Should we get a puppy or an older dog


9 Years
May 16, 2010
south portland, maine
Hi folks,
We have 2 bantam hens (our 3rd died in dec) and I will be retiring in June and have more time to be around the house and animals. My husband and I have been wanting to get a dog and this summer seems to be a good time.

We have about 1/3 acre totally fenced in back yard and live on a public beach that allows dogs to run on it at certain times of the day. Our chickens usually free range around the yard for a good part of the day during reasonable weather (they don't like snow under foot).

In planning to get a dog, would we be better off to get a more mellowed out adult or try training a puppy from scratch. I know that any dog will need to be trained and that I would be best off with a low prey drive type dog. I also understand that each dog is an individual and you can't go totally by breed.

We'd love just some old mutt, rather than a specific breed. But, around here, folks don't seem to have mutt puppies to give away like it used to be 20 + years ago when we had our last dogs. Any suggestions would be helpful.
Thanks, Paula
How about a dog 2 or 3 years old. Still puppy enough but old enough. The best place for mutts (which I love) is the pound or animal shelter. By the way nothing is free anymore, Although If you are very very careful and check out the "pets" section of you will find people that have to move can't take their dog...etc. for a very small fee. Just take your time searching and make sure the dog is right for you. If you looking on craigs list or any newspaper when you go to look at the dog please don't go alone. If you have any hesitation on the dog move on to the next one.
I agree, you should look at the local animal shelter and see what dogs they have. They need homes, especially the ones who aren't puppies any more, and I'm sure there will be plenty of mutts.

As for puppy or older dog, I couldn't tell you. If you get one with a nice, calm personality and spend plenty of time training it, I don't think it matters.
If you are in an urban area, your shelters probably actually have a demand and are importing dogs (some are more open about this practice than others). Chihuahuas and other in-demand small dogs were the big import at the last city I lived in, though they also brought in large/mixed dogs from surrounding rural areas. If the local shelters/rescues don't have what you are looking for, classifieds may list dogs with better known backgrounds for you. I like older dogs myself. When we purchased a three year-old ACD, she did not know how to sit or have any notion of housetraining. She also came with some serious, life-long issues (we knew that going in though...a shelter should be honest about any known issues and that particular shelter was), but as for the basics, she had them down solid in a week. That wouldn't have happened with a puppy!
Since you need to know the personality, you're best with an older dog or a pup from a breeder so you can meet the pup's parents.

Don't get a terrier--they have high prey drives and are a pain to train. (I have had two) Something with a soft mouth is nice--friends brought their hunting-quality black lab over, and it chased and caught a chicken and brought it back to us scared but unharmed!
Chickens and dogs are best kept within areas separated via a fence; Yet, it is possible to have a dog that will get along and not harm your birds. Adopting a puppy vs. an older dog is tough call and most people want puppies. Older dogs need a home and their are plenty of great ones that need a home! Check Older labs or retrievers are intelligent dogs and usually mellow. They may be a great choice if you are looking for a dog that may get along with your birds. Good Luck!
Thanks for all the thoughtful answers. I will try to find a nice mellow older dog. I have time to look -- no hurry. I want to make the right choice.

I also had a terrier in the past. Yikes! It totally was a wild man, who would take on any dog no matter the size and he weighed in at about 8 lbs max. His favorite girlfriend (lived a few houses away) who he was always trying to mate was about 6 times his size! LOL! He lived to be 16 yrs old and kept us crazy for years.
I love doggie questions! Don't mind me while I chime my two cents in!
I agree, an older dog or a soft mouth breed would be best. In my rescue, I prefer to get in the old grayfaced dogs. They love to cuddle, sleep, and eat. They are ever so much more relaxed than other dogs and never try to eat my chickens! Every so often they will see one of my silkies strut by and they seem to give a "harumph. In MY day, chickens wore MODEST feathers, you'd never see one with such an absurd look
" and then they'll roll back over and go to sleep.

I will just say, on the shelter dog subject, that on a lot of them, it will be hard to judge their personality. In my experience, they never act the same. I've brought home dogs that were perfectly mellow at the shelter, but turned into enegizer bunnies the second they got here, etc. Though I love recommending to rescue from a shelter, you may consider adopting from a rescue. They will be able to find you a "perfect" match on a dog.

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