As a dog lover, it can be difficult to decide between adopting a puppy or a full-grown dog, as even considering all the different breeds and possible mixes, they are all unique in their own way.
Puppies and adult dogs have certain fundamental differences and each stage of a dog’s life has its benefits and challenges, so thinking through which one fits best with your lifestyle is key to finding your perfect match.
When it comes to size, puppies are of course much easier to handle than a 30 kg adult dog. The smaller the dog, the easier it will be for you to bath, train and even play with.
This is why many new dog parents, who have never done this before, want to start off with a puppy. But just because you want to start small doesn’t mean that you are limited to choosing a pup. You might also consider adopting a small breed adult dog.
Puppies, especially if you are rehoming with no knowledge of the breed of their parents, can be unpredictable when it comes to their size and characteristics. But with an adult dog – the size you see is the size you get.
Most adult dogs in shelters or for sale are house trained and have had some previous basic command training, such as sit and stay, which of course puppies haven't yet learned. Adopting an older dog can take a lot of strain off new dog owners – especially of those who work long hours.
House training a puppy and teaching it basic commands takes time and patience, and while every dog has a personality all of their own, they don't need to unlearn bad habits and you will be able to mould how they behave from the start.
Generally speaking, when adopting a puppy, whether from a breeder or from a rescue organisation, you should get to know a lot about the dog’s history, where they come from and the temperament of their parents.
Much of this isn’t possible when adopting a senior dog. There is a strong possibility that whoever you are buying or adopting the dog from will be unsure of their past and if there may be environments that frighten them that you could not have predicted. This is by no means a reason not to adopt a senior dog, but it is something to consider - especially if you have young children at home.
It's also worth pondering that puppies don’t have fully developed immune systems and are far more susceptible to catching diseases and becoming sick. In fact, with puppies, routine visits to the vet are extremely important.
If you do ultimately decide to adopt a puppy, make sure to wait 12 to 16 weeks, until they are properly vaccinated, before taking them out on play-dates to friends’ houses, to the shops, to the dog park, and even for walks around the neighbourhood.
In considering costs, you’re bound to have more upfront vet fees when bringing a puppy home, and you need to budget for spaying or neutering costs and vaccinations. Adopting an adult dog can save you money in vet fees if they have had their shots and are already spayed or neutered. Also, you won’t need to buy puppy-sized items that your dog will grow out of.
Choosing the right dog is essential to ensure a long and happy life with your new best friend, but it’s not always an easy decision so be sure to take a careful look at the advantages and disadvantages of adopting dogs of different ages.