General Question

janbb's avatar

Pros and cons of adopting an old dog?

Asked by janbb (57228points) August 10th, 2015

The most obvious one is that it will die sooner. But beyond that and higher vet bills, any particular issues I should consider? (Yes, I’m thinking about maybe, maybe adopting an 11 year old Maltese I saw at a shelter.)

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19 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would hesitate. Why would anyone dump an 11 year old dog at the shelter? Did it bite someone? Was it getting aggressive?

chyna's avatar

Pros: you will be giving it a great home in its later years.
He will make you happy and make you laugh.
You can go out and walk him and get you both a little exercise.
Con: he will die sooner.

janbb's avatar

Apparently, the woman who dropped him off was moving to a new apartment where she couldn’t have him. He shows no sign of aggression.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Pros More maturity, less puppy behavior.
Cons, Less puppy behavior, more medical bills, not as long to bond and get their love.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Pros then….all for the dog. Do it! Do it now.

Also, vet bills, etc. are moot. Think of all the money you saved by not having him for the first 11 years.

janbb's avatar

My main concern is when I travel – which is a lot. He would have to go to my vet’s for boarding or have a house sitter. A complication but I do not want to give up traveling.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My vet offered boarding services. And they were excellent with my two. Not cheap but I knew they were in good hands.

janbb's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Mine does too and they are great. It is another expense and consideration though.

jca's avatar

I look at the love we receive from any pet, old or young, to far outweigh the expense and hassle. Yes, they’re a hassle. Yes, they make a mess. Yes, they cause us to plan a bit more and spend more when we travel, to accommodate their needs when we’re away. Yes, they’ll die before we do, no matter if they’re a young pet or an old pet (most likely they’ll die before we do).

Go for it and save a dog and live with the love and give the love.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

A housemate and I fostered an older dog for a friend when she moved 1000 miles away and would be in an apt. Despite his age, he adapted well and loved the fenced in back yard.

The cost of food, heart-worm pills, and grooming was probably way more than the vet bills, but maybe we just lucked out. The dog developed arthritis, blindness, and loss of hearing, didn’t appear to be suffering. When he started having epileptic seizures, the vet said it was time to put him to sleep. It was a sad day indeed, but we felt like we gave him a happy life when his “mother” couldn’t.

As for petcare while you are traveling, there are plenty of options. I used to dog-sit for a co-worker who traveled alot. As a teen, I used to cat-sit for a couple of neighbors when they went out of town. All of the pets were lovely, and I earned a little pocket money.

Pachy's avatar

My two cents: if you love him, give him a happy home and don’t look back.

longgone's avatar

Old dogs are special. I should know, as I’m living with both a puppy and an eleven-year-old. They are very different, but I wouldn’t give up either of them for the world.

Old dogs are wonderful in lots of ways. Nerina is happy with a leisurely walk and a bit of playing fetch. It’s easy to tire her out, which is something most people consider a good thing. I, actually, missed the exercise and mental stimulation an active dog will provide, which is why I felt like I needed a puppy again. Only you can answer whether one or the other would suit your needs better. If you’re looking for a dog to help you exercise and make you the center of attention for a while, get a puppy. Puppies will drive you crazy, but they will also keep you active.

I think dogs of all ages are good at lifting spirits. While Wilson made me laugh by galloping around with a plastic box on his head today, Nerina makes me laugh by grunting a hello every morning, or by hiding her head in my lap when she wants me to scratch her back. Old dogs can have a very well-developed sense of humour.

They also often know exactly what they want. They tend to like routine and don’t enjoy change. That’s something special in itself – living with a dog who spends much of the day just calmly existing is soothing. It’s raining right now, and while the puppy wants to play, Nerina is already asleep in my bed waiting for me to join her. You might want to ask yourself how much routine you are able and willing to give this dog. I worry about Nerina getting too little structure in her days, because I don’t usually have a set schedule.

Another thing which I don’t like about old dogs is their pain. Nerina is in pain when it’s wet outside, and it’s hard for me to watch her struggle. However, an eleven-year-old Maltese is likely to be more active than a Labrador.

I think you should consider these questions:

1. What do you like most about living with a dog? Maybe even write down the top five things you love about dogs, and make sure all of them are likely to work well with an older dog.

2. How much routine will you be able to provide? In day-to-day life, but also regarding longer periods of time. Will you be able to find one place for the dog to stay at whenever you’re gone, for example?

