Adopting a Puppy vs. an Older Dog: The Advantages and Disadvantages
As the old saying goes: age is just a number. When adopting a dog, though, we’d argue that age does, in fact, matter. It’s perhaps just as important as deciding on a breed. Depending on their age, a dog’s set of needs will likely differ. As a responsible owner, you should base your decision on whether you’re able to assume the tasks of looking after a puppy or older dog. While there will be difficulties regardless of age, being informed will prompt the best decision for you and your four-legged friend.
To start, we’ve listed down the advantages and disadvantages between adopting a bouncing baby pup or an older dog.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Adopting a Puppy
Puppies are like newborn babies. They are oh so lovable but need a tireless dog parent to nurture them with plenty of loving attention.
Puppies are malleable
At this stage, puppies are able and willing to learn from the world around them. As an owner, trainer, and parent, you will be one of the biggest influences on the way your puppy develops. With the proper upbringing, pups often turn into well-adjusted adult dogs.
Puppies often signify the beginning of a beautiful partnership
While the journey isn’t without its struggles, it’s so incredibly fulfilling to raise a dog from puppy to full-blown adult. What’s more? When done right, you will find yourself a loyal and loving four-legged friend for life.
Did we mention puppies are lovable?
Puppies might win you over with their looks, but it’s their playful and spunky personalities that’ll make you say “yes.”
Puppies aren’t “blank slates.”
Puppies aren’t just a byproduct of influence, like upbringing and training, but also their DNA. A puppy’s inherited behavioral traits, and medical issues may be unpredictable upon its adoption, and may surface later on in life.
Puppies are a ton of work
For a puppy to develop into a well-adjusted dog, its owner must instruct it on appropriate behavior, safely acquaint it with people and other pets, and keep it out of trouble. All of which requires time, energy, and more patience than most adopters realize.
Puppies are an investment
In addition to being a tremendous responsibility, owning a puppy is a money-suck. Between vaccines and spaying/neutering, puppy owners may spend upwards of $100 to $300 on veterinary expenses—or more, depending on the location.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Adopting an Older Dog
Adult and senior-aged dogs may not demand as much attention as their younger peers, but they require just as much tender loving affection.
Older dogs are more predictable
Unlike with puppies, there are fewer surprises when adopting an adult and senior-aged dog. Adopters already know what a dog is like in terms of its physical traits, temperament, and whether or not there are any pre-existing medical issues worth noting.
Older dogs are mature
After undergoing puppyhood and their adolescent phase, adult and senior-aged dogs often settle into a more balanced disposition. They are neither too anxious nor too rambunctious, and if well-adjusted, socialize with people and other pets with little to no fuss.
Older dogs are perfect for first-time pet owners
For those who are new to owning a pet, adopting an adult or senior-aged dog is your best option. With an older pooch, you needn’t worry about the myriad responsibilities of raising a young or teenage pup.
Older dogs may suffer from age-related issues
Although most puppies require a small investment upon the initial adoption, some adult and senior-aged dogs may suffer from age-related problems, like deafness or blindness, that require frequent veterinary trips.
Older dogs are difficult to train out of unwanted behaviors and habits
While it's not impossible to teach an adult or senior-age new tricks, it is tough to train them out of their destructive behaviors. It’ll take patience and a strong will, but with time, it will pay off.
Older dogs are short on time
A big downside of adopting an adult or senior-aged dog is time, or the lack thereof. Adopters often pass up on older dogs because the mere thought of learning to love a dog, only for it to leave soon after, is much too painful to bear.
Deciding Between Adopting a Puppy or an Older Dog
With that all said, the decision may not be any less difficult for you. If you’re still on the fence about whether to adopt a puppy or an older dog, you may want to turn inward and ask yourself what you’re reasonably able to offer your new potential adoptee. Will you, for instance, be able to successfully train a pup? Or fit your dog into your busy schedule?
By reviewing your unique situation, you will be able to better determine which dog is suited to your personality and lifestyle—so don’t pull the trigger just yet. Before making a final decision, we’ve included a few more questions you may want to ask yourself before you decide which dog to adopt, or if you’re ready to adopt a dog at all. Just remember to be truthful with yourself as you answer the following questions.
Are you able or willing to raise a puppy?
Puppies require their owner’s undivided attention in the first few months of life. They must be taught to relieve themselves outside, and socialize with people and other pets. You must also raise them to be obedient dogs and prevent them from developing unwanted habits. If time and patience are in your favor, adopt a puppy. If not, opt for an older dog that’s been trained already.
What does a day in your life look like?
Do you stay in often? Or are you always out and about? If the first is true for you, you may be able to keep up with a puppy's responsibilities. Otherwise, a pup may not be the best option, and an older dog may be a better fit. Whatever your days look like, you must devote a significant amount of attention to your pet, whether they are tiny balls of fur or full adults.
Are you a first-time pet owner?
Whether you are a first-time owner or dealt with dogs before, it’s a big responsibility to adopt a pet. Regardless of their age, a new owner may find the tasks overwhelming. Oftentimes, though, adult dogs are an ideal option because their personalities are already set. Plus, the shelter may be able to brief you on the best ways to watch over a particular dog.
Do you live with kids?
If you are living with babies or toddlers, you may want to wait several years before adopting a dog at all. They may accidentally harm the dog or the other way around; older, more responsible kids are more self-aware. As for age, puppies may be raised to fit into your family from day one. But if you decide to adopt an older dog, be sure it’s tolerant of young kids.
Regardless of your answers to the questions above, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to finding your perfect dog. If anything, the pre-adoption stage is an opportunity for you to invest in learning more about potential adoptees. Ask the shelter about their personalities, what you should know based on their age, and which one would be the best fit for you.