Should a Pets Age Affect Your Decision?

When you’re deciding whether or not to adopt a pet, should age play a factor in the decision process at all? Many rescue homes have a variety of pets that don’t have a home for any number of reasons, often because their previous owners could no longer afford to support them. In these cases, how do you go about choosing between an older or younger animal?

Our resident blogger Dan has been telling us his story of visiting similar dog rescues and meeting the dogs. He currently has to decide between Sophie, a 2 year old boxer, and Sebastian the 5 year old Labrador. In his case, he’s trying to work out exactly what he wants from his pet, which is understandable and something every pet owner has to think about. Do you go with a pre-trained, older dog with his own set of learned habits and behaviours, or a younger dog that is energetic and maybe reckless, but with an open mind ready to learn commands and training?

An older pet, as I’ve said, will probably come with a learned set of behaviours unless it was caught wild or left alone for a substantial amount of time. In this case, you may find that the pet has some unwanted behavioural patterns learned, such as urinating indoors or turning tail and running at the sight of strangers. In these cases, it may be difficult to retrain your pet to do otherwise as a lifetime of habits will be hard to break. You can use professional pet whisperers and tricks to reverse these patterns, but it will take time and be difficult for you and your pet.


On the upside, an older pet will have less chance to be adopted by a new owner, and by taking in an older pet you are preserving the happiness of an animal that may otherwise have been given up on. You can take great pride and happiness yourself in taking on one of these older pets, and sometimes the behaviours that the animal already has will make owning them that much easier.

The younger pet will be tougher to handle, as you’ll have to get the entire process of learning into the animals mind as well as the act of learning each individual behaviour that you need. If you’re a first time pet owner this can be a daunting prospect, dealing with house training, socialisation and more whilst trying to get to grips with veterinary visits, knowing what food to buy and dealing with the little things that come with pet ownership.

The difference is that owning a pet from youth will mean companionship and a strong bond with your pet throughout its lifetime, which is something attractive to new pet owners. You’ll understand the little nuances that make your pet exactly who they are, and will grow to love and communicate with your pet in a way that may be difficult with an older pet.

Ultimately the choice comes down to preference. Unfortunately, the majority of us choose the younger pets as our preferred option, which means that rescue centres and homes are left with a larger population of older pets while new owners continually look to the breeders to get their puppies. Take a moment to consider an older pet if you can, as they can bring you just as much love and joy as a younger pet.

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What are your views? 3 comments

Margaret Towler 4 years ago

Four years ago I gave a home to an elderly Siamese cat, not only was he old (16) but I was told by the vet that he was so poorly he probably only had 2 weeks to live. He was very poorly the first week then started to improve and he lived for another 2 years. He was a grand old man and was loved by everyone he came into contact with. Rest in peace Merlin. x


Kay Stocker 4 years ago

I can understand why most people would want to rehome a younger animal, they all have the aawwww factor, and I am not immune to it. As I get older, I worry about who is going to out live who, so I am beginning to look at animals of a different age. Maybe a more needy age, but then you have to consider the vets costs. It really is a Catch 22.


Cresti Mum 4 years ago

We have adopted 5 older guys now,currently have 5 rescue dogs after losing Mojo in Jan 2012-one of our older resues.

We may not have them long but I don't regret ever giving the oldies some peace and happiness in their final months/yrs.

I call it Food for my Soul,X

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