Should I adopt A Senior Dog? The 7 Reasons Why They Make The Best Companions

Betsy a rescue dog featured in an article about the benefits of adopting a senior dog

Oh and I am also going to add a shameless plug for Betsy from High Hopes Dog Rescue, Worcestershire (pictured throughout)

Advantages of adopting a senior dog, Betsy is an older dog from High Hope Dog Rescue in Worcestershire who is waiting to be adopted
November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. What a fantastic opportunity to highlight the advantages of adopting an older dog.

There is something desperately sad about an older dog ending up without a family and a home. Especially when there are so many advantages to adopting a senior dog.

So many older dogs are wondering when their time will come.

They are waiting for their chance to live out their golden years with love, security and comfort. They want their own special human family. Believe me, you will feel this love and appreciation when you walk your new friend out of the shelter.

Visitors often walk right past the older, more senior residents at the dogs’ shelter; on average they are there 4 times longer than their younger counterparts. This is time they don’t have to waste. No dog should spend their days without a human companion or a home, let alone their last days.

When considering getting a dog, it is easy to adopt the shiny new penny mentality. It is natural to want the world’s smallest, cutest and newest four-legged friend. However, this is not without its problems.

Let’s talk ‘puppy blues’

When you think about the first few weeks with your new puppy it is easy to get caught up in a Cinderella moment.

Puppy blues are when that fantasy is replaced by the harsh reality of what owning a puppy is really like.

Let’s unpick this further:

  • You haven’t bonded yet

  • They have a ridiculous amount of energy

  • You’re not getting any sleep

  • Your house has become one big stinky toilet as you hoist them up and place them back on a mat for the fiftieth time that day.

  • You have become an underqualified puppy trainer with zero experience.

  • You watch on as treasured items get chewed up and ruined.

  • Not to mention having to also train your family members in how to manage the newest recruit.

I’d be lying if I said this does not pass (like a kidney stone but it does pass) but this can also cause people to take their puppy back and to feel that having a dog is too overwhelming and not for them.

What is a senior dog?

As a general rule, a dog is considered senior when they are in the last quarter of their expected life. This is different depending on the breed and size of the dog. 

The following is a general guide for the life expectancy of dogs by their size:

  • Small dogs – 10 to 15 years

  • Medium dogs -10 to 13 years

  • Large dogs – 8 to 12 years

A senior dog ending up in a rescue centre is heart breaking. They will most likely have experienced what it is like to be loved and owned. It is even more upsetting that they are usually there through no fault of their own.

Betsy is an older dog from High Hope dog rescue in Worcestershire, there are many benefits to adopting a senior dog

Common reasons that people surrender their dogs include:

  • The death of their owner

  • Change in owner circumstances resulting in a house move (not all rentals allow dogs)

  • Increasing financial costs

  • The health of their owner

  • Divorce

  • A new baby

  • Allergies (a child may develop an allergy)

  • Owner health problems make them unable to care for the dog

So park your assumptions that all senior dogs are in a shelter due to health and behavioural issues. Let’s explore the benefits of adopting senior dogs.

Betsy is an elderly dog from High Hope Dogs home - there are many advantages to adopting an older dog

Here are the 7 advantages to adopting a senior dog

1) The bond is deep and instant

If a dog has bonded with a human before, they’ll know what it means to give and receive love. These experiences mean they will find it easy to build a relationship with you.

Mature dogs are desperate to be taken home to a loving home to experience normality. If you think they don’t know that you chose them over a younger dog then I suspect that you are wrong.

2) They have a basic level of training

The below training advantages may mean your dog settles in faster. They will save you the time and effort of having to start from scratch. This takes a heck of a lot of the stress out of having a new pet. 

Toilet training

You won’t have to spend time teaching an older dog the dos and don’ts of where to go to the toilet. The chances are they already know. (I don’t know about you but I consider not peeing in my house to be a huge benefit)

Basic commands

Senior dogs are more likely to have experienced a basic level of training. They are likely to be familiar with commands such as sit, stay, down and no.

Walks

They will hopefully have had plenty of walkies and a certain level of training on the lead.

Teaching

An older dog will tend to have a longer attention span and be more receptive to new commands than a puppy. You really can teach an old dog new tricks.

3) No teething

Puppies tend to chew whatever they can find up until they are 6 months old. This is due to the cutting in of new teeth. Chewing can go on even longer if it becomes a behavioural trait.

The shelter will already know whether or not chewing is an issue with an older dog. Hopefully, you won’t have to remove all your shoes, cushions and books.

It could end up costing you a lot of money to replace the casualties of the chew monster.

4) You can leave them home for a longer amount of time

You can not leave a younger dog alone for long…unless you want to come back to Armageddon.

They need you to be there to let them in and out to pee. You will also want to make sure they don’t tear up the house while they are learning how to behave.

You can leave an older dog for a little longer and they will likely show your house more respect whilst you are away.

5) You already know what you are getting

Temperament

Their temperament and personality traits will have already been established. The shelter can match you with a dog who has the right temperament for you and your family.

Behaviour

Older dogs have already formed their behaviour traits and habits.

They are more likely to have been socialised with other dogs and humans so their reactions will be more predictable. The dog shelter will be able to make you aware of their ability to get along with children and other animals. 

Size

If a senior dog is going to become a huge dog, you will already know. You won’t need to guess how big your new puppy is going to get. You also won’t need to replace the beds and coats they have grown out of.

Diet, health and grooming

An older dog will be in the swing of their food and grooming routine so you will have an idea of what works for your pooch rather than having to figure it out.

You will know the dog’s medical history and the shelter will make sure vaccinations are up to date.

6) Cost

There is an urgency to rehome senior pets as they have a shorter amount of life left ahead of them. Many shelters reduce the cost of adopting older animals; it is harder to rehome these older pets.

7) They may need less exercise

A senior pet won’t need as much exercise as the younger generation and will be less excitable. Tearing around the house and launching off the sofa to bark at every noise is likely to be a young pup’s game. 

A shameless plug for Betsy?

Here she is! Meet Betsy, everyone!

Betsy from High Hopes Dog Rescue in Worcestershire who is one of many older dogs lookng for a home

Betsy is a beautiful mixed breed. She is 6 years old and is just entering the beginning of her senior years. Betsy is being looked after by the wonderful humans at High Hopes Dog Rescue in Worcester.

She is waiting for her ideal companion to scoop her up and take her home; she is the most senior member of the home. If you would like to find out more about Betsy please hop on over to their website and send them a message.

Remember dog shelters can give you helpful information about a particular dog’s character, behaviour, previous history and needs. This is typically known which is another huge positive.

Conclusion – dogs don’t have a best before date

The loyal and lonely seniors of the dog world have so much to offer.

There is a special bond and love that comes with opening up your home and heart to an older dog. They may otherwise be forgotten and overlooked in favour of their younger friends.

Their experience in the human world means they make fantastic companions. They may need a little help up onto the sofa from time to time but that’s a small price to pay for their love.

Betsy from High Hope Dog Rescue who is one of many senior pets waiting to be adopted at the local shelter

If you are lucky enough to be able to adopt an animal I hope you will consider adopting an older dog.

You really can change what is left of their life and take up your rightful position as the hero of the kennels.

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Pixie Greatorex is a Freelance Writer in the Pet industry specialising in search engine optimised blogs. In simple terms...Pixie writes content which helps your customers find your business on the internet.
Pixie Greatorex pet industry blog content writer