The decision of where and how to go about getting a pet dog is a sensitive one that brings up a lot of strong feelings in people. For the most part, people are getting a dog in one of two ways: Either through adoption from a shelter, or from a breeder. Of course, it’s also possible to get a dog from a friend, or even just find one off the street and take it in. But for the most part that is a lot less likely.

So when it comes to shelters versus breeders, what is the best way to go? Well, there isn’t anything inherently wrong about either decision and, as usual, it comes down to your specific needs and situation, especially if you're planning on making the new dog a service animal.

Animal Shelters

Fair or not, this usually seen as the most socially conscious way to adopt a dog. Of course, there are good reasons for this. Many shelters go to great lengths to care for dogs in need – of which there are more than enough. A good shelter usually takes care of a lot of the initial work for you as well. Dogs often come with some of their health care already taken care of, whether that be vaccinations or other issues. This, along with the fact that getting a dog from a shelter in the first place is very cheap, means that the whole process won’t cost you much at all. Then, there’s also the added benefit of knowing that you played a role in helping a dog in need.

When to adopt or when to breed

While it’s certainly possible to find pure bred dogs in a shelter, more often than not you won’t have unlimited options of breeds. You may have more luck finding a Chihuahua or Pit Bull than you would an Afghan hound. Don’t rule out a shelter if you’re set on a particular breed, but do be prepared to have to make concessions in this area.

Buying from a Breeder

Breeders sometimes have a bad reputation, mostly because of people’s association with puppy mills. However, in reality, there are kind, reputable, and caring breeders all over America who love their animals and love what they do. If you’re looking for a pure-bred dog, and you’re willing to pay the considerable amount of money more for one, there is nothing at all wrong with finding a breeder.

We recommend that you do some research into different breeders and make sure you’re comfortable with your final decision. Depending on the level of service provided and the age of the puppy you get, some dogs that come from breeders may already have a level of training. This is a nice way to start out with your new friend if you can afford that extra service. A good breeder will also provide you with documentation of the dog’s status, and if they’re nearby, should be happy to let you come visit their operation in person.

Just like there is not any one breed that suits every particular lifestyle, there isn’t one way to go about getting a dog. Whichever direction you choose to go in, the most important thing is to do your research and weigh the pros and cons. This will ensure that you and your new friend get off on the right foot on the first day.