Great Debate: Should there be an age limit to adopt a dog?

Being a dog owner is an amazing experience, but it's also a huge commitment. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep a dog healthy, happy and well socialised - meaning that not all households are suitable for a dog. Many rescue centres and responsible breeders are not too keen to give a dog to people who'll be away from home most of the day, unless they can make adjustments to their lifestyle to better accommodate a dog's needs.

This is the reason why many dog lovers remain dogless throughout their working life, to finally adopt one when they're retired and have plenty of time to spend with their new friend. But some argue that, while a retiree may have time, they may be lacking the stamina needed to properly look after a dog. Moreover, elderly dog owners may pass away while the dog is still young, leaving his future uncertain.

While many find that evaluating the match between dog and potential owners on a case-by-case basis is enough to ensure the dog's welfare doesn't suffer, this raises the question of whether you can simply be too old to have a dog.

We ask: should there be an age limit to adopt a dog?

We'll be publishing responses in our upcoming June 2017 issue.

Send your experiences, opinions and any relevant photographs to our news editor, Alessandra -

You can also comment on this post, or join the Facebook discussion below.


Let us know your thoughts!


  1. Ajay 10 April, 2017 at 17:51 Reply

    Age of dog maybe should reflect age of new owner or adoptee, pro rata of course. Other concerns would relate to hazard issues, a small lively dog and a not so mobile arthritic owner may not be ideal, vision problems the same. However the right temperament dog who enjoys a walk but is equally happy to curl up at home and just use the garden for toilet needs would probably be a good match as a rule of thumb, some older people probably fitter so any breed or not would have great home. Think we wouldnt go for a puppy now, due to bending down and clearing up puddles n poo and training in the early days, also thinking about the possibilty in very senior people of the dog outiving you, but blue cross have great work in taking in such a bereaved pet. One could also ask if people who both work should adopt a dog, or youngsters who may have wanted a dog on a whim as so many dogs getting dumped. So leave the decisions to the people after advice aftercall if not allowed to adopt and they really want a pet they will go elsewhere as dogs seem cheap possessions these days from within the uk and europe.

  2. Penny Bowers 14 April, 2017 at 10:45 Reply

    I agree with above comment as there always seems to be some barrier to adopting a dog whatever a person’s age, so we do need to be more flexible in allowing people of older age adopt dogs. I know of an 89 year old who adopted a dog who would otherwise may not have found an owner – the rescue ensured things were in place for this man should anything go wrong but apart from a short spell in hospital and a volunteer took care of the dog for that time both dog and owner had a wonderful 5 years. When the elderly owner died the dog came back into the rescue’s care but died a short time after. It was truly a good match and one this man should have been given the opportunity to have in the first place. While this man and dog lived together the dog also gave pleasure to other older residents in the sheltered accomodation.

  3. E. Smith 6 May, 2017 at 13:21 Reply

    In my view having an age limit to dog ownership is about as fair as labeling some breeds of dogs as dangerous. I understand that some agility competitions have classes for people over the age of 70, so are we saying that they are incapable of meeting a dogs needs? As for decisions about the future none of us know what that holds, any of us could become sick and disabled. Are we going to put a limit on the weight of owners because obesity will make walking the dog a challenge? What is important is that future owners have seriously thought about what the duties as an owner are and understand what makes dogs happy and healthy and with the wisdom earnt over decades older people might have a better insight than the young. An owner doesn’t have to do everything themselves, friends and family can help out and they may be able to pay for some services. (And I am not elderly, just in case it matters)

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