Can you justify buying a pedigree or designer dog instead of rescuing a homeless one?

Zoya Patel 8 October 2020 92

Mr Smiggle joined the Region Media office staff from the RSPCA about three months ago. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

There’s a debate raging right now in my family. It’s a hushed debate, because people have strong views and no one wants to offend anyone else (we’re polite like that), but it’s one fuelled by passionate views on both sides.

The question at the crux of it is: can you justify buying a purebred or ‘designer’ dog from a breeder when there are hundreds of rescues looking for a home?

In my experience, this is a divisive topic for many.

The implication is that if you choose a dog from a breeder, you’re basically fuelling the puppy farm economy and claiming that your labradoodle or spoodle or French bulldog is inherently more desirable and better than the many mutts who are homeless through no fault of their own. When it comes down to it, I can’t say I disagree with this implication.

There, I said it. I judge people who choose to buy a dog instead of adopting one.

My self-righteousness is earned because my dog is, of course, a rescue. He was an expensive rescue too, needing urgent surgery for hip dysplasia, which we were more than happy to pay for because we’re both animal-loving tragics and yuppies with the money to spend on dog surgery. He’s a garden-variety kelpie. If you looked up ‘dog’ in an encyclopedia, you’d probably find an image of Charlie, because he looks like the generic depiction of a medium-sized canine.

In contrast, members of my family have all committed various sins (in my opinion) when it comes to sourcing their pet dogs, including buying puppies from Gumtree ads, and purchasing designer Spoodles from a breeder without necessarily doing the due diligence I would expect as a minimum (which is to follow the RSPCA’s Smart Puppy Buyer’s Guide to the letter to make sure you’re not purchasing from a puppy farm).

I understand that people prefer certain dog breeds over others for any number of reasons. Poodle blends don’t shed, which is one reason for their extreme popularity. Labradors are the type of dogs that inspire a loyalty to the breed that often traverses generations. Unfortunately, though, our love of some breeds can have hugely negative consequences.

For example, people seem to find the squishy, flat-faces of French Bulldogs and pugs (just two of the many ‘brachycephalic’ breeds out there) so adorable that breeding standards have become exaggerated over the past decades to create dogs that can barely breathe and are prone to cooking from the inside in temperate weather until they die. I have no doubt owners of these breeds love their dogs, but are they also complicit in promoting the exaggeration of these characteristics that lead to pretty poor health conditions for the breeds?

And on a more simplistic level, is it morally acceptable to keep breeding dogs on purpose when pounds and rescues across the country are teeming with perfectly wonderful dogs that have wound up homeless, often because of irresponsibility on their former owner’s parts?

I’m not denying that there are many legitimate reasons for needing to rehome a dog, but there are also plenty of dogs who are abandoned because of behavioural issues that could have been solved with proper and dedicated training, or that have emerged because they have been neglected and not provided the mental and physical stimulation they need.

I’ll cop to the fact that I’m incredibly sanctimonious when it comes to animal welfare, but my previously quietly held views are beginning to evolve into straight-up judgement whenever I see a friend announcing the arrival of their husky or cavoodle puppy while I’m snuggled on the couch with my rescue mutt who is unbelievably grateful to have found a safe landing place after three years of being shuttled from home to home.

Is this issue cut and dry, or is there a balance to be struck between pure breeds and rescues? Does breed actually make a difference, or could people be equally happy with a mutt from the pound as they think they will be with the $2000 pug they have on order?


What's Your Opinion?


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92 Responses to Can you justify buying a pedigree or designer dog instead of rescuing a homeless one?
Alanna Davis Alanna Davis 9:53 pm 11 Oct 20

We all have different reasons. Rescue dogs don’t suit every family, all of the time.

I have a Cavoodle and a Spoodle. I need that type of breed because I’m allergic to fur. There are other personal reasons why we couldn’t wait for an “oodle” breed to rescue.

I’m not ashamed. However, it annoys me when those with rescue dogs speak to me as if I have done the wrong thing. You don’t know our reasons, so I’d be grateful for you not to pass judgment.

Katy Mitchell Katy Mitchell 12:17 pm 10 Oct 20

To be honest some of the people being referred to sound like the shouldn’t own dogs at all.

Getting a dog that will live a good quality of life, supports ethical production and suits your family’s needs is important. A number of the backyard bred designer dogs have health issues that severely impact their quality of life- but a number of rescues also might not suit the family’s needs. I know when we were looking we couldn’t find a rescue that would suit our criteria, including a low allergen dog- but our purebred did. He’s well bred, exceptionally healthy and good natured and suits our family- because he was bred, chosen and trained with great care.

I think adopt don’t shop is a good start... but think about whether or not ANY dog should enter your family and will they be happy, before you rescue or buy a suitable dog.

babeeshka babeeshka 11:24 am 09 Oct 20

The article seems to equate breeding with unscrupulous, with no evidence that a in demand breed will be treated worse than one not. It also repeats the claim that buying from a breeder contributes to the problem? How so? I don’t see ‘desirable’ breeds in shelters? Where are the Labradors, poodles or cockerspaniels? It’s really completely seperate worlds. If you want to do something about pound dogs you’d reduce the prevalence of the breeds of dogs that end up there. I say this as someone who got my large dog from a shelter. That’s not to say I might someday want a lapdog. ?

Illyria Tyers Illyria Tyers 11:25 pm 08 Oct 20

it really is no ones business .. surely ?

