Dog Lifestyle, Pet Health, Senior Dogs

Adopting a Senior or Older Dog Pros and Cons

You may have been considering adopting a senior dog which is fantastic!  We are big lovers of senior dogs and are right now experiencing the joy and love of our 16 year old senior dog Zooey but regularly get inspiration from senior dog social media accounts and from those that rescue senior dogs.  Learn more about the pros and cons of adopting a senior or older dog plus top senior dog care tips and advice and perspective from this Tik Tok senior dog lover!

lack grey muzzle senior dog lying on the grass with a ball indicating the pros of owning a senior dog

What is a Senior Dog?

Senior dogs or older dogs are those that are in the last third of their lives.  The age when a dog becomes s senior is dependent on several factors including, breed size and more.  Learn more about when a dog is a senior dog and other senior dog facts.  

Older dog with gray hair around its muzzle that looks like a chocolate lab.

What are the pros and cons of adopting a senior dog?

There are so many pros and cons to adopting a senior dog that include:

Pros of Adopting A Senior Dog

  1. Less training needs.  Most senior dogs are well socialized
  2. Less accidents56% of people polled recently indicated that they appreciated having a senior dog since they have less accidents.
  3. Well Socialized.  Having  ready socialized dog that is accustomed to outings and fun is a definite plus.
  4. Calmer.  Many puppies have a lot of energy, when they become part of your family it can cause a major upheaval.  I noted this as I watched a friend with 3 toddlers and a the formidable task of newly adopted puppy.  The idea likely seemed smart but in my mind a senior dog with experience with children would have made a far more rewarding pet. Puppies may be a joy but a senior dog will be far more calm generally.
  5. Teach you about love, joy and forgiveness.  Senior dogs typically have been through a lot and if they are available for adoption they may have had something happen or been displaced by a loving home, both which may cause trauma.  However, nevertheless most pick up and open their hearts again.
  6. Senior dogs need less exercise.  For most, this is a pro but for some this may be a con.
  7. Senior Dogs have many years left to provide love and comfort.  Some believe that senior dogs are in the last stage of their life and if will be heartbreaking to let them go.  However, senior dogs may have many years to provide love.

Cons of Owning a Senior Dog

  1. Their health needs may be more intense.  See 11 common health issues of senior dogs. However, note that puppies need a lot of care as well! The most cost intense from a health and wellness perspective periods of a dog’s life are puppyhood and when they get to be a senior.
  2. You will have to be on top of wellness.  It will be important to address senior dog issues so that you can fend off issues common to senior dogs early, like weight loss and dental care.
  3. Shorted life span.  Potentially a shorter time to enjoy life with them.
  4. They may have emotional issues that take time to address.  This can be true for many pets but a puppy as opposed to a senior dog will not have had as many opportunities to be affected by psychological issues.  However, remember a puppy may develop these and with a senior dog you will be aware and can manage appropriately.
  5. Less active.  Although mobility is of utmost importance to maintain in a dog’s senior years they will undoubtedly slow down and if you are an active person this may be difficult.

Top Tips for Owning a Senior Dog

So, you are thinking of getting a senior dog!  Here are some top tips for caring and owning a senior dog!

  1. Ensure that you senior is equipped with comfort and senior dog essentials to make their care more simple and easy.
  2. Monitor health issues, like dental care, pet parasites, and weight management in a thoughtful way with help from experts.
  3. Enjoy your senior dog.  Care may be intense but they have so much love to give, truly be present and enjoy life with your senior dog!  (See our article on Anticipatory Grief for more tips and to understand this phenomenon so you can address it)

What is it like to own a senior dog?

@enzothesquishking has been kind enough to share this loving Tik Tok video about adopting a senior dog.  A must watch if you are considering adopting a senior dog.

Adopting a senior dog can be rewarding and amazing.  Hopefully, understanding this perspective along with the pros, cons and tips about adopting a senior dog will help you decide that it is a right decision for you and when you do check out our Ultimate list of Senior Dog Adoptions and Rescues.

Popular Senior Dog FAQs

Is a senior dog good for a first time owner?

Yes. Senior dogs tend to have more manageable energy levels making them easier to handle, care for, and entertain, regardless of pet experience on the part of the owner.

Why don’t people adopt senior dogs?

Great question and it is a wonder to us as senior dogs have a ton of love to give and have so many benefits. However, some may be reluctant to take on what they believe may be medical costs but know that if you adopt a puppy they too will have health costs, the early and later years of a dogs life are typically those that need the most care.

What should I know before adopting a senior dog?

One thing is that your senior dog may have a history that is unknown at least to you. There will be a warming up period that will depend on the particular dog’s history but one thing is for sure dogs are loving and they will adapt to their new circumstances and give plenty of love in return of yours.