We Want a Puppy! Shelter or Breeder?
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Our family has decided to get a puppy. We're very excited about this, however, my husband and I are disagreeing about where to get the dog. I want to get one from the city shelter, but he thinks we should get one from a breeder instead. Cost aside ($100 at the shelter vs. $3,000 at the breeder), it just doesn't feel right to me, but he says he feels a dog from a breeder is "safer." What can I do to help him change his mind and give a needy dog a home?
Signed, Puppy Love
Let me rephrase your question just a bit so that we can all be on the same page.
“Dear Mouthy Housewives, My husband lost his ever-loving mind. What do I do?”
Of course I’m exaggerating, but it’s for the greater good of helping you resolve a situation where obviously you are right and your husband is as whatever the opposite of rain is wrong. Because from where I’m sitting -- on the couch -- the only reasons to get a dog from a breeder (other than ridding yourself of that pesky disposable income) is if you want a purebred dog or if you really want to know the names of your new puppy’s birth parents.
So if you want a purebred with papers that you can impress all your friends with, by all means, get new friends! I mean, get the dog from a breeder! I’m sure that most breeders are reputable and well-meaning professionals who care about their dogs, but they are not infallible. My parents got a purebred Doberman from a wonderful breeder, but unfortunately he had a fatal heart condition. The dog, not the breeder. And despite our best efforts we couldn’t get him Dick Cheney’s heart, although they were both Republicans and probably a match.
Of course this could have happened with a breeder, a puppy mill or a shelter dog. When you open up your life to a pet, there are just no guarantees. But the casual reading that I’ve done on purebreds versus mutts, indicates that mixed-breed canine-Americans are in a large part healthier, live longer and are super-adorable. Sorry. I don’t know how that last part snuck in there. It may be my strong pro-shelter bias.
At the end of the day, you need to discuss your husband’s concerns with him. When he says that it’s safer to get a dog from a breeder, does he think that the dog will be healthier, friendlier, or have a shinier coat? Is he concerned about the shelter dog’s past? Whatever his hopes are it’s only fair to visit both the shelter and a breeder and see where your heart takes you.