Getting A Puppy Vs A Rescue

One of the most important and, frankly, difficult decisions when you decide to adopt a puppy (or adult dog) is where to adopt them. There are several choices, of course, from puppy breeders to big-box pet stores, smaller pet stores in your local mall, and so forth. 

You can also adopt a puppy from a neighbor, friend, or colleague whose dog has just had puppies or from a family member. (My first dog, Love, was the offspring of my Grandma’s dog, Rusty.)

There is another choice in most American towns and cities, and that’s to adopt your puppy from a local shelter. There are many in most bigger American cities, and hundreds of thousands of dogs (and, sometimes, puppies) are available for adoption throughout the year. 

Some are shelters where dogs are unfortunately euthanized after a certain length of time, while others are no-kill shelters that care for dogs and other animals for their entire lives. (No judgment on where you adopt, although I will say I like no-kill shelters best for obvious reasons.)

However, all of this debate about where to go overlooks a question I hear and see all the time when people are preparing to adopt a puppy, and it’s this: what’s the difference between getting a puppy vs. a rescue?

The answer is that there are many differences between getting a puppy vs. a rescue dog. The cost is one, as getting a rescue will likely be much cheaper than adopting a puppy, especially a purebred pup. The breed is a question, also, as most shelters that let you adopt rescue dogs aren’t exactly filled with purebred dogs.

There are several more answers that, to make things easier, I’m going to get into below. Suffice to say that there are several differences between getting a puppy vs. a rescue. If you’d like to know what they are and get more information and advice about adopting, read on!

Pros and Cons of Getting a Puppy

There are many pros and cons to getting a puppy rather than an adult dog or rescue dog. You might not know them all if you’ve never adopted one, so let’s take a look at them:

PROs of Getting a Puppy

  • The chance of forming a powerful bond is higher, at least in some cases.
  • Puppies are more fun, cute, silly, and playful than older dogs.
  • Puppies have been shown to reduce a person’s stress levels and increase their longevity. 
  • When you have a new puppy, the chance you’ll get more exercise also is very high.
  • If you have children, puppies have been shown to help them develop. 
  • Puppies give you a reason to live, get up in the morning, and go on with your life. 
  • With a puppy in tow, your social life will get exponentially better.
  • Having a puppy can help you get into a daily schedule.

CONS of Getting a Puppy

  • They take a lot of time and effort to train.
  • They will almost always destroy something you like or love, either by accident or by chewing it to pieces.
  • They will have more accidents, which means more nasty messes to clean.
  • You can’t go anywhere overnight and forget long-term travel. 
  • Puppies demand a lot of your time and energy.

Pros and Cons of Adopting an Older Dog

Adopting an older dog should be at least considered when you’re thinking of getting a dog. I don’t mean an ancient dog, by the way, but one that’s not a puppy anymore. As with getting a puppy, there are pros and cons when adopting an older dog from a shelter. They include:

PROs of Adopting an Older Dog

  • You won’t be surprised by their full-grown size since they will be fully grown when you adopt.
  • There’s a good chance they will already be trained and follow many commands, walk on a leash, etc.
  • They will likely be potty trained and thus reduce nasty cleanups in your home.
  • You won’t have to watch them suffer through teething, which can be a painful, stressful process for them and you.
  • You won’t need to have them neutered or spayed (unless they haven’t been, of course).

CONs of Adopting an Older Dog

  • They may have underlying health problems you aren’t aware of (and won’t be until they emerge).
  • Some older dogs have been abused, lived for ages in noisy kennels, etc. Many will have emotional issues that you’ll be forced to deal with after adopting.
  • Some adult dogs have bad habits that you’ll need to train out of them, which can be more complicated than training a puppy.
  • Some people believe the bonds that form between a puppy parent and an older dog aren’t as strong as those between them and a puppy. (I disagree, but that’s just my opinion.)
  • You won’t get to see and experience all the “awwww” moments that you’ll usually have with a puppy.

Is it Better to Get a Rescue Dog or a Puppy?

The question of whether it’s better to adopt a puppy or a rescue dog has been going on for decades. The answer to the question of which is better to adopt, frankly, will be different for everyone, 

I’m not going to be preachy and say that adopting a rescue dog is “better,” but I will say that if you don’t need a full breed dog, it’s a great place to start. Rescuing a dog from certain death in a shelter where they euthanize is an act of kindness that will help you grow as a person and, of course, help your new dog to live a longer life.

On the other hand, having a puppy in your home is such an extraordinary experience for most people that I believe you must experience it at least once. Puppies are fun and can bring life to an otherwise dull or commonplace existence. Plus, if you have children, it can be a genuinely life-changing experience for them (and fun to watch, too!). 

On the other hand, If you don’t have the time, energy, or patience for a puppy, adopting an older dog makes more sense. They don’t require as much time and attention, and generally speaking, don’t make as much of a mess around your home then a puppy will. 

When it comes to training, some dog experts believe that it’s easier to train an older dog than a puppy. (You can teach an old dog new tricks!) That’s because puppies are easily distracted while older dogs are (generally) able to pay attention more easily.

At the end of the day, the choice is truly up to you. If an older dog makes sense, rescuing them from a shelter is a fantastic choice. If you want the joy and excitement of a puppy around your home, adopting a puppy is the best choice for you. And hey, if you get lucky, you might find a shelter with puppies available! (It’s best to check with them frequently as puppies tend to be adopted much faster.)

Final Thoughts

If you’re having a debate about getting a puppy versus a rescue dog, today’s blog might have given you some dog food for thought. There are many pros and cons to adopting a puppy or adopting a rescue dog, no doubt. 

The choice depends on your current situation, what you want from your new relationship, and the time, effort, and patience you have to put into caring for your new puppy or dog.

Whatever you choose, I hope this blog was helpful and gave you the information you were looking for today. Please see my other blogs if you have more questions or want to read more practical advice and information about raising a puppy. All are filled with actionable, real-world data to help you be a better puppy parent.