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Buying or Adopting An Older Dog

Many people feel that an older, grown dog is better for them. Older dogs don't require as much attention as a growing puppy does. They are often easier to housetrain, if not already so trained. They are past their chewing stage, and have settled down from the usual adolescent boisterous behaviour and such a dog presents no surprises in its final size and appearance.

Both puppies and adult dogs have their joys as well as their challenges. Depending on what qualities you are looking for in your new Shepherd and what kinds of challenges you are prepared to handle will help you decide if a puppy or adult is suitable for you.

Bonding is not an issue, adult dogs will and do bond just as quickly with new owners as puppies do. For example, observe the relationship between a blind person and a German Shepherd guide dog or a Police dog handler and his dog. These dogs have been through at least 3 homes before they're matched with their people. The adult dog who comes into your family in later life will reward you with just as much loyalty as the dog that has been with you since a puppy.

Puppies are cute and cuddly, and their antics are a source of constant amusement. German Shepherd puppies, with their fuzzy coats and expressive eyes, are perhaps one of the most irresistible breeds of puppies in the world. Besides these obvious advantages, getting a shepherd as a puppy gives an owner the opportunity to greatly influence the dog’s development. The puppy owner has the opportunity to shape and mould the German Shepherd into a model canine companion.

On the other side, young puppies require nearly constant care and attention. Like all dogs, they must be housetrained, they do a large amount of chewing, and they have tons of energy. There’s also that “adolescent” period that puppy owners will have to contend with, during which a full-size shepherd with a teenager’s attitude will challenge any owner on a daily basis. Raising a German Shepherd from a puppy into a well-balanced adult is time-consuming task that requires diligence, dedication and patience


One of the greatest benefits of adopting an adult dog is that you know exactly what you are getting. There’s no guesswork. You know precisely how tall the dog will be, how much he/she will weigh, what his/her coat type is, what his/her activity level is, and how well he/she’ll fit into your life. You’ll know if he/she is housetrained or if you’ll need to work on that area. Another advantage is that adults learn much faster than puppies. Most importantly, you’ll be able to discern the adult dog’s temperament. Granted, an adult dog can be carrying some baggage, such as certain phobias, lack of training, or social issues; however, if you’re working with an excellent breed rescue or reputable breeder, the dog will already have been temperament tested and evaluated. You’ll know if the dog is sociable, likes children, and is able to get along with other dogs and pets.


There are a good many places you can find a grown dog. Besides the obvious, like shelters, there are other sources. For example, breed rescue organizations have many suitable adult dogs. Breeders often have dogs that they have retired from the show circuit and are not breeding; they also have younger dogs that simply never fulfilled the potential that they showed as a puppy and thus cannot be shown or bred. Both are otherwise perfectly good dogs.

Sometimes people give up their dogs because of death or divorce or other personal upheaval. Perhaps the dog was intended for work, but was injured and rendered unfit. An adult dog in need of a home is not necessarily an abused dog with an unknown background. Keep in mind that many dogs are at the shelter because their owners couldn't or wouldn't keep the commitment they had made by getting the dog in the first place, not that the dog was at fault.

You can contact one of the Breed Rescue organisations. These experienced people who greatly care for the breed may be able to give you more information about the background of the dog and will have made a full assessment of the dogs temperament. or

Or, you can contact local breeders and see if they have older dogs that they are trying to place. Sometimes a puppy that is kept as a show prospect does not fulfill it's earlier promise and is subsequently placed. Sometimes a brood bitch or a stud dog is retired and the breeder looks for a suitable home for it. Some breeders do keep their older pets, but in many cases find that a loving home for it is in the dog's best interests. Breeders too have dogs that are returned to them for any number of reasons: dog turns out to not be show-quality, people are moving and can't keep the dog etc.

Getting an adult dog from a breeder/show kennel means that you will get a full history of the dog and an honest temperament assessment.

Whether you choose a puppy or an adult, it is a commitment for life and your decision should never be made lightly.

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