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This is an argument against the use of #adoptdontshop, a divisive and judgmental hashtag that does little to help the dogs it professes to advocate for.

#Adoptdontshop is a hashtag that is used by many people to encourage adoption over buying a dog.  It’s pretty straightforward; adopt a dog, don’t shop for one.  Got it.

I have noticed in the last few months some disturbing trends in when, why, and how this hashtag is being used.

AdoptDontShop Tweet

For example, I shared my article, 7 Best Questions To Ask A Dog Breeder Before Buying A Puppy, a couple of months ago on Twitter, and within a few minutes I received an “I prefer to #AdoptDontShop.”  Cordial enough.

But just last week when I tweeted a link to The Ultimate Decision Guide for Selecting A Dog Breeder (That Works!), I woke up to this heartwarming response (see image).  Wow.

I get that not all rescue proponents share such vitriol, but it is clear to me there is a disconnect.

In this post, I want to present to you Big Dog Mom’s case against #AdoptDontShop.

Dog Lovers Unite

Are you a dog lover?  I am.  I have been a dog lover all my life.

Having grown up with Great Danes, Dachshunds, and several mixed breeds and spending the greater part of my adult life with Mastiffs and a Labrador Retriever, I have amassed decades’ worth of opportunities to both love and serve the canines I adore so much.

It is with this background in mind that I feel I must speak out about a very serious topic.

6 Arguments Against the Use of #AdoptDontShop

1. Inconsiderate

#AdoptDontShop fails to consider why many of us choose not to adopt.

I could explain my reasons for not wanting to adopt a dog out of rescue, but quite honestly, my reasons are my reasons.  Not yours.  I will not defend my choice, and neither should you.

But to throw #AdoptDontShop in the face of every person who chooses a breeder over rescue ignores the very relevant WHY driving their decision, which is none of anyone’s business.

2. Judgmental

At its core, #AdoptDontShop implies that if you choose to “shop,” or in other words buy your dog from a breeder, you are defying all that is good and decent by denying a poor dog in a shelter that needs rescuing.

It’s not a zero-sum game. One has nothing to do with the other.

My decision to buy Sulley and Junior neither affects the people who choose to rescue nor the number of dogs needing it.  My boys will be with me for life so we will never add to the proliferation of the rescue population.

Likewise, had I not chosen to purchase Junior and Sulley, it is not necessarily true that I would have adopted instead.  This is not to say I will never adopt a dog.  I may in the future.

[READ: The Allure of Designer Dogs – A Mixed Breed Illusion and What Do You Get When You Cross a Doodle and an Unwich®?]

3. Freedom of Choice

In America, we are blessed with many freedoms. The Declaration of Independence grants us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Pursuit is an operative word here.  Our happiness is not guaranteed.  Our right to pursue it is.

I pursue happiness in many ways. I have a husband and two children who bring me endless joy and happiness. I love to run for my health and run my own business writing Big Dog Mom.  And I love well-bred, purebred big dogs.

In memory of the late, great Charles M. Schulz,

Happiness is… buying and loving a purebred dog and not being judged for it. 

If I choose to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder, that is my choice, my money and my freedom to do so.

Me buying from a breeder does not, in any way, infringe on your ability to rescue a dog from a shelter if that is what you choose to do.

Neither one is better or worse than the other because, as I will illustrate later, me buying a puppy from a reputable breeder is NOT part of the problem.

4. Disregards Generosity

I volunteered at a local no-kill animal shelter all four years of high school, worked the morning shift (3-7 am) at the Veterinary school in college, and have spent the last 9 years volunteering and contributing to Power Paws Assistance Dogs and Arizona Animal Welfare League. I have had the pleasure of owning both purebred dogs and mixed breed dogs in my life, those that were bought and those that were rescued.  Every one of those dogs was a blessing in my life.

In addition, most reputable breeders I know rescue dogs and support rescue organizations as a part of their civic responsibility and love for their breed.

The judgment that is implied with #AdoptDontShop seemingly discounts all of that generosity.

I did shop.  I will continue to shop for the dog of my choice.

It is possible to shop without hypocrisy or homage while supporting outstanding rescue and service organizations like Power Paws and AAWL.

5. Reputable Breeders are NOT the Problem


Part of my issue with this hashtag has to do with the word “shop.” When I see or hear that word in reference to a puppy I immediately picture sickly puppies playing on shredded newspapers behind the glass in a mall pet store – a sight that infuriates and saddens me.

But the word “shop” in this context is defined as any means of purchasing a puppy, which wrongfully includes reputable breeders.

Reputable breeders are NOT the problem, puppy mills and back yard breeders (BYB) are.

For those of you who see no difference between the two, I respectfully ask for you to keep reading.

Reputable breeders screen their puppy buyers to ensure they are the best home, they perform health testing (eyes, hips, elbows, DNA, etc.) to safeguard against genetic disease, they sell on a contract with an obligation to take the puppy back at any point in his lifetime, and their passion is what drives them in everything they do for the breed they love.

Put simply, when you S.H.O.P. with a reputable breeder, you get Screening, Health testing, Obligation, and Passion.

Clever acronym aside, people who are buying a puppy from a reputable breeder are not window shopping. They are making a lifelong commitment to a new member of the family.

