Adopting Pets: Shelters vs. Breeders


Natalie Dearman, Staff Writer

For a first-time pet owner, and even experienced ones, the decision whether adopt from a breeder or a shelter tends to be a difficult one. While adopting from a shelter typically seems to be the more noble choice, there are pros and cons of both sides, and in the end it’s up to you and your wants and capabilities as a pet owner.

Animal Shelters


  • The majority of animals in shelters have already been vaccinated, as well as spayed/neutered, saving you the hassle of these appointments and cost.
  • Prices of adoption are typically much less expensive than purchasing from a breeder, ranging anywhere from $500-$1500, while at shelters these prices are normally around $80-$200.
  • Because animals in shelters have lived somewhere else previous to their placement there, the vast majority of them are already house-trained, potty-trained, and socialized, making the transition of shelter to adoption much easier for both the owners and the pet.
  • Unsure of what pet would be best for you? At a shelter, there is a great variety of them, whether you want a puppy, cat, or a specific breed. About 25% of animals at shelters are also purebreds, and you also have the opportunity to meet the animals, and even see how they interact with already existing pets and family members before you adopt them.
  • Not only do you save your pet’s life when adopting from a shelter, but you also clear a space for another animal in need to live in, saving the lives of two animals for each one you adopt.


  • While this isn’t always the case, some of the animals that are put in shelters live there because they were previously abused. The effect on the animal’s behaviour typically varies, but it can leave the animal emotionally scarred, sometimes leading to hostility, the need to be retrained, and even mental and/or physical disabilities.
  • It might not be a con for most people, but if you adopt a dog from a shelter rather than a breeder they cannot compete in dog shows.



  • If a puppy is what you want, that’s typically what you would get from a breeder.
  • If the breeder you are adopting from is well educated about the breed, they will be able to give you good advice in raising the animal of that particular breed.
  • Unlike puppy mills, ethical breeders will take good care of the adult dogs even past breeding age, while puppy mills may starve or abandon them.
  • Animals adopted from breeders are eligible to compete in shows, because they typically come fully intact, vaccinated, have all of their paperwork starting from birth, and most of the time are purebreds.
  • Because most breed purebreds, you’re more likely to adopt an animal free of any genetic diseases, saving you medical costs down the line.
  • Adopting a puppy from a breeder makes their mind a blank slate. This way the animal has no traumatic past and you can train them however you’d like. This can be either a good or a bad thing, depending on how suitable the owner is to take care of/train an animal.
  • Good breeders like to get to know the new owners before handing off the animal to make sure they’re in good hands, rather than selling them to whomever, such as in a pet shop.


  • Finding a good breeder can be difficult to find, and require a lot of research.
  • A reputable breeder most likely won’t live super close to you, so a may require some extra gas money and a little road trip (not always a bad thing!).
  • Adoption fees can also be quite pricey, typically ranging anywhere from $500-$1500.
  • If you’re looking to adopt anything other than a puppy, a breeder may not be the best option.
  • Just because you find a breeder, and have the money to adopt an animal, doesn’t mean you’re getting one. Most breeders have a waiting list, and you could be at the end of it. However, this isn’t always a bad thing, because it’s to ensure a safe pregnancy for the mother, and give the parents a break to recover after birthing a litter.