Adopting an Adult Dog: Benefits, Considerations, and Tips

February 02, 2024 2 min read

Adopting a new friend is a big decision, whether you’ve chosen a puppy or an adult dog. If you have walked through the shelter recently, you’ve probably noticed puppies are adopted quickly. While puppies are undoubtedly cute, there are many benefits to adopting an adult dog. However, before you welcome a new campaign into your home, there are a few things to consider.

How old is an adult dog?

Dogs are considered adults after one year when most have finished growing. While large and extra-large breeds, such as Labradors and Great Danes, continue to grow until about two years of age, all dogs enter adulthood at one year. Large and extra-large breeds have shorter lifespans and are considered seniors at age seven, while medium-sized dogs are considered seniors at ten years of age.

Adult Dog vs. Puppy

There are many reasons to consider an adult dog instead of a puppy.

  • No puppy behaviors, such as chewing furniture and potty training.
  • May have training—many older dogs already know basic commands, depending on their backgrounds.
  • The dog’s personality will be more readily apparent. Puppies are growing and will not develop their core personality until between 4 and 6 months of age.
  • Already socialized—most older dogs have been socialized with other animals and people, which makes it easier for them to adapt to their new home.
  • No puppy vaccinations—puppies require a series of vaccinations before 20 weeks, meaning many vet visits.
  • Lower adoption fees—older dogs are not as popular in shelters, so they often offer reduced or free adoption fees.

Things to Consider Before Adopting an Adult Dog

Consider several things before adopting an adult dog to help ensure success.

Research Breeds

While most dogs in the shelter are mixed breeds, understanding breeds, and breed characteristics can give you a better understanding of their behaviors. You can learn about their energy levels, required grooming, and other breed characteristics. For example, if you live in an apartment and aren’t very active, hunting dog mixes are probably not a good fit for your lifestyle.

Common breed issues and genetic illnesses are another area to research. The more research you do, the easier it will be to find the right fit for your family.

Consider Your Lifestyle

We alluded to this potential issue under breeds because up to 20% of adult dogs are returned to the shelter within six months of adoption. Selecting a dog that fits your lifestyle in terms of temperament and energy level is a great way to set everyone up for success.

Questions to ask yourself include how active you are, where you live, how you are hoping your new dog will fit into your daily routine, and how long/often you are away from home. Some breeds require a lot of regular exercise to stay happy and healthy, while others don’t mind being couch potatoes all day. Pick a dog that matches your current lifestyle.

Dietary Needs and Special Medical Care

Adult dogs have different dietary requirements and potentially advanced medical care than puppies. Ask the shelter about specific dietary needs or medical issues requiring special food or medications. These costs can add up over time, especially if you are unprepared.

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