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Breeder or Rescue?

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Should I got for a dog from a breeder or a rescue shelter?

There is no wrong answer to this question! RightPaw encourages all potential dog owners to think through this choice seriously and consider which option is right for you. There are pros and cons to either option.


By rescuing a dog from a shelter, you are undoubtedly saving a life – freeing up a spot for another animal in need. There is nothing more valuable you can offer a dog than a forever home.


black greyhound with purple collar lying on wooden floor

Because there is always a plentiful supply of rescue dogs needing homes, some people feel that adopting a puppy from a breeder is never an ethical choice. People worry that every animal that is bought from a breeder is a wasted opportunity for rescue. However, at RightPaw, we know that this is not always the case. Not all families are in a position to offer the right home for a rescue dog. There are many reasons families might opt for a dog from a breeder over a rescue dog, including:

  • Specific needs in your family - allergies, mobility challenges or health conditions that mean you need to precisely control what kind of dog you adopt and that you need to know its history.

  • Some families have their heart set on a particular breed, which might be difficult to find in a shelter.

  • Some families have always dreamed of raising a puppy from 8 weeks old, which can be hard to come by in shelters.

There is nothing wrong with choosing to purchase a dog from a breeder, as long as you are making this choice thoughtfully and ensuring that you can meet the needs of that pet. No RightPaw puppy will ever end up in a shelter, no matter what happens to their owners, because our passionate breeders are committed to their dogs for life.


puppy with red collar and blue bowl in background

There are also advantages to adopting a rescue dog that you should consider:

  • Rescuing your pet means you are literally saving a life (and freeing up a spot for a second life to be saved!)

  • Adopting an older dog rather than a puppy allows for excellent matching with an adult dog who's needs are unlikely to change in the future, so you know they will suit your lifestyle.

  • Puppies are not for everyone. Older dogs allow you to skip the puppy stage! If reading more about puppies is making you feel overwhelmed - then you can pick an adult dog! Puppies require months of hard work and commitment to raise well, so if your lifestyle is more suited to a mature dog, rescue is a perfect place to look.

  • Rescue keeps you open-minded. Your perfect match might not be the breed you originally thought of! You should always select a dog based on personality more than appearance. This is true no matter where your dog comes from - but is even more obvious in rescue. When deciding if a dog is right for you, consider their personality traits and exercise requirements first, and physical appearance second.

I have no prior experience with dogs and I'm not confident, should I go with a puppy or a rescue dog?


You can still consider either! The most important thing is to feel supported either way. Whether you're adopting from a shelter or a breeder, if you are getting a puppy then check out RightPaw's Puppy Prep Program for in-depth advice on everything you need to know to feel prepared when bringing your puppy home. Great rescue organisations will help match you with the right individual dog. Many rescue dogs can make perfect pets for first-time families. If this is you, be sure to select a rescue group who assess their dogs thoroughly and can give you advice on what type of personality they would recommend for your family.

Good breeders will also match less experienced families with more easy-going puppies, and tell you if they don't think their breed is suited to your lifestyle or experience level.


It is very important to know the expected adult size, personality and exercise requirements of your dog if you are adopting them as a puppy. If you have very specific requirements, then you should speak to a breeder to see if their breed might suit you, or consider an adult dog from a shelter who take the time to get to know all of their individuals and match them with the perfect homes.


Is it ethical to buy from a RightPaw breeder?


Yes, supporting a RightPaw breeder is an ethical choice. By selecting the right dog for you, and supporting responsible breeders, your choice helps to protect puppies everywhere. If you know you would prefer a puppy of a specific breed, and you do not find them in a shelter, then you must ensure you are supporting a responsible breeder so you don't inadvertently support an irresponsible puppy farm. Dogs mainly end up in shelters because people take on animals that are not suitable for them. The majority of behavioural problems in dogs develop because the dog’s needs are not being met, or they are not being managed by owners with the appropriate skills. RightPaw's application process requires you to apply to a breeder using a thorough questionnaire, and allows the breeder to select applicants who will suit their dogs. People also relinquish dogs because their circumstances change or they struggle with their dog over time. The dog may grow too large, require too much exercise, owners might have to move house unexpectedly or no longer be able to afford the pet. Dogs bought from exemplary breeders however, rarely, if ever, end up in shelters. No RightPaw dog will ever end up in the shelter system - they will always have a home for life with their breeder.


Every RightPaw breeder will take their dogs back, free of charge, at any time in the lifetime of that pet.


RightPaw breeders love their dogs and never want them to be homeless. They make a commitment when they rehome their puppies, that they will always take them back if needed, no matter what circumstances have arisen. Where taking the dog back is physically impossible, RightPaw will always facilitate rehoming for any RightPaw dog that is at risk of being relinquished. We passionately support the mission of reducing dogs ending up in shelters by ensuring our owners are matched with the right dog for them, whether that is a purebred, cross bred or rescue dog.


Whatever you decide, RightPaw want to enable you to make this purchase in an informed, ethical way. A dog is for life, so start off on the right paw!


RightPaw supports Oscar’s Law: https://www.oscarslaw.org/ Click here to see a list of shelters and rescues RightPaw supports.


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