Adopt or Shop: Why Dog Breeding Deserves a Better Reputation

Puppy farming and irresponsible breeding have given breeding as a whole a bad reputation, with the phrase "Adopt, don't shop" becoming increasingly popular in recent years. But without great dog breeders, we wouldn’t have the dogs we do today.

Adopt, don’t shop. The phrase is used everywhere to encourage people to adopt, rather than buy, a dog. And while it’s a snappy soundbite, it doesn’t quite tell the full story. Adopting a dog isn’t the only way to fight the good fight. If you believe in dog welfare, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a dog from a breeder – but it does mean you should take extra time and effort to find a good breeder who puts puppies before profits.

We only work with ethical breeders at Tailwise, so we know better than anyone how much they do for the nation’s dogs. Here are a few facts that challenge some common misconceptions and explain the reasons why, actually, dog breeding is a good thing after all.

Good dog breeders have healthy dogs and healthy puppies.

It’s not true that a purebred puppy from a breeder will by default have more health problems than a dog from a rescue.

There are valid concerns about the health of purebred puppies, especially around particular breeds; when some types of dog are bred for extreme or pronounced features, that can be at the expense of their health. It’s true too that puppy farming and irresponsible breeding often result in serious genetic illnesses and conditions.

In contrast, responsible breeders do everything in their power not just to avoid problems, but to make their breed healthier. Good breeders will health test the parents before having a litter and take great care to avoid inbreeding, selectively breeding out any health problems where possible to give their dogs an even brighter future.

And they won’t contribute to dogs ending up in rescue.

Some people believe dog breeding leads to more dogs in rescue. While that might be true of puppy farms, ethical breeders take special care to make sure their dogs go to brilliant homes – and stay there.

A good breeder will choose dogs for their breeding programmes carefully; health test parents where needed; socialise puppies properly; and only send puppies to suitable homes. Some will even add clauses to their puppy contracts just in case things don’t work out, asking for unwanted dogs to be brought back to the breeder.

Together, all these practices add up to healthy, well-settled dogs, and allow the breeder to take precautions against abandonment.

Responsible breeding creates useful, specialist breeds.

Dogs are faithful companions in all kinds of different homes, families, and workplaces – and that’s all down to professional breeding.

Over the years, dogs have been bred with specific traits and skills that make them well suited to lots of different lifestyles and purposes, whether that’s super smart police dog German Shepherds, faithful Labrador guide dogs or never-tired Cocker Spaniels.

Selective, safe and responsible breeding reinforces positive traits, preserves the breeds we already love and makes it easier for people to find a dog that will really fit their lifestyle (which in turn makes it less likely to end up in rescue).

By supporting good breeders along with great rehoming groups, Tailwise shines the spotlight on people who really care about their dogs. We believe passionately in finding a brilliant home for every dog, wherever it comes from, while making life harder for the puppy farmers and irresponsible breeders giving everyone else a bad name.

Because no matter how someone finds a puppy, dog welfare should always, always, come first. That’s something all of us can agree on.

Are you deciding between a puppy or a rescue?

We’ve created the Tailwise Consultation Call to help anyone who is searching for a new puppy - whether they be first-time puppy parents or experienced dog owners. The Tailwise Dog Parent Consultation is a 30 minute call that sets you up with the foundational knowledge and know-how for getting a puppy the most responsible way, or help with advice on rescues.

If you’re thinking about adding a dog to your family, you can either rehome a rescue dog or choose a new puppy from a breeder. Both are great ways to find a dog, and which is right for you really depends on who you are, what kind of home you can offer, and the time and money you’re willing to spend on training. But it’s not as clear cut as you might think.

For example, some rescue dogs will still need you to invest a lot of energy in helping them to settle in, while some puppies make training a breeze. Every dog’s different. So, while you’re deciding, have a browse through our list of benefits for each – it should help you work out which is the right option for you - and the dog.

The benefits of getting a puppy from a responsible breeder

Growing together

Young puppies have an awful lot to learn – and that’s an exciting challenge! Who your new puppy becomes is all down to you, and there are so many resources available to help you do a great job. From socialising, to teaching tricks, to trying to convince them not to hide from the vacuum cleaner, it’s really rewarding to see your puppy grow. If you have children, it’s a brilliant learning experience too – and you can watch them grow up together.

Healthy and well bred

Puppy farmed puppies are often traumatised, poorly socialised, and bred recklessly, which means they can suffer from behavioural problems and severe health issues. When you find a puppy through a responsible breeder, you’ll know that it’s been well bred in a safe home, with no risk of traumas or damaging experiences and the best chance of being healthy. All Tailwise Certified Breeders are verified to give you the peace of mind that you’re bringing home a healthy puppy.

Lifelong support

Responsible breeders love their dogs, and won’t send home their puppies with just anyone. They’ll be keen to give you guidance and advice about raising your puppy, and will happily stay in touch to make sure things go smoothly. Later on, some will even take care of your dog while you go on holiday. A dog’s for life – and if you need them, so is the breeder.

Perfect pedigree

Good breeders will also be able to tell you all about your puppy’s lineage. Your puppy will have been carefully bred to have specific traits, including the way they look and how they behave, from a healthy, screened, and carefully selected mother and father that are great examples of the breed. If you’re interested in showing your puppy in the future, you can also look for litters that will be registered with the Kennel Club.

The benefits of rehoming a rescue dog

Older and wiser

Most adolescent or adult rescue dogs will already know some basic training. They’ll most likely be house trained (though they might have a few little accidents while they get used to their new home), and know how to walk on a lead, sit, and play. That’s a big plus if you’re not that confident a dog trainer, or don’t want to clean up after a new puppy.

Meet your match

Rescue dogs are usually fully grown with fully-fledged personalities.

The rescue will be able to tell you all about how they behave in different situations, their likes and dislikes, and any difficulties they might have. That means you can choose a dog that really fits your home and lifestyle, whether you’re searching for a lazy senior for sofa snuggles or looking for a live wire lurcher. After lockdown, it's likely too that you'll have a lot of dogs to choose from; rescues are expecting a surge in abandonments as people head back to work, or worry about the future.

A feel-good decision

Rehoming a dog can be a really rewarding experience, especially if you’re someone who feels passionately about dog welfare or who empathises really strongly with animals. Many dogs struggle in rescue or their original homes, and it’s heartwarming to feel like you’ve finally given them the forever home they deserve.

Choose your breed

If you’ve already done your research and know a particular breed is for you, there are lots of specialist breed rescues all over the UK. Many of them are offshoots from breed clubs and run by passionate, knowledgeable people who adore their breed, which means they can give you lots of help and advice about your new dog and any breed-specific quirks.

Everyone we list on Tailwise, whether they’re a breeder, a rescue, or a soon-to-be puppy parent, is carefully checked and verified. That means whatever you decide, the dog or puppy you take home will be responsibly cared for or bred, and come with plenty of advice and guidance to guide you along the way. So, to us, there’s really no wrong or right answer to how to find a dog – as long as their welfare comes first.

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Avoid puppy farms, scammers & bad breeders. All Tailwise breeders are screened for health and welfare practices.

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