Oftentimes, when people decide that they’re ready to add a dog to their lives, their first impulse is to start looking for a puppy or young dog. While we won’t argue that puppies are adorable, with their fluffy little bodies and too-big paws, they are also a TON of work, and not everyone has the time, patience, dedication, and discipline to raise one. Fact is, puppies just aren’t for everyone. If the time and effort required to raise a puppy is more than you’re ready to take on at the moment, try considering an older or senior dog.

Senior labThe age at which a dog is considered “older” or “senior” differs by breed. For larger breeds, who generally have a shorter lifespan, a dog is considered middle-aged at 5. The general consensus, according to the Senior Dog Project, is a dog is considered “senior” at age 7, but dogs as young as 5 are frequently passed over for adoption in favor of younger dogs. These older dogs are, in many cases, just as agile and playful as younger dogs, and usually better-tempered, but are sadly left to spend the rest of their perfectly capable days in a shelter, or, in some sad cases, are euthanized due to shelter crowding.

You may think that adopting an older or senior dog might mean MORE work due to health concerns or precautions or special diets, but in many cases, this is not true. As with any dog, it is important to learn a senior dog’s health history before you decide to bring it home, but many senior dogs are in perfectly good health, and are only up for adoption due to a change in the circumstances of the previous owner, such as job loss or illness or a death in the family. In terms of medical bills, senior veterinary care is not necessarily more expensive than veterinary care for a younger dog; in fact, since senior dogs have already had all their vaccinations, won’t require puppy ‘check-ups’ and, in most cases, will already be ‘fixed’, they may be less expensive than a puppy!

In addition to what we’ve already mentioned, here’s our Top Ten List for why senior dogs make a great addition to any house!

Submissive senior1. Loyalty. Senior dogs seem to know what they’ve been rescued from, and will give you their limitless gratitude, love, and loyalty in exchange.

2. No need for basic training. Most older dogs have long since been house-trained and leash-trained, and in many case, crate-trained. There is very little you should need to do to get them settled in.

3. No Huge Lifestyle Change. Older dogs are not a 24/7 job. They don’t require the constant monitoring and training that puppies do and leave you with more time to do your own thing. You don’t need to be tethered to them like a puppy or younger dog.

Napping senior

4. Wisdom comes with age. Senior dogs have already learned many of life’s lessons. They know that bones, not shoes, are for chewing, and that if they get into the trash, there will be repercussions. They also know the meaning of “no.”

5. Easy transition. Older dogs will settle into their new homes easily, as they’ve learned how to get along with others and what it takes to be part of the pack.

6. Low maintenance. Most senior dogs are content with casual walks and cuddling. They are perfectly happy to nap the day away while you’re at work, and will greet you calmly at the door when you get home.

7. Easy to Train. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks. They are calmer, more mature, and more focused than younger dogs, and most will easily pick up new tricks. Getting them used to their DogWatch Hidden Fence system should be a breeze!

8. What You See Is What You Get. Older dogs have grown into their shape, size, temperament, and personality. You know exactly what you’re getting, so there won’t be any surprises like you might get with a puppy!

9. Instant companions. Due to their not needing as much time or effort to settle in and adjust, older dogs are instantly ready to be your best friend. From day one, they are ready for whatever adventure you’d like to bring them on!

Active senior10. You’ll get a good night’s sleep. Older dogs are used to human schedules and shouldn’t need nighttime feedings, comforting, or bathroom breaks.

If you think a senior dog is the right fit for you, here are some great resources for adopting a senior dog:

Photo credits (top to bottom):

Miika Silfverberg via Flickr

Kezee via Flickr

Jeff Moriarty via Flickr

Mark Robinson via Flickr