To lump all forms of acquisition by purchase under the umbrella term “shop” is both unfair and ignorant.

And if you are not convinced, you MUST read: The Fallacy of Dog Rescue – Why Reputable Dog Breeders Are NOT the Problem.

6. Reputable Breeders REDUCE the Number of Dogs Needing Rescue

They do this in three ways:

  • A reputable breeder limits the number of puppies they produce, with many only having one or two litters per year or less. To illustrate, once I found the breeder I wanted a puppy from, it took me 5 years to finally bring Junior home.
  • A reputable breeder screens buyers to ensure they will be the best home for the puppy, for the life of the dog. When my friend, and now the owner of Blue the Rhodesian Ridgeback (Rhodesian Ridgeback: Gentle Hound Or Fierce Hunter?), was looking for a new puppy, she commented on multiple occasions how the scrutiny of prospective breeders was more rigorous than a job interview.  My response was that she must be talking to the right people if that was how she felt.  For more on this point, read 7 Best Questions To Ask A Dog Breeder Before Buying A Puppy.
  • And lastly, a reputable breeder contractually commits to taking back any dog they produce for any reason at any time.   Every contract I have ever signed for a puppy has stated that the breeder has the first right of refusal if the owner can’t keep the dog.
  • I’ve created the How to Select a Reputable Breeder – The 6 C’s to Landing Your Dream Dog.  It is a step by step process for finding and selecting a reputable dog breeder.  Click HERE to get your copy.

When you “shop” with a reputable breeder you are part of the solution, NOT the problem.

According to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey, pet problems are the most common reason that owners re-home their pets, accounting for 47% of re-homed dogs.  Pet problems were defined as problematic behaviors, aggressive behaviors, grew larger than expected, or health problems owner couldn’t handle.

All four of these could be solved for or prevented if the dog was purchased from a reputable breeder.

#AdoptDontShop or #ChoiceWithoutJudgement?


This post is NOT a defense of breeders or a denigration against those who choose to adopt.  It is, however, an argument against the use of a divisive and judgmental hashtag that does little good to help the population it professes to advocate for.

The next time you are on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest and are searching for a hashtag befitting a dog lover like yourself, consider one of the following:

#DogLoversUnite  (and for the Big Dog Mom fans out there, #BigDogLoversUnite)




Let’s lose the #AdoptDontShop and work together to reduce the number of dogs needing rescue in the first place.

Dogs don’t judge.  They live in the moment and love us unconditionally.  Let them inspire and empower us to be our best selves.

Happiness is…. a dog-loving community that honors the freedom of choice. 

For the next five posts in this series click here:

Similar Posts


  1. Perfectly said. As a big advocate for adopting, I also agree with the benefits of getting a puppy from a reputable breeder. The key word is reputable. Many people out there don’t understand the difference and will buy a puppy from a pet store because that is the quickest and easiest path. Interesting about the hashtag usage, and that person that wrote that to you should be ignored, they don’t deserve the worry. I have used it not thinking of the negative side of it, I will start using your great suggested new hashtags! #DogLoversUnite #SayNOtoPuppyMills #SayNOtoBYB #AdoptOrShop Really a great article, will share!

    1. Thank you so much, Debi, for your kind words and for sharing this! I think so many people use this hashtag, but don’t really stop to think about its meaning. I appreciate you having an open mind about it and for advocating so strongly for adopting dogs that need a loving home.

    2. One important thing that is overlooked – when you shop at a shelter and purchase a dog from a shelter or a rescue – you pay money. In effect – you HAVE shopped and you HAVE bought!!!! Add to that – purebreds are important for allergic children as you can NEVER be sure with a “rescue” – and IF you want to know what that pup is going to look like, how large will it be, and what characteristic or tendencies it will have – there is NO WAY to know if it isn’t a purebred!!!

      1. Nope. Many shelters participate in empty the shelter campaigns in which they waive the adoption fee. Also, if you can’t look at a fully grown dog in a shelter & tell how big it will be then you might have some eye issues. Along with that, there are MANY purebred dogs in shelters! I wonder if any on the purebreds came from the “reputable breeders”

    3. While totally respect your choice to find a dog you like from a reputable breeder and value that you are providing these lovable fur-babies with a undoubtably great home, I question one thing you wrote.

      “ My decision to buy Sulley and Junior neither affects the people who choose to rescue nor the number of dogs needing it.”

      You’re saying that your choice to not adopt/rescue doesn’t impact the number of dogs needing it, but doesn’t it? Had you rescued one dog, then there would be one less dog needing it and room for one more to be put up in a shelter for adoption.

      Again, I respect your choice and am grateful that you can provide your pups with a loving home, but that statement just seems a bit…. well, wrong.

      Regardless, you love dogs, I love dogs, and we both give them the love they so very much deserve.

      1. Thank you for your very respectful comment, Craig! Perhaps I should have explained this in more detail to make my point more clear. I stand by what I said, so let me try to clarify… My decision to buy from a reputable breeder has no effect on the source of dogs who end up in shelters. The primary source of rescue dogs is indiscriminate backyard breeders, puppy mills, and retail rescue, not preservation breeders. Sadly, dogs produced by these folks DO very often end up in shelters. If I had chosen to support a backyard breeder for one of my dogs, yes, I do think you could make the case that my choice absolutely impacts the number of dogs in shelters needing rescue. I would be funding them through my purchase and that only serves to encourage more breeding. I have several other posts on this topic where I go into more detail about this topic, so I would encourage you to read those as well. Thank you again for being so respectful! I wish everyone had such class.

