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Five Reasons Why Young Families Should Adopt an Older Dog

Why Younger Families Should Adopt an Older Dog

I grew up with dogs. In fact, I can’t ever remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a pet, even if that pet lived with my parents while I was away at college. When I was twenty-three I adopted Moses from a pet store. To be fair, he was already 4 months old, and I got him below cost. He wasn’t playful or excitable like the other dogs. In fact, when I picked him up, he just fell asleep in my arms. That was the moment I knew he was the dog for me. With time came Elijah, who was pretty much the opposite of Moses, but now that he is over seven years old, and an “older dog,” he’s calmed down a great deal.

Why Younger Families Should Adopt Older Dogs

My son has only ever known life with dogs, and he LOVES his dogs. LOVES! Obsessed might be a better word for it. He’d rather watch hours of the Fido channel over cartoons any day. I heard about Saving Grace Animals for Adoption from some people at my job. They often let people foster a dog for the weekend, so their dogs can get some experience living in a home and also so they can get an idea if a dog is good with kids, cats or other dogs. My husband and I talked it over, and thought a weekend foster would be a perfect opportunity to indulge my son’s interests on a short term basis. I knew we would prefer a large, older dog with a gentle personality who would be mellow around kids. Though my son has learned how to properly pet our dogs, he’s still a toddler and could startle a small dog.

Why Younger Families Should Adopt Older Dogs

Saving Grace has a list of their adoptable dogs on their website with descriptions. I gave Saving Grace a list of five dogs who fit the mold of what we were looking for, and we picked Henry up on Friday evening.

Why Younger Families Should Adopt Older Dogs

Henry is a tri-pod. He lost his left leg in an injury. He’s 40 pounds, and the shelter believes he’s about 4 years old. Henry is a love muffin, snuggle bug. He loves to cuddle and give sweet kisses. He’s also what I’d describe as an omega dog. He automatically assumes he’s the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the pack, so he doesn’t mark or overly assert himself when it comes to food or water. This was perfect, because Elijah is also an omega dog, and can easily feel threatened. Speaking of water, Henry likes to drink a lot of it. A LOT. He’s basically the Marco Rubio of dogs. That means he also pees A LOT. He’s great about letting us know when he needs to go outside, but golly, that dog can pee for a very long time. Even though he only has three legs, he enjoys going for walks, and had a BLAST playing in the snow. Henry is also very fond of playing with toys, which was just pure delight for my son to witness. And when my son took toys directly from Henry’s mouth? Henry just let go and walked away. This guy is so patient – the best for a family with young children. Seriously guys, this is a dream dog. If you live in the Triangle area, and are considering getting a dog, Henry is amazing, and I’d like nothing more than for him to find a loving forever home.

Why Younger Families Should Adopt Older Dogs

When families with young kids consider getting a dog, they often prefer an energetic puppy. I get it. Your kids like to play, and you want a companion for them who also likes to play. There’s also the idea that you can mold the puppy into being the dog you want it to be. Well, I’m here to make the case that the best dogs for young families are older dogs, and here’s why:

  1. Lower maintenance. A puppy needs almost as much attention as your kids. Many rescue shelters work very hard to crate and leash train their dogs, so they already come to you with some basic skills.
  2. Better temperament. By the time a dog is an adult, its temperament is well-established. You can even learn if the dog has a history of nipping, shows cat-aggression or is dominant in any way. Every dog will be playful at some point, so, in my opinion, it’s best to choose a calm, submissive dog.
  3. Less accidents. Puppies need some time for their bladders to develop. They aren’t really able to “hold it.” Unless you choose a dog who is prone to marking, an older dog will be more comfortable using the restroom outside.
  4. Great for kids. Once you assess that you have chosen an calm, submissive, older dog, you can trust that your children will be the benefactors of your newest family member. An older dog is less likely to chew on your kids’ toys, will be more patient around curious toddlers and will also be a source of protection against potential intruders.
  5. It’s a mitzvah! Mitzvah means “good deed” in Hebrew. Yes, puppies are cute, but they aren’t the only ones who need homes. Older dogs often have not experienced the joy of being part of a loving family. And if they are much older, you can offer them a warm, comfortable place to spend their twilight years.

Why Younger Families Should Adopt Older Dogs

I know what you’re thinking. “Miri, why aren’t you adopting Henry?” Good question! While our hearts say yes, logistics say no. We are in the middle of some major transitions in our home. All of these transitions are good, and to be honest, adding Henry to the fray wouldn’t complicate things that much, because he’s so easy-going. However, there are just too many unknowns for us to commit to a third dog right now. That said, he is welcome for however many weekends go by before he meets his forever family. Is that you? If so, please contact Saving Grace Animals for Adoption at (919) 518-1180.


  1. Patty says

    Wow this is fantastic!! We can’t wait to share this on the SG facebook page. I’m sure it will help him get adopted.

  2. It is selfish of me but I fear with taking on an older dog that I wouldn’t cope very well with the potential loss of them sooner. I’m torn though because so many older dogs deserve the loving home I could give!

    • Not selfish at all! I love Great Dane’s but I could never own one because they only live 8 years. That said, there’s something different about a dog with a past.

  3. What a fantastic idea! I know this might sound terrible but it will also teach them a very hard but needed lesson when the older dog passes while they are still young. Losing a pet is often the first way we learn to deal with death. But on a brighter note too, young kids won’t have to worry about puppies accidentally hurting them when they get all riled up.

    • So true. 100 years ago, people were much more exposed to death as a part of life. I feel like we are missing something these days and often don’t know how to cope with loss.

  4. Yes! I would love to add another dog to our family for my kids. We’ve always adopted from shelters and they have been older dogs. Hopefully soon we can get another dog.

  5. This made me cry! I love Henry, and I don’t even know him 🙂 He’s so sweet. My kids are begging me for a pet – maybe this is the way for us to go. Thank you for sharing his sweet story. I am going to share it, too! xoxo

  6. SO I am definitely sending this to my husband haha I have been trying to convince him we need a puppy for the kids to grow up with! I never even thought about the temperament! I grew up with dogs all my life…. one I considered my best friend! So important to build that connection with kids.

  7. First, I want to say the Henry is adorable! Second, loved this. I know we want to adopt a dog in the future, but I know all the work that comes with a puppy. But you made me realize that I don’t have to get a puppy. Getting an older dog makes so much more sense for my family. Thanks for this!

  8. What a cutie! Thanks for posting this article. We just adopted a dog from a local rescue. Previously we adopted two older dogs and they made great additions to our family.

  9. Awww he looks so sweet! I’ll spread the word to some people I know are looking for a dog 🙂

  10. Kathy says

    First of all thank you for promoting pet adoption. Second, for recognizing how amazing older pets are and what they offer families with kids. Older animals are more predictable, their personalities and temperaments are established. I work with a local shelter for cat adoptions and always tell families this about cats,

  11. Absolutely! Older dogs are often overlooked and it’s sad. I hope that more people adopt animals and older animals in particular. Henry looks like a complete sweetheart!

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