Should I get a puppy or an adult dog?

Posted by Mike Trevena 07/07/2016

After years of training both puppies and adult dogs, speaking to our clients and listening to their experiences, we have come to the conclusion that puppy ownership is not the correct route for the majority of people to take.

We understand that the idea of bringing a cute and cuddly puppy into your home is an attractive one for the whole family, especially the children.

The reality is very different.

Puppies are by their very nature dynamic, and constantly evolving based on their environment and their experiences, both good and bad. These changes often go unnoticed by all except very experienced trainers and can lead to disastrous results.

The main points to consider when thinking about buying a puppy are:

1) Health

When purchasing a puppy we are always told to look for health tested parents and to only select a puppy from good bloodlines. The reality is that genetics are a funny thing and regardless of health checks there is no guarantee that your new puppy (or the whole litter) haven’t unfortunately drawn the short straw from many generations before them. At best this could lead to expensive vet’s bills. At worse it could lead to a situation whereby it is unfair to keep your puppy alive.

2) Temperament

The temperament of your new dog is extremely important. Usually, when selecting a puppy from a highly regarded breeder you must pick your puppy at around four weeks of age to allow everyone a fair choice and the breeder time to sell any remaining puppies.

This age is far too young to get any idea of the dog’s temperament and future potential personality.

Guide Dog organisations across the globe, who are possibly the most experienced puppy raisers, temperament test their puppies at 7-8 weeks of age and still only manage around a 10% success rate into adulthood. If they cannot always get it right, how can you?

3) Energy Level

Too high an energy level is the most common reason for a dog to be re-homed in the UK. As with the temperament, it is also impossible to ascertain the energy level that a puppy will display when it is an adult.

Energy levels continue to increase in young dogs up until around 18 months of age when they would begin hunting in the wild. During this time other traits also begin to develop and, if not dealt with correctly, you could be nurturing possession issues, food/toy aggression, dog/people aggression. Usually people don’t realise that they have gotten it wrong until it is too late.

4) Training

A puppy is very much like a young child. If you are a parent you will know only too well the ups and downs of raising children. Just think about how many hours of guidance and time you have invested in your children to hopefully raise them into the young adults that you would like them to be. Training a puppy is not simply a case of going to training classes for an hour a week for six weeks. Imagine what your children would be like if that was all the time you had given them. On top of that, you are going to be raising an animal which has completely different needs to humans and you cannot even speak its language.

Training and correctly raising a puppy is a full time job and to be honest, it’s a job that even professional trainers can struggle with.

In conclusion, does the idea of getting a puppy still stack up well against the option to welcome a young adult dog into your home? The reality is that once a dog is reaching maturity what you see is exactly what you have got living with you for the next decade.

If a 12 month old dog is confident, outgoing, sociable, healthy, well trained and has an energy level which matches yours then, barring any extreme bad luck, you can be sure that this is how the dog will remain for the rest of its years. By taking this route you drastically increase your chance of getting it right first time and remove nearly all of the risks outlined above.

Let’s look at some human analogies.

  • Two athletes can produce a child who has no interest in sport.
  • Two supermodels could give birth to a child with undesirable looks.
  • Two outgoing, sociable and well respected adults can produce children who are either extremely quiet or maybe even “trouble makers”.
  • Two healthy parents can produce a child with a genetic disability.

An uncontrollable life experience can drastically change the temperament and personality of a human – the same can easily happen with a young puppy.

The puppy versus adult dog decision is a big one. After speaking to many dog owners who have come to us for help, a puppy was not the best choice for them in the majority of circumstances.

On average, we currently supply 20 dogs per month to loving families. Our foundation trained puppy programme used to be very popular for us but the possibility of health risks, and the temperament and training issues involved with puppies has caused us to steer away from this service as it is impossible for us to guarantee a well-balanced, fully-trained, fit, healthy and a 100% sound temperament with such a young animal.

And finally, the cost.

Our clients have found that the cost of purchasing and caring for a well-bred puppy to adulthood far outweighs the cost of our quality, well-sourced, temperament-tested, health-checked, fully-trained dogs.

By taking the puppy route the payment may be spread over the months, but you also have to allow for damage to your home caused by a chewing, non-toilet trained puppy or the stress on the whole family of any health risks or unwanted behaviours that may develop in your new dog. Such flaws in temperament can include aggression towards other dogs and strangers, separation anxiety, nervousness, and excessive barking/growling.

Our adult dogs are all aged between 10-24 months old and will provide you with a guaranteed and cost effective family companion that is perfect for your specific requirements and lifestyle. You could say that you get the training for free.

If you are thinking about adding a dog to your family, get in touch to speak to us about your requirements or any questions you may have.

About the Author

Should I get a puppy or an adult dog?

Meet our WKD Team
  • Melissa

    This article really resonates with our family. I’ve always wanted a dog and bought a puppy when my children were aged 4 and 2. A beautiful chocolate labrador. I had no idea how difficult it would be with him racing through the house, nipping at the children ankles not to mention potty training my 2 year old and house training the puppy. We really hadn’t thought it through throughly. After a while and very reluctantly we decided to re-home the puppy and have never had a dog since. 7 years on we would still very much like a family dog and know that when finances permit we will be approaching WKD for the ideal family dog

    • admin

      Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear it didn’t work out with the Lab. We will look forward to working with you in the future. If you would like any further information don’t hesitate to contact us.
      Kind Regards,
      Gemma @ WKD

Our clients love their dogs

"Thanks for finding such a wonderful black labrador as Winnie, she is so well behaved in the home and a total bundle of fun when we are out walking" Ruth & Mike

Read all our client reviews
clients-love-dogs