    4. I appreciate this perspective, but I can’t agree. I don’t intentionally shame people who already made their choice, but I don’t think we should be seeking to justify going to a breeder. At the end of the day, saving a dog from a shelter helps open resources to help more dogs. I think once adoption is the norm then nuisances around specific breeds can be discussed. I don’t think in the current climate of how dogs are treated that contributing to the breeding market is responsible–even if you’re going to the most ideal breeder you’re showing other breeders that there’s money to be made in that market. Adopt don’t shop can come of as judgmental, but the goal should be to convince as many people as possible to adopt from shelters and rescues. This goal should be more important than it (maybe) hurting a person’s feelings because they decided not to adopt. The “shop responsibly” argument muddies the waters unnecessarily.

  2. Very well put BigDogMom!!!! Totally agree!! Especially with giant breeds; we owe it to the breed to insist on specific health testing!! Testing only benefits the pups in the long run! Also, pet owners should take RESPONSIBILITY in research and educating themselves BEFORE owning a dog!! You owe it to the pup to know ahead of time what you’re signing up for.. you should never take on a pup just on a whim.. #sayNOtoBYB #sayNOtopuppymills #shopORadopt thank you #bigdogmom #wearetheirvoice #educateyourself

    1. So well said, Brandy, and thank you! You are absolutely right! When I saw the statistic from the ASPCA about one of the reasons people re-home their dog is because he gets too big, I was saddened but not surprised. I have several posts on that address just what you said; educate yourself before getting a puppy. I don’t know of a single reputable breeder who would allow one of their puppies to go to owners who aren’t prepared for the size and slobber of a Mastiff.

  3. I read your article with great interest, because we have re-homed two dogs, after our first border terrier puppy was hit by a car and died at 4.5 months (extremely sad time). Amazingly, we re-homed Barney, a border terrier from a rescue centre, as an 11 week old puppy (very, very rare indeed). Our second dog was re-homed from a charity but she was brought to the UK from Cyprus and she is a crossbreed. The reason I tell you this is because, we tried to re-home another border terrier after we’d had Barney for a year, via the breed welfare charity, it was impossible because most dogs couldn’t be re-homed with other dogs and they would only re-home a bitch to us as we had a male dog already. Also, we wanted a smaller dog, and many of the dogs in rescue centres here are large dogs (sorry!). It is likely we will get another dog, but I struggle my conscience with rescuing another dog and wanting another border terrier puppy. I totally agree that, as buyers were should be more aware of what to look for in breeders, and not just take a puppy because you want it now! It’s a very interesting debate you put forward, along with the hashtag #adoptorshop – whilst we would all love that every dog had a wonderful home, rescuing a dog doesn’t work for everyone. As you say, everyone has the right to a choice, the right one for them.
    ps – what an awful message to receive, sending you that message really doesn’t encourage you to adopt either!

    1. Thank you very much, Michelle, for your thoughtful response. To your last point I say, exactly! Being rude and condescending is not the way to get one to understand or agree with your point of view. I do not think for one second the decision to rescue or buy your next border terrier from a reputable breeder should weigh on your conscience. Not at all. With your breed, my guess is a puppy would be the best choice to ensure the two dogs get along. Terriers can really be difficult if they don’t get along and two terriers is like having 10. My sister had two mini-schnauzers, so I speak from experience. If I were you I would explore both and when the right dog/puppy comes along, it will feel right to you. I would reach out to rescues and let them know what you are looking for. But I would absolutely go to dog shows and meet some breeders there and let them know what you are looking for. I feel like my network of Mastiff friends can never be too big. I hope that helps.

  4. When I think of the “shop” in the #AdoptDontShop hashtag, I think of shops like you pointed out in your fifth bullet point – mall shops, puppy mills, and people who care more about dollar signs then they do the health and welfare of the dogs they’re selling. But there’s plenty of reasons to purchase a pure bred dog from a reputable breeder.

    1. Thank you, Joe! I agree with you completely. The problem is the “shop” doesn’t just mean pet shops to many using this hashtag, wherein lies the debate.

  5. As someone who has owned both mixed breeds (that never made it to the shelter) and purebreds, I agree with this post wholeheartedly. I acquired Gusto from a reputable breeder that will take him back if I can no longer care for him. Most breeders insist on getting their pups back if the family has a lifestyle change. Breeders do care. Sometimes I think those on the bandwagon of AdoptDon’tShop actually promote indiscriminate breeding and irresponsible owners by shaming those that choose a purebred from a reputable breeder. I have also known people that paid a gazillion dollars to buy a pup from a pet store because they felt they were “rescuing” it. They can spend a fortune on health care costs once they get the pup under those conditions…

    1. I just can’t agree with you more, Amelia! Thank you so much! When I was taking Junior to puppy class one of the ladies at the training facility would go across the street to the mall pet store and bring this 6 month old bulldog puppy over for play and socialization. The people at the pet store were kind enough to recognize the cruelty of keeping this puppy now for 4 months of his life in a cage so they allowed him to come over to play once a week during our class. But would they consider selling the puppy for less money or finding some other means of re-homing him? Nope – they wanted $6,000 for him and that price was non-negotiable. Despicable and disgusting! Sure I felt like scooping that baby up and bringing him home, but that only serves the greed and cruelty behind his breeding. 🙁

    2. And I have known people who have paid MORE than they would for a breeder, healthy, purebred and boughtone from a rescue – and paid a bloody fortune – and then had all sorts of health problems!!!!

