You’ve decided to get a canine friend, but how will you choose between a puppy vs adult vs senior dog for your family?

Choosing a dog is a personal decision, and there is no right or wrong answer.  However, an informed decision will help you make a good choice for your family.

We list the pros and cons for getting puppy vs adult vs senior dog.  A few questions to get you started with thinking about what is the best choice for your family.

Puppy vs adult vs senior dog pros and cons

Puppies are high energy and lots of fun! Photo: Andrew Pons/

Would you consider a mix breed dog?

If your answer is yes, you may want to give a dog a second or third chance by adopting a dog.  Animal shelters do have puppies from time to time but there many wonderful young adult and senior dogs to choose from.  More about dog adoption and the questions to ask an animal shelter or rescue group. A sound adult dog is a good option for first-time dog owners.

Do you have the time and commitment to raising a puppy?

Raising a puppy is a huge amount of work.  Are you prepared to get up at 3 am to take your pup outside for toileting? Toilet training, crate training, dog training and socialisation all needs time, patience, consistency and energy (good humour helps!).  If you work flexible hours or work from home then a puppy could be for you.

Do you have young children?

Toddlers and puppies can very challenging! Supervise every interaction between your child and the pup is critical to keep them both safe. Consider waiting until your children are older, say, eight or nine years old. Read Elizabeth’s story.

Do you have a particular breed in mind?

If you do have your heart set on a specific dog breed, then a puppy probably is your best bet.  It’s important your pup has a good start in life, so take your time to find a responsible dog breeder.  Contact dog clubs and rescue groups who specialise in that particular breed if you would like to get an adult dog.

Do you have another pet?

If you have a cat, then consider getting a puppy that has been socialised with cats in the breeder’s environment. If you want to adopt an adult dog, ask the rescue group for a dog that is being fostered in a home with a cat. Your cat will need places where she can escape the dog! Introduce the new dog or puppy to your existing pet slowly.  Introducing a puppy is usually easier than introducing an adult dog.

Check out our Paw Perfect Introductions podcast to help you create smooth introductions between cats, dogs and people.

Puppy vs adult vs senior pros and cons

Canine life stageProsCons
1. They are adorable and a lot of fun!1. Change your lifestyle to be at home/work flexible hours to raise a puppy.
2. You can shape your pup into a good adult canine citizen.2. It's REALLY hard work! Toilet training, crate training, puppy school and proper socialisation.
3. Suitable for families with children who are old enough to understand how to interact with a puppy safely. 3. Supervision between toddlers and a puppy is critical to keep both safe.
Adult1. What you see is what you get - around 3 years or older, you have a good idea of the dog's general demeanor.

1. Your adopted dog may need patience to re-establish trust depending on the dog's history. Take the time to find a sound rescue dog that has been properly assessed.
2. Already gone through adolescence!2. Introducing a new adult dog to a resident pet can be harder than introducing a new puppy.
3. Adult dogs usually come toilet trained.3. If you're adopting a pedigree animal from a breeder, the dog could have been used for breeding or showing and may have developed particular behaviour patterns.
4. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
Senior1. Low energy.1. Higher cost to treat health issues.
2. Could be a good match for an older person in terms of energy level.2. Face the sad fact of pet loss and grief sooner.
3. Behaviour may change with old age, for example, eliminating inside the house.

‘Puppyhood is a wonderful trip, full of surprises and delights, but one you shouldn’t take if you aren’t committed. If you don’t put in the effort, you may end up with a dog that drives you crazy — or one you’ll drive to the shelter when you can’t stand her anymore. If you honestly aren’t up for a year of puppy antics, adopt a grown dog instead’.  Dogs for Dummies: How to decide beween a puppy or adult dog.

Sources: – How to decide between a puppy or adult dog
Dog Star Daily – Puppy vs adult
Austin Humane Society