Part 4: Puppy, Adult or Senior?

Now that you have decided on a breed (or several) suited to your needs, you need to decide: how old will he be? Don’t assume that a puppy is the only good option; adult dogs offer numerous benefits as well, and don’t forget about senior dogs — they too can be ideally suited to certain circumstances and needs. So, as with everything else related to choosing and buying a dog, you have several options and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Read on to find out what they are so that you can make an informed choice:

Puppies

Puppies are wonderful, of course! Not only are they adorable and little, but you get to watch them grow up and shape their behaviour through early training. Puppies are eager to learn, and the bond you form with it at this age can be stronger than those formed later in life.

However, puppies can be expensive. A purebred puppy from a responsible breeder can cost several hundred dollars, to which you might need to add the costs of vaccination and/or training. Puppies need a lot of care, supervision and exercise during their first year, and if you have children, having puppies around can be exhausting and difficult. Also, a pedigree does not guarantee that your puppy won’t develop unexpected traits or problems when he grows up.

Adult dogs

Adult dogs are generally much cheaper than puppies. You can get purebred adult dogs from a rescue group at a fraction of the cost of a puppy from the same breed. Adult dogs are usually house-trained and don’t require as much attention or training as puppies. They are also at the age where you can get temperament testing done before bringing them home; this can help you avoid unwanted or unpredictable behavior. Adult dogs are better to have around children, and healthy adults tend to be calmer and less needy than their puppy counterparts.

However, adult dogs can be harder to untrain, when it comes to unwanted behaviours. While it’s not difficult to bond with an adult dog, it may not be as easy or as strong as bonding with a puppy. You will likely not be able to find out everything about an adult dog’s history and what kind of house or environment he was raised in, so even with testing you can’t always rule out behavioural problems.

Senior dogs

Older, aging dogs need loving owners too and are much less likely to find them than are puppies or adult dogs. Seniors rarely need training and are much less excitable, temperamental and needy than puppies or even adult dogs. Senior dogs are also more appreciative of love and a good home, since they have most likely been through abandonment and, in many cases, a long wait for the right owner.

But, senior dogs have a shorter life than puppies or young adults. They tend to be set in their ways and it’s not easy to untrain or re-train a senior dog (although it can be done). They are also more prone to ailments and require extra care in their old age.

There is no one answer that works for all dog-owners when it comes to the dog’s breed, type or age (or anything else!). As a prospective owner, you should take a good long look at what you can offer a dog and what you hope to get from it, do your homework in researching breeds and sellers and make the decision that works best for you.

Image courtesy of emdot

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