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Recommendations when Adopting an Adult Dog

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In 2009, in the United States, animal shelters received between 6 and 8 million animals, of which only about 3 million were adopted.
Recommendations when Adopting an Adult Dog
Last update: 27 June, 2023

Nowadays, there are many associations and shelters dedicated to promoting the adoption of abandoned dogs. Although taking in an animal is a praiseworthy and respectable action, not all people are prepared to make such a commitment. Therefore, before adopting an adult dog, confirm that you have everything you need to keep it and check out these recommendations for its care.

Adoption is a complex choice that requires responsibility and time availability. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only about taking care of a pet, but also about looking after its welfare and always seeking to offer it the best possible living conditions. Keep reading and discover some special recommendations about adopting an adult dog.

Why is it better to adopt?

Pet adoptions are born as a strategy to reduce the population of pets that are in a street situation. Looked at another way, it’s giving a second chance to dogs and cats that were abandoned by their owners or that have never known the love of a family.

Nowadays, there are many people around the world who buy pets without understanding the responsibility they’re letting themselves in for. When they get bored of them or realize that looking after them is too demanding, they choose to abandon them far from home to solve their problem.

From this moment on, dogs and cats have to survive on their own, which they don’t always manage to do, and die in just a few days. To make matters worse, even if they survive for months or years in these conditions, they’ll suffer deteriorated health and psychological disorders that are products of abandonment.

Although animal shelters aim to save pets living on the streets, it’s clear that they don’t have the capacity to keep them all. This is why adoption is so important in society, as it’s the only real way to safeguard the lives of these beautiful domestic companions in the long run.

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Which dogs are better to adopt?

As one might assume, the choice of a pet is influenced by several personal factors in the family. In fact, some studies state that breed perception, size, and age are the main characteristics that are evaluated when deciding whether or not to adopt a dog. This means that it’s easier to adopt a small, young dog with certain breed traits than a large, old dog.

Contrary to popular opinion, adopting a small dog doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be well-behaved or easy to train. According to the University of Edinburgh, it all depends on the quality of life it experiences and the commitment of the guardians to improve it.

This means that the appearance, size, and breed of the dog shouldn’t matter much at the time of adoption. It’s best to focus on its requirements and needs, because if you can’t meet them, it may not be a good choice for you.

Is it good to adopt adult dogs?

Puppies are the most popular dogs in shelters because they’re cute and easy to care for. However, adult dogs are also an excellent option for any family. Among the advantages of adopting older dogs are the following:

  • Steady personality: As they’re adults, their personality is fully developed and it’s rare for it to change after you interact with them in the shelter.
  • They can do several activities: They don’t have to wait to develop activities such as running or starting training.
  • They can leave the house without a problem: Most of them already have the necessary vaccinations to be able to go outside – just confirm this with the shelter staff.
  • They’re very loyal: Although this happens with almost all adopted dogs, adults are more aware that you helped them and offer you all their loyalty.
  • They learn quickly: It’s easier to guide and train them, so you’ll rarely need to repeat orders in order for them to learn them.

Of course, the decision about whether or not to adopt an adult dog is yours, but don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Any dog can change its behavior and adapt to its new family; it only needs patience, the right guidance, and a lot of love to achieve it.

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Recommendations for adopting an adult dog

In case you have decided to adopt an adult dog, there are several recommendations that you can follow to facilitate the process of choice. The most important ones are the following:

  • Ask the people in charge of the shelter about the dog’s normal behavior.
  • Go to the shelter several times to spend time with the dogs and focus on those that are compatible with you.
  • If you’re allowed, go on one or more trial walks.
  • Don’t force them to interact with you; you can watch them from a distance or offer them treats to get to know them better.
  • Eliminate your prejudices, dogs considered as potentially dangerous don’t always exhibit aggressive behavior. On the contrary, they’re usually the most docile.
  • The size of the pet should be chosen according to the family home. Medium and large dogs should not live in apartments.

Despite the above recommendations, it should be made clear that there’s no single way to choose the best adult dog for the family. Usually, the connection created during visits to the shelter is enough for the people to make their decision. However, don’t feel pressured. Remember that you’re looking for a life partner who’s compatible with you, so take your time and think it through.

Adoption is the best way to support dogs who are abandoned. Of course, it’s not an obligation, but, if possible, consider going to a shelter before buying a new pet. Any dog will fill your home with happiness and affection, but by adopting you’ll also give a new opportunity to those who had the misfortune of knowing how cruel it is to live in the street.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.


  • Vitulová, S., Voslářová, E., Večerek, V., & Bedáňová, I. (2018). Behaviour of dogs adopted from an animal shelter. Acta Veterinaria Brno, 87(2), 155-163.
  • DeLeeuw, J. L. (2010). Animal shelter dogs: Factors predicting adoption versus euthanasia (Doctoral dissertation, Wichita State University).
  • The University of Edinburgh. (2021). Canine Catch-Neuter-Return (CNR) Good Practice Guides: Dog behaviour and handling. Recuperado el 16 de diciembre de 2022, disponible en: https://www.ed.ac.uk/sites/default/files/atoms/files/cnr_dog_behaviour_and_handling.pdf
  • Leonard, A. (2011). The plight of “Big black dogs” in American animal shelters: Color-based canine discrimination. Anthrozoos A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals 29(4):639-652.
  • Sinski, J., Carini, R. M., & Weber, J. D. (2016). Putting (Big) black dog syndrome to the test: Evidence from a large metropolitan shelter. Anthrozoös, 29(4), 639-652.
  • Castek, J. (2010). Black Dog Syndrome. Animal Wellness. Recuperado el 16 de diciembre de 2022, disponible en: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262105477_Black_Dog_Syndrome

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.