Adopting a Puppy vs an Adult Dog

Sasha-Simone, The Very Energetic Puppy!
Sasha-Simone, The Very Energetic Puppy!

When many soon-to-be dog owners think dog adoption, they automatically think of a puppy. But many new dogs owners fail to realize that an adult dog is often the better choice. Here, we’ll explore just three of the many benefits to adopting an adult dog instead of a bouncy little puppy.

Adult Dogs Have Less Energy

Owning and training a puppy can be downright exhausting, particularly if you opt for a high-energy breed. In short, puppies have boundless supplies of energy and to ensure mental health, this energy must be expended. If you fail to properly expend a dog’s energy, this leads to destructive behaviors like chewing, barking and even anxiety or aggression.

I had a young pit bull who came to me as a foster dog. She was incredibly destructive and therefore “un-adoptable” at the time due to her pent up energy. Sasha-Simone (who we actually fell in love with and decided to adopt ourselves) required three hours of running per day to overcome her destructive chewing and barking.

Sasha-Simone’s situation is actually not as uncommon as many new dog owners would like to think. For the first year (or two for some working breeds), you may have to spend upwards of two or even three hours providing rigorous exercise just to keep the dog’s mind healthy.

That said, there’s lots of adult dogs who are high energy, but their energy really isn’t comparable to that of a puppy. For every high-energy working dog you meet, there’s a puppy out there with twice the energy level. Adopting a dog age two or older will enable new dog owners to enjoy a dog who has already expended that seemingly-boundless puppy energy, making training and dog ownership in general much easier.

Adult Dogs Are Often Already Trained!

Training a puppy is hard work. If you’ve never trained a dog, there’s a good chance you’re underestimating how time-consuming it really is to train a puppy. There’s housebreaking and potty training; there’s obedience training; there’s socialization and “training” the dog to meet new people and other dogs; there’s the issue of teaching a puppy how to cope with being alone when you’re at work or at school.

And keep in mind that puppy energy can affect puppy training. Working breeds and some terriers in particular tend to be very high-energy as a puppy, so before you can even entertain the idea of an obedience training session, you’ll need to expend some of that manic puppy energy so the dog can focus. This may mean an hour of running or an hour of fetch before each and every training session (and you’ll need a few training sessions each day.)

Training means time, patience and hard work. And while not every adult dog is perfectly trained or housebroken, remember that an adult dog will not require the basics (puppy socialization, teaching coping skills, etc.) like a puppy does, so training an adult dog is usually much easier. Adult dogs also don’t have endless supplies of puppy energy, making the training process much easier.

With an Adult Dog, You Know What You’re Getting

With a puppy, there’s a great deal of personality and temperament evolution that takes place during the first year of life. And often, novice dog owners will make critical mistakes when raising an impressionable and developing puppy, leading to serious behavioral problems in adulthood.

One example of a common puppy-raising mistake involves constant human attention. A puppy who is always around humans and who is rarely left alone will not develop key coping skills. This makes the dog very prone to developing destructive behaviors as an adult stemming from depression and separation anxiety. Meanwhile, an adult dog who has already learned how to cope with being alone during puppyhood is going to be less prone to developing a behavioral problem if you suddenly have to go back to work, leaving the dog alone for a few more hours each day.

That’s not to say that adult dogs are immune to the development of behavioral problems or even changes in temperament. But once the dog has reached adulthood, he is much more stable and less prone to developing these types of issues, whereas a puppy is much more impressionable.

An adult dog’s care requirements are also going to be more straightforward. You can get an energetic puppy and hope that he grows into a calm adult, but there’s always a chance that he’ll remain very hyper, even in adulthood. Adopt an adult dog and there’s not going to be fewer surprises down the road in terms of temperament and care requirements.

Apartment and condominium dwellers may also do better with an adult dog, since there’s less chance of seeing unwanted barking, chewing and destructive behaviors that are common in puppies. Apartment and condos also often have size limits imposed for dogs living in the complex, so adopting an adult dog, you know what you’re getting into in terms of size. Remember, breed isn’t everything when it comes to size – I have a 32-pound pug who is not overweight. He’s just large – nearly double the 18-pound standard for the breed. And as a puppy, he was the runt! So if size is going to be an issue, opting for an adult will help dog owners avoid a situation where they need to decide between their condominium and their dog.

In sum, there are many significant advantages to adopting an adult dog – these are just a few that I’ve mentioned. And as a dog foster mom, I take in mostly adult dogs and so I can tell you from experience that it’s just as easy to bond with an adult dog – a main concern among soon-to-be dog owners. If anything, I find that the adult dogs are easier to bond with since there’s less frustration in the equation, from both the dog’s and the owner’s perspective.

So the next time you’re visiting the animal shelter, looking for a new furry friend, don’t pass by all those adult dogs – you may very well walk past a canine treasure.

For those in the Winnipeg area, check out the adoptable pet profiles on – [The Blog] for the Winnipeg Humane Society.

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

  1. Puppies
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    I agree apartment/condo dwellers will do better starting off with an adult dog from the shelters. They are usually trained already and won’t distrub the neighbors much by barking all the time.

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