Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pooches: Puppies v. Adult Dogs

Mr. B was already a full-grown 5 year-old dog when we adopted him. We were very adamant about getting an adult dog, and we didn't even look at puppies. When I was discussing this with a friend the other day, she told me she was very adamant about getting a puppy and wouldn't even consider looking at a full-grown dog. This was probably the first time it occurred to me that we were very closed-minded about adopting puppies, and some people might not know all the benefits of adopting adult dogs.
There are benefits to both puppies and adult dogs, it just depends on your lifestyle and what you're looking for.
Here are some benefits we found when we adopted our adult dogs:
1) You already know what you're getting. It was really important for me to have a dog with a good personality, and I thought it would be hard to tell the differences among puppies. See, when I was growing up I was in charge of picking the family dog. We went to look at the "Free Puppies" and I remember the reason I chose my dog, Benji (yes, this was the '80's), was because he came up and licked my hand. He was a good puppy, but even despite all the 4-H training we did with him, he grew up to be a crazy and neurotic dog. I didn't want to make that mistake again,and I knew I couldn't handle that kind of energy in the city, so I definitely wanted to know the dog's personality before I adopted them. Imagine that you want an energetic, fun dog and you end up with this one:Even with all the training available, you won't be able to change a dog's personality. I actually chose Miss M, who was a 2-year old dog at the time, because she was engaging, loved people, and loved dog-training. When choosing our second dog, we wanted to make sure he was submissive enough to put up with Miss M's bullying. We didn't want to deal with any adolescent Alpha issues. Luckily, Mr. B turned out to be the perfect submissive dog:2) I didn't want to deal with potty-training issues. Being adults, our pooches came already potty-trained. This was huge for me because I didn't want to be out on the dark streets of Chicago in the middle of the night, where the rats roam the sidewalks and suspicious people are in the alleys, with only a tiny puppy to protect me.
3) Adult dogs are often overlooked. We knew there were so many adult dogs looking for homes that are often overlooked because they're not as little and cute anymore. We knew there would be many amazing adult dogs who often have to wait longer to be adopted. Miss M's rescue group, New Leash on Life, has been successful adopting out many amazing "Senior Dogs" ranging from 9+ years. Plus, most of the time if an adult has made it through the rigors and numbers of a shelter system, you know they're going to be a good dog.
At the same time, I definitely understand the benefits of adopting puppies. Besides being cute, there are a couple of reasons I wish we had our dogs since they were puppies.
1) Care issues. When we met this dog, he was already 2 years old and had the whitest teeth ever. His owner had been brushing his teeth since he was a puppy, so he was already used to it. Miss M. had a problem where her nails had never been trimmed properly as a puppy, so she had these huge monster nails that were really sharp and hard to cut.
2) We will never know how cute they were as puppies. We always wonder what our pooches looked like as puppies. We found this picture and we imagine this is what Mr. B looked like when he was younger:
And Miss M. would look a little like this, except more smooshy and brindle:3) We would have them longer. Though our neighbor with Puppy B did have 2 pitbulls that lived to be 16 and 17 years-old, so we're hopeful.
How have your experiences been? What other pros and cons do you find having puppies or adopting adult dogs?


Kate said...

This is a great post. The Hubs has had Molly since she was about 8 weeks old, but I didn't meet her until she was 4 years old. While she's absolutely the best dog ever now, she was apparently a crazy, destructive puppy. I can't believe the stories he tells me are about this same wonderful dog!

Since we found Melanie when she about 1 or so, and Nemo was 4 when we adopted him, I haven't gone through any real puppy phases. When we adopted Nemo, I was like you, and was adament that we get a low-key adult dog (especially since Molly is 12 now! I couldn't subject the old lady to a crazy puppy).

A puppy just wouldn't fit our lifestyle now, but I do like to get my puppy fix during adoption days at Petsmart :) They are super cute.

Anonymous said...

I get such a kick out of your pictures of Mr. B and Miss M.

I have lived with dogs since my teens and have had both puppies and adult dogs. My preference is for the adults. I like knowing that with the adult, what you see is what you get. With a puppy, it's more of a crap shoot how they are going to turn out.

