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. 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. 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. 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)

  4. I know this is expired, but would like to leave my view as a holder of a BSc in animal welfare and behaviour. I feel that there should be a size restriction for under 16’s to walk a dog NEAR A ROAD without an adult. This should increases over time.. 11–12 min age of a small dog, 13-14 on a medium dog, and 15-16 on large dog. I know this would be open to interpretation on what’s small or medium. However, this should be used as a rough guide, and responsible parents would appreciate this law. It pains me to see a child be dragged along near a road, putting themselves, cars, dogs and other people in danger..

    • You have to be kidding me!! For crying out loud, 50 isn’t even old! You are going to put us in the grave at 50? You are a horrible human being!

      • Firstly, I do not think that people who cannot use the English Language appropriately should be allowed to make a post about anything. l am of course referring to Mr McClair’s ridiculous comments above. He is clearly extremely poorly educated and appears to have a very low IQ. His comments should be therefore disregarded by any normal person regardless of their age. This person should be restrained as he is obviously a danger to the English Language.

  5. this subject can be a difficult one to deal with, i was seventy four when i rehomed a little cross chihuahua terrier age 4 years, apart from arthritis in my back i had no problems walking him, then recently almost overnight arthritis struck one of my knees, and is now very painful, there is no cure, as yet for arthritis,but i worry as i get nearer to the age of eighty whether i shall have more problems that make it difficult for me to look after him, i couldnt foresee the arthritis spreading, should arthritis or other health problems be something that rescue centres should consider before handing over to the elderly person? maybe if a good age match is first made that would be the answer, maybe my little dog would have been a better match had he been a bit older, however because of his breed he doesnt need long walks, i certainly would not be able physically to take on a bigger dog. and that wouldnt be fair to the dog or me.avril.

  6. I’m 75 and my wife is 65. I have been turned away from adopting twice in two different places. The excuses very but weeks later the dogs were adopted by some other persons. Age verses dog adoptions should be considered discrimination. In my area 2 different humane shelters endorse age adoptions/rejections. Yet, dogs not adopted are put to sleep (killed). My wife walks 2 miles a day and once we had a dog that loved keeping her company on her walks. I on the other hand, enjoy home life daily and played with my dog and he with me. He came down with cancer and I spend THOUSANDS to try to heal him, but could not. I tear every time I think of him. Meanwhile it seems okay for a couple living in a condo and both working 8 hours & 10 hours away from home get a priority. “What about the dog laying at home with nothing to do for half the day? I may be a senior but my potential pet would never be alone.

  7. I could go buy a puppy, age discrimination against would be adopters is stupid in the extreme. There are thousands of dogs out there. We have had two rescue dogs and one form a puppy so we do know what we are doing. AGEISM IS DISCRACEFUL.

  8. I know exactly where you’re coming from it’s disgusting it’s blatant ageism and all these people say is well we have to put the dogs interest first so the dog in a kennel or just with an adoptor or homeless vs a person in their 60s or 70s with a nice home, fit and healthy all the time in the world for the dog…and just for the record, and you so called professional homing centres know who you are, not all dogs need a garden… that is absolute nonsense! Especially smaller ones! Rant done!

  9. I am 77 and have 3dogs 2 are from rescuers one of which I took on when my daughter passed to cancer as I had promised my daughter that Take her dog
    My daughter dog would have found it difficult to re home as she does not like any any other dogs i walk all three dogs three times a day . But I know quite a few dog owners who work and the only time the dogs have a walk is at he weak end lf the the owners have time .what about all the old dogs in rescuers as older dogs fined it difficult to re home
    Older dogs would be great for older people and the dog s would have a loving home for the rest of their lives

  10. Just looked at one website to adopt a dog. It stipulates that if you are over 60 you have to have someone guarantee they will look after the dog, but anyone younger doesn’t have to have this. Definitely age discrimination. I am going to complain as I am 65 myself and only just retired, It makes me feel useless although people have to work until they are 66 currently, and its going to rise. How come your seen fit to work but not fit enough to own a dog? Anyone of any age could die, become ill or have an accident. It is something anyone would struggle with if they needed someone to look after their dog. 60 is the new 40 these days people live longer and are fitter and healthier, my mum is 94. I’m not done yet I am still fit enough to fight for my rights do the same.

  11. My 86 yo friend wants a golden retriever puppy. She won’t consider an older dog or rescue. This isn’t an issue of age. She is mostly blind, impaired hearing, demonstrates cognitive decline and lives alone because she refuses to make any changes in her life. Her last golden was never properly trained because she wasn’t capable 8 years ago to do it and wouldn’t allow anyone else to do it. My fear is that she will find an unscrupulous breeder who will sell her a puppy. If you are having difficulty caring for yourself, it’s not a good idea to take one puppy.

  12. All age people are different . All health concerns are different and you never know when they happen , at any age, due to accidents, dislikes , moving ect, ect. I was over 60 when we got our dog , a golden retriever. He was 2 yrs old. Use good sense and take care of yourself and dog. We outlived him and my adopt a new dog.

  13. I am 71 years of age and probably healthier and fitter thank some 20 years younger. I still work (part time), look after horses and walk my dog. I would be furious if anyone made a judgement about me without meeting me. I am in the process of adopting another rescue dog, I have gone for an oldie around 10 because it’s better for my other older dog. I would not dream of taking on any animal if I didn’t feel capable of looking after it properly or making provision if anything happened to me. Anyone of any age that takes on an animal without thinking this through shouldn’t be allowed to adopt.


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