  6. I appreciate so many things about this post. Online bullying has become such an issue and tolerance is so important. Though I usually end up at a rescue (Harley was left at a vet’s office) I also have a friend who is a reputable breeder. There is room for all responsible pet owners. She researches her clients like nobody’s business and also has a policy that NONE of her dogs are surrendered to anywhere but back to her if needed. I don’t think that has ever happened either.

    1. Thank you so much, Denise! I have no doubt your friend would do anything for the puppies she produces. I’m so happy you are able to clearly see the benefits of a great breeder first hand. Please continue to share her message and the good that she is doing for her breed. It would mean a lot to the folks in that breed as well as serve to educate those who believe rescue is the only way.

  7. I have had several interactions with opinionated people who either don’t like breeders or don’t like Doodles. A woman at the dog park criticized both of my dogs wondering out loud to my face why someone would spend over $2000 on a dog that is a mutt. While she insulted me and my pack, she was smoking, a poor habit I’m estimating she spends around $2000 annually on. My response was that I was quite happy with my two loving Doodles and I disengaged.

    Another woman at the airport struck up a conversation with me. She’s an evaluator for nose work. She chatted away about her work for over an hour. When she asked me if I had a dog, I excitedly told her we were picking up our Labradoodle Bernie in less than a week. Her immediate snide response was, “You know the man who bred Labradoodles ultimately regretted that he ever crossed the Poodle and the Lab?” I sat there stunned that someone would be so ill-bred. I let her know that I was aware that he regretted his decision, but Matthew and I were quite happy with ours. I said goodbye and walked to the bathroom.

    In one of my Labradoodle Facebook groups, someone with a new Doodle puppy posted this question: What do you say to the person who demands to know why you chose to buy your dog instead of rescuing one? There were over 2oo comments in that thread. Boy were the Labradoodle folks colorful in some of their responses. Not everyone, but enough to give me pause.

    Do we have to be polarized on every issue people? I liked one response in that thread. A woman pointed out that Dear Abby had a standard response to any rude question: “Why do you need to know?” delivered in a neutral tone.

    I thought that response was brilliant. While I have not used that response regarding our Labradoodles, I’m keeping it handy.

    Thank you for writing such a thoughtful post! #AdoptOrShop

    1. This was so well said, Irene! Thank you so much! I am sadly not surprised with the rudeness you have encountered when out with Bernie and Lizzie. People just don’t think before they speak (or write for that matter). What good does it do to insult a loving dog owner clearly adoring and providing the best care for her dogs? If these ladies felt so strongly, they should do more to support purebred Labradors and purebred Poodles. Or maybe find some facts that support why the two breeds shouldn’t be mixed if that’s how she feels. At the end of the day, you found something you loved in Doodles, so what difference should that make to those women? I love Dear Abby’s response. I’m going to save that one as well.

  8. Great post. As a person that has used that #adoptdontshop I never even thought about the backlash aspect. How awful. 🙁 Honestly, of the people I personally know in my inner circle 99% of them adopt from a shelter or got their pet from someone they know. Only one I know went to the pet store, however if they knew the conditions and circumstances of getting a pet /buying from a non reputable breeder I know they’d rethink that choice. But bottom line like you said, it’s freedom of choice. I’m not one to judge. The best we can do is educate and share, just as you’ve shared with us your perspective.

  9. Very good article. I was thinking of doing similar as I heard that many excellent breeders have suffered lately and I hate seeing nasty comments I feel are not reasonable or respectful. Reputable, responsible breeders are usually passionate about their dogs and dog breed. They keep dogs healthy and happy and make sure puppies go to good homes. I believe it is great to breed for health, traits and temperament like the Service Dog Programs I support and many breeders do (including yours I am sure). There will always be demand for breeds and if no one buys and responsible breeders stop breeding, that could actually encourage cruel breeding practises and more unhealthy “pure bred” dogs in shelters. Everyone should do their research and find the best fit for their family, lifestyle and budget and that could very well be from a breeder. I would like to eliminate Puppy Mills as I am sure we all would. I have my own little rescue Kilo the Pug. I do a campaign #rescuesrock to promote adoption and educate people about getting a dog and ways to reduce the number of dogs going into shelters. I certainly do NOT judge breeders or anyone who buys responsibly.I respect them.

  10. Loved this post. I had “inherited” every single dog in my life. Every dog that another family member no longer wanted or could care for somehow ended up with me. I loved them all and I have zero regrets. After the last “hand me down” dog passed … I went 8 years without a dog. I just couldn’t do it anymore. For the most part I was getting these sweet being near the end of their life you see. When I met my now husband he saw that my heart ached for a new canine companion and he gently held me by the shoulder and said “why don’t you … just once … choose your pup? Maybe a tiny one we can travel with in cabin? I hear the toy breeds live longer…” and that is how I ended up a year later with Montecristo. Now my heart has healed and I am considering fostering or “end of life” care for senior Chihuahua’s. My heart needed that break. You are SO right … there should be NO judgement in these things. This reminds me of my post I wrote on Getting the Back Story. Judgement really nullifies the How and Why. And ironically … it’s no ones bees wax. Well done!

