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Why Are So Many People Adopting Senior Dogs?

The word is out! While cute little puppies are hard to resist, more and more people are leaving shelters with senior dogs in tow—lovable, loyal, life-wise companions. Here’s why:

All the love without all the ….
Senior dogs already know how to cuddle—they also already know where NOT to go to the bathroom and what NOT to chew on.

Walks over workouts…
Senior dogs don’t have nearly as much energy to burn as puppies or even adult dogs, but they will help you get your steps in each day.

Built-in experience…
Unlike puppies, many senior dogs already know basic commands and basic courtesies of living in a house with people.

Plays well with all others…
Life experience and lower energy levels make older dogs great companions for all ages. They have the patience to take on toddlers and the temperament to soothe seniors.

Unconditional love and unending gratitude…
It’s easy to spoil a puppy, but senior dogs don’t take their second chances for granted. They know they’ve been saved and are forever grateful.

If you have a senior dog in your home, remember that older dogs love dinner time as much as any hungry puppy, but they need fewer calories and less fat to match their lower metabolism and reduced activity levels. Be sure to look for a senior dog food that is formulated to meet their needs. As dogs get older they may lose some of their sense of smell, so the enticing aroma of wet dog food for senior dogs may also be a good choice to help them empty their bowl.


29 thoughts on “Why Are So Many People Adopting Senior Dogs?”

  1. My dog old, other dog died 4 months ago. After this dog dies as she is 15 and just had surgery; I have decided to adopt the most overlooked dog, sitting in a corner, old and perhaps not so good or sweet and sweet looking but reason perhaps having been abused. Will work with dog … restore confidence in humans and give some years left of love, love and more love as all living things have feeling and soul, before he/she goes to go over to rainbow bridge … will not care if needs expensive vet care …. rather not buy fancy clothes or not so necessary items and spend on sweet old doggie

  2. I had to laugh at the bathroom thing because my mini dachshund how came when he was 9 isn has no qualms about going to the bathroom anywhere he has to at the time. I can have the door open and it is a nice day and he will do it in the house. if he has to. or he will have to go not before i take thither dog out or after but while I am out, He goes in stores and has no shame. I try to avoid this but luckily the people are very nice and like dogs. It does not happen often so it is not a big deal but again I read that about dogs knowing where to go to the bathroom and mine thinks it anyplace he happens to need to go. HE is a cute guy though and everything else was true. I have lived with many senior dogs and cats and they are indeed special.

    • You should try a belly band for him to wear inside and remove while out for potty. He will get the idea more quickly. We have 4 doxies, all rescues, and I know how stubborn they can be. I also laughed when I read about seniors already being potty trained. An exception can be some Dachshunds. ???

    • Re Kate’s mention about her dachsie… some dogs just don’t take to housetraining as well as others. But if a senior starts going in the house when they didn’t use to (or it’s one you recently adopted) get a vet checkup. It could be doggie dementia (though 9 is relatively young for a small dog) or some other physical issue. With my chow/jindo mix, he started occasionally pooping in the house but I noticed he also had some dementia going on as well as naturopathy in his hind end. With the neuropathy, I think the signals between his brain and bowels didn’t always connect. At any rate, I applaud Kate for not getting rid of her dog as so many seem to do when the dog has ongoing soiling issues. Yes, it can be frustrating but they give us so much, the least we can do is stick by them. I liken having a dog to a marriage… “in sickness and in health”.

    • I have had 2 wonderful wiredhaired doxies in my life, one living to 16 and if I were honest I would say neither was ever really housebroken despite all attempts. So I neede to be ahead of them all the time and block off many places in the house. I have heard the same story from other dachshund lovers. They are headstrong for sure!

    • Kate, my tweety dachshund senior boy was the same way. He could not hold it when I would return from going out for a short time. He would be so happy that I had returned from being out that he would become a pee fountain when he rolled over. I cleaned the rugs very frequently since when he moved into our home. I loved Oscar tons and he got somewhat better over the years. When he would go into pet friendly stores he would get stressed and ultimately piddle uncontrollably. I never punished him since he came from a really bad environment from when he was a young boy until he was taken by animal control at 8 years old. I just understood that it was what it was and older pets when adopted as seniors come with their own set of rules. I promised myself that I would only adopt a senior since many people want to adopt only puppies. Love that you love your do ie no matter what.

    • Kate’s story is interesting but her sentences are long & run into each other. Her grammar isn’t the best nor her spelling. Bless her heart for loving animals! I have a 10 yr old female Beagle-Bassett, named Murphy. She’s very docile, loves people & fun-loving & cuddly. She had been used strictly for breed, hence, her nipple never retracted & was thrown aside. She was moved around to 3 different states, one was too crowded, then I adopted her at our local shelter. Lover her deeply, she is y rock & rocks my world. Thank you.

  3. We have been adopting mature ( 4+ years) dogs for years. Some have been older and I have to agree with the article…. and one of the biggest reasons for us is that there is little or no need for training/ house breaking. We evaluate our lifestyle and what we can provide vs the needs of the dog.

  4. We have adopted several senior rescues. They were so wonderful in every way. The best part was knowing that we were able to make their last years the best they could have been!

  5. I adopted my 11 year old Dachshund from a shelter last November. Nobody wanted him because he is a senior. But the 5 different volontees that drove him through the 400 miles that took to get him to me all wanted to keep him. He did not know a lot of commands but learned sit and stay quite fast. Daschunds are harder to train on the bathroom side, he still has little accidents as he does not know how to ask for the door, but we would not trade him for anydog in the world.

