It may come as a surprise, but you don't have to go through a breeder to find the perfect purebred dog. If you have your heart set on a specific breed, there are dog rescues waiting to match you with your ideal companion. You can help a rescued dog find a forever home and get the dog you've been dreaming about.
Why dogs end up in breed-specific rescues:
There is a misconception that getting a dog from a breed-specific rescue is less desirable than getting one from a breeder. Dogs who end up in rescues aren't there because they're rejects from breeders, or substandard in any way. Often, the dogs who end up in these rescues are given up by owners who underestimated the effort it takes to raise a dog, or they figured out that the breed they chose isn't the right match for their personality or lifestyle. And many times they are well-loved dogs whose owners had to give them up because of life changes, like moving, divorce, a new job or leaving the country.
Dogs also end up in breed-specific rescues when puppy mills are shut down. Additionally, when shelters receive pure-bred dogs, usually about 20-30 percent of the dogs they receive, they often turn them over to breed-specific rescues so that the shelter has more room for mixed-breed dogs in need of homes.
Whatever the reason, dogs that end up in breed-specific rescues are every bit as good as any other dog. So if you're convinced you want a purebred dog, be assured that rescues are a great way to find the perfect companion for you.
What to expect when adopting from a breed-specific dog rescue:
Breed-specific rescues, like other rescue groups, put a great deal of energy, expense, and care into the dogs they re-home. The rescues are an effort of love, and the diligence they put into finding the perfect match between a dog and a forever home shows it. The rescue is there for the dogs' best interests, not the desires of potential owners, so expect to do a little hoop-jumping when adopting. This will benefit you in the long run by making sure you bring home the perfect dog for you.
Breed-specific rescues will first make sure that you're the right kind of person for the breed you're seeking to adopt. What kind of home you have, how active you are, how much time you want to invest in grooming, if you're aware of health issues for the breed, if you have kids or other pets, and so on. All these factors determine if your home is right for the breed, and if it is, if there is a dog in the rescue whose personality matches up with you and your home.
Expect to fill out an application, be interviewed, and have an in-person home check. It may feel like a hassle but there is a reason for the red tape. There are too many instances of people who adopt dogs only to neglect or abuse them, to turn them back in to the rescue when things don't work out, to immediately sell them to make money, or use them as bait dogs in fighting rings. Any rescue worth its salt will do extra work to avoid these outcomes.
What is also great about breed-specific rescues is you can get a dog that is the breed you want and also has personality characteristics you know you want. You can find dogs of all ages, and all temperaments; you can look for an adolescent dog with a boisterous personality, or an adult dog that has mellowed out. The rescue will be able to tell you everything you need to know about each dog's personality and quirks so you can minimize the surprises when you bring your new pet home.
Figure out what breeds are best suited to your personality and lifestyle.
You may love the look of a certain breed, but it could end up being the last companion you want to live with. For example, when the movie '101 Dalmatians' came out, people rushed out to get the cute spotted pups. But what many didn't realize is that dalmatians are high energy dogs who need a lot of activity, can be protective and stubborn, and can have serious health issues. English bulldogs are another favorite for their frumpy faces and stumpy bodies; however, they require daily grooming of all those folds of skin to avoid infections. They also like to lay around and snooze, so they aren't ideal for a person or family with an active lifestyle, no matter how cute they look.
Another perfect example is the border collie. Border collies are so smart, so they'd be so easy to train and live with, right? Nope! That high energy level means they need several hours of running every day and a lot of mental stimulation like agility training or learning tricks. If you can not provide that, you might find yourself with a dog literally going crazy, compulsively running in circles or chewing walls. Many people don't realize this until the damage is done.
In other words, if a breed-specific rescue is trying to talk you out of adopting their breed, you may want to listen to them. Here's an excellent quiz that will help you determine which dog breeds are best suited for your personality and home life.
Finally, don’t rule out mixed-breed dogs. Often, they have fewer genetic health problems, live longer, and are less expensive to own since they (usually) require fewer trips to the vet and groomer.
Find a breed-specific dog rescue:
So you are absolutely sure you want a purebred dog, and you have narrowed down the breeds that are right for you. The next step is looking up breed specific rescues. Luckily, there is a rescue (or many!) for pretty much every breed of dog imaginable. You can find updated listings of rescues at:
Also, calling your local shelters and asking for information for nearby breed-specific rescues is always a good place to start.