    1. Thank you so much, Sonja! I love that Montecristo has healed your heart! I can’t imagine 8 years without a dog. I would love to one day open our home to senior mastiffs as well. I have too much on my plate now with two young children, but one day I will do this. It breaks my heart that people give up or don’t want their senior dogs.

  11. The trouble is there are too many profiteering unscrupulous breeders and they damage reputable breeders horrifically. A local pet shop to us was discovered to be buying puppies from a puppy mill further north. All hell broke loose. The pups were being sold for three figure sums = robbery. No wonder people adopt from the local SPCA and pet rescues!

    I am all for adopt don’t shop until puppy mills, kitten mills and unregulated breeders are wiped of the face of the earth. THEN we stop adopt don’t shop.

    1. I appreciate your perspective, and you’re right about the fact that puppy mills and back yard breeders are the problem. What I would push back on is the idea that rescue is a means to an end. If all people looking for a puppy or dog acquired them from a shelter, do you think for one second, back yard breeders would stop breeding. No. Education and encouraging people to NEVER buy from BYB or puppy mills (pet shops) is the answer. With no demand, those “unscrupulous breeders” make no money. I love that people want to open their homes and hearts to a dog who needs a home, but I equally love someone who takes seriously enough their decision to get a puppy or a dog that they go through a reputable breeder.

  12. Nobody should be bullied for their beliefs. I am a strong supporter of rescue, but when I meet someone who got their pet from a breeder, I do not belittle them. Doing that does not get the other person to see your point of view. Thank you for speaking about reputable breeders. It’s the irresponsible breeders who must be shut down.

  13. I use #adoptdontshop a lot when I’m promoting animal welfare related posts. I use it because the audience I want to reach searches there for much of the type of content I create. I’m sorry you had misguided troll-like reactions, that’s unfair & unfortunate. One of my dogs is a shelter dog, the other is not. Using the hashtag doesn’t mean I’m against ethical, reputable breeders, to me it shows my support of shelters & that I’m pro adoption & rescue. I am a shelter volunteer & will always opt to adopt if possible, but being pro adoption/rescue doesn’t have to mean anti Reputable breeders. It doesn’t for me, anyway.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  14. I have sometimes used that hashtag, and like Cathy, it is not meant in an offensive way at all. Mostly I use #OpttoAdopt because I think it sounds less judgmental. However, I think that pet adoption is up because people are becoming more aware of how great rescue pets really are and how terrible puppy mills are.

    There is a huge difference between an ethical breeder and a person just trying to make money off of their dogs. I really like most of the suggested hashtags, but #AdoptOrShop just seems like it is saying “it doesn’t matter where you get your dog,” and I think that’s the opposite of the message you are trying to send.

    1. I can definitely see your point about #AdoptOrShop. That was really just meant to counter the judgement with the idea of choice. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t support adoption or rescue. It’s sort of like that which is good for you doesn’t need advertising. However, what does need more attention is education around what the difference is between a reputable breeder and a BYB or puppy mill. Until there is no demand (people buying) BYB dogs or pet shop puppies, you will always have rescue. That is the crux of the issue to me. I have started to use #SayNOtoBYB and #SayNOtoPuppyMills as my go to hashtags. I think they really speak to what the issue is and how to solve it.

  15. I know what you mean. I’ve had rescues (back before that was a term) and pets from breeders. I don’t openly talk about Truffle and Brulee coming from a breeder because I don’t want the “attacking” that sometimes follows such a statement. I researched the breeder for Truffle and Brulee. I visited the breeders home both before and after the girls were born. The girls went through testing and I know the DNA of their parents. I was interviewed by the breeder to make sure my home was conducive for Persian cats because they require a lot of care. My breeder has turned down potential adopters, just like a rescue. I like Beth’s hashtag above “OpttoAdopt” because that actually mean adopting any fur child. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many people use “AdoptDon’tShop” to criticise those of us who chose to go through a reputable breeder and too many reputable breeders are attacked. I had someone to try and give me a hard time when I was selecting the girls as kittens. I responded that it was my choice to go with a reputable breeder and that I was still grieving the loss of my previous cat and would hope they would respect my grief and choices. I had support after that (or at least no one jumped on the bandwagon). This gives me an idea of a future article based on the questions my breeder told me I should ask any breeder when selecting a cat.

    1. Thank you so much, Paula. I am so sorry for the grief you were given about getting Truffle and Brulee from a reputable breeder. It saddens me that anyone would put down someone taking so seriously their decision to bring a cat or dog into their home. The fact that we have to defend our decision to buy really upsets me! I think your idea for a post with the questions to ask a cat breeder before buying would be a great one. I linked in this post the two I wrote to that affect for dogs, so please feel free to use those as inspiration. I will be happy to share it when you get it done. 🙂

  16. Google is biased. The data and statistics about puppy mills, pet stores, and breeding facilities are inaccurate. They come from corrupt organizations like PETA and HSUS who kill thousands of pets a year and operate by using deceit.