I have to say that one of my favorite dogs was Murray, a 3 1/2 year old Akita/GSD mix that I took care of in my former nursing home. The administrator adopted him because he was calm, fairly laid-back, liked being around all types of people and already had basic training including housebreaking.

Currently, I live with Roxy and Petey, two pitties who are 3 1/2 and 6 years old respectively, and Jordie, a puggle who is about 1 1/2. Jordie, while adorable, is very high energy and if I had to live with just him, I would have a hard time of it. Fortunately, Roxy (and Petey on occasion) keeps the little guy entertained and wears him out playing with him.

Breakfast With the Bennetts said...

Having worked with rescue adopting an adult dog is one of the best things you can do. There are also a lot of puppies that we adopt out. We got Boxen and Bella as puppies. That will be all the puppy love we see thank you very much. From now on it will be adult Boxers that are through their chewy, bullheaded, potty training stage. I want to move on tot he fun, lazy, smooshy face stage.

Thank you for stating both sides. We have some seniors in our organization that we know we will never adopt out but we pulled them from the shelter knowing that. Just because they are a senior dog does not mean that you will not have many long years ahead with them.

Mary said...

I got Daisy when she was roughly 6 months, which I foolishly thought was more or less "adult." Boy was I not very bright back then. Aaaaanyway, she was quite a handful and didn't sleep through the night for several months. I swore I would never get a puppy. Too much work, not enough sleep.

But then, when it came time to add a second dog, I knew enough about Daisy to believe that a truly adult dog would probably not be a great fit. Because we had fostered about a dozen dogs by then, I had a sense of the types of dogs she got along well with - typically young, non-assertive males. I also knew that she was very tolerant of puppies, and once she established a good relationship with a dog she remained friendly with them forever after.

That, plus I had some SERIOUS puppy lust. I wasn't actually seriously looking for a puppy, but on one of my semi-regular browsing sessions I found THE DOG. The one dog that had every visible quality I was looking for. Pure-bred male border collie, in rescue, in foster-care, less than 3 months old, and within a (very long) day's drive of me. I did all of my due diligence and then drove 10 hours one-way to pick him up 2 weeks later. And it has worked out beautifully. He was housetrained in less than a week, although it was a couple of months before he would sleep through the night. He's a total love bug and he and Daisy adore each other.

That being said, I don't know if I'd do the puppy thing again, although my dogs are still young enough that the question won't arise again for some time (knock on wood). My puppy is an absolute angel - no destructive behaviors, easy to train, etc - but it's still plenty of work. I do believe that puppies are a lot less work when you have a solidly trained adult dog in the household. Dogs communicate much better with one another and Seamus learned the rules of the house by watching Daisy.

My only hard and fast rule when getting a dog is always go to a reputable rescue organization and do your best to get a dog that has been living in foster care. That is truly the best way to get a sense of their personality and behavior.

Anonymous said...

We purposely chose adult dogs for the same reasons you guys did. No way does our schedule allow for a puppy. It was nice knowing that as soon as we got the dogs, they could handle being home all day. Puppies are adorable, but way too much work!

PS. I made the smores cupcakes last night...oh my goodness! I'm in love with them! Thanks for the great suggestion/post yesterday!

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

I think that people so often don't remember that puppies are only puppies for 8 months. And then they are dogs.

40% of dogs are returned/given up in the first year the owner has them. I am *sure* this has a lot to do with house training, distroyed shoes and loss of sleep due to sad puppies learning to sooth themselves to sleep.

If people want a puppy that is a-okay, I just wish that people put as much thought into owning a puppy as you guys clearly did when welcoming an older dog into your home!

the booker man said...

again, can i just say that i love love love any and all pictures of mr. b and miss m cuddling. it's so stinking cute!
we adopted asa when she was about a year and a half old. she was already crate trained, house trained, and knew basic commands. it was nice that she already had these skills under her belt for sure.
we adopted booker when he was just 6 weeks old (unexpectedly). i was nervous about training a puppy, but we found that he was easy to train, especially with asa showing him the ropes. we had him 100% potty trained within 2 weeks. don't get me wrong, it does involve a lot of your time to train a puppy.
i would adopt a puppy or adult dog in the future. i know this sounds cliched and cheesy, but i feel like you just know when you've meet the right dog for you, so it really doesn't matter to me if they are a puppy or adult.

the booker man and asa's mama

Patty said...

