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You're Going to Buy a Dog: Part 2. Puppy vs. Adult Dog

Updated on December 14, 2011

You've decided you're going to buy a dog. Do you want a puppy or do you want an adult dog? There are a lot of factors to consider. In Part 1. Shelter or Breeder we talked about the options of where to find your new companion. Now we'll begin to explore what type of dog is best for you. This will just be the tip of the iceberg. Shelters, rescue groups or registered breeders are your best options for deciding where. Deciding whether you want a puppy or an adult goes hand-in-hand with where you will acquire your new friend. Shelters do get puppies, as do rescue groups, but these two options tend to provide a larger selection of adult dogs needing a second chance and a good home. Conversely, sometimes breeders will offer healthy registered adult dogs for a bit less if they have a dog who isn't quite up to breed standards for breeding purposes, simply didn't sell as a pup, or they are reducing their breeding stock. So let's begin exploring the pros and cons of puppy vs adult.

Irresistable puppies!
Irresistable puppies!

A Fantastic Video on How To Choose a Puppy


Puppies are adorable and irresistible. Who wouldn't instantly fall in love with a pudgy bouncy ball of happiness? Its so easy to make a snap decision to snatch one up and take it home on impulse, but there is so much about puppies you need to know before you plunge into that sea of puppy slobber and milk teeth.

Bringing a puppy home is a wonderful plan if you want to nurture a lifelong companionship and help mold and guide your puppy through adulthood. Its much akin to raising a child. The amount of time may seem shorter, but the commitment and responsibility is no less. In some ways its more time- and energy-intensive because you are rocketing through puppyhood to adulthood in 2 to 3 years time. You don't have the luxury of sending a puppy off to play unattended if you're tired. This can be tedious and frustrating if you're not prepared for it. The shredded shoes and pillows as the puppy goes through teething can be costly and infuriating. The stained rugs can be smelly and costly to clean as your pup learns to be housebroken. It will test its boundaries with you just like any human teenager. This is why you find so many young dogs in shelters and rescues. They're just being canine kids and their owners have given up on them assuming there is something wrong with their dog.

Puppies will also come with a few extra expenses you may not have considered. There will be puppy shots, worming, and other preventative veterinary procedures. Your very first vet bill will most likely run you between $100 and $300 for a healthy puppy, so be prepared. You will also need to provide your puppy with a decent puppy formula food to ensure their proper growth, plan on changing their collar a few times as they grow to assure a proper fit, and don't forget those chew toys! There is also the cost of licensing your new pet. One last item I personally think is a necessity for puppies when you need to be away from home and at night is a properly-sized dog crate. This can be a bit pricey depending on the size of the dog but well worth it to ensure the safety of your belongings and the safety of the pup. They get into everything, especially when unsupervised, and dogs do appreciate the security of their own "den".

Exercise, exercise, exercise! A puppy is just a ball of pent up energy wanting to run, play and explore its world. Dogs, particularly puppies, who don't get enough exercise will become nervous and destructive. Those first 2 to 3 years will require a few extra walks a day to burn some of that enthusiasm up in a constructive way.

I'm not trying to scare you away from bringing home a pup. They can bring so much joy, warmth and laughter. Raising a puppy, especially if done properly, can be an extremely rewarding experience. There is no limit to the love that develops out of that puppy bonding. Just understand their needs and stick with it. Loving patience can weather any storm.

The "less guesswork" adult dog.
The "less guesswork" adult dog.

Some Great Advice on Adopting An Adult Dog

Adult Dogs

If you don't want the attention-intensive experience of raising a puppy, then the adult dog is the right choice for you. You may actually see some of those puppy-like behaviors in the beginning if the dog is confused by its new home and family, such as nervous chewing or piddling, but with patience and guidance these behaviors will evaporate quickly as the dog gets to know you and relaxes. Then you can both settle in and his needs won't be quite so high-caliber. This can be a big plus if you aren't able to keep a constant eye on your new friend for the next few years.

An adult dog has a whole world of things to offer you. There is a good chance it’s already been housebroken and may have had some previous training. You've heard the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks?" Nothing could be farther from the truth. A mature dog has a much longer attention span and a keener focus than a puppy. This makes training easier, quicker and more rewarding. Exercise will still be a necessity but its requirements won't be quite so daunting, depending on the breed. Another advantage is that there isn't as much guesswork involved regarding your dog's personality. What you see is pretty much what you get. His basic temperament is already set in place.

In Part 1. Shelter or Breeder, I mentioned the "not so shiny side of the coin" with bringing home an adult dog. They may be bringing some emotional and behavioral baggage with them. These are issue that can be addressed and corrected with patience and understanding. Some dogs may have had previous owners who weren't dog-savvy enough to understand their needs or that simply didn't think through the responsibility of dog ownership. This isn't the dog's fault, but the dog is usually the one who bears the blame. On the positive side, you’re afforded the opportunity to help rehabilitate your new companion into the whole and happy dog he was born to be.

Expenses for an adult dog may be a bit less than bringing home a pup, but most likely not by much. Average first vet visits will run between $50 and $300 depending on what is needed. There is still the cost of licensing, supplies, treats, food, toys, and a good dog crate for your friend for when you are away.

I personally have brought both puppies and adult dogs into my life. I can say they’ve been equally rewarding even if in different ways. Decide which is best for you, look at every angle and then commit to your new companion. They'll love you forever for it.

Friends forever.
Friends forever.

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