So You Think You Want a Puppy? Consider Adult Dogs, Too

Author says adult dogs often make better household pets than younger ones.

Adult dogs are at highest risk of dying in shelters, according to a three-year study conducted by a Philadelphia area animal shelter, and for mixed breeds, the risk of euthanasia increases with age.

But even though older dogs are more likely to live their last days in a shelter, they often make better family members than their puppy counterparts, says one author.

Puppies are hard to resist. You can't argue with cute, says Marla Nicoll, author of Getting Lucky, the true story a 4th-grade teacher who rescued a German Shepherd Dog from an animal shelter. Cuteness aside, a dog who has a few years on him tends to make a better addition to the family.

Nicoll offers five reasons to consider an adult dog when choosing a pet for your home:

  • Puppies need constant attention. The boundless energy that first attracted you may not be so adorable at midnight, and 2 a.m., 3:30 a.m., and again at 3:47 a.m. While many believe puppyhood lasts a few months, it is typically a few years before a puppy stops craving constant companionship.
  • Puppies have a natural destructive chewing phase that is only cured by time. Their uncanny knack of loving what you love means your new sofa could become their favorite chew toy. Your favorite slippers and unmentionables make the most tempting treats for puppies.
  • Most older dogs are housetrained. If its been a while since you have potty-trained a puppy, you may underestimate this frustrating task. If you work a lot, an adult dog with a mature bladder can buy you several hours away from home.
  • What you see is what you get. You can only wonder what kind of dog an adorable puppy will grow up to be. When you select a dog with a few years on him, what you see is what you get, and you will find fewer surprises. The true lifetime attitudes of your dog are already apparent.

Nicoll is the author of Getting Lucky, the true story of how she and her husband, Harold, rescued a German Shepherd stray. She is a 4th grade teacher in Saginaw, Mich.

Posted: April 29, 2006, 5 a.m. EST


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