We foster dogs and let me tell you - potty training is my arch enemy! I loved adopting Rusty because he was already trained, we didn't have to worry about a chewing phase and his puppy energy had passed (for the most part, although I think I lost 10 pounds bringing him on a 2 - 5 mile run every day).

Puppies are a good experience because you learn so much, how to have patience and understanding.

Anonymous said...

Both Ranger and Mayzie were adults when we adopted them. And we adopted adult dogs for all the reasons you did. Quite honestly, although puppies are obviously some of the most adorable creatures on the planet, I have just never been interested in adopting one myself. Although, I have often wished we had had Mayzie since a puppy so I could undo all the bad that was done to her in her early years. And, like you, I would love to have have some puppy pictures of both of them.

The "knowing what you're getting into" thing is huge for us. I have a friend who adopted a dog as a puppy. He and his wife are GREAT dog owners and did everything right - training, socialization, etc. But as the dog grew older, he became more and more human aggressive. They spent hundreds of dollars on training, meds, etc but nothing worked and they eventually came to the difficult decision to euthanize. With a mature dog, you're going to pretty much know that what you see is what you get - good and bad.

Of course, I'm all too willing to ooh and aah over anybody else's squishy little puppy at any time!


Two French Bulldogs said...

Those are some good points you made there. Look at those adorable faces.
Benny & Lily

Kari in Alaska said...

Baily was a puppy becuase we had the time to raise a 7 week old rescue pup. We never again intend to get a puppy. The knowing what you are going to get, especially when you are bringing a dog into a multi dog house is so important.

1000 Goldens said...

This is an excellent post, with great points to help people to consider such an important decision. If I laid eyes on the wonderful Mr. B, I would have adopted him too :)

houndstooth said...

When we have looked for our greyhounds, I usually look for one between three and four years old. That's the magical age when their brain grows in. However, we got Bunny at eighteen months old. She was a much younger dog than we were looking for, but it has worked out wonderfully. I don't pine for the puppy stage. If we ended up with one, I'd love it to pieces, though! I think it's most important to find a dog who's a good match for you than anything else.

kissa-bull said...

well mommish we must say is a sucker for any needy dog regardless of age.
as you can see tee hee

pibble wiggles
the pittie pack

Sue said...

I'm so glad to read this post. Adult dogs make wonderful companions in lots of situations where someone can't handle puppy antics, or doesn't have the time to devote to house training or for lots of other reasons.

We have chosen to bring puppies into our home because we have a number of dogs and the pack accepts puppies more easily than an adult dog. Puppies adjust more readily to the routines of the pack and it's much harder for an adult dog to accept the rank of other pack members.

Dexter said...

The biggest benefit of a puppy for us is meeting the parents. So a shelter puppy would be my last choice because the dog doesn't have a personality yet and you don't know where he/she came from.

We've had some mixed results with adult orphan dogs. One unfortunate incident involved a rescue who got along great with Mango at first, but as she settled in she got more and more hostile until Mango was afraid to be in a room with her. Sob.

I think it can be harder to integrate an adult into a multi dog household. You have to know what you are doing. That said, plenty of great dogs out there. Just be sure to work with an adoption agency that knows what they are doing. The best is a place that fosters dogs rather than caging them because a shelter environment can be very stressful.

I worked in a shelter for a few years and it made me so sad to see the way a sweet dog turned cracker dog after a few days there. Our successful adoption was a little basset that just spent one night in the slammer. Even so, at two years of age, she had some issues that never went away completely, but we loved her completely (as did our other dog).

Mango Momma

Heids said...

I've always said that if I ever had a time machine, the first time I would go to is when Pork Chop was a puppy (screw that grassy knoll in Dallas) - I will always adopt an adult dog for the same reasons you have (esp. the adult dogs get overlooked one), but I would love to know what the Choppers looked like when he was just a wee lad.

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