When adopting a dog, a dog’s age can often factor into your decision. Although puppies are a perfect choice for some owners, other owners could find their new best friend in a senior dog.
And senior dogs often aren’t much older than puppies- senior dogs can range from 5-years-old and older, depending on the breed, whereas puppies are often under a year old.
“It is very common to see adopters run straight to the puppies and younger dogs, completely disregarding the senior dogs for one reason or another,” Dr. Mary Mauldin Pereira, a veterinarian and professor at the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine told INSIDER. “It takes a special person to adopt a senior dog, but there are many benefits to it.”
Here are some reasons to consider if you’re thinking of adopting a senior dog instead of a puppy.
1. Adopting an older dog gives them an amazing rest of their life.
“Most people want to adopt the younger pets at shelters, so senior dogs are frequently overlooked. Bringing a senior pet into your home will surely make that pet feel special,” pet expert, Erin Askeland, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA of Camp Bow Wow told INSIDER.
You could be doing a senior dog an amazing service by giving them a wonderful life for as many months or years as they have left.
“Knowing you are helping them live out the last years of their life with a loving family by their side and a warm bed to lay on will make a difference for them, and for you,” said Askeland.
2. An older dog is already fully grown, leaving less room for size-related surprises.
With most dog breeds, you can roughly predict how large your puppy will be as a full-grown dog. But, it’s not always accurate, and with mixed breeds, it can be tough to determine.
When adopting a senior dog, they have typically already grown to their adult size. So, there won’t be unexpected growth spurts in the future. This can be especially important for soon-to-be pet owners with limited space or particular living situations.
3. Senior dogs are typically already housebroken.
Potty training a puppy can be a stressful, time-consuming process. Most of the time, an older dog will already be housebroken. This can lead to less stress on your part and much fewer stains in your carpeting.
4. Older dogs are oftentimes calmer than puppies.
Having a very energetic dog can sometimes be a lot to handle. An older dog has gotten that overactive puppy energy out of their system will likely have a calmer temperament.
5. Older dogs need more sleep throughout the day.
According to Sleep.org, older dogs require a bit more sleep than puppies. This, on top of their overall lower energy levels, makes them a great choice for certain families.
That being said, even senior dogs still need a bit of playtime.
6. Training a puppy is a big time commitment.
If you’re not quite ready or willing to put in all of the work and time that comes with training a pup, you might prefer an older dog who already knows some basics.
Plus, training senior dogs can be an easier and smoother process. And despite the old adage, they can definitely learn some new tricks.
7. A senior dog typically isn’t as overwhelming as a puppy.
Families with children might prefer a laid-back senior dog to an energised puppy.
“A puppy can be overwhelming to a family with young children. Many older dogs have lived with kids; some of them just melt when a child comes in,” Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York, told USA Today.
8. Adopting a senior dog can save its life.
As sad as it is, an older dog doesn’t have the best odds if they’re not in a no-kill shelter.
“Unfortunately, older dogs are among the first to be euthanised because they usually are not adopted in a timely manner,” Dr. Mauldin Pereira told INSIDER. “Adopting an older dog can save its life.”
9. Older dogs can make great therapeutic companions.
If you’ve ever gone to a dog therapy event, you’ve probably noticed that most, if not all dogs, are older. Plus, most dogs must be at least a year old to become a therapy dog.
Although not all senior dogs are therapy dogs, they tend to have a calmer, caring temperament. “Many older dogs have been owned and loved before and they can make really devoted and caring companions,” Dr. Mauldin Pereira told INSIDER.
10. Many senior dogs have experience with having an owner.
Most senior dogs have had previous owners that, for whatever reason, could no longer keep their dog. In many cases, it’s because of financial issues, death, or poor health of the former owner- not because of the dog’s behaviour.
Because of this, many senior dogs already know how to interact with humans, and have experience listening to an owner.
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