Adopting vs. Buying a Dog: Is it Better to Adopt or Buy a Shih Tzu


Dogs are man’s best friend, and for good reason. A dog can provide companionship, support and love like no other pet can.

However, with so many different breeds to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin your search for the perfect pooch.

Do you buy one from a pet store, or adopt a dog from a shelter?

Liver and white Shih Tzu

Dogs make wonderful pets, especially if you want a loyal friend who will love you unconditionally.

But buying a dog from a pet store may not be the best option.

If you’re considering getting a dog as a new addition to your family and aren’t sure about adopting one from a shelter instead of buying one from a pet store, keep reading.

Why Adopting a Dog from a Shelter is Better Than Buying from a Pet Store

Today, there are so many animals in shelters that are in need of good homes, that if you are seeking a dog to be a companion animal or the family pet, then adoption is a great choice!

Unless you have plans to enter your dog into competitive dog shows or other competitions that require a pedigree, adoption is the way to go.

It's really quite startling how many dogs end up in shelters after being rescued from puppy mills.

But it's hard not to fall in love with that puppy in the window when you walk past pet store.

Unfortunately, purchasing from pet stores only encourages puppy mills to keep cranking out more pups for profit.

There's no denying that adopting a shelter or rescue pet is a noble act.

You are helping an animal in need, helping the shelter, and you're also making a difference in the bigger picture of animal welfare.

The more animals that are adopted, the fewer animals pet stores sell, which reduces the demand.

This, in turn, decreases the need for horrible puppy mills and backyard breeders, that make money their main goal at the expense of the animals’ well-being.

Emotions and morals aside, here are some interesting statistics from the ASPCA about adopting and buying dogs:

  • Roughly 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters every year.
  • Each year, about 670,000 shelter dogs are euthanized.
  • The number of dogs that must be euthanized has declined in recent years due to more people adopting their pets and also because of more lost pets being successfully returned to their owners.
  • About 1.6 million dogs are adopted each year; less than half of the average amount that enters shelters.
  • About 620,000 stray dogs that wind up in shelters are returned to their owners each year.
  • It's estimated that roughly 23% of dog owners acquire their pets through adoption, compared to 34% that purchase from a breeder.
  • 20% of dog owners get their pup from a friend or relative, 12% from a private party, and 32% through other means. Only 6% of canine companions are strays that people take in and make their own.
  • Owners cite problems such as health issues, aggressive behavior, or even a dog growing larger than expected, as reasons for rehoming their pooch.
  • Most pups in pet stores are provided by puppy mills, not reputable breeders.
  • Many of the breeders that do supply puppies to pet stores have one or more Animal Welfare Act violations.
  • The majority of national breed clubs prohibit their members from selling dogs to pet stores.
  • Many pet stores do not disclose where their puppies are actually from.
  • Pet stores do not have to sell puppies to be successful.
  • You don’t have to purchase a dog to get a purebred. In fact, 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred, or you can adopt a dog from a breed-specific rescue group.
  • A legitimate breeder should be willing to let you visit his or her facility before you purchase your dog.
  • A legitimate breeder will not always have puppies available, although some will keep a waiting list of people to notify of new litters or may be able to refer you to other breeders.
  • A legitimate breeder should allow you to spend time with the pup’s parents, or at least the mother.
  • A legitimate breeder only sells dogs to people that he or she meets in person, not to pet stores or via online transactions.
  • A legitimate breeder will not require you to use a certain vet, and he or she will give you a written contract and health guarantee that you have time to read thoroughly.

Should You Adopt or Buy a Shih Tzu?

Adult Shih Tzu walking with a Shih Tzu puppy

For many, this question may seem very subjective.

Depending on your beliefs, morals, and other standards, your answer could look very different from someone else's.

One person may say it's better to buy from a reputable breeder in order to ensure that you get exactly what you are looking for.

Others would argue that adoption is the only way to go. That the massive amounts of animals that occupy shelters outweigh any reasons that someone could possibly have for buying a pet.

The truth is the answer to whether it's better to adopt or better to buy your Shih Tzu is ultimately a personal decision.

However, if you decide to buy, it is critical to seek out a trained, skilled, and reputable breeder.

Avoid pet stores, amateur breeders, and other sellers whose main motivation is money.

A legitimate breeder will strive for perfection in the breed, make sure dogs are healthy, and have goals that are more geared toward maintaining the breed standard.

Reputable breeders will also properly care for all of their animals and focus on only one or just a few types of dogs so that she can know the breed inside and out.

If you are not seeking a highly-specific type of dog, adoption is an excellent choice.

In fact, this should be the first place you try to find your pup, regardless of your requirements, because, with so many dogs in shelters, you could very well find what you are looking for, especially if you can be patient.

There’s also the financial side of things.

There is no doubt that adopting a dog is significantly cheaper than buying a dog.

When you adopt, you will usually have an adoption fee that can range from as low as $50 to around $450, depending on the shelter or rescue.

Some adoption facilities even host “pick-your-price” events as a way to encourage pet seekers to choose adoption.

If you were to buy the same dog from a pet store, you will be looking at anywhere from $500 to $3,000 or more, depending on the breed and other factors.

If you purchase directly from a breeder, your price is bound to be closer to $1,000 and up.

Reasons To Adopt a Dog?

Two Shih Tzu dogs behind a dingy looking pen

There are so many animals in shelters, that it really is hard to believe how pet stores and certain breeders can even stay in business.

