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!

  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.


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