Do Rescue Dogs Make Better Pets?

Updated on July 30, 2019
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Alison has two rescue dogs from a local animal rescue charity. Alison also has a West Highland Terrier purchased from a local breeder.

Take Me Home!

Choosing whether to adopt a pet from a shelter, a breeder, or pet store is a big responsibility for any family. Sure, the puppies in the store look incredibly cute, but there is something about the longing and sad eyes of a rescue dog, no matter what their age.

Many owners choose to buy from a breeder or pet store because they want the opportunity to train the animal from a young age, perhaps believing older dogs may not respond as well to training. Others have children who long for a new puppy to call their own. However, some owners want nothing more than to give a previously neglected animal a second chance in life.

There are many issues to consider when adopting a dog of any age, from any source. The most important question a potential owner should ask themselves is "Can I commit to looking after this dog for the rest of their life?" An old saying is "Life is short"—the life of a dog is even shorter. Despite this, millions of dogs around the world are abandoned every year, as the owner cannot make this most basic of commitments.

Pure Breed Westie - From A Breeder

The Breed Issue

Many families long for a particular breed of animal. Some even daydream of the completeness of a happy family, with a loving and loyal pet by their side. So when the day to complete the family arrives, many people already have a particular dog breed in mind. This can often be a decision made many years before adoption. Some people long for a particular breed because their family had this breed when they were a child; others may remember a childhood friend who had this breed.

Whilst a high proportion of rescue dogs are mixed breed, many pure breeds find themselves looking for a new home too. Even dogs who cost over $1,000 as a puppy have been known to find themselves in the pound, through no fault of their own. A number of dog rescue sites now have the facility to search for a particular breed.

The Animal League ( has an "adopt" icon their home page. The initial search box does not allow you to enter the name of a particular breed. If you enter your zip code, followed by "Search for a dog", a list of all dogs in the area are displayed. There is then a box on the right hand side where you can narrow your search to an exact breed name if required.

So where do the often mixed-breed rescue dogs fit in? It's difficult to long for a pet who cannot be visualized. Shelters often do not know the breed of the dog, and the animal itself can be a combination of many mixed breeds. In this regard, shelter dogs are often more unique and distinctive. Pure breeds have documented character traits, whereas its difficult to know what traits a mixed-breed rescue dog may have.

Despite this, hundreds of thousands of mixed-breed dogs are re-homed each year. Their individuality is endearing, their personalities shine through, and they are just as loyal a dog as any pure breed. Most mixed breed dogs have good genetic diversity, and avoid health problems that can be caused by the pairing of similar genes in pure breeds.

Looking for a New Home

Family Bonding

A puppy will show affection instantly, and will quickly learn to adapt to the routine and life of their family. Training can be hard work, and at times frustrating if any toilet accidents happen on a daily basis. Some rescue dogs may be very nervous and have trust issues, especially if mistreated by a former owner. Other rescue dogs instantly cling to a new owner, due to the desperate need to be part of a pack, and from fear of being cast-out yet again.

Gaining the trust of a rescue dog can take much longer than gaining the trust of a young purchased puppy. The process of training a rescue dog is harder to define than for training a puppy. Some rescue dogs have been trained previously, and respond to commands from day one. Others may take substantially longer to train than anticipated, if the previous owner has never made the effort. However, rescue dogs are often much more eager to please their humans, and the time spent training any dog is well worth the effort.


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Free & Living the Life!

The Ageing Issue

Dogs are abandoned for many reasons, including for