There are few joys greater than growing your family — and sometimes, that new addition is of the furry, four-legged kind. There are so many things to think about when you’re adopting a dog, but one of the most important factors to keep in mind should be age. After all, a pup’s age can also influence her size and temperament, which are other key factors for ensuring she fits in with your lifestyle.

Deciding if you should adopt a puppy or an adult dog comes with its own considerations. Your personality, routine, and support system all play an important role in the age of dog you should adopt — and we’re here to help!

Our guide offers important considerations when it comes to deciding whether you should adopt a puppy or an adult dog. It may appear that we’re advocating only for the adoption of fully-grown pooches, but we promise this isn’t the case! As we’ll explain, young dogs are a lot of work, and bringing an adult home is the easier option for a lot of families. Although you need to be prepared for parent puppyhood should you choose to adopt a youngster, she may be the perfect addition to your family.

While you’ll fall in love with any dog who joins your family regardless of her age, think carefully about these details before choosing your canine companion.

Your experience

In many ways, having a puppy is similar to caring for a human baby. They need constant attention, and for many pet parents, it’s easier the second time around. If you’ve never had a puppy before — and especially if you’ve never owned a dog at all — you may save yourself some frustration by adopting an adult, since they usually aren’t as demanding on your schedule.

Your time and schedule

Dogs of all ages thrive on routine. Even if it takes some time, an adult can almost always adjust to her human’s schedule, so a pet parent with a crazy calendar can relax knowing their pooch can thrive in their absence.

Puppies, on the other hand, need to not only adapt to your schedule, they need to learn what a routine is. It will be critical for you to have regular times for feeding, walking, and training your little bundle of joy, which will be hard to do if you’re away from home a lot. You can hire a dog walker or find a pet sitter for your puppy while you’re away, but the more your furry friend works on establishing her routine with you, the more success she’ll have in sticking to it for the long term.

Think about these factors when it comes to creating a schedule for a puppy, and if the time commitment feels like too much, consider rescuing an adult dog instead:

  • Feeding – Growing puppies often need to be fed more frequently than older dogs. She may need morning, afternoon, and evening meals for at least the first few months.
  • Walking – Taking your pup outside is important for potty breaks, exercise, and leash training. A general guideline is that puppies should be walked right after they’ve eaten and as soon as they’ve woken up from a nap, which equates to about every two hours during the day. (Don’t worry — you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to take a trip outside!)
  • Training – Whether obedience is your top concern or you’re excited to teach her tricks, regular face time with your dog will confirm your role as her leader. Being with her for a couple of hours in the morning before work and for a few hours in the evening probably won’t be enough to establish you as the rule maker she needs to obey.

Your support system

Do you live on your own, or do you have a partner and/or kids who are going to help you care for your new family member? In addition to the time commitment all dogs require, having an in-home support system can help ease the stress that comes with pet parenting, especially if you adopt a puppy.

Remember, puppies are babies — they’ll have accidents, enter restricted parts of your home, chew things they’re not supposed to, and even cry at night. While pet parenthood is full of ups that are completely worth all of the downs, it’s a lot for one person to deal with. If you plan on being the primary canine caregiver, an adult dog will most likely have a smoother transition into your home.

The size of your home

If you’re short on space, it’s risky to take in a growing dog if you don’t know how big she’ll end up being. Adopting a full-grown adult that has enough room to thrive where you live will be a better bet. Of course, if you’re sure of the breed of your new family member and your home will accommodate her size, don’t discount rescuing a puppy you’ve fallen in love with.

Your budget

In general, puppies usually require a bigger financial commitment than healthy adults. For one thing, puppies need to visit the veterinarian more frequently, especially their first year. The costs of office visits, vaccines, and a spay or neuter surgery add up. Even if these are taken care of by the animal shelter or rescue agency you work with, you’ll end up paying for these expenses in your adoption fee. Plus, if a pokey little puppy eats something she shouldn’t or gets hurt, an emergency vet visit will cost a pretty penny. Finally, many dog owners find it beneficial to enroll their little pooch in obedience classes, which is usually another significant (but well-worth it!) cost.

Still, mature animals come with expenses, especially senior dogs. Booster shots, dental care, and routine checkups all need to be budgeted for, so no matter what age of dog you get, be sure you’re financially prepared to care for her.

Your other pets

If you have other pets your new dog will interact with — especially cats and other canines — getting a puppy often makes more sense than bringing home an adult that prefers to be an only fur child. While young critters certainly have their own personalities, the way you raise them will have a huge impact on how they get along with other animals. Raising a puppy with the cat you’ve had since kittenhood could result in a lifelong bond between your two pets and a grown-up dog that plays well with others.

Of course, if you’re adopting from an organization with volunteers who have spent a lot of time with an adult dog who’s captured your heart, you can usually find out about her social skills with other creatures. Full-grown dogs who are shy — not aggressive — around other pets can usually warm up to their fuzzy brothers and sisters with some time and encouragement.

When you adopt a dog, you want to provide her with a forever home, and finding a companion that meshes well with every aspect of your lifestyle and personality is critical to making this happen. Be sure to carefully consider the age of the pup that’s right for you — and know that no matter how many candles on her birthday cake, the two of you will share a bond unlike any other.