Adopt Don’t Shop Movement is Toxic 

Guest blog from Adventures of a Dog Mom (Facebook page) by Lindsey Hutslar


This may be one of my more controversial pieces, but please stay with me until the end and give it a chance. 

The “adopt don’t shop” movement is toxic. 

Yes, you read that correctly, but don’t crucify me yet. Hear me out. 

I am all for responsible rescues. I just think the movement needs more nuance. “Adopt don’t shop” needs to become “Adopt or shop, just do so responsibly”.

“Adopt don’t stop” pits two kinds of dog lovers against each other. It also lumps reputable breeders together with backyard breeders and puppy mills. 

If you truly love dogs, then you really cannot only be in favor of rescue. Reputable breeders do not allow their dogs to end up in rescue. They offer a lifetime of support and make it a contractual obligation that any dog bred by them is returned to them should the owner no longer be able to care for them.

Only supporting rescue, and demonizing even the most reputable of breeders, essentially means that the only dogs you think people should own are ones bred either through irresponsible breeding practices or irresponsible ownership of intact dogs bought through the proxy of a rescue. 

If you truly love dogs, you should be demanding that we do better by them. You should want there to be more reputable breeders in the world. Reputable breeders make it their goal when breeding to not only preserve a breed’s original purpose, but to produce overall healthier and more conformationally and temperamentally sound dogs with predictable drive.

Lifestyle Living with Your Dog

Without reputable breeding, we’ll eventually run out of healthy and genetically predictable dogs to enjoy. 

“Adopt don’t shop” also overlooks the crucial element…

…that some people need dogs bred for specific jobs and they need to be able to reliably know that dog has the correct drive and health to do it which can’t be guaranteed in a shelter mix. For instance, even well-bred service dog prospects often wash. Training a service dog is a lengthy and costly process, and the handler is often quite literally placing their life in the paws of their service dog. A handler would be taking a much larger risk in trying a puppy or even adult dog with an unknown past and genetic history. Other jobs that typically require a well-bred dog from proven lines include: hunting, herding, livestock guardians, personal protection, search and rescue, or military/police work. 

In addition to needing specific things out of a working dog, many people want a well-bred dog as their companion. Arguably companionship is the largest purpose for dogs and for most people it is the most important, so why should we not want the best for our companions? We want our dogs to be with us for as long as possible, so we should want them to have the absolute best start in life. We should want them to come from generations of fully health tested parents in order to breed them away from common heritable health issues. We should want predictable temperaments and drive, so we know that the dog we are bringing into our home is a good fit for our lifestyle. 

We will always need reputable rescues, but it is important to know that there are many reasons that someone would not want to bring an unknown mix with an unknown past into their home. Maybe it’s because they have small animals and aren’t willing to risk their lives on a rescue that may prove to have an extremely high prey drive or be small animal aggressive. Maybe it is because they have children and can’t be sure the rescue has the temperament needed to tolerate the specific behaviors often exhibited by small children. Maybe it is simply because they want the joy of raising a specific breed from a puppy and ensuring it has the absolute best start in life in terms of socialization and training. 

The important thing to know is how to separate the reputable from the those who are not, as there are examples of both in both rescue and breeding. Knowing how to tell them apart makes a world of difference. 

Know better for your dogs. Demand better for your dogs. 

Adopt OR shop responsibly. (Post inspired by a comment by Beret Walsh)


I have written many articles on Dogs and Dog Training here Unleashed Dog Training AZ Blogs


Adopt Don’t Shop Movement is Toxic 

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