    You need to understand that these negative generalizations against pet stores and mills aka breeding facilities are also applied to breeders/breeding in general. Applying that stereotype to mills and pet stores is just as damaging as applying that to breeders. The Hunte corporation and many pet mills/pet farms do engage in health testing to avoid genetic illnesses from being passed on, do take good care of their animals, socialize their animals, and officially pass USDA, Aphis regulations and abide by the Animal Welfare Act. You are operating on the negative stereotype based on a minority of examples which should not be applied to everybody. Respected organizations like the AKC and N.A.I.A and PIJAC use mills & breeding facilities. There are also pet stores that advocate proper health care and treatment of animals. Do you realize that discriminating against mills and pet stores is just as damaging as discriminating against regular high-class breeders? They operate on the same principles and laws.

    Google is biased so a simple search is not going to yield accurate results. I know this from experience and deeper research. Do not vilify all breeding facilities aka mills and don’t vilify all pet stores. All of them are necessary for pet species to survive. Hamsters, rabbits, mice, and birds would ceast to exist without breeding facilities or pet stores since it is rare to find a pet owner who breeds them.

  17. My understanding of #AdoptDontShop is please don’t SHOP IN STORES that sell puppies & kittens from mills/factories, while other pets dies in shelters. I don’t believe it was established to be directed at ethical registered breeders and I’m sorry you (& others) get grief from it. I’m not being naive, I see it used in the context you mention all the time, but I feel it was intended to stop impulse shopping, for want of a better term.

    1. Thank you, Annette. I have no doubt that you are right that, perhaps, that was the original intent of #adoptdontshop, but I do not believe that is how it is used today by the majority of people who use it. For most of these people, any form of purchase is wrong, and that unfairly includes the many, many wonderful preservation breeders who have dedicated their lives to serving their dogs. I agree #everybreedisinneed. Shelters and rescues definitely have their place and adopting dogs that need homes is important as well.

  18. I am a reputable breeder and I also co-founded a rescue for my chosen breed that covers 15 states. While I agree that we should stop bashing good breeders I hope that you do a bit more research into the pet shop and commercial breeder issue. Here is the problem: It is estimated that the US needs approximately 6 million dogs per year to replace those that die from age, illness or accident. Good breeders cannot produce even a fraction of that total as most of us only breed one to two litters a year. So where are people going to get a new dog, especially if they want a purebred? In the last decade plus, the pet stores and the breeders they buy from have upped their game significantly in response to demands from the buying public. The breeding facilities are inspected and licensed by sometimes several entities, including USDA, state licensing, local licensing and if they register with AKC, AKC inspections. In addition, there are more commercial type breeders who do the same types of screening of their buyers, take dogs back if they don’t work out and spay/neuter and place retired breeding dogs. The Amish have a poor reputation as breeders but many of them are significantly improving the care, conditions and socialization of the animals in their care. I have seen Amish families at dog shows taking in and making notes about the dogs and asking good questions about nutrition, coat care and training. Things change and we all need to recognize that one group cannot possibly supply the dogs needed. The bad result of not having enough purebred dogs available from good breeders is the reduction of numbers of breeds and theft. There are over 91 breeds on the AKC low entry list, which means that these breeds have fewer than 100 litters registered per year. My own breed numbers have decreased by 82% in the last ten years. There is a huge increase in the number of stolen purebred dogs that are either kept or sold far from home. A man was recently caught who made his living from stealing dogs from backyards and selling them over a hundred miles away on Craigslist. We need to update our opinions of the different types of breeders and remember that there will always be bad apples but we shouldn’t toss out a whole group because of the bad folks.

    1. Thank you, Michele, for such a well thought out comment and for sharing your experience. I have never been a fan of commercial breeding operations as, quite honestly, I have not seen or heard of any like you mention – that are clean, loving, and prioritizing the health and welfare of their dogs and puppies while placing a high standard on each litter bred. The smaller, reputable breeders, like yourself, take time to make breeding decision with the best interest of the breed at heart. I have never seen a large commercial breeding operation take such care as it relates to their dogs. I am not saying they don’t exist as you say. Laura Reeves of the Pure Dog Talk podcast interviewed a man who’s job it was to represent commercial breeders and he quoted some of the very same statistics. His stance was similar – that there are many “commercial breeders that are doing things right” and that “we have come a long way,” etc. I am not here to disagree with any of this, except to say, I will keep an open mind and try and find one of these “good guys” to interview for If you happen to know of someone in particular that you feel I have unfairly lumped in with those I consider backyard breeders or puppy mills, please connect us. I’m happy to chat with him/her.

  19. I disagree so much. Pets are NOT products. When buying a product, you as a consumer, create demand. In this capitalist world, the demand rules everything. Therefore, if ppl like you continue buying, there will be ppl to sell. In order to sell, they will perpetrate an artificial cycle of life.

    There are so many unhappy dogs in shelters already, why have some “trendy” breeds reproduced for you to buy?

    The fact that you repeat that you don’t have to justify your choice illustrates that there is something wrong with it and that you know it.

    Also, I bet that you love dogs and animals, you probably define yourself as an animal lover. Right? Next question: do you eat meat or any animal products? Because this leads to A LOT OF ANIMAL SUFFERING TOO. Consuming is choosing, one needs to remember this.


