I’m 73 and my husband is 69. We have 3 dogs in the house, 2 weighing over 70 lb and a 40 lb one. 2 are 8 year old and one is 13 year old. Obviously we don’t think we’re too old to own dogs.
Wondering if you’re too old to get a dog?Age alone is not a factor when considering getting a dog. It really comes down to your lifestyle and whether or not you can provide the best care for this new addition to your life.
Let’s take a look at other factors you should think about to find the perfect match for you.
Are you new to dog ownership?
If so, you might be unsure whether you’re too old to get a dog. Your age doesn’t really matter. So keep reading to find out what does matter.
Have you own a dog previously?
If so, you already know a lot of what is mentioned below. But then your life situation might have changed since your previous dog. Some information below could be helpful to you as well.
Do you have another dog at home?
If you do, ask yourself these questions:
- can you manage to properly care for 2 dogs?
- What about the cost of owning 2 dogs?
- What if they don’t get along?
Your physical condition is the most important
First and foremost is your health and how active you are.
Maybe you’re like Harriette Thompson who ran a marathon at the age of 91. Obviously you would be able to walk your dog every day.
On the other hand, if you’re in your 60’s but have bad knees or trouble walking, you’ll be able to decide what kind of dog you should get, or if you shouldn’t get one at all. Maybe another pet would be more suitable in your case.
But you certainly don’t need to be a runner/jogger, you just need to be aware of your level of physical activity. This will be helpful in determining some of the other aspects to consider below.
Do you live alone?
You will be responsible for another life as well as yours. If you live by yourself, you’ll want to make sure your neighbors and your family can check on you often in case you and your pooch are not ok.
If you get sick or bedridden, someone needs to take care of both of you.
If you don’t live alone, it would be best to discuss getting a dog with the other person. It would not be fair to impose a dog on the other person as it could become a problem.
It wouldn’t be fair and also sad if you have to return the dog.
Do you work from home or outside the home?
Are you home for most of the day? This would be heaven for the dog, and you.
Are you gone for a long period of time, like 8 hours, to go to work? Then adopting an older dog and not a puppy would be the best scenario.
If you intend to leave the dog in a crate, make sure you buy the right size. You’ll find on this previous post all the information to help you choose the best one.
You might want to hire a dog walker to let the dog out at least once or twice during the day.
Do you know if you have allergies?
It would be a great idea to find out before you get a dog. Again, it wouldn’t be fair to the dog if you have to return it.
To find out if you are, go visit someone you know who has a dog and spend some time with it. See if you get any allergic reactions.
Another way to find out, is to go visit a breeder or a shelter.
Can you afford a dog?
You have to know if your budget can allow for the expenses that you will encounter over the dog’s life span.
According to experts, it will vary between $1,400 and $4,300 USD, in 2020.
This wide range is determined by the size, breed, where you get the dog, and extras.
You can estimate what you might spend based on the choices you make from these other factors listed below.
If you have a very active lifestyle, such as running, hiking, and you are strong, a medium size dog could fit very well in your life.
If you are limited in your activities, a smaller dog would be more suitable for you. You would be able to pick it up to get it in the car, or on your bed.
Our chocolate lab is 13 years old and hasn’t been able to go up the stairs from the basement since he was 10. So sad for him as he loved to keep me company while I watched TV.
At first we would let him go down and my husband would pick him up to bring him back upstairs. Unfortunately, now he’s 75 lb and too heavy to carry him.
There are so many breeds and mixed-breeds to choose from, it becomes really hard to decide.
Each breed has its own personality, appearance, and energy level.
You can usually find out about a specific breed’s personality, appearance or energy level from books or websites for a particular breed.
Personally, I would go to rescue shelters and get a mixed-breed. Their websites would give you some info on the past history.
Sometimes though they don’t know the dog’s background. But if they’ve been fostered, you can find out how they behave in a home environment, with cats and other dogs.
Our husky-mixed dog above is a ‘foster fail’. His background was not quite clear, as him and his brother were passed around to 2 or 3 different homes before they were 10 months old.
A rescue organization I was working with asked if I could go and get him from an apartment where both dogs were living on the balcony, along with chairs piled up and a BBQ!
He’s almost 8 now and been living the good life here with a huge fenced backyard, someone home all the time and a Beagle to chase squirrels with.
There are also rescue organizations that will focus on one breed, like golden retrievers, or labs. You might want to search for those.
Age of the dog
If you’re in your 60’s or 70’s, don’t get a puppy.
Puppies are a lot of work, demand a lot of attention and will test your patience. It’s similar to having a baby that goes through terrible twos, freaking fours and then teenage years!
Puppies cannot be left alone in a crate for a long time.
Puppies need to be potty-trained.
Puppies will chew and destroy furniture, shoes, etc. if unsuppervised.
Instead consider finding a dog who is 5 or older. They are usually trained to go outside, to be in a crate, and to be left alone for a while.
Plus consider that a dog will normally live till 11 (for a medium/large size dogs) to 15 years old or so (for smaller sizes), depending on the breed.
A senior dog might just be the best companion for your more quiet and low key lifestyle.
Exercising your dog
How much exercise will the dog need is based on its age, breed, size, and health.
Generally at least 30 minutes a day of physical and mental activity is beneficial for both, the dog and you.
Do you live in a house with a backyard?
A backyard is great to provide a place where the dog can run free, and as a bonus, you won’t have to walk the dog (in all kinds of weather) every time it needs to pee or poop.
A walk around the neighborhood would still be recommended for a change of pace and sniffing new spots.
Do you live in an apartment?
You’ll have to be creative to keep your dog fit and active. Beside walks, think of games to play indoor.
- running your dog up and down the stairs
- attach a dog toy to a long string and drag it around so the dog can chase it
- toys that jump and move around
- play hide and seek
Name a dog caregiver in case something happens to you
Now everyone should plan for that no matter how old you are.
Too many dogs find themselves in a shelter when there’s nobody to care for them after the owner is sick, dies or has to move to assisted living.
As you can see, there are many other aspects to consider, beside age, before you get a dog.