The Five Biggest Myths of Dog Adoption

Dog adoption is a life changing experience.

Not only are you adding a wonderful new fur-­member to your family, but you get an opportunity to make a huge difference in the life of a dog and, sometimes, to save their life.

Countless of dogs are available for adoption each year, however, many are overlooked or left behind in shelters for reasons that, in fact, aren’t always true.

These are the five biggest myths of dog adoption and why they shouldn’t prevent you considering the adoption path when looking for your next dog or puppy.

The Five Biggest Myths of Dog Adoption

Myth 1: You can’t adopt puppies through rescue

Many people’s preference is for puppies over adolescent, adult or senior dogs. I get the appeal, I really do, puppies are so incredibly cute after all! It’s also a generally held belief that puppies are not available through adoption at shelters and rescues. This leads to looking to purchase a puppy through other avenues and overlooking the adoption option.

“As someone who fostered around 200 puppies for one rescue over a 6 year period, I can attest to the fact that puppies are indeed plenty available through rescue… but once their adoption advertisements go online, they do tend to have a lot of applications and rehome pretty quickly.”  ~ Tracey

Puppies do exist in the rescue world, but like all things cute and desired they are often snapped up quickly. That’s great for the puppy that’s found their forever home, but sometimes a little disappointing for people looking to adopt a puppy.

My advice is to check multiple rescue websites daily for new listings, contact rescues to make enquiries and leave your details and to ask around with people involved in rescue. Sometimes puppies don’t make it to be publicly listed so becoming friendly with the group may just give you a little head start. With a little extra effort and patience, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect cute puppy to welcome into your home in no time.

Black dog resting on a couchPuppy Gracie is a Rescue Pup who’s now found her forever home.

Myth 2: Puppies are easier to train

Continuing on from myth number one, people usually prefer puppies over dogs because they think that puppies are easier to train.

Jill adopted both her current dogs through rescue. She adopted Roy her Boxer cross as a 4 year old and Flame, her Red Heeler cross as a 12 week old puppy.

“Training Flame in obedience was easier, she is a quick learner and picked things up faster than Roy did. But her manners and puppy behaviours (chewing, digging and nipping) are things I hadn’t experienced before [with Roy]. I am not sure whether it is easier or harder to adopt a puppy rather than an older dog”  ~ Jill

Having trained both puppies and adult dogs, I agree with Jill. I wouldn’t equivocally say that one is easier than the other. When you adopt a puppy you play an important part in moulding their character and personality. When you adopt an adult dog, their character and personality is usually fairly established, meaning you may need to rehabilitate some bad habits. Both scenarios present their own set of rewards, and challenges.

If you are considering adopting a puppy, I would recommend evaluating if you have the time, energy, resources and patience that are required to raise a puppy. If the answer is ‘no’, then adopting an adult dog might the better and more responsible option.

Recommended further reading – Is a Puppy Right for you?

Myth 3: Purebred dogs aren’t available

Have you done your research on the perfect breed for your family? Perhaps you have fond memories of past purebred dog? Welcoming a dog through a breeder is not the only option to finding a purebred dog or puppy. All dogs, including purebreds, can unfortunately end up in rescues and shelters ­ through surrender, being lost or from closed puppy farms.

It’s estimated that 20­30% of dogs in shelters are purebred. There are also an increasing number of breed specific rescues that you can look to if you have your heart set on a particular bred.

Siberian Husky Archer poses for a pictureRescue dog Archer was a purebreed Siberian Husky

Sometimes, adopting a purebred through can be a very similar experience to adopting a pup ­ they don’t last long once they’ve been advertised! To increase your chances of finding a purebred, look to the purebred rescues, check their new listings frequently, see if they have a wait list or can notify you when dog that matches your requirements. It’s also worth calls to local shelters to see if they have the dog you’re looking for.

(Don’t forget, there is quite a bit of research and individual expert opinion that suggests ‘mutts’ or crossbreds might be healthier compared to a purebred dogs, so make sure you do your own thorough research prior to committing to a breed and understand any health implications they may have).

Myth 4: Rescued dogs have baggage

There is a common misconception that rescue dogs have ‘baggage’, however that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We adopted Kenny (Pomeranian X) when he was just 12 months of age and he adapted well to his new environment. Because we had an older dog at home (Bella); we didn’t have to spend much time teaching him tricks or commands as he observed what we did with Bella and quickly learnt the tricks of the trade. One of the things I love about Kenny is that you can just speak to Kenny without using any specific commands and he understands you perfectly! I do not believe that all rescued dogs have “baggage” and even if that was the case, with enough love and care, I am sure every dog can move on from past experiences” ~ Stephanie

All dogs, regardless of age, breed, from the shelter or from a breeder will need time to adapt to a new environment. During this time, it is realistic for an owner to have to teach the dog what is or isn’t acceptable in their new environment which may be mistaken as ‘baggage’ at times.

Foster Dog Dora peepingRescue dog Dora was fostered by a dog trainer. She was a beautifully trained dog when she became available for adoption.

Myth 5: You need experience to have a rescue dog

Following on from Myth 4, often people think that they aren’t experienced enough to deal with the ‘baggage’ that a rescue dog may hav. The great news is that there are loads of rescue dogs available that are suitable to your experiences.

“I rescued both my dogs as “young adults” (just over 12 months old) – Banjo was a stray and Matilda was surrendered by her time­poor owners. I hadn’t owned my own dog before them, except for the family dog when I was growing up. I wanted to adopt a dog because I didn’t have the time for a new puppy, and there are so many that need a home. It was important going into the adoption to be mindful of the past life they might have had, but in the end, both dogs had almost no problems settling into our lives. The worst of it was that Matilda was extremely shy. They’ve both become integral parts of family life and I would definitely adopt again” ~ Karen

If you’re ready for the long term emotional and financial commitment that comes with owning a dog, then I encourage you to consider adopting. On top of the incredible feeling and connection of a dog in your life, it’s a wonderful feeling to have rescued a dog that may have otherwise had a horrible fate.

Suezanne Cheng

Suezanne Cheng is the director of Jericho Dog Training which specialises in prevention & rehabilitation training. She is married to Ben and together they have 3 beautiful fur kids, Pippa (Schnoodle), Alfie (Labradoodle) & Tilly (Wolfhound X).

She believes that there is so much untapped potential in the relationship between owner and dog and is passionate about educating owners on more than just obedience.