Quick Post

Pros and Cons to adopting an older dog?

New Topic
Pros and Cons to adopting an older dog?
  •  Hey guys, I just thought I'd ask this question to anyone who has some input. Obviously right now I wouldn't be adopting another dog, but I'd really love to adopt an older dog some day. They don't get adopted out as much as the younger ones do. :-/ Anyone I'm just curious what the pros and cons are to adopting an older dog is.

  • Pros

    May have already had some training

    May already be housebroken

    No question over adult size



    May have developed some hard to break bad habits

    You may not know the full history

  •  You don't generally get a good idea of temperament until they're settled, so one that's been in a foster home is probably a better choice. I'm a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl, so I've adopted two adults on whims. One went extremely poorly. She was fine, for months, but as her health was restored, she became more and more aggressive. She had to be completely separated from my other dog, and she was very difficult to contain. She was old, thankfully, and small, so she never inflicted a serious bite on a human (she did, on a dog), but it would have been different if she'd been younger OR if she were a bigger dog.


    The other adult I got on a whim is Jewel, who is pure joy. Already housetrained. Plays well with others. LOVES kids, adults, old people, disabled people.  She's had a couple of health issues, but again, if she'd been in a foster home, that would've been known. She's already settled, she's never chewed or torn anything up. She's full sized. There are no guessing games, when the dog comes home at 8 years oldBig Smile

  •  I think Fergie would have said that age is not the way you judge a dog:-)  The things that might mess you up are common with any rescue, not just the older ones.

  • I wouldn't hesitate to adopt an older dog.  In fact, I started out to do just that but fate stepped in and changed the plan. lol  Dogs have different needs at different ages. Puppies can be expensive from a veterinary standpoint. They eat balls and swallow socks.  Seniors may need meds for arthritis relief and other conditions more common to older dogs. All need attention to their needs whether it's puppy stuff or senior stuff.   I think it is wise to consider all the ramifications of owning an older dog.  To me, the seniors are in such need that it would be almost impossible for me to choose a puppy who will most likely be adopted and leave an oldster in a shelter to die alone. On the other hand,  I can completely understand the desire to get a puppy and be able to properly train and socialize from an early age. It's a tough choice but when the time comes, you'll know when you find the right one.

  • That's for sure Jackie!  I had always said I would never get a puppy after the difficult time I had with Benny at almost 2 years, but when I saw Finn on the shelter's web site, I knew I had to get him. At some point I would love to adopt an older dog.  I feel so bad for them being ripped from their homes and put into a shelter.  It's so sad.

  •  Definitely can turn in to a con about the dog not showing its true colors until it settles in. That can be good or bad. 

    Definitely saving on the spay/neuter bill is nice.

  • The two that stand of the most with Willow as opposed to the younger dogs in my family are her health (so definately something to consider if money is tight) and her inability to exercise for longer periods. 

    That said, she's also not destructive in the house, quiet, doesn't have potty issues and seems to mesh with what I do where as my brothers dogs sort of dictate to him when they get up, etc. 

  •  Pros

    • Usually you know more about the dog's temperament rather than waiting for maturity.  It is true the dog may change when settled in, but there are certain aspects of temperament that you can evaluate regardless of environment if you know what you're doing or with someone who knows what to look for and test for (I say this b/c a 17 month old GSD was returned to my breeder and at first she acted very skittish, startling at every noise or movement, but someone who knows the breed and the pedigree checked out the dog and said she has a fine temperament, the nerves are just because she needs to settle in.  Likewise we've seen dogs plenty settled with their original owners who exhibit poor temperaments regardless).
    • You don't have to deal with puppy stuff like potty training, teething, and often they are crate trained and leash broken.
    • Sometimes the dogs have already received a bit of training (some even a CGC!).
    • You save money by not having to do all the puppy vaccines and exams, spay/neuter, the dog is mature and thus eating less than when it was growing.
    • If the dog does have a behavioral issue you don't have to feel guilty like it was something *you* did (or didn't do) with a puppy that caused it, you just learn to love the dog for what it already is.


    • Can't really think of any unless the dog has health issues specifically due to age, or you have your heart set on a puppy.
  • For *me* the cons of a puppy are HUGE -- I'm truly *not* a puppy person and the one huge red flag for us about adopting Tink was that she was only 5 months old.  She is a joy ... but because of my own physical limitations a puppy is very difficult.

