Rescue vs Breeder: Deciding What’s Right For You


Last Updated: February 23, 2022 | 3 min read | Leave a Comment

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Three Jack Russell Terrier Puppies Closeup. Super Cute Baby Dogs In Cozy Human Hands (Caption: Rescue Dog vs Breeder)When you’re thinking about getting a dog, you have so many things to consider. One of the main decisions you’ll need to make is where you’ll get your new pup: adopting from a rescue/shelter or buying from a breeder. Both options could help you find the ideal furry friend, but how do you know which choice is right for you? We’ve got a lot of information to help you decide which path to take to bring home the pup of your dreams.

Article Overview

Shelter vs Rescue Dogs: Is There A Difference?

2 dogs in cage at shelterDogs at both rescues and shelters may have been abandoned or surrendered by their owners, found as strays, or rescued from a harmful or neglectful situation. Typically, the goal is to find the pup a new, safe, and loving home.

So what are the main differences between a rescue and a shelter? Shelters are typically operated and funded by local governments, while rescues are funded by donations and run by volunteers. And shelters usually have a facility where they house all of their animals, whereas many rescue animals are fostered at a volunteer’s home.

Adopting From A Rescue Or Shelter: Pros & Cons

Cartoon of veterinarian petting dog next to piggy bank (Caption: Start Saving Money On Vet Bills, Compare Pet Insurance Rates In Minutes; Button Text: Get My Quotes)Here are some pros and cons to consider when it comes to adoption.


  • You can save a life
  • More affordable
  • Many rescues are house-trained
  • Most dogs have been evaluated for behavior and compatibility with other pets and children
  • Mixed breed options may reduce the risk of health concerns found in purebreds
  • Supports organizations whose focus is animal welfare
  • Already vaccinated and spayed or neutered


  • May not find a puppy
  • May not get the breed you want
  • Adoption process can require a lot of personal information
  • May be turned down if you don’t meet the requirements
  • May require retraining of undesirable behaviors
  • Unknown history of the pup

What Is A Breeder?

Dog mom cleaning puppyA breeder is someone that breeds purebred or designer dogs. This definition can range from a person who breeds their family dog on occasion to a person who makes a living breeding multiple dogs and or breeds simultaneously. If this is the route you decide to go, be sure to find a reputable breeder to ensure the puppy you get is as healthy as possible and has been in a humane environment.

Puppy Mill vs Breeder

Puppy mills and breeders are very different, but sometimes these terms get confused. Unlike a breeder, a puppy mill is a large commercial operation set up to put financial gain above anything else. In these places, conditions and how they treat the dogs and puppies are inhumane, and breeding is intense.

Buying From A Breeder: Pros & Cons

Here are some pros and cons to consider when it comes to getting a dog from a breeder.


  • You know exactly what you’re getting
  • You can train from the beginning
  • Breeder may support you with extensive breed knowledge
  • Comprehensive genetic history
  • You can show purebred dogs in competition


  • More expensive
  • Breed-related health problems are possible
  • Breeder may not be reputable
  • Added expense of vaccinations and spaying or neutering

Adoption vs Breeder Statistics

Another thing to consider when getting a new pup is statistics. Knowing more about adoption and breeders could help you make your decision.

Adoption Statistics

These U.S. adoption statistics are from 2021.1

  • Animal shelters nationwide take in up to 6.3 million cats and dogs every year
  • There are 3,500 different facilities
  • Up to 58.7% of shelter animals get adopted
  • Up to 10.8% of shelter animals are picked up by their own
  • Activists claim that up to 40% of shelter animals are euthanized
  • 16.7% or more of euthanized animals are less than five months old
  • 29% of shelter animals are left by their owner (10.3% increase from 2020)

Breeder Statistics

These U.S. breeder statistics are from 2021.2

  • There are around 10,000+ legal and illegal puppy mills in the U.S.
  • 70% of puppy mills are illegal
  • Two million puppies are sold each year
  • Three million puppies are born in illegal puppy mills
  • More than one million puppies are born in legal breeding situations
  • 500,000 dogs are kept for breeding

Rescue Dogs vs Purebred

If you’re thinking about buying a dog from a breeder vs shelter dog or rescue adoption, don’t forget that you may be able to adopt the breed you’re looking for instead of buying it. There are many rescue organizations that work with specific breeds, so don’t forget to consider that option.

There’s also a vast price difference between rescues and purebred pups. A rescue is around $100 in adoption fees and may come already microchipped, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated. The breeder fees can be as much as $1,500 plus the cost of spay/neutering, microchipping, and vaccines.

Another reason to consider a shelter vs breeder for adoption is the adopt don’t shop campaign. Aside from saving a pup’s life, there are many more reasons to consider rescuing your next furry friend.

A Rescue Story

This two-minute video from CBS Evening News tells the story of Sadie, a rescue pup, and how she saved the life of the man who rescued her.

Prepare To Bond With Your New Dog

Whether you decide to rescue a pup or buy one from a reputable breeder, you’ll want to form a lifelong bond with your new furry friend. It’s essential to consider how to bond with your rescue dog or a new puppy so that you can start building a solid relationship between the two of you. Paying attention to forming this solid framework from day one will set you up for a special connection that you can share for years to come.

Sources: [1] Spots, [2] Breeding Business

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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