3. Will you be able to deal with a dog in pain or distress? Of course, young dogs get old, too.

4. Is this dog absolutely perfect with people? As you will have to leave the dog for travels, you need to make sure he is absolutely bomb-proof and in love with all people, not just you. It will probably get harder for him to be left with strangers. When she was young, Nerina was happy anywhere. Now, she is much less patient and gets worried when I leave her with people she doesn’t know extremely well.

5. Has this dog ever shown signs of separation anxiety or over-bonding toward one person? I know that my sister’s Maltese mix is very much a one-man’s dog. She would hate having to watch her owner leave frequently.

That’s my take. I hope I’m not sounding too negative. I very much want you to find the right dog, and I wish I could help you find him. I’m being cautious, though, because I’m thinking of the old dogs I know. Routine really is not just a commodity for them, it’s a necessity. If you’ll be traveling for long periods, I think an old dog may not be the perfect choice.

On the other hand, weren’t you thinking about living in one part of the U.S. for the summer, then go South for winter? In that case, couldn’t you simply take a dog, especially a small one? I don’t see any issue with having two homes, other than a short period of settling in at every move.

canidmajor's avatar

The pros are pretty obvious, settled, quieter, more likely better trained (not a given, one person’s “well trained” is another’s “barely housebroken”), and the satisfaction of giving a sweet older dog a loving home.
And, of course, there’s the advantage of having food never hit the floor. ;-)

Cons: more likely to develop expensive health issues, more likely to develop incontinence, vision issues, hearing issues, etc etc. Older dogs are likely to get a bit snappy as their faculties wane and they are more easily startled/frightened.
Your travel habits bring up another issue, because you tend to be away for longer periods than just weekends. A dog you haven’t raised will likely have more issues with separation, having already been abandoned once (I have seen this more than once, it’s difficult for them the older they are.)

You’ll know what you should do, you have a history with dogs and a compassionate heart. :-)

Coloma's avatar

A good home in his remaining senior years.
A new little friend to love
Knowing you are saving a life, most likely. Older pets often do not get adopted.

Potential for more health issues related to age
Less time together, smaller dogs do live longer than larger dogs but 11 is getting up there. He may only have a couple more years, 2–4 tops I’d surmise, maybe less.

I always prefer a house/pet sitter. Pets do best in their own environment and you have someone there to collect the mail, water your plants, yard, etc.
You could look on or other sites for a reliable pet/house sitter or maybe even a neighborhood teen or college kid.

Pandora's avatar

Pros, I had a maltese. They are soooo, loving. Most tend to be a good lap dog. Smart and very attentive, so easy to retrain in bad behavior. Please if you can give this doggie a good home, do so.

Cons. They are very social with people and do best in a house sitting or one on one type of dog sitting. Grooming can be a little time consuming. They can be a bit timid, or a bit of a yapper.

They don’t do well in a locked up environment since most are adopted from puppies and spoiled. I tried to adopt an older one once and she was shaking so bad that I feared she was going to drop dead from fear. The owner couldn’t keep her and her dog never left the house her whole life. She was especially terrified when she met my maltese even though he tried to be a sweetheart to her. But if this one is surviving in the pound so far, she may be use to other dogs and people and maybe not that spoiled.

janbb's avatar

Weighing the decision. Will et you know what I have decided.

Thanks for the input.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Good luck, and one other thought. After having two dogs I don’t think I’d ever get just one. They took care of each other. Down side was one died and the other one quit and went in 30 days.

janbb's avatar

Two dogs ain’t happening but thanks.

Buttonstc's avatar

Maltese are little love bugs so even tho he’s older, I think that any additional expenses you incur would be more than repaid by the amount of love this little guy brings into your life.

The biggest pro is that you’ll be saving his life. Older dogs have a much harder time getting adopted.

BTW: Did you happen to see the Amazon Prime commercial with a little white dog who looks either Maltese or Maltese-mix?

It is so adorable. The little doggie has one injured back leg and is struggling to keep up with his owner while other dogs are running and frolicking all over the place.

The owner takes out his phone and through next day service orders something from Amazon. Next scene is him strolling along with a happy dog in one of those baby-Bjorn type body carriers.

In the background plays “I was born under a wandering star.” it is absolutely adorable beyond description. It’s currently playing on TV a lot and you can likely find it on YT. I guarantee you’ll love it.

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