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Are You Ever Too Old To Get A Dog?

If you’re thinking of getting a dog but are worried about your age, then this answer to a reader question may help.

I’m considering getting a new dog, but don’t know whether I am too old. Do you think anyone is ever too old to get a dog?


Dear Margaret,

Firstly, credit to you for putting the welfare of your potential pet first. Many people – young or old – give in to the temptation of owning a dog without really thinking about whether it’s the right thing to do.

I don’t think there is a defined age when you shouldn’t get a dog, but as you get older there are certainly some considerations you should take into account.

Pets are proven to provide wonderful benefits to older people. Aside from the regular benefits of owning a dog, pets can potentially reduce blood pressure, lower the chances of depression, provide social opportunities and increase activity levels. They also help to fight loneliness, which is a common problem for elderly people.

The main question is whether you’re able to provide a wonderful life and home for your dog. This is less about your age and more about your capabilities and health.

Are you able to give your dog a daily walk? If you get a puppy, are you able to take it outside multiple times a day during house training? Are you at home enough to give your dog the attention it needs? And can you afford pet insurance, food, vet bills and the other costs associated with owning a dog? Do you already have another dog and would another be too many for your household? These are all questions that only you can answer.

If your physical condition prevents you from giving your dog enough exercise then this could also be a problem.

You certainly don’t need to be highly active to give a dog a great life. Some dogs need more exercise than others, so if you adopt a low-energy breed or older dog you wouldn’t need to walk it for as long each day. But it’s important to be honest about whether you’re in a position to properly care for a pet.

Puppy or Rescue/Shelter Dog?

At, we think adopting a rescue dog is an amazing thing to do – but we appreciate not everyone wants to miss out on the puppy stage.

If you decide to get a puppy, however, you need to be able to deal with the endless energy they bring to the house. New puppies require constant attention, training classes and house training.

Also, the main problem if you get a puppy is not your age now, but in 10-15 years time. Will you still be able to give the dog the exercise and attention it needs? The average dog will live to over 10 years, so this is something you should consider carefully.

That’s why you might want to consider adopting an older dog from a shelter. Dogs in shelters are desperate for new homes, and they are generally much less energetic than puppies. As they are already part-way through their life, they may also be more suitable.

Unfortunately, some dog shelters have a blanket ban on people above a certain age adopting. I can see the logic behind this, but I also think that age alone is not a good way of judging whether someone is suitable for adoption. You’ll need to contact individual shelters to discuss their policies.

Ultimately, if you feel you can care for a dog properly (including financially) for the rest of its life then they can provide great companionship. It really doesn’t come down to age, but your own physical condition and circumstances.

Hope that helps!


Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.

2 thoughts on “Are You Ever Too Old To Get A Dog?”

  1. My little Norffie is getting very frail. I am 73 and walk a lot. If I lose my little darling should I get a puppy?
    I have always had dogs and I know well what a puppy and a young dog needs.and love the laughter and energy of young dogs
    If I get a puppy which I will socialice with children, pussy cats and let him stay with friends so he knows and is loved by others would I be selfish in getting another doggie?
    Would never do it with an old soul but …..if I knew my young dog was going to a loved home when I died would that be bad if I was sure he was where I thought would be good for him?
    Any advice appreciated.
    Doggies always a treasure and faithful and loving, but they can adapt when young.
    Again, I understand what little ones need and their energy and can deal with it.
    Love dogs. Have never been without them. My little dear one so close and funnny.


    • Hi Bobby,

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, only you can really answer whether it would be right to get a puppy. Make sure you consider how much exercise the dog needs, vet bills, insurance, training costs – and how your ability to provide for the dog will change as both of you get older.

      If you’re planning to leave your dog with another owner in the case of your death, you also need to consider whether it’s fair to ask them to take on the dog – and whether their lifestyle is compatible. Can you really guarantee that your dog will have a loving home in 5-10 years time if something happened to you? Or is the dog likely to end up in a shelter?

      I would also look into adopting an older rescue dog. I understand you love the energy of a puppy, but there are loads of wonderful dogs waiting for adoption, so you can choose one that’s most suitable for your lifestyle.

      I hope that helps!

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