Buying an Adult Dog vs a Puppy

Different Stages of a Dog's Life

When thinking about getting a dog, you should do some research on the many stages of a dog’s life to decide whether you want to bring home a mature dog or a puppy. Each stage of a dog’s life has its benefits and challenges, so determining which one fits best with your lifestyle is key to finding your perfect match.


Age seven and older

Adding a senior dog to your family may not seem as exciting as bringing home a new puppy, but there are numerous advantages to going with a mature dog. Senior dogs are typically very mild tempered and don’t get nearly as anxious or physically excited as younger dogs.

Senior dogs will enjoy lounging with you, or taking easy, shorter walks. Most have already been house trained and are past the ornery phase of their life.

Unfortunately, more age-related health risks come with senior dogs, as do undesirable behaviors that have been with him throughout his life that will be much tougher to break. Many people avoid senior dogs knowing that they may not live much longer, but imagine how rewarding it would be to provide a dog with a loving retirement home for his last few years!


Three to six years old

As an adult, a dog has fully developed physically and emotionally. They have determined what they like and what they do not like. Adult dogs are rarely limited in the physical activity that they can do, and typically have high energy levels.

Adult dogs aren’t usually troublemakers like puppies, and hopefully are fully house trained at this point in their lives. However, if an adult dog has picked up a bad habit throughout his life, he will be harder to un-train. It will take time, patience and persistence.

Many fear that adult dogs will not bond with you in the way that a puppy will, which isn’t true. With time and love, you’ll bond with your new pup at any age.


One to three years old

The adolescent period of a dog’s life is what many compare to raising a teenager. It can be some of the most fun years, but also most frustrating. It’s at this time where dogs are in their trouble-making phase and often push their boundaries to see what they can get away with. It’s important to be stern with adolescent dogs to prevent bad behavior traits from forming.

Dogs that are one to three years old can also be the most fun. They are bursting with energy and physically prepared to do more strenuous activities with you. Although its not uncommon for an adolescent dog to still have accidents in the house, they typically understand the connection between behavior and reward and can be more easily trained.


Up to one year old

When thinking about bringing a new dog home, most people imagine an adorable, bouncy little puppy that’s irresistibly cute. Not only do you get the best cuddle partner when getting a puppy, but you also get a blank slate that you are able to parent and shape to be your own. With all the cuteness and cuddles comes a fair amount of challenges.

Puppies are A LOT of work. They require more time, patience, and money than bringing home an adult dog. If you are not able to be at home most of the day, a puppy may not be for you. Puppies also need to be spayed or neutered, require vaccinations and more vet attention in the first year of life than many middle-aged dogs do. Puppies are adorable but demanding!

Pros and Cons of Buying an Adult Dog



Most adult dogs in shelters or for sale are house trained and have had some previous basic command training, such as sit, stay and come.


Dogs that have been under the care of a shelter or a foster parent have likely been evaluated, and those individuals can share the dogs personality type, behavioral traits and compatibility with children and animals.

Lower maintenance

Adult dogs typically get into much less trouble than new puppies do. They are less curious and don’t require nearly as much attention. Adult dogs understand good behavior is rewarded and are easier to parent in general.

Less Costly

Owning a dog is not cheap. However, adult dogs can save you money in vet fees (if they have their shots and are already spayed/neutered) and supplies. You won’t have to buy puppy-sized items that the dog will eventually grow out of.


Not a Puppy

Adult dogs are just as cute and cuddly as puppies, but let’s face it, it’s still not the same! Some people just want to experience every stage of their dog’s lives.

Harder to un-train

You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s definitely more challenging! The undesirable traits that your dog adopted as a puppy may be harder to break now that he is more set in his ways.

Unknown Past

There is a strong possibility that whoever you are buying or adopting the dog from will be unsure of his past. Know that there may be certain things or environments that frighten or irritate the dog that you could not have predicted.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Puppy


It’s a Puppy

Cute, cuddly and adorable – there are few things better than loving a new puppy.

More Impressionable

Bringing home a new puppy gives you the opportunity to grow and groom him how you choose to. Every dog has a personality of its own, but you’ll be able to better mold how your dog behaves when starting your training in the puppy stage.

Instant Connection

Bringing a new puppy home means that you are the only owner he’s known (and hopefully ever will know!) Your puppy will love you endlessly, and you won’t have any concerns about his connection to a previous owner.



Bringing home a new puppy will require a lot of your time and attention. Puppies need to be watched constantly when out of their crates and shouldn’t be left at home alone all day as this is their developmental period and should be socialized as much as possible.

More Expensive

You’re bound to have more upfront vet fees when bringing home a puppy vs and adult dog, such as spay/neutering costs and vaccinations.


Puppies can be equally destructive as they are adorable. When you opt to bring a puppy or adolescent dog home you will likely experience some bad behavior, such as chewing, counter surfing, trash digging and of course, accidents in the house.

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