - My Jack Russell wants to kill my hampster and goes after the squirrels in the yard.
  • Herding Dog - My Border Collie wants to chase bikers and joggers and nip at their heels.

    The number one job in North America for a dog is “The Family Dog”. We think it would be wise for breeders to focus on that. Breed a dog that naturally wants to walk nice on leash, comes when called, likes to fetch, likes to swim, listens naturally, has no aggression to people or animals, one you can spoil, bounces back from being attacked by another dog off-leash without developing aggression. That is a dog that people really want. People have all different tastes in the look of dogs. Therefore this breed could essentially have no standard in looks. It would just be bred for temperament and health.

    If everyone had a dog like that, there would be hardly any bad behaviours so people would be more likely to keep the dog. Everyone might want a dog like that and it takes a lot of effort to breed for those traits and health, so that would put puppy mills out of business. The rescue groups would be happy because there wouldn’t be any more mistreatment of dogs, every dog would have a good home. We would be out of business as dog trainers because they would just all be so good they didn’t need training. Far fetched but maybe a move in the right direction.


Summary

The most important thing is to ensure the dog you get matches your lifestyle naturally. If they don’t they can cause family tension, stress and a lot of time and money. If you are looking for a challenging dog then good. Getting a dog can be a lifestyle change, some a lot more of a change than others.

You can find super nice dogs from either rescues or breeders. Both sides have pros and cons. Do your research and choose what you feel is best.