Adoption & Fostering

Adult Dog Adoption FAQs: Answered!

dogs near adopt me banner

Are you thinking about welcoming a dog into your home? While many pet parents dream of adopting a cute little puppy, have you considered the benefits of adopting an adult dog instead? Trust me, giving a home to an older dog can be an incredibly fulfilling experience – and it might just be the perfect fit for your lifestyle.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about adopting an adult dog. From understanding when a dog is considered “adult” to preparing your home for your new furry pal, we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s get started!

When is a Dog Considered “Adult”?

First things first, let’s define what we mean by an “adult” dog. Typically, puppies are regarded to be adult dogs once they reach one year of age. At this point, most pups have fully grown, although larger breeds may continue to grow for another two to six months (and very large breeds like Mastiffs can keep growing until they’re two years old!).

rescue dog

It’s important to note that dogs reach emotional maturity at different times, with most being emotionally mature by the time they’re two. This means they’re generally better at listening and are calmer overall compared to their puppy counterparts.

So, when does a dog enter their golden years? It depends on the breed. Giant breeds like Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds are considered seniors at age seven, while large breeds hit senior status at eight. Medium-sized dogs are considered seniors by 10, and little guys with the longest lifespans don’t hit their senior years until they’re 11 or 12.

What’s Better: Adopting a Puppy or An Adult Dog?

front view girl carrying bag with dog

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about why adopting a grown-up dog might be the right choice for you. Here are some compelling reasons to opt for a more mature pup:

1. Less Puppy Behaviors

Older dogs have usually outgrown those pesky puppy habits, like chewing everything in sight (including your brand-new shoes or laptop cord). This means you can enjoy a calmer, more well-behaved companion from day one.

cute dog making mess 1

2. Fewer Surprises

When you adopt a mixed-breed puppy, their full-grown size can be a total mystery. But with an adult dog, what you see is what you get – no surprises here!

3. No Potty Training

Many older dogs are already housetrained, and some may even have experience with crate training. Say goodbye to those unexpected accidents and hello to a well-trained pup.

4. Obedience Training

Lots of adult dogs already know their manners, including basic commands like sit and stay. And despite what you might have heard, it’s completely possible to teach an adult dog new tricks!

girl plays with dogs

5. Details About the Dog’s Personality

When you adopt an older dog, you often have access to valuable information from their previous owner about their personality and traits. This means you can choose a dog that’s a good fit for your family and lifestyle.

6. Socialization

Many adult dogs have already been well-socialized, and you may be able to find one who has previously lived with kids and other pets. This makes it easier to choose a dog who will seamlessly integrate into your household.

shih tzu dogs pets animals

7. Fewer Veterinary Visits

Looking after a young puppy requires multiple vet visits and keeping up with their vaccination schedule. With an older dog, you’ll have fewer veterinary appointments, which can help keep the cost of dog ownership down (although any dog is going to be a financial investment).

dog vet consultation

8. Lots of Choices

Shelters are often filled with older dogs, so you have a broad selection to consider. These dogs represent a wide variety of breeds so that you can find the perfect match for your home.

9. More Affordable Adoption Fees

Due to the high demand for puppies, many animal shelters offer lower adoption fees for adult dogs. This means you can save money and still get an amazing dog.

The Challenges of Adopting an Adult Dog

Although adopting an older dog comes with numerous advantages, it’s crucial to recognize the possible obstacles you might encounter.

Older dogs who have spent years living in their previous home may have a hard time adjusting to a new environment. They may exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety, like barking and pacing when you’re not around. Getting these dogs on a consistent schedule in your home can help make the transition smoother.

full shot smiley woman dogs bed

You might also run into some behavioral problems, especially if a dog received limited, inconsistent training (or even abuse) in their previous home. If you’re considering adopting an adult dog, inquire with the shelter about how long the dog has been there and what kind of behavioral and training evaluations have been conducted. Many animal shelters carefully observe and work with dogs, so they should be able to give you a good idea of any behavioral issues they’ve noticed.

Adult Dog Medical Care

It’s important to keep in mind that older dogs, especially those approaching or in their senior years, might face more health issues than puppies. These can range from arthritis to kidney diseases to urinary incontinence and more. Be sure to ask the shelter if the dog has received a thorough veterinary examination and request the results of that exam.

