Adopting an Animal or Buying a from a Breeder: Which is better?

Whether you’ve been waiting for the right moment to get a cat or have always wanted a dog, welcoming a new animal into your life is a very big decision. Everything, from breed to age, is important to consider, and then there’s the how to think about. Many people are already familiar with the adoption vs buying debate, but if you’re new to the question of should I adopt or buy, familiarising yourself with the pros and cons of each option is important.

To help you figure out whether adopting an animal or buying from a breeder is the right option for you and your family, we’ve gathered the knowledge of our experts. In this post, you’ll find a detailed list of benefits of pet adoption and buying from a respected breeder, as well as the negatives that are associated with each option. Remember, this is a big decision, and the extra time spent researching is sure to pay off.

Benefits of adopting an animal

If you’re already familiar with the adoption vs buying debate, you’re likely familiar with the most commonly brought up benefit of adopting a pet: the moral argument. Undoubtedly the strongest case available for adoption, the chance to give a vulnerable dog or cat a loving home for life is incredibly compelling. The thought of an innocent animal suffering causes a lot of pain to cat and dog lovers, and the chance to make a difference and completely transform an abandoned animal's life is almost irresistible. Even outside of this, however, there's still a long list of reasons to choose adoption over buying from a breeder, many of which you might not have considered before.

  • Pet age: While some pet-owners-to-be may envision getting a rambunctious little puppy or kitten to care for, there is a great deal of unforeseen trouble associated with this age. For busy pet parents, forgoing this troublesome and boisterous stage of an animal's life may even be preferable. This means that, while you miss out on seeing their growing years, you are spared the often hectic and highly time-consuming responsibilities of owning a young pet. Not only does this mean you miss the destructive chewing and scratching tantrums of a puppy or kitten, you also don’t need to worry about providing the close attention and vigilant supervision that this life stage requires - an easier option all-round. It’s important to remember however, that an adopted animal may still need supervision, particularly if there are any behavioural issues.
  • Wider Choice: One of the biggest benefits of adopting from a shelter is the wide variety of choices you find available to you, and we don’t just mean in breed. Many people make the mistake of assuming that all animals in a shelter have complex needs and horrifying, dark backgrounds but this isn’t always the case. If you’re willing and capable of caring for an abandoned and abused animal, then this option remains available to you, but there are also other reasons for animals ending up in shelters. Dogs of divorced or emigrated couples, cats of families who’ve fallen on hard times - these animals are just as easy to care for as any from a breeder, and they’re just as deserving of love. The real message from shelters is to take on what you can handle, don’t write off all rescue animals as too hard to care for without doing your research first.
  • Support System: When you adopt from a shelter, you are given instant access to a well-informed support system who are ready to help you. If you’re adopting an animal with special needs, their previous carers will be able to share helpful advice to make the tasks associated with their care more manageable. On top of this, if you’re looking for an easy to care for animal, shelter staff will be able to advise on which animals have what personality traits and can help pair you with your perfect calm or mischievous new family member.

Disadvantages of adopting an animal from a shelter

While we have pointed out that there are always a wide variety of animals available for adoption in shelters, there is no denying the fact that many of the animals you will meet there may have special needs. Abused and abandoned animals regularly require special care and attention, so if you aren’t prepared to give this, adopting this type of animal isn’t the right choice. Outside of this most common disadvantage, there are also some other considerations to keep in mind if you’re thinking of adopting an animal.

  • Screening Process: As can only be expected, when you apply to adopt a pet the shelter you’ve approached may be apprehensive. While they know it's better for a cat or dog to be raised in a loving home than a busy shelter, they care very deeply for their animals and will protect them from ever being hurt again. In order to ensure you are capable and deserving of caring for one of their rescues, they will have plenty of questions for you and may even request to visit you in your home for an inspection. This can feel very intrusive and drawn out for some adopters, especially those new to the experience, but it shows the dedication shelters show to those in their care, and is well worth the effort.
  • Adoption Age: While there are considerable advantages to adopting an older cat or dog, if your heart is set on welcoming a puppy or kitten, you’re less likely to find what you’re looking for at a pet shelter. More often than not, the animals who find themselves abandoned or given up to a shelter are adults, with puppies and kittens being a rarity. Of course, a rare occurrence is very different to an impossible one, and putting your name down for adopting a young animal at a local shelter may stop you from missing out.

Benefits of buying a pet from a breeder

While buying an animal from a breeder may not have the moral advantage of saving a cat or dog from a life in a shelter, there are some things they can offer that adoption simply cannot. For example, buying from a breeder gives you a higher chance of getting a puppy or kitten and raising them from a young age. As we’ve already covered, this is not a benefit for everyone due to the incredible time and effort associated with raising and training a young pet, but you do get the additional benefit of watching your pet grow up: an undeniably special time. Beyond this, the remaining benefits of buying from a breeder are largely related to genetics, as you’ll see below.

  • Medical History: While pet adoption can’t guarantee you knowledge of your new family members past medical problems, this information is made readily available when buying directly from a breeder. Similarly, this process will allow you to know more about the animal’s parents, and will even give you an idea of what your cat or dog will look like when they are fully grown.
  • Existing pets: Introducing a new pet to a home with an existing pet may be easier when buying from a breeder, as you are able to socialise the new animal from an early age, meaning the chance of conflict between your pets is a lot less. 

Disadvantages of buying a pet from a breeder 

Unless you put in the effort and do everything you can to properly vet the breeder you’ve approached, there’s a risk you’re buying your new pet from a ‘bad’ breeder. While some sellers may be advertising their pet’s kittens or puppies after a surprise pregnancy, most are professional breeders and are in this very lucrative business to turn a profit. While there is nothing expressly wrong with this, and many breeders take pride in giving their animals all the love, attention and care they deserve, there is space for greed to warp this process.

Where this happens, the potential of more money and bigger profits can mean that some people will ignore their duties of care. If you decide to buy a puppy or kitten, do all you can to purchase from a trustworthy breeder and, wherever possible, travel to meet them in person to inspect the level of care. If you ever see anything suspicious on such a visit, do not hesitate to call attention to it. Contact your local shelter to inform them of the potential abuse or call the RSPCA where appropriate and practical, anything you can do to get the word out is worthwhile - animal welfare may be on the line.

Is it better to adopt or buy a pet?

Every person who is familiar with the adoption vs buying debate has their own opinions on the matter, and it is not up to us to tell you which route you should take. This is a personal decision that depends entirely on your circumstances, and you know best what is right for you. All we can say is that, whatever you decide to do, ensuring the safety, happiness and care of your new family member should be your number one priority.

At Direct4Pet, we offer a wide range of pet supplies including food, toys and more to help you give them everything they need to stay happy and healthy. Our experts are also on-hand to provide detailed and trustworthy advice regarding your pets, helping to take the stress out of owning your first pet. Whatever you need, whether it be friendly advice or affordable pet care products, contact us or take a look around our website to find what you need.