    An old dog?  LOVE THEM.  I like to always have a senior dog -- and honestly at this point Billy qualifies.  I wish he'd live forever but he's 11, and his body is a very *old* 11 because of all the health problems/meds when he had IMHA (it aged him considerably, and left him with a somewhat weak heart/murmur and a weakened liver).  He was 5 when we took him -- and I've never regretted it for a day.

    WE've had MANY older dogs and even elderly dogs.  They can cost more -- vet bills can be large for *some* of them but not usually until very late.

    Older dogs tend to slide right in, make a huge effort to fit in and simply love to be loved.  I am careful that they fit with the pack ... but I love the old dog personality and I love all I learn from old dogs. 

  • Everything Jackie said, plus.... every puppy will hopefully become an old dog one day, anyway, so you'll be dealing with the expenses of puppyhood AND seniorhood.  I also intended to adopt an older dog in order to let it live out its days with me, but ended up with Gracie instead.

    Depending on age, breed, and a lot of other things, the downside I hear quoted most often is "not having enough time" with your older dog.  But there isn't enough time with any dog, and I'd rather get a dog out of a shelter who has fewer chances of someone willing to risk their heart for a shorter time investment, than let the dog sit there.  It's funny the people who think they want a 1-2 yr old dog "because he's out of the puppy stage" just so they can have the maximum amount of time with their dog.  Meanwhile, 1-3yrs is when a good amount of behavioral issues are prominent in dogs who were improperly trained and managed.  You're picking up someone else's failure with the dog's added energy and strength of youth to combat you on stuff he doesn't want to do.  By 6 or 7, most of those same dogs are more compliant, it seems. :)

  • Well, I can see both sides, though I'll never want a puppy again.  Shari was a puppy when I got her and had I not been a SAHM, it would have been really hard to raise her.  Bear was almost a year old and a good age - housebroken, past most of the chewing, still very trainable. 

    Agnes, she's old, wasn't housebroken, but now that we have those issues worked out, she is declining due to the heart problems and meds.  Had someone not been so stupid to omit her heartworm preventative, she might not be in such bad shape.  Despite all that, I wouldn't trade her in.  She's the sweetest dog, so thankful to have been given a chance.  Yeah, it's a pain having an incontinent dog, but whatever, I'll manage.  Here's a dog that might not have lived 2 weeks without care and now it's nearly 7 months later.

    I did enjoy having both Harley and Otis stay with me.  Both were housebroken, Otis was very playful, and it was fun having a dog squeaking and de-stuffing toys again.

    Punkchica, you weren't around when I lost Bear to a severe seizure disorder.  He was just 3 years old.  My husky(Shari) lived to be 15.  Agnes is likely around 14 or so.  IMO, there is no amount of time that's enough, but I take the time I do get with them and enjoy it every single day.

  •  Thanks for the input everyone! I can see both the good and bad that could come about adopting an older dog, but it's a chance you take when you adopt any dog. It is sad that adopting an older dog you don't have as much time, but heck the 10 years with both my last dogs wasn't enough. I just want them to have good days in their later years, instead of being at a shelter just hoping to get a pet here and there. :-/ I'll wait a few years until Simba is more mature, but I'm sure he'd appreciate a buddy in the house for him. :)

  • miranadobe

    Depending on age, breed, and a lot of other things, the downside I hear quoted most often is "not having enough time" with your older dog.  But there isn't enough time with any dog


    Exactly, and there are plenty of dogs purchased or adopted as puppies that die young, sadly.  I got Kenya when she was 3.5, so not old, but definitely an adult.  Both of her parents lived to be in their teens; her mother died recently at age 15 and there was nothing preceding her death (other than her hearing and eyesight not being the best b/c of age), she simply decided it was her time and did not wake up.  So if Kenya lives to be that age, even though she was adopted as an adult I still have 11 years with her.  I got Nikon at 7 weeks but what if he got really sick or injured or some genetic problem came to light and he died young, that's no more "time" with him.

  • miranadobe
    Depending on age, breed, and a lot of other things, the downside I hear quoted most often is "not having enough time" with your older dog.  But there isn't enough time with any dog,



    No kidding. Emma only lived 6 years.