    1. “There are so many unhappy dogs in shelters already, why have some ‘trendy’ breeds reproduced for you to buy?”

      Because I don’t want a pit bull.

      It’s that simple.

      80-90% of the dogs in shelters are pit bulls or pit mixes. I won’t have a dog bred to kill in my home, around my children or the children of my neighbors. Since shelters are now openly lying about not only breed identification but bite/aggression history in order to push more pit bulls on people who don’t want pit bulls, I will not adopt a dog whose breed I cannot be sure of. I have every right to place the safety of my family at the top of my list of reasons. Who are you to tell me I must take risks with those lives to please you?

      I also have a daughter at the very high end of the autistic spectrum, who has never been around dogs much and is a little afraid of them, even small breeds. For that reason, we wanted a puppy, a dog she could get to know well when it was still tiny and adorable, and would feel comfortable with as he grew up. That worked very well, and she is not only very comfortable with our big boy but feels safer around other dogs and in general knowing that she has a dog who would do anything to protect her (and is generally quite capable of doing so). Who are you to demand I traumatize my child with a full-grown dog she doesn’t know, to please you?

      Our other dog is a senior lab, adopted in middle age. We also wanted a puppy so we wouldn’t be bringing in another adult dog to encroach upon her territory (so to speak). We wanted a dog who would be bigger, because she’s a big girl. Watching her with a rambunctious puppy–who is now 17 months old–has been amazing! The playfulness we’ve seen from her, the happiness at having a little one to cuddle, has been delightful; it’s like she got a new lease on life. (And how many of those pits in shelters do you think can go to homes that already have dogs, because pretty much all of them have “I need to be the only dog,” in their listings.) Who are you to tell me we should have brought home an adult dog who might not have gotten along so well with her, who she might have had a harder time adjusting to? Who might even have injured or bullied her?

      I didn’t get a “trendy” breed, either, but your bigoted and smarmy little assumption is noted. We got a German Shepherd. I have wanted one all my life. I’ve had a number of dogs throughout that life–all adopted from shelters, back when you could still get non-pits there. I’m now in my forties and decided that I was finally going to get a Shepherd, now that I had the time to devote to training and exercise, the know-how to handle him, and our children are old enough that I didn’t have to worry about them being knocked over or pulling tails or whatever. I was finally going to fulfill my lifelong dream. Who are you to tell me I owe it to you to forget that?

      The fact that we have to say we don’t have to justify our choices does NOT signify that we “know something is wrong with it.” It signifies that we’re aware that smug, snotty busybodies exist who feel the need to virtue-signal all over issues and decisions you know nothing about and which are not your business anyway. Articles like this wouldn’t need to be written if judgy misanthropes like you would keep your uninformed and ignorant opinions to yourselves.

      (And by the way, one does not need to remember *anything* you have said when it comes to deciding what to eat, or to making any other decisions–which, I repeat, are none of your business. The breathtaking arrogance of thinking we need you to educate us about our food and pet choices! It would be insulting if it wasn’t so hilarious.)

      1. Just so you know, pitbulls are some of the gentlest dogs out there. They were not bred to kill. In fact, they have been nicknamed “nanny dogs” because people used to use them to watch their young children! That’s how gentle they are. Like any other dog, they can be trained to be vicious on an individual basis – but that is NOT their natural temperament or how they behave in a normal home where they are not being abused! I respect the choices you make for your family, but I want to make sure people know the truth about pitties (: They are awesome dogs!

  20. Having an 8 month old golden in my house I have gotten “oh, you didn’t adopt?” more times that I want to count since bringing our pup home in February. No. I didn’t adopt because I knew exactly what I wanted and spent a year looking for the right breeder.

    Why didn’t I adopt? Exactly as you said “it’s none of anyone’s business” and I’ll never explain it again! I’ve never questioned anyone on why they adopted. Ty big dog mom! ❤️

  21. Those were laughably weak / vague arguments. Allow me to elaborate below:

    1) “But to throw #AdoptDontShop in the face of every person who chooses a breeder over rescue ignores the very relevant WHY driving their decision, which is none of anyone’s business.” Says the person who refuses to share ANY reasons why they see breeding as a necessity in certain situations. When someone says something like this: “I could explain my reasons for not wanting to adopt a dog out of rescue, but quite honestly, my reasons are my reasons. Not yours. I will not defend my choice, and neither should you.” It probably means their position is not easily defended (and therefore they’re trying to avoid specifics).

    2) “My decision to buy Sulley and Junior neither affects the people who choose to rescue nor the number of dogs needing it.” Except… if you hadn’t gone to a breeder / if that hadn’t been an option, you would have adopted two rescue dogs instead. So, the number of dogs “needing it” would have been reduced by two. It sounds like you’re making the blanket statement that EVERY person who goes to a breeder would choose “no dog” over “rescue dog” if a breeder wasn’t an option. If that’s the case, I’m not sure you can really post things like “Dog Lovers Unite” (might need to amend that to say “Purebred Dog Lovers Unite”).

