Once you know that you want a dog, and How to choose a dog that is right for you, only then the next question is: Where to get a dog?
That's what we will discuss here so that you don't rely on luck to hit the mark.
Sources for Getting a Dog
Let's start with the two worst sources.
Pet store dogs are almost always coming from Puppy Mills, and the reason is simple: The pet store needs to make a decent profit to fund the store.
Being a pet store, they have to keep the sales price low to be able to sell dogs at all.
With the sales price being limited to the low end, a pet store can only realize a profit if they buy their stock cheap.
Really cheap: Pet stores rarely pay more than $10 for small to mid-size puppies, and $15 for large breed puppies.
The difference to what you'd pay the pet store is their profit, and also used to keep the lights on.
There come in the puppy mills. They are willing to sell their dogs cheap. In fact, they know they cannot realize higher prices since their dogs are genetically healthy only with luck.
But Puppy mills too want to make a profit. Knowing that they won't get much for their sick dogs when they sell them to pet stores, the only variable they can influence is the cost of breeding dogs.
The biggest cost factors are vet bills and spending time with the dogs.
Hence puppy mills save on health screenings and treatment of their breeding dogs (dam and sire) and puppies, and they cannot afford to spend time on socializing the puppies either.
For the same reason, it just doesn't make sense for puppy mills to retire a breeding dog just because she has health issues.
Instead, puppy mills have a strong economic desire to continue to use breeding stock that has been clearly identified as unsuitable for breeding healthy puppies!
With the two worst sources for getting a dog out of the way, does this mean that purebred breeders are the place where to get a dog?
Don't purebred breeders want to make a profit too?
Yes absolutely. Most of them are purely in it for the money, regardless that their marketing tries hard to convince you they do it "for the love of the breed".
Most "purebred" breeders are brainless: they breed and sell what they feel is en vogue, popular.
They don't give it a second thought. And don't even dare to ask them to study their "beloved breed" first.
Nonetheless, "purebred" breeders in general apply a third business model: They know that they can command a decent sales price for a seemingly superb dog and superb puppy, but not for one that's unhealthy or has obvious socialization issues.
This gives the purebred breeders more playing field as regards the cost:
- selecting better breeding stock
- paying regular vet bills
- providing better food
- spending some time with each dog
... and a stronger motivation to only use and breed "quality stock", so they think.
Their investment in this kind of "quality stock" is considerably higher than the investment any of the other breeders are making: both money-wise and time-wise.
Many "purebred" breeders will buy or rent the stud services of offspring of a "breed winner" to boast with that. And the many uninformed, uneducated new dog owners will fall for that fairytale. No surprise.
Quite a high number of purebred breeders only breed a certain dog breed: whether out of passion, or because "it's where the money is".
A few "purebred" breeders though feel personal motivation to maintain a high quality of breeding stock for that particular breed.
In that rare case this motivation may then dominate their motivation to make a profit.
Not that they would accept a loss-making business, but the amount of profit they make often is clearly not their primary driving force.
So, what about backyard breeders then?
Many "backyard" breeders don't have a business model at all, but a lucky (or forced-upon!) one-off situation, or at least one that's too rare to make it a business.
In most cases they have not planned what to breed: i.e. which dam should mate with which sire, and for what reasons, in order to get what kind of offspring.
In particular, backyard breeders don't have the means to choose their breeding stock, they simply go with what they have, without making an investment to get the right dam and sire mate.
Quite literally, they take whatever they find on the street.
This isn't always bad though: In fact, you may be lucky and you find a healthy and well socialized smaller pet dog at backyard breeders - if you know where to look.
However, to find a healthy and well socialized German Shepherd that way is rather unlikely.
Because the German Shepherd breed deteriorates quickly when you mate the wrong dam and sire. You can even see that without squinting.
Further, the German Shepherd is a quite large and strong dog breed, with a strong will and determination.
Result of all: If you get the genetic match wrong, if you make it worse, and if you save on comprehensive puppy socialization, then you may end up with an adult German Shepherd that is anything between aggressive and uncontrollable for you.
Instead of a dog that guards you and follows your direction - which likely is what you wish to get?
Dog Rescue Center
Finally dog rescue center is a completely different story: Their aim is to run cost-effective, not to make a profit.
They get the dogs for all kinds of reasons why the prior owner abandoned the dog.
For you it's important to know that in the majority of cases a dog is abandoned not because of health issues or behavioural issues of the dog, but because of isolated issues of the prior owner.
Before a dog rescue center releases a dog for adoption, they will generally undertake a full health-screening of the dog and test the dog's status of socialization.
While it naturally is rare that you will find a top-of-the-breed dog with an optimal genetical heritage at a rescue center, it is very likely that you will get a healthy dog, waiting to be trained and in need of lots of love to overcome the stress of changing home twice or more!
Thanks to the world's largest dog lifestyle database maintained by the Cynology Hub MyGermanShepherd.Org we can say for sure that generally rescue dogs are significantly healthier than non-rescue dogs.
If the case, the dog rescue center will openly tell you if they are aware of any issues with the dog: Because they will try to avoid that the dog has to go through the emotional stress of changing home yet again.
So, a rescue center normally will not entice you to adopt a dog if they feel you may not be committed to the dog or not able to handle the dog for life.
All the other sources normally will.
Other important considerations
When you get a chance to visit a breed show or conformation show or dog competition, do it.
Not only will you get an impression of the breed's standards, you may afterwards also have a chance to see some breeders or handlers with the dogs point-blank: Maybe you can even talk to some of them - who otherwise you would never meet because they may live far away and visited specifically for the show or competition.
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