Getting a Dog

Rescue dog or not? How to decide

rescue dog

So you have decided to get a dog. That is awesome! (If you have not yet decided, read this article first.)The next step is to work out what type of dog you are after and where to get one from. A big decision will be to get a rescue dog or not. While providing a rescue dog with a home is a beautiful thing, it may not be the best choice for your family. Let’s explore all the things you should think about to make the right decision.

Saving a life

One of the biggest benefits of rescuing a dog is the knowledge that you are giving the dog a second chance. You may even be saving its life.  It is estimated by Getting to Zero that over 175,000 dogs are euthanised in Australia each year. Places such as RSPCA have a no-kill policy, but still, 13% of dogs that ended up in their care were euthanised in 2017. This is mainly for medical or behavioural issues.

The most important thing to realise is that this decision has nothing to do with guilt. You did not surrender a dog, let them roam free and be caught or let them breed irresponsibly. You should not feel guilted into choosing to rescue. Also remember that if you decide not to rescue a dog, you can still donate time or money to help them out.


If you have your heart set on a specific breed you may not be able to find one or the search may take a long time. But this does not mean that there are no pure breed dogs available to rescue. There are lots. So many of some breeds that they have breed specific rescue programs. Remember that there is nothing wrong with mixed breeds either. Added genetic variety is touted as having health benefits that mitigate some of the weaknesses of pure breeds.

Puppy or Adult

If you want a puppy that is no reason to discount rescue. Currently, around 20% of Pet Rescue’s listings are for puppies. Puppies are the cutest; there is no disputing that! They can also be destructive, are not house-trained, and demand a lot of time and attention.

Adult dogs are generally house trained, you can see their adult personality, and a good shelter will have already screened for any major behavioural or health issues.  Adult dogs are usually recommended as better if you have children under ten as they are generally more patient and less boisterous.


Rescuing a dog will generally have a fee of around $400-600. This will generally get you a dog that has been vaccinated, wormed, microchipped and de-sexed and a vet check to make sure they are healthy. A dog from a breeder will be closer to $2000, and you will probably have vaccinations and de-sexing costs early on. Once again it is important to understand that the upfront cost of getting a dog is a small portion of what it will cost to look after its entire life.

Shelter or Breeder – Reputation Matters

Whether you choose to get a dog from a shelter or a breeder, the same rules apply. For a shelter, you want to check that they do health and behavioural screening before approving a dog for adoption. They may also do some training and offer a trial period. Both a quality breeder and shelter should also try to make sure that your style of living matches the dog.

From a reputable breeder, you want to make sure that they are managing the major health problems that breed is susceptible to with good genetics, and that the puppies are well looked after and socialised. You don’t want to support a puppy mill. You should google or reach out to people on facebook that have dogs from that breeder or shelter and check how everything has gone for them.

The story of how Snoop came to be

3.5 years ago I finally stopped moving around and was not renting anymore. It was finally time to get a dog. I had decided to do the “responsible” thing and rescue a dog. I had just started looking and getting a lot of “no longer available” responses to enquiries when a co-worker sent me a photo of a four week old Beagle puppy. Instantly I was smitten, and once I met Snoop a couple of weeks later, all thought of rescue went out the window. You try to say no to a Beagle puppy! Two of Snoops littermates had severe hip dysplasia, and Snoop ended up needing ligaments on each knee operated on. So I certainly did not follow this advice I am writing above – but also don’t regret it!

rescue dog or Snoop
The first photo of Snoop that did the damage!


Final thoughts on getting a rescue dog or not

Getting a dog is a big decision. They will be a massive part of your life for the next 10-15 years.

You should never be guilted into deciding to rescue a dog. It is not your fault they are in a shelter. But a rescue dog may be the perfect dog for you. They also come with the added heartwarming benefits of knowing you are giving a dog a second chance at life.

The breed and age of dog you are after will impact the numbers of rescue dogs available -but not as much as you might think. Don’t be afraid to check rescue sites first and regularly.

It is vital to do your research on shelters and breeders to make sure you get the right dog for you. Once you do, gaze into their eyes, and you won’t have any reason to resist!







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Written by Doug Spiegelhauer
Doug never had a dog growing up but as soon as he stopped moving around knew he needed a dog in his life. Enter Snoop the Beagle. Doug worked for 7 years designing and making dog treats and food for some of Australia's best brands. Now a Co-Founder of Scratch Pet Food.