  6. Not only training with potties and the like, senior dogs as you have mentioned in the article have all those qualities which humans readily take to. Bit I would adopt senior dogs for one basics reason-these dogs in their senior years, like all seniors feel pain, loneliness,rejection and such feelings to a much greater extent than other younger beings. So they have to be giver a certain priority to get a forever loving home in there evening years. Of course they can be adopted along with young animals.even tiny ones. Who also deserve the same love and compassion without doubt.

  7. And often senior dogs need adoption because their former owner could no longer care for them or passed away. What is better than giving an older dog the opportunity to be a loving companion yet again?

  8. My husband and I only ADOPT, but especially senior dogs. Far too many senior dogs and cats are abandoned when these pets need them the most. It’s amazing to see them become “one of the pack” so quickly, enjoying their soft beds, toys, daily hugs and kisses, twice a day walks, etc. these pets deserve this. Pets aren’t toys and I hope peooke who read this who are considering getting a dog or cat — please ADOPT, don’t buy! You buy, one dies that could have been adopted. And a pet is for life — theirs. Make arrangements if your life ends first. Too many homeless and abandoned animals need homes and are euthanized for lack of a home.

  9. Kate…I know how you feel. But we must remember they are seniors and all seniors get incontinent as they get older. Even us humans. lol

  10. I adopted an 8 yr old 7lb long haired mixed breed and it took me a long 9 months to potty train her, but it was so worth it. She is such a happy, loving, sweet baby.

  11. I already had three dogs when a little 10 year old min pin named Stanley came to me and needed a home. Stanley just wanted to love and be loved. He was JOYFUL, happy and thrived in my little pack of four. I had him for a far too short 4.5 years, but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. When I lost him, it was beyond devastating, but something switched in me. My two recent rescues have been seniors, because of Stanley. They have so much love to give, and truly appreciate everything. Even though their time with us is shorter, it’s worth the heartbreak.

  12. They give unconditional love and devotion asking nothing but a gentle touch, food and love in return. Grateful to have been brought into your home from being in a kennel alone. Most seniors are owner turn in. A sad fact. Confused, they don’t understand being deserted after giving a lifetime of love to their human family. Yes. They are probably the most grateful adopted pups. God Bless our seniors.

  13. You are so right, Senior Dogs rock! I lost my beloved Hattie, a year ago Oct 2017. I’m still not over her death. I am seriously looking for a senior fur baby, to fill the empty hole in by heart! Puppies are a joy, but they require a lot of work, plus they are definitely for the young.

  14. we have adopted 2 pups from the APL that were seniors. Our molly was 7 1/2 years old and our Norm was 5-6 years old. Sice then our molly has past but our norm still going at 9-10 years old. We have had many medical and expensive issues with out Norm but would NOT trade him in ! Plus we didnt have to potty train . Senior pups are just so happy to have a family again. How can anyone resist.

  15. I’m not exactly sure at what age a doberman is considered a senior, but I believe I’ve adopted two. Not at the same time, though. (They are both males.). I’ve adopted all my dobies through a Doberman rescue. The best part is that they had been fostered, and if there were any quirks to work on, they did. They wanted to be certain of a forever home. We were able to either speak with the rescue and tell them about our lifestyle, home situation and the dobie we had, then they’d recommend one and tell us all about them, or we’d read a description and request to bring our current pup with us to meet and see if they get along. It’s all done very carefully. To the point of filling out an adoption request and getting a home inspection. (Checking the fence, yard, etc.)
    Because of my confidence in their recommendations, I had no qualms in choosing a senior dog.I love having a dog whose personality is already set, knowing little idiosyncrasies, and in all of our cases, potty trained and at least basic obedience training. Well mannered. We may not have them as long, but we get to skip the hardest part of having a dog, to simply enjoying them immediately. I very enthusiastically endorse adopting seniors. They have SO MUCH love to give.

  16. Reading this made me start to thing of doing just this – adopting a senior dog. One of ours dogs died and we decided we were too old to adopt another dog. As our other dog gets lonelier without her brother, this is something we may consider hoping it’s a win-win situation.

  17. All my dogs have been seniors, about 7 years old, when I adopted them. I so prefer an older dog as they’re so grateful to be loved and have a home. I have had a couple that I adopted when they were 3 or 4 but the had all the attributes of older dogs. Another reason to adopt from shelters and not go to breeders or pet stores

  18. I adopted a senior doxie who’d always been an outside dog. Oddly enough, she chose a bathroom for her potty needs. I made it into huge drama, “Oh baby, this is awful, this makes me cry, and so on.” Didn’t take her long to catch on. Never messed in the house again.

  19. My family started adopting senior dogs years ago, and we’ll never change! There are truly so many special and wonderful about senior dogs.. They will always hold extra-special places in my heart!

  20. I could be wrong, but don’t dachshunds tend to be hard to housebreak? I’ve had 3 different friends with wiener dogs and all of them would pee whenever they got overexcited (the dogs, not the friends).

  21. I adopted a mature dog and she is the best animal/pal ever. She does absolutely nothing wrong and is the sweetest, most lovable little girl. I’ve had several puppies and they’re great – from the smell of their breath to the adorable antics. An older dog gives you different kind of relationship, equally wonderful. She’ll be 10 in a couple of months and still has the energy of a much younger dog. She goes to the dog park and runs and plays with her pals. I wouldn’t trade my girl for anything. I’m so happy that more and more people are realizing the benefits of adopting an older dog/cat and giving these wonderful animals a permanent, loving home. The love you get in return is matchless!

  22. I love Senior dogs too, their so much more laid back and easy to handle, especially when you’ve picked a high energy breed like I have – the Australian Cattle Dog. The only negative thing is as they age, the health issues and Vet bills substantially increase. If your dog has an age related chronic condition you can be prepared to spend lots of $$ and all it does is prolong their lives a bit.

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