5 Good Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog

two women stroking a cute dog

Adopting an older dog has many advantages.

Let’s be honest: Almost every dog lover wants a small, cuddly puppy. Adult dogs, such as from an animal shelter or animal welfare organisation, often have poor chances of being successfully rehomed. This is a shame, because adopting an older dog brings many benefits. Find out here what these are. 

You already see what you get when buying

When buying a puppy, you have to look into its parents and grandparents with great detail. This is the only way you can guess, for instance, what your dog’s character will be like or how active and above all healthy it is. But even if you have studied family trees, read up on typical breed characteristics and consulted with the breeder, an element of uncertainty remains. 

In contrast, older dogs hardly change at all. Their character is usually consolidated. You don’t need to fear any surprising physical changes in your new dog either. You will already see before making a purchase if, for instance, the dog is very active, if it is prone to being overweight or if it may have developed joint problems.

Naturally you should find out as much as possible about the senior dog’s past. In addition, with a little empathy you can already observe in the flesh which inclinations, quirks and preferences your future housemate has and prepare yourself accordingly. 

Older dogs know the rules

In general, an older dog has already learnt the most important rules regarding living with humans. It is house-trained, knows that it only gets food at set times and keeps quiet at night. It will ideally already have assimilated the basics of dog training and will react to basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘down’ or ‘heel’. 

Many future dog owners worry that especially senior dogs are difficult to train and that bad habits have already become entrenched. It’s possible that this is the very reason why the dog ended up in an animal shelter. However, this is unjustified in most cases. 

There are of course cases where the previous owner was overwhelmed by dog training and had to give the dog away due to its difficult behaviour. However, the majority of adult dogs in animal shelters awaiting a new home are given away because of personal or work-related changes. 

Cocker Spaniel in the grass following training © annebe / stock.adobe.com
Older dogs usually already grasp the basic commands.

Older dogs are grateful and eager to learn

Naturally adult dogs too still need training. The best puppy training is of no use if it isn’t continued later and consistently maintained. Some dogs immediately spot if their owner is inattentive and shamelessly exploit such weak areas.

Eagerness to learn

As an owner, you should definitely have some knowledge of dog training, even if your new dog is already an adult. Especially if some bad habits have become entrenched, consistency and patience are required to retrain the dog. 

However, training adult dogs isn’t necessarily more difficult or complicated than with puppies. The good thing is that dogs never stop learning. Up to old age, they are able to assimilate commands, rules and certain modes of behaviour. 

Adult dogs in particular are often highly willing to learn. They are calmer and more relaxed, as well as getting less distracted than puppies. This shows in training too: Whilst young dogs soon get overwhelmed, older dogs have a much longer attention span. 


Furthermore, older dogs that have been rescued from animal shelters are often particularly grateful companions. They know what they owe you and will do anything to please you. 

Your dog will express its gratitude every day for the new chance that you have granted it. 

Senior dogs can also appreciate doing nothing

Whilst puppies can’t get enough of romping and would happily spend the entire day playing with you, older dogs appreciate their rest periods. They like to doze in their basket and don’t get agitated if you leave them alone for a short time. They also enjoy short walks and don’t need a full schedule every day. 

Exactly how much exercise and activity your dog needs of course differs from dog to dog. Working and utility dog breeds in particular stay active for their entire lives and need a purpose in old age too. 

Nevertheless, even the sportiest dogs learn to enjoy peace and quiet occasionally as they get older. After all, it’s a great way to recharge their batteries for their next walk with their owner. 

Senior Dog playing with a tennis ball © Wellnhofer Designs / stock.adobe.com
Older dogs too are still active and enthusiastic.

You save money

Adult dogs will ideally already be vaccinated, dewormed and microchipped when adopted. Many older dogs have also been castrated or neutered. Hence, you’re usually spared expensive vet bills for basic immunisation or castration or neutering when buying a senior dog. 

Furthermore, you usually only pay a relatively low nominal fee when adopting a dog from an animal shelter. Even if you buy your adult dog from a breeder, the price is significantly lower than for a pedigree puppy. 

The health aspect

Naturally your dog may get sick in old age, resulting in vet costs. However, you can encounter these costs sooner or later when buying a puppy too. So pay attention to a needs-oriented diet, regular check-ups and vaccinations at the vet, as well as species-appropriate housing and care. In this way, many diseases can be avoided or at least detected at an early stage. 

When adopting a dog, definitely find out if it has already suffered from any ailments and if there are any known diseases in the dog’s family. After all, the advantage of buying a senior dog is that you see what you are buying and can better prepared for your pet’s possible weaknesses. 

Do you need more reasons? 

When buying an older dog, you know what you’re getting and aren’t just taking a shot in the dark. 

When you adopt an adult dog, you are also largely spared the work that inevitably comes with buying a puppy. People who can’t dedicate several hours every day to puppy training are therefore better advised to opt for an adult dog. 

Even if its snout is turning gray and its gait getting slower, the gratitude and love of a dog that you have given a new home and second chance to are guaranteed to remove the last doubts about adopting an older dog.

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