So You Want a Dog for a Pet? Part III. Where Should I go to Adopt a Dog?

Now that you know it’s a pain in the ass to own a puppy and how to pick the right one, let’s talk about where you should go to adopt your furry friend. We did a ton of research and eventually adopted Pippa from a breeder.

But before we talk about breeders, let’s talk about where to NOT go. We’ve all been there, walking around the mall wondering how you’re going to pay off your credit card bill from all the shopping you just did. All of a sudden, right next to Build-A-Bear, a puppy store. Holy shit, yes. A puppy store. This is what dreams are made of right? The convenience of buying a puppy at your local shopping center!
No. No. NO. Do not EVER buy a dog from a puppy store. 11 out of 10 puppies from a pet store are from a puppy mill. If you don’t know what a puppy mill is, I can take care of that.


Puppy mills breed dogs in the worst possible living conditions. These dogs can barely turn around in their small piss-covered cages. Nobody cleans up after them and they are often undernourished because all they eat is their own shit. The puppies that come out of these mills are often in bad health with behavioral problems that are a nightmare for first time owners. 

Pet Stores (especially ones in a mall) often purchase their puppies from a puppy mills with fake paperwork. You’re only going to be supporting puppy mills and setting yourself up for a bad time if you buy a dog from those places. Check out the yelp reviews on this one particular store.  There are sites out there dedicated to the anti-puppy stores and anti-puppy mills.

To sum up, no puppy stores. 

That leaves us with two options. A rescue shelter or a breeder. 

Rescue Shelters
Consider going to your local rescue shelter to save a dog. Dogs from a rescue shelter will often have all their vaccine shots with a full vet check. They are also often spayed or neutered already which will save you a ton of money. Shelters are often excessively filled with amazing dogs who make great pets. If you’re interested in a pure-bred dog, there’s plenty of those at the shelter as well. The adoption fees are typically low. Give shelters a look, you won't be disappointed and you will save a life. 

Breeders are people who specialize and breed in a specific breed of dog. How’s that for using the word to define the word?

This one is a bit tricky but you just have to do your homework. There are faux-breeders out there that are churning out dogs just for the sake of making a buck. They often have living conditions that are just as bad as puppy mills. Puppies from these “breeders” often have the same health and behavioral problems from puppy mills. Fear not, they are often quite easy to spot and I’m going to tell you how to spot a faux-breeder from a reputable breeder. Here are 12 things to look for in finding a reputable breeder:

1. Can your breeder provide you with the family history (pedigree) of your future puppy?
Breeders care about the betterment of the breed. They want this breed to be healthier. Keeping tabs on the pedigree shows the breeder cares about creating the best of the best. You want the best of the best.

2. Does your breeder have test results for the parent dogs?
Along with knowing your puppy’s pedigree, breeders will typically provide test results on the parents on genetic problems the breed is commonly known for. For example, cataracts can effect Australian Shepherds - there are tests that can be performed on the parent dogs to determine the chances of this health issue on future puppies with almost a 100% accuracy. The more you know, the happier your future wallet is. 

3. Are you allowed to meet the parent dogs?
A reputable breeder should have no problem letting you visit the parent dogs (unless they are busy nursing their newborn puppies). Meeting the parent dogs will provide you with insight in how well the breeder takes care of their dogs. It’ll also provide you with glimpse of your future puppy’s temperament and personality. If your breeder says no, run, don’t walk. 

4. Can your breeder show you the living facilities of their dogs?
If you breeder does not allow you to visit the living facilities of their dogs, this is a red flag. You should still be allowed to visit the living facilities of the dogs. Be sure to inspect for cleanliness. Bring a white glove. The only thing you should be finding is fur and food. 

5. Can your breeder provide referrals to owners of their previous litters?
The only reason your breeder would say no is to protect the privacy of other dog owners. But let’s face it, people love to talk about their pets. I do. Your breeder shouldn’t have any problems finding one of their clients to offer them a good referral. 

6. Does your breeder specialize in multiple breeds?
This one is tricky. Some breeders do specialize in multiple breeds, but 9 out of 10 breeders typically breed only one type of dog. It’s like the saying goes, a master of all is a master of none. 

7. Does your breeder recommend positive reinforcement training?
Dominance theory is out. The Caesar Millan shit you see on TV? It’s all crap. Positive reinforcement training and understanding dog behaviors is where it’s at. If your breeder isn’t keeping up to date with the best training methods, your breeder is probably not up to par. Be sure to check back for articles on clicker and positive reinforcement training. 

Speaking of clicker training, these are the clickers I recommend. They have a wrist band, a solid click and are relatively cheap. So get a couple and have them laying around for training when I have my training articles up. I’ll also have a puppy gear checklist article coming soon with the best gears I’ve purchased and which ones to avoid. 

8. Does your breeder produce more than a few litters a year?
If your breeder produces more then 4 litters a year, you should be asking why. Do they have the demand? Are they doing it just to make a pay check? Taking care of puppies for 8 weeks is a lot of work. If they have more than 4 litters a year, that’s going to impact their ability to provide adequate care to all their dogs.

9. Can your breeder guarantee your dog’s health for a reasonable time?
If they have a strong pedigree and know what they are doing, a reputable breeder should be willing to guarantee a healthy puppy for the first couple of months and some even up to a year. 

10. Does your breeder allow puppies to go home with you before 8 weeks?
Your puppy should not be allowed to come home with you until it’s at least 8 weeks old. Your puppy needs to be around siblings to learn to socialize with other dogs (learning bite inhibition, not to resource guard and etc). Socializing is a huge subject on it’s own and I’ll definitely write an article about this in the future so be sure to check back. But picking up your puppy after 8 weeks allows your puppy to mature with her litter-mates which leads to a much better pet.

11. Will the breeder provide the puppy with a vet check and deworming protocol before going home with you?
Yes they should. 

12. Can you contact your breeder once your puppy goes home with you?
Your breeder should build a relationship with you. This isn’t a one night stand folks.

Did I miss anything? If you have any questions, leave a comment below!