The decision between adopting a dog from a shelter or buying one from a reputable breeder often entails a blend of personal preferences, circumstances, and ethical considerations. The tale of canine companionship begins with this crucial choice which not only impacts the lives of the humans involved but the dogs as well. 

Whether you’re adopting or buying a dog, learning about the pros and cons of both approaches can help you make an informed decision about where to get your next furry companion. Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important to practise responsible pet ownership for the welfare of your dog. 

Pros of Adoption

Saving Lives

Adopting a dog from a shelter can be a life-saving endeavour. Many shelters are overcrowded, and by adopting, individuals provide a dog with a second chance at a loving home.


Adoption fees are generally lower than the prices demanded by breeders. Moreover, many adopted dogs are already spayed or neutered, and vaccinated which further lowers the initial cost.

Unique Personalities

Shelters house a mix of breeds, and often, adopters end up with a lovable dog with a unique personality that becomes a perfect match for the family.

Cons of Adoption

Unknown Health Issues

Some shelter dogs may have underlying health issues or behavioural problems that may require additional time, patience, and resources. This often requires much more effort on the part of the person adopting. 

Limited Choice

The choice of breed, age, or size is out of an adopter’s control, and looking for specific traits may be futile or near-impossible. 

Pros of Buying


Buying from a reputable breeder allows for some degree of predictability in terms of size, breed traits, and health. 

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Health Guarantees

Reputable breeders often offer health guarantees and are a source of ongoing support and advice. Forming a strong relationship with the breeder means that dog buyers are almost never alone when it comes to dealing with the challenges that come with owning a dog for the first time. 

Cons of Buying

Potentially High Cost

Purchasing a dog from a breeder can be expensive. The cost includes not just the price of the dog, but also vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and other initial veterinary expenses. The cost of travelling to the breeder to pick up the dog or the cost of having the dog transported can also be a major concern. 

Puppy Mills

Unfortunately, not all breeders are reputable. Puppy mills, where dogs are bred in inhumane conditions, continue to be a significant problem.

The Grim Reality of Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding facilities known for their deplorable conditions and unethical practices. These establishments prioritise profit over the well-being of the animals, often leading to severe physical and emotional distress for the dogs. 

In puppy mills, mother dogs spend their entire lives in cramped cages with minimal to no personal attention. Once their breeding days are over, they are typically abandoned or euthanized. 

Due to poor sanitation, overbreeding, and a lack of preventive veterinary care, puppies bred in these mills often suffer from a variety of health issues, creating heartbreaking challenges for families who purchase them unknowingly​​. Conditions in puppy mills can range from squalid to superficially clean, but the breeding dogs are often housed in cages for their entire reproductive lives with minimal to no positive human interaction​​. 

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Puppy mills may house anywhere between 50 to over 1,000 dogs, with animals living in wire cages stacked on top of each other. The lack of proper sanitation means that urine and faeces fall through the cage floors onto the animals below, and the dogs are given little water, food, and no veterinary care, with no adequate temperature control in the facilities​​.

The Importance of Responsible Breeding

Contrary to the grim reality of puppy mills, responsible breeding embodies a set of ethical practices aimed at ensuring the health and well-being of both the puppies and their parents. Responsible breeders should always emphasise the health, welfare, and proper socialisation of the dogs​​. 

Good breeders are deeply concerned about the welfare of all dogs, often having pets desexed prior to sale (when appropriate) or securing a commitment from the owner to spay or neuter, and following up to ensure that the surgery is done​​.

Moreover, responsible breeders utilise DNA or genetic tests to determine if a dog is a carrier for a particular disease or disorder, allowing them to make informed breeding decisions to prevent the propagation of hereditary diseases​​. They engage in responsible practices such as evaluating the breeding candidacy of dogs, planning, and ensuring the mental health of their animals so that buyers get well-behaved and sociable dogs from the start.


The journey between adopting or buying a dog is laden with moral and personal considerations. Whether one wants to buy a New South Wales puppy with specific traits, or adopt a furry friend giving it a second chance, the essence of responsible pet ownership lies in providing a loving, caring, and nurturing environment for a canine companion to thrive. By making themselves aware of the pros and cons and by making responsible choices, prospective dog owners can make informed decisions that help them practise responsible pet ownership.

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