Sylvana Ransley Sylvana Ransley 9:26 pm 08 Oct 20

I had a poodle that rescued from a family who had no idea about dogs. She just happened to be purebred. She left us last Nov after 25 years of a joyful happy life.

When I bought a standard purebred Poodle I had a friends husband get very angry with me because it wasn’t from the pound.

I told him that I am rescuing the purebred Poodle from complete wipeout with all these “...oodles”.

The man who started the Mixing for blind people deeply regrets starting it.

I know what my dog is and isn’t capable of,

Stephen Wootten Stephen Wootten 9:19 pm 08 Oct 20

better to judge how they look after the dog.

Amanda Kiley Amanda Kiley 7:01 pm 08 Oct 20

I’m pretty disappointed in this article as I usually enjoy The Riot. I have a so called “designer dog” and I absolutely don’t regret it. I made an informed decision based on my family, my home and my lifestyle – and we love him dearly. So I chose not to adopt a rescue dog. Does that make you better than me? Why? I had my children with my husband instead of adopting from a poorer country too – so that must be a selfish decision as well.

ssek ssek 6:54 pm 08 Oct 20

Yes. My justification is that I want a pure-bred, and don’t care what sanctimonious busy bodies think.

John Tzavalas John Tzavalas 6:40 pm 08 Oct 20

I'm in the Australian Magpies group, I live in Canberra and am really disappointed by what your people published about magpies. All of us in the Australian magpies group are disappointed by your statement

    Carly Maree Carly Maree 7:33 pm 08 Oct 20

    John Tzavalas I’m not in the group but that article made me so mad too. I think it was supposed to be funny, which is even more disturbing. My local maggie family was out roaming around my front yard eating worms when I got home. I can’t imagine life without them around. They’re so cute and funny. I’ve never been swooped either, maybe because I treat them with respect.

Shann Dutfield Shann Dutfield 4:41 pm 08 Oct 20

Haven’t bothered to read the article . No one should be judging anyone else for the type of dog they have , perhaps worry more about how the rescue dogs became homeless and in pounds in the first place . Way to much judgement in society today for every little thing , relax people , enjoy your own life a bit more and don’t waste your time judging everyone else .

Lynda Reynolds Lynda Reynolds 4:30 pm 08 Oct 20

Nobody has a right to judge people for their decisions or choices when it comes to choosing a dog. They should mind their own business. There are too many sanctimonious people in this country.

Alison Majdandzic Alison Majdandzic 3:50 pm 08 Oct 20

Some people can justify any action, as long as it fits with their narrative.. me; I couldn’t honestly go to a breeder when there are so many dogs in rescue centres all over this country. Buying dogs from breeders is lining their pockets and just adding to the problem. Adopt don’t shop...

Kimberley Lloyd Kimberley Lloyd 1:54 pm 08 Oct 20

Yes, space available to be assured of quality of life

Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 1:39 pm 08 Oct 20

dogs are not just something we can dispose! Train and control owners and buyers first. Don’t build new bigger shelters don’t sell animals to anyone! After all we don’t give babies for adoption without screening the adoptive parents!!

Allison McConnell Allison McConnell 1:12 pm 08 Oct 20

Registered kennel breeders are not puppy farms.

They have to abide by kennel control bodies ( which includes a breeding age for mating and how many litters they are all8wed to produce in a year) dog and local councils for a start, not to mention health checks and screening for many inheritable conditions.

Designer dogs are not pedigree they are cross breeds and not regulated by anybody.

The gentleman who invented these dogs did it to help people with allergies not as trendy designer dogs.

People are paying up to 4 times more than for a purebred registered dog.

There is plenty

In the end everyone has a choice and it's no one else's business what they choose and no I'm Not a dog breeder.

    Christine Stuart Christine Stuart 6:49 pm 08 Oct 20

    agree. I love the certainity of knowing what my golden retriever dog will be like

Sammy Moynihan Sammy Moynihan 11:36 am 08 Oct 20

This article reveals a much deeper problem and it has nothing to do with dogs. The Facebook post reads "should you judge...", which implies that we should all be sitting around deciding who to judge. Judging individuals and getting on a moral high horse will not fix the problem, but just make society more divided and hate-filled. It would be more helpful to ask "how do we dismantle the systems are creating traumatic lifestyles for dogs?". Let's think about actual positive actions we can take, rather than justify treating people like crap. The author can judge as many people as they like, but unless they are willing to take meaningful action, I'm not really interested in what they have to say.

    Jack Heath Jack Heath 11:50 am 08 Oct 20

    I agree in principle, but it does kinda sound a little bit like you're judging the author there

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 1:29 pm 08 Oct 20

    Sammy Moynihan well said!! Agree, journalists try very hard to divide society

Jimmy Vandito Jimmy Vandito 11:35 am 08 Oct 20

Rescue a dog your actually helping buy one from a breeder and your part of the problem

Jimmy Vandito Jimmy Vandito 11:33 am 08 Oct 20

A mutt dog is always better than a pure bred prove me wrong

Blake Anthony Cross Blake Anthony Cross 11:14 am 08 Oct 20

Pretty sure the pure breds get rescued as well.. Easy to get both. Why people don't need a license to own a fish is a better question i don't trust any of you.

Trevor McGee Trevor McGee 10:51 am 08 Oct 20

Che McGee - read this to Evie

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