Many of them do so by creating made up, “designer” breeds, that are not actually recognized breeds at all, like teacups and specialized mixes.

Some of these facilities and backyard breeders have done an incredible job of convincing people that their dogs are healthier, smarter, and altogether better than the dogs that are in shelters.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Shelter dogs can be just as healthy and, in many cases, healthier than the dogs in pet stores, and dogs that are adopted can be just as easily trained as any dog you can buy.

Therefore, it may be best to adopt and stop supporting puppy mills that are used to supply the pet stores with animals that are then just treated as merchandise.

When you adopt a dog, you get a wonderful and loving companion, while providing a home to an animal in need.

You also free up space in a shelter for another homeless pet and give that animal a chance for adoption.

The adoption fees and donations that people make when they adopt their pets help shelters continue their rescue efforts and care for the animals that they have already housed.

When Buying a Dog Makes Sense

Honestly, with all of the dogs in shelters that need homes, and all of the dogs that get euthanized each year, there are very few reasons to buy a dog.

Unless you are looking for a very specific type or breed, or require a purebred for competition reasons, for example, then there really is no reason that you have to buy a dog.

Even in these situations, you can still potentially find the dog you want via adoption.

However, if you do go the route of purchasing though, do so through a reputable breeder, and avoid pet stores.

You can find a good breeder through your vet or can start your search through the AKC (American Kennel Club) or UKC (United Kennel Club).

Be prepared to ask the breeder questions about their methods, why they are a breeder, how long they have been working with the breed, and other pertinent information.

A reputable breeder should also ask you the following questions before selling a dog to you:

  • Why do you want a dog?
  • Who will be responsible for the dog’s training and daily care?
  • Where will the dog spend most of his time?
  • Have you decided on rules for your new pet? What are they? (For example, will your dog be allowed to sleep with you?)
  • Are you allowed to have a dog where you live? (If you live in an apartment or condo, the breeder should ask you to provide proof from your complex that dogs are allowed)
  • Do you have other pets? (If so, the breeder should ask you for veterinary references)
  • Do you intend to show the dog? If not, then a breeder will ask you to sign a contract stating that you will have the dog spayed or neutered.

In addition to these questions, a legitimate and reputable breeder will likely ask you questions about your lifestyle to determine if you have the necessary time required by the breed of dog that you are buying.

The breeder will want to make sure that you are a good fit for the pup and should also ask you to sign a contract stating that you will return the dog to him if you are unable to keep the dog for any reason.

Why Are Dog Rescues So Strict?

You could walk into a pet store, pick out a Shih Tzu and most likely buy it (for a lot of money) right there on the spot, no questions asked.

However, this is not necessarily a good thing.

First of all, it should be a big red flag that the store is not asking you any questions about how you plan to care for the dog, or if you are capable to handle the needs of the pup or asking any questions regarding your abilities as a puppy parent.

Plus, when you are able to just buy a dog in a matter of moments, it increases the likelihood of you purchasing your pet on a whim or making a rash decision without thinking everything through.

In these situations, you could find yourself in a predicament that you were not expecting -- being a dog guardian without any clue as to how you are going to take care of them or how much that care will cost you.

Many people may find it is overwhelming or learn they are not allowed to have a pet where they live and end up returning the dogs to the store they purchased them from.

Some may even abandon the pup on the side of the road leaving them to care for themselves, without a pack to help them survive!

When you purchase from a breeder, that is a reputable breeder, the process will and should take a bit longer.

The same goes for when you adopt a dog.

You will need to provide certain documents, such as proof that you can have a dog where you live, veterinary references, and even character references that show you would make a responsible pet owner.

You also will most likely need to undergo an interview and have an in-person visit with your potential new pup.

This process is two-fold; it makes sure that the pup is a good match for you, and that you will provide a good home for the dog and not return or abandon the rescue pup.

When it comes to adopting a dog, the process can take as little as a few days to as much as a few weeks. It all depends on schedules, each shelter’s unique rules and policies, and location.

For example, if you are adopting a dog out of state, you need to account for travel time.

If you are purchasing from a breeder the time it takes to get your canine pal will depend on several factors, a big one being the availability of the type of dog that you are looking for.

If the breeder happens to have a dog that is the age you want and that you click with, then the process may only take a few days if your references can be checked quickly, and you are able to meet with the breeder in person.

However, if you want a puppy, for example, it is important to understand that a legitimate breeder does not have an endless supply of dogs, nor does he always have puppies available.

In these cases, you can either pursue another breeder or you can be patient to get the dog that you desire.

If you are placed on a breeder’s waitlist, you could be in for a rather long wait, a few months or more.

This is because you will need to wait until the breeder has a new litter of pups, and if it is your turn on the list, you will be notified.

However, even then you won’t be able to get your pup right away.

Puppies need to stay with their mothers for at least 8 weeks, and most good breeders will require them to wait until 12 weeks.

During this time, you can meet the puppy, interview again with the breeder and get everything squared away as you wait until the day that you will be able to bring your new family member home.

Hopefully, this has helped clear up any questions you have about the different places to get a new dog.

When you get ready to add a furry friend into the mix, take some time to consider all of your options.

Adoption is an excellent way to find your puppy pal.

One final tip.

If and when you are ready to bring a Shih Tzu dog into your life, be sure you know the reason you're looking for a furry friend.

For example, perhaps you seek companionship, or you need a guard dog, or you want to work with a show dog.

Once you know the reason you want a dog, then it's important to know the pros and cons of all of the different ways you can find your new pup.

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