For full disclosure my personal preference is to only buy from registered, ethical, heritage breeders, however many of these considerations are still relevant should you choose to rescue a dog from an ethical rescue group. Choosing a pure breed gives you the gift of predictability, all pure breeds breed true and over all share the same traits in both temperament and physical structure. This is a huge help in making sure the dog you bring home will meet your expectations if you have done your research about what type of dog will suit your life as per THIS blog post. This is not the same of a cross breed or “designer breed” who can often harbour all the negative aspects of both parent breeds. There are breed specific rescues so getting a purebred is not exclusive of getting a rescue.
I do not support puppy farmers, back yard breeders, or pet shops etc regardless of if they are peddling cross breeds or “purebred” dogs. Often those that are advertised as purebred from these sources turn out NOT to be pure at all. Buying from these unethical sources contributes to animal abuse and human greed. “Saving” a puppy from one of these sources only opens a space for another to take its place furthering the trade in poorly bred, unhealth tested dogs. Often your bargain back yard bred pooch will cost you much more in vet bills due to poor health or in training services due to lack of appropriate socialisation. Many of the pet shop puppies are far more expensive then either an ethically bred pure breed or a rescued cross bred of the same breed mix without the “designer” price tag.
So how do you avoid these unscrupulous puppy peddlers? Firstly, always ask to see where the puppy and its mother (and father if possible) live. You should be welcomed in to a house full of happy dog that are all well cared for. I strongly suggest avoiding anywhere the dogs are kept in a kennel situation, the dogs you are going to see should be part of the family. '
Ethical rescue groups will usually have their dogs in a foster home situation. Rescues that keep their dogs in foster homes are less likely to sugar coat issues with their dogs as they genuinely want to see a good match made, not just free up a kennel as is often the case in high kill shelters. Verify the bona fides of the breeder with the state kennel club, rescues tend to be a little harder to verify as there is no central registering body for those.
If the environment seems satisfactory ask about the health testing done on the puppy and the parents. The breeder or rescue should be able to provide verifiable proof of what health work has been done for both the puppies and the parents. Ethical breeders will have tested for all heath issues specific to their breed. In the case of a rescue the parentage may not be known, however the dog should at least be up to date on vaccinations and parasite treatment and desexed. Call the vet to verify these documents.
Any GOOD breeder or rescue will be more then happy for you to ask for all this information and likely they will have as many questions for you as you will have for them. Good breeders and rescues want to know their dog is going to a great home – not just the first buyer willing to pay the fee for the dog.
The next thing I think is an essential hallmark of a good breeder/rescue is a return clause. The breeder or rescue should be willing to take back the dog at any point in its life for any reason. Ethical sources of dogs don’t ever want to see their dogs end up homeless or in a kill shelter.
Once you are satisfied the dog has come from an ethical source and you bring the dog home take it to your own vet for a health check within 48 hours. This is just sound piece of mind and getting any issues you may have not been aware of, and that may not have been disclosed by the seller checked.
Most trainers would be happy to help you select a suitable dog. This is a service I offer clients.