    3) “In America, we are blessed with many freedoms. The Declaration of Independence grants us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… If I choose to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder, that is my choice, my money and my freedom to do so.” Yes, and exactly none of that means that the choices you make are morally or ethically sound. Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you should. Let me show you: “In America, we are blessed with many freedoms. The Declaration of Independence grants us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… If I choose to have an extra-marital affair with a consenting adult, that is my choice, my money and my freedom to do so.” See how silly that point is? Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

    4) The equivalent argument to “I’m not racist, I have tons of black friends.” Just because you volunteer / donate money to rescues doesn’t mean that your choice to use a breeder is somehow redeemed. It is still a shitty thing to do. At the end of the day the BEST thing you can do to help rescue dogs, is adopt them and encourage others to adopt.

    5) While there are clearly going to be more reputable breeders than others, this point is a textbook straw man argument. The issue at hand here isn’t “reputable” vs BYB, it is the entire concept / culture of breeding pets to order when MILLIONS of perfectly lovely animals are waiting in rescue shelters for forever homes. Reputable breeders may not be the horror shows that puppy mills are, but they are complicit in that horror by perpetuating a culture where adoption is not seen as the first and best choice for perspective pet owners. Breeders IN GENERAL are the issue.

    6) This point is just false. Reputable breeders do not REDUCE the numbers of dogs needing rescue, and none of the sub-points you list support that claim (e.g. thoroughly screening potential parents is a positive thing, but it doesn’t affect the number of dogs needing rescue). Additionally, you present a romanticized idea of a purebred dog that is laughable:

    “Pet problems were defined as problematic behaviors, aggressive behaviors, grew larger than expected, or health problems owner couldn’t handle.
    All four of these could be solved for or prevented if the dog was purchased from a reputable breeder.”

    Oh really? I didn’t realize that purebred dogs are genetically incapable of “problematic behaviors”, “aggressive behaviors”, or having “health problems” owners can’t handle. That is remarkable (and very obviously not true).

    I think you should just stop defending breeding and own your truth – which is: You’re an entitled and selfish person. You could put in a little leg work to find a rescue dog that is a PERFECT fit for your family, but you’d rather just throw money at the situation, wait a few years, and turn a blind eye to the millions of dogs who haven’t, literally, been bred to your specifications. That’s FINE. Own your truth. Just stop trying to get everyone else to tell you what a good person you are for doing a shitty thing. And hey, at least your purebred dog will comfort / love you SO much better than a rescue ever could, right?

    1. YES! This. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I love how the author only responds to people that agree with her. I work at a vet clinic and I see more purebreed dogs with health issues and behavioral issues than mixed breeds. EVERY lab, golden and any blend with them have skin issues and terrible allergies. How is that responsible?
      A dog’s behavior is a reflection of its experiences. You can have all the well-bred dogs in the world but they will be aggressive or out of control if you don’t train them. Any behavioral problems from adopted dogs are the product of their past experiences. Dog lovers should be attacking these animal abusers, not each other.

    2. This response is a breath of fresh air. I’m not going to stop using the phrase “adopt don’t shop” just because someone is offended by it, or because some might have used it hatefully. It doesn’t change the fact that the message is critically important, and needs to be encouraged in our society.
      I’m also going to bring another important point to the table – “Adopt don’t shop” isn’t just about dogs. Think about more than how this message just affects you as a dog owner. It’s about ALL animals that need rescued! I work at a guinea pig shelter and the number of these animals needing homes is staggering, far beyond our capabilities. The phrase “adopt don’t shop” is so incredibly vital to our mission, because people are constantly buying them from pet stores and compounding the problem. There is no way I’m ever going to stop using it or alter it just to make someone else feel better because someone on the internet was rude to them.

  22. Well I understand the importance of this hashtag and I am a supporter about that, but there are quite… some complications… for some reason.
    I am not from the US, I am living in Germany and it’s not that common (at least I don’t know any pet stores which would sell you anything bigger than a rabbit), so you can get a dog or a cat (or something bigger) only from a breeder or a shelter. So… I really want to give a forever-loving-home to a dog or a cat and consider myself as a rookie in keeping a pet (we had dogs in our family, when I was little, but this pet would be the first pet since I’ve moved out from my parents’ home). I want a dog or a cat from the shelter, not from a breeder. But the requirements are so stupid sometimes. Like, you won’t get that small dog, because you don’t have a villa with 20 rooms and a big garden for the little fella. Or. This cat is easy to handle and has a pretty simple character, but it needs to take this medicine every day, because of a condition it has. We need a cat-experienced owner. I mean, I get that they need reliable people as the new owners, but how can you get experienced, if the standards for adopting are high as hell and shelters search for experienced people only?
    It saddens me really much and after nearly a year long search with the same results “Oh, I don’t meet their requirements for adopting this fluffball”, the only opportunity to get a pet as a rookie is indeed to go to a breeder… geez….

  23. “Dogs don’t judge. They live in the moment and love us unconditionally. Let them inspire and empower us to be our best selves.”
    I love this statement Stephanie.

  24. “ Reputable Breeders REDUCE the Number of Dogs Needing Rescue”

    Anyone who’s been involved in rescue knows this is complete BS. Rescues are overflowing with dogs from “reputable breeders” because they generally don’t vet buyers. Everyone wants a dog but many shouldn’t have one.

  25. Well, using the phrase “adopt don’t shop” makes me happy because it supports animals in shelters. According to your logic about freedom and the pursuit of happiness, I therefore don’t need to worry if this offends you!

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