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What’s the difference between adopting and buying a dog?

By Mawoo Pets · 9 Feb · 7 min read
What’s the difference between adopting and buying a dog?

The difference between adopting and buying a dog is not exactly black and white. There are all kinds of ways to adopt a pet, and almost as many kinds of pet breeders. The most common difference between buying and adopting a dog is that dogs for sale are pure breeds, while rescued dogs are more often of mixed breeding.


Dogs and other animals available for adoption through a shelter, rescue or via an individual may be pure breeds too, from time to time. Adoptable dogs often were found as puppies or adults on the streets without a home or family to look after them. Rescuers who find dogs, cats and other pets this way usually spend their own money on vet appointments, medicine, vaccinations, spay and neuter surgeries and other expenses. 


When a rescued dog is fit and socialised, it is put up for adoption to a good home. Any payment required (or suggested) during an adoption goes towards covering the costs of healthcare. The cost is usually between $50-250.


In contrast, buying a dog from a breeder is normally a contractual transaction. The cost of breed-certified dogs depends on the breed and is usually in the hundreds or thousands. The breeder has purposefully bred two dogs to create a litter of puppies to sell. The dog parents and the puppies are certified by a kennel club as pure breeds. They should be vaccinated, healthy and vetted with a certificate of health from a veterinarian. 


There are lots of differences between adopting a dog versus buying from a breeder. Let's break down the pros and cons so you can decide which option is best for you.


The Pros of Buying a Dog from a Reputable Breeder

There are several good reasons to buy a dog from a well-respected breeder.

You can get exactly what you want

You’ll be able to pick the exact dog you want, from the fur pattern down to the eye color. You’ll know what size the dog is likely to become, as well as the personalities of its genetic family members. Do you want a red Pomeranian just like the one you grew up with? A breeder will have puppies just like it. 

You’ll know your puppy’s history and genetics

Breeding makes for puppies with a long, documented genetic history. If you buy from a breeder, you’ll be able to read about your dog’s mother and father, and probably a dozen more relatives at least. With this information, you and your veterinarian can be ahead of the game when it comes to the most likely health problems facing your dog.  

You can meet the puppy’s parents and littermates

Before making a decision about buying a puppy, you can actually arrange a visit to meet him and his parents! A good breeder will welcome you to the kennels and introduce you to any puppies you’re interested in bringing home, as well as their littermates and mothers. Puppies’ fathers do not always live in the same place as their offspring, but a visit can still be arranged. 

You’ll have a knowledgeable support system

There’s a lot to know about raising a puppy that you might not know quite yet—even if you’ve done it before! The good news is, if you bought your puppy from a breeder, you’ll be able to reach out to them with any questions. What sort of training program worked best for your dog’s parents? What kind of games might he instinctively enjoy? Just ask!

Your puppy will be well socialized, healthy, clean, and have basic housetraining skills

Socialization begins at birth for dogs born at a breeding kennel. Puppies are handled by gentle people every day, so they learn to trust and respect humans. Care is taken to teach them basic skills and housetraining, and puppies are kept clean and healthy with regular grooming and vet trips.

The Cons of Buying a Dog from a Reputable Breeder

It’s easy to get excited about choosing a specific puppy and buying it from a breeder, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind first. 

Upfront costs may be higher

Buying a dog is not a cheap transaction. A healthy, happy, trainable purebred puppy is a serious responsibility, and he comes with a matching price. 

Your new puppy may have to travel to its new home

Breeders can’t be found in every single town, and you’re just as likely to find the puppy of your dreams on the other side of the country as in the nearest county. Depending on where you find your puppy, you might have to arrange to pick him up or have him delivered to you. 

The Pros of Adopting a Dog

There are just as many great reasons to adopt a dog—as an adult or a puppy—as there are to buy a purebred.

You’ll change the life of a homeless animal

Adoption is a blessing for dogs who otherwise would be homeless and helpless. Without adoption, rescuers and shelters would struggle to keep saving street dogs since their available space would fill up. Also, dogs would have to live in a shelter their entire lives instead of knowing the joy of a family home.

Upfront costs may be lower

It’s no secret that you can adopt a dog for a lot less money than it takes to buy one from a breeder. If you don’t have a big upfront budget for a new pet, adoption is a wonderful idea. 

The Cons of Adopting a Dog

As easy as it might seem, there are some ways that adopting a dog can be tricky.

Knowledge of the dog’s background and genetics will be limited or non-existent

Rescue dogs come from all kinds of places. Some were born on the street or in the woods—some were abandoned by previous owners. Without a full history, it’s impossible to know the genetic makeup of a dog without doing a DNA test. That means you aren’t going to be able to know ahead of time if your dog is genetically prone to any health or behavior issues. There may also be trauma to overcome.

Future training and/or medical costs may be higher if the dog has unknown health and behavior issues

Choosing rescue dogs versus breeders’ dogs seems like the best option financially, however it’s impossible to say what might happen down the road with an adoptee’s health. When you bring a pet into your home, it’s important that you plan ahead. Even the healthiest of puppies can require medical help later on.  

Options may be limited

Adoption isn’t about choosing a breed that suits you; it’s about simply bonding with a dog and making it part of your family. 

The Difference Between a Reputable Breeder and a Puppy Mill

You’ve probably heard the term “puppy mill,” and are wondering, just what is the difference between a reputable breeder and a puppy mill? The difference comes in the way they conduct business. 

Technically speaking, anyone can buy two pure-bred dogs and start breeding puppies for sale. The problems come when inexperienced people decide to do this and have neither the knowledge nor the money—or possibly the empathy—to do it properly. A family of dogs gets messy very quickly, which leads to sanitation issues and health risks. 

Bad breeders also fail to socialize their dogs properly, which means a puppy has lost valuable training time and learned bad habits. Most importantly, the welfare of the puppies and the breeding dogs is poor. 

A reputable breeder—that is, a breeder with a good reputation—cares most for the wellbeing of the dogs in their care. They provide large, clean spaces, access to sunshine and fresh air, good quality food, and human kindness. 

Adopting a Dog vs Buying from a Breeder: Making the Right Choice for You

The difference between adopting and buying a dog is all about you and how you envision life with a dog. If you want a dog simply to love and play with, you may find a great match in your local shelter. Rescue dogs versus breeders’ dogs are still special dogs, full of love and joy.


On the other hand, if you want a very specific breed of dog, or if you want to enter your dog into athletic or breed competitions, you should look into buying from a breeder. A good breeder will make it easy for you to meet the puppies, learn about the families of each dog, and to see the premises where the dogs live. They’ll be happy to answer all your questions and speak with you personally about the process of buying one of their dogs. 

You can also look online for reviews and testimonials about breeders, to check their reputation. It might even help to reach out to past customers and ask about their experiences. Here at Mawoo, we’ve collected all the information you need to make a decision about buying a dog and made it simple to contact each breeder we work with. 

All breeders on Mawoo have been personally checked to make sure they have the highest standards. We also arrange travel for all puppies bought through our page. If you have more questions, take a look at our FAQ page. You can also take our Puppy Match Quiz to see which dogs match your personality and lifestyle best!



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