There are several ways in which we bring a pet into our family. Some purchase a puppy from a breeder, or buy from someone who's advertising that their dog has had a litter. Others get their pet by adopting from a shelter, a rescue or even from a flyer on a bulletin board. Even though discussions can get heated over how we obtain our pets, I really do feel like there is no right or wrong way.
For me, the decision to "shop" or "adopt" is actually determined by what my reason was for getting a new pet in the first place. If I were looking for a dog for a specific purpose like training a show dog, a dog for search and rescue, or a hunting dog, then I would probably look at reputable breeders for those specifications. If I were looking for a companion to hang out with at home and didn't have anything specific that I wanted from the dog except to love on and to be part of the family, then I would most likely adopt. This is not to say that adopted dogs can't be great hunting, service, or even show dogs. It's just more plausible if those dogs were raised and trained to perform from the very beginning. Likewise, this is not to say that all dogs from a breeder are going to meet your expectations either. If you're thinking about a breeder you need to do your research on the breed you're considering AND you need to research your breeder. There are some very responsible breeders, but like in every industry there are also those who do not exactly meet the standards that they represent.
Every dog that has joined our family has been acquired differently from the others. Our first dog I found in the newspaper. Bangle was half boxer and half Siberian husky. My reason for getting her was companionship as I was newly married to an Air Force pilot who was gone a lot. (Remember paper scrapbooking? They said it was perfectly ok to cut up your pictures! eek!)
The next two were litter mates that Santa got from a box on a sidewalk in the neighborhood. He brought them to our twin boys because he wanted them each to have a puppy of their own. (I do NOT recommend this type of reasoning/justification/insanity for getting multiple dogs at once!) Christmas Carol and Sandman were pointers with more energy than my 3 boys combined!
After a few years of having reptiles for pets my boys started asking for a dog again. It was then that I actually did some research and was able to at least settled on a breed that I thought would be good for our active family and military life. Zoe was a border collie that we got from a working farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Her parents were registered dogs and they were responsible for the cattle on the farm. As Zoe grew she did not disappoint as she spent her whole life keeping track of our kids as well as the school kids in the back field once we moved to our home in Sioux Falls.
Hermes (little white rat dog) was a gift to my youngest when his life was turned inside out as his older brothers and all their friends left for collage (and his dad deployed) leaving an always full house with just the two of us. Looking only for companionship, I found Hermes online from a goggle search for a small dog. He was and always has been a perfect fit in our home.
Dash was not planned. (I guess you could say he was a happy accident. ha!) A woman who saw Hermes on a weekly basis at doggie day care emailed me a Craig's List link and said, "I thought of you and Hermes when I saw this little guy." (That's how all great love stories start out, right?) I classify Dash as a hand-me-down dog as we are his 4th (and forever) home.
It seems to be socially acceptable these days to criticize others for how they obtained their pet. I think people lose site of the dog when they do this. In order to find the right pet for our family, our lifestyle, our needs, and our personality, we need to do some research before we make them a part of our life. Research breeds and research breeders. It's only fair to the animal after all as they really don't get much of a say in the matter.