If you plan to adopt an adult dog, consider getting them set up with dog insurance. However, it’s important to understand that any health conditions your dog had shown signs of or received treatment for prior to the insurance application won’t be covered, as they’re considered pre-existing conditions.

cute little dog pet shop with owner

5 Things to Consider When Adopting an Adult Dog

Before you head to the shelter to pick out your new furry friend, there are several things you’ll need to consider to ensure you’re prepared. The last thing you want is for your newly adopted dog to end up back at the shelter due to a lack of preparation and research.

Here are five key things to think about before adopting an adult dog:

1. Research Different Breeds

Take some time to research the characteristics of different dog breeds. This will help you identify the type of breed that best fits your family’s lifestyle. For example, if you’re considering adopting an adult Greyhound (including injured or amputee dogs), you’ll need to learn about their specific needs when it comes to exercise, diet, grooming, and social interaction.

If you’re considering adopting an adult dog with previous injuries (minor or severe), it’s crucial to research the history of their injuries and how to care for them properly. The more informed you are about different breeds, the easier it will be to narrow down your list of potential pups and ensure you have the necessary supplies on hand.

playing puppies young dogs

2. Find the Best Match

According to resources, approximately 7% to 20% of adult dogs are returned to shelters within six months after being adopted. While there could be various reasons for this, a mismatch between the dog and their new family is a possibility.

To prevent this, take your time and let the shelter staff help you find the best dog to match your lifestyle and personality. They can provide valuable insights into each dog’s personality, energy level, and unique needs. Utilize all the resources available to you, including matching programs or profile cards that explain each dog’s personality.

dog sitting his owner garden

3. Know the Adoption Costs

Adopting an adult dog is generally much more affordable than buying a pet. Adoption costs typically range between $129 and $767, which is a better deal than purchasing a dog, which can cost thousands of dollars. Shelter adult dogs usually receive veterinary care (such as spaying or neutering and flea-preventative medications) during their stay, which is included in the adoption fees.

However, whether you’re purchasing or adopting a dog, remember that it shouldn’t be an impulse decision. Adopting an adult dog requires emotional, mental, and financial preparation. Your new furry friend, especially if they have unique needs due to injuries, will require ongoing expenses for food, vitamins, medications, regular checkups, and vaccinations. You may also need to invest in items like wheelchairs or knee braces if necessary.

shiba inu dog taking walk

Once you’ve decided which adult dog you wish to adopt, request a copy of their medical records so you can give them to your pet’s new vet and ensure any outstanding healthcare needs are addressed.

4. Ask About Nutritional Needs

The dietary needs of adult dogs differ from those of younger pups. When you’re at the adoption center, be sure to ask about the specific dietary requirements of the dog you’re considering adopting. This will help you assess whether you should provide the particular diet and food supplies the pup needs.

Don’t forget to consult the shelter staff or a veterinarian about the right food to feed your new furry friend. Some dogs may require special dietary instructions if they need to shed or gain a few pounds.

owner serving food bowl their pet dog

5. Determine the Dog’s Size

Adult dogs come in all sizes and shapes, depending on the breed. If you have a spacious home with a comfortable, enclosed yard, you may not mind adopting a large adult dog. However, if you live in an apartment or small house with limited space, you’ll need to think about the size of the adult dog you can accommodate.

It’s also a good idea to double-check the pet ownership policy in your rented space before selecting which adult dog to adopt.

Adult dogs vary widely in shape and size, depending on the breed. Got a big house with a yard? A large dog might be your perfect match. But if you’re in an apartment or smaller place, think about how much space a full-grown pup will need to feel comfy.

close up hands holding smiley dog

Preparing Your Home for an Adopted Dog

Before bringing your new furry pal home, make sure you’re fully prepared. While you don’t need everything, having most of the following in place will make the transition easier:

– Dog food and treats

Dog bowls for food and water

– A bed or crate for them to sleep in

– A collar or harness, lead, and ID tag

– Poisons and cleaning supplies stored out of reach

– A clear floor and counters (some older dogs are “counter surfers”)

– Cleaning supplies, especially an enzymatic cleaner, in case of potty accidents

– Tools and supplies for grooming

Another crucial aspect of preparing for your new adult dog is ensuring they have plenty of opportunities for mental stimulation. Just like humans, dogs also need to exercise their minds to stay content and healthy. One fantastic way to provide mental stimulation is through the use of interactive dog puzzle toys.


Interactive dog puzzle toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: they challenge your dog to think and problem-solve in order to receive a reward (usually in the form of treats). These toys can help keep your dog engaged and mentally stimulated, which is especially important for adult dogs who may be more prone to boredom or destructive behaviors.

Some popular types of interactive dog puzzle toys include:

  1. Treat dispensers: These toys require your dog to figure out how to manipulate the toy in order to release treats.
  2. Hide-and-seek toys: These toys encourage your dog to use their nose to find hidden treats within the toy.
  3. Puzzle boards: These toys feature sliding or removable pieces that your dog must navigate to reveal treats.


Here’s the thing about puzzle toys for dogs: they’re not just fun; they’re brain boosters! They can help chill out an anxious pup, teach them how to solve problems like a pro and make you and your furry buddy even closer.

Just remember, pick a puzzle toy that’s the right size for your dog and tough enough to handle their chewing adventures.

Bringing the Right Dog Home

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to find your perfect match. Take some time to consider what you’re looking for in a dog:

– Active or couch potato?

– Are they good with kids?

– Long, medium, or short hair?

– Would you prefer a larger or smaller one?

– Is there a specific breed (or mix of breeds) that you’re drawn to?

cute smiley dog kennel

Most shelters have photos and descriptions of their dogs online, so you can get a good idea of what’s available. Talking to the staff at your shelter is also a great idea, as they work with the dogs daily and have a good understanding of their personalities.

You might also want to consider fostering the dog first. This will give you an opportunity to spend quality time together and ensure it’s a good fit. At the very least, take the dog for a couple of walks and have a play session with them. If you already have a dog at home, set up a play date to see if they get along well together.

Taking Your New Dog to the Vet

Your veterinarian will be your partner in caring for your new dog. Once you’ve completed the adoption, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Asking the following questions can help you work together to give your pup the care they need:

a veterinarian vaccinating a dog 1

1. What type of diet should my dog eat?

2. How much exercise does my dog need to maintain their weight and overall health?

3. What health conditions does my dog have, and how do I care for them?

4. Are there any tests that we should run to check for health issues?

5. Is my dog up-to-date on all necessary vaccines, and are there any other vaccines that you would recommend?

6. What flea and heartworm treatment would you recommend for my dog?

7. When should my dog come in for their next appointment?

If your dog’s age isn’t documented, your veterinarian could help estimate their age by physically examining them. They’ll check your dog’s teeth for tartar and wear, and look for other clues like cloudy eyes or gray fur to give you a ballpark age.

a veterinarian checking a sick dog using a stethoscope

Final Thoughts

Like any other dog, adult dogs need a home and a responsible, loving owner to care for them. Some may appear shy, scared, or aggressive, but that’s always because most adult dogs stay longer in shelters than younger ones. Remember, their initial reactions or emotions when you first meet them don’t mean they’re bad dogs.

woman drinking tea while it rains

Adopting a grown-up dog is a big deal and a huge commitment – a decision that should be made carefully. When adopting an adult dog, keep an open mind and heart. And most importantly, don’t forget to keep these tips and considerations in mind before taking the plunge and bringing your new furry friend home.

With a little preparation, patience, and love, adopting an adult dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both you and your new companion. So, what are you waiting for? Head to your local shelter and find your perfect match today!


About Helen K. White

As someone who deeply believes in the power of adoption and fostering, I've seen firsthand how it can change lives—for both animals and humans alike. Through heartwarming stories and practical tips, I'm here to share insights, advice, and resources to support you every step of the way. With years of experience volunteering at shelters, fostering countless furry pals, and helping families find their perfect pet match, I bring a wealth of knowledge and passion to the table. Whether you're thinking about adoption, navigating the foster journey, or just looking for heartwarming tales to brighten your day, I've got you covered.