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Adopting a senior dog

When you adopt a senior dog (over seven years old), you not only reduce the number of homeless dogs in Calgary, but you also provide a loving dog with a second chance to find a forever home. A senior dog might be a better fit for your family because they are usually house trained, comfortable around children, and less hyper than younger dogs. 

To see the dogs currently at our shelter go to adoptable dogs or impounded dogs. If you are interested in meeting a dog please call 3-1-1 (from within Calgary) or 403-268-CITY (2489) (outside of Calgary) to book a time to visit with that animal.

At what age is a dog considered "senior"?

A large breed dog is considered mature between the ages of five and seven and "senior" over the age of seven. A small breed is considered "mature" between the ages of nine and ten and "senior at twelve years.

What are the benefits of adopting a senior dog?

  • Senior dogs are wonderful companions.
  • They love attention and affection.
  • The senior dog is probably house trained and likely has already received obedience training.
  • There will be no surprises about the senior dog's size or personality.
  • You can feel good about giving a senior dog a retirement home.
  • Many senior dogs love to play and run.
  • Don't underestimate a senior dog:​​​​​​​​ he probably still has a lot of energy.

What are the challenges of adopting a senior dog?

  • Some breeds have shorter life spans and age more quickly.
  • Certain health issues can emerge as dogs age: blindness, hearing problems, arthritis and other joint or bone problems, and dental problems.
  • If you want a dog to go running with you every day, a senior dog is probably not the best choice.
  • You may have to retrain your senior dog to unlearn undesirable behaviours.

Who should adopt a senior dog?

Anyone who:

  • Simply wants a companion dog.
  • Is looking for a great first dog.
  • Is ready to give and receive lots of love and devotion.
  • Doesn't feel they are ready for the challenges of raising a puppy.
  • Has a schedule that would not accommodate a puppy.
  • Is willing to give the care required for a senior dog.

Common myths about senior dogs

Myth: Old dogs are fat and lazy.
Fact: Fat maybe, but not necessarily lazy. Putting an overweight dog on a weight loss program will add years and lots of energy to your dog's life.

Myth: The dog won't have much time left to live.
Fact: Losing a pet is an inevitable fact of life. It's the quality of the time you spend together that is most important. Your adopted senior dog could live for years and any amount of time you have together will be special for you and the dog.

Myth: Puppies are much cuter.
Fact: Puppies are cute, but they very quickly become full-grown dogs. Puppies can also soil the carpet, chew on your shoes and get into much more mischief than a mature dog.

Myth: Old dogs have too many health problems.
Fact: This is part of the natural aging process and as a senior dog owner you need to be aware of any possible health issues. Most age associated health problems are treatable and manageable and as long as the dog's quality of life is maintained, there is no reason he couldn't make an excellent pet.

Myth: A mature dog won't bond with me.
Fact: It may take time for both you and your senior dog to adjust, but you will bond. Time and patience are all that's needed.

Myth: I will have to break all of his bad habits.
Fact: He may not have any bad habits. All dogs require some training. Talk to your veterinarian or the staff at the Animal Services Centre about possible re-training techniques when adopting a senior dog.