Whilst many dog lovers fall for the undeniable charms of puppies and wish to get a young dog in order to be able to be sure of its history and to be able to train and manage it in the right way from the get-go, there are also a lot of benefits to buying or adopting an adult dog instead, not least of which is offering a dog a second chance at a forever home that they may not otherwise be given.
Buying or adopting an older dog can be very rewarding, and in some cases, easier than getting a puppy, as hopefully the dog will already be house trained and able to follow basic commands, and will not need constant supervision in the same way that younger dogs do.
However, there is an element of the unknown when it comes to getting an older dog, and whilst finding out that said dog has or has had problems does not necessarily mean that you should rule them out, it is important to be as well informed as possible about what you are letting yourself in for, and this means finding out as much as possible about the dog before you commit to taking it on.
In this article, we will look at ten important questions that you should ask about any adult dog that you might be considering buying or adopting.
Finding out if the dog is already neutered is important, as if it is not, this is something that you will need to arrange and budget for. While it is self-evident when a male dog has been neutered, this is not always the case for females, and it may require a veterinary examination in order to find this out, and also to make sure that you won’t end up with several dogs in a few weeks’ time instead of the one that you were banking on!
Knowing the vaccination status of the dog can again help you to budget for their expenses at the start, and will also help to tell you about the dogs immune status, and reassure you that the dog is not carrying any chronic transmissible conditions or illnesses that can be passed on to other dogs.
If the history of the dog is known, the answer to this question is fairly simple, but for adult dogs that are rescued or rehomed after an uncertain history, it is not always easy to find out or tell.
It is usually fairly simple to tell if a dog is under a year old, adult or mature, and a vet can often help you to narrow this down with an examination, but you may not be able to find out for certain how old any given dog is otherwise.
This is one of the key questions to ask; many dogs are of course rehomed through no fault of their own, and dogs that are rehomed by shelters may have an unknown history and so, you may not ever find out for sure why the prior owners gave it up.
However, if this information is available, it is worth finding out as it can tell you if you are likely to face any specific problems with the dog once you take it on, and make your decision accordingly.
Once again, being able to tell the exact breed or mix of breeds of an adult dog is simpler in some cases than others, but the person rehoming the dog might be able to tell you what they know. Knowing the breed or combination of breeds that make up the dog can help to tell you about their core traits and behaviours, and also, if they are susceptible to any hereditary health conditions.
Find out if the dog has needed to see a vet for anything other than its standard checks and routine treatments, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed if any problems are apparent, and find out how much they might cost you to deal with.
It is not possible to get dogs insured for pre-existing health conditions, and so it is important to find out about this before you commit to taking the dog on.
If the dog is being rehomed due to behavioural problems or a problem that the current owner cannot manage, this should not necessarily be a deal breaker for you, as of course some problems are worse than others, and some can be resolved easily.
However, going in with your eyes open will again help you to make an informed decision on how to proceed.
You should find out by asking and also walking the dog yourself how it behaves around others, and if it is friendly and well socialised or will need some work.
You should also try to find out how it behaves around both smaller pets and children, even if you do not have any of either, as this will dictate how the dog will need to be handled and managed in the future.
The exercise requirements of dogs of different types and ages can vary considerably, and it is important to make sure that your lifestyle matches that required of the dog in question. If you are not particularly active and don’t enjoy long, vigorous walks, steer clear of dogs that do, like the Border collie and the Siberian husky, but if you are looking for a future running partner, the Chihuahua or the Pug won’t be a good pick!
Finally, as well as taking the answers that you are given at face value, it is important to do what you can to find out if the information you are being given is accurate. This may not always be possible when it comes to total certainty on the dog’s age or breed, but some of the other elements can potentially be independently verified.
For instance, if the dog is supposed to be vaccinated, it should have a record card to show this, or the vet that performed the vaccinations should be able to verify it for you, and if the dog is microchipped, the microchip company should be able to tell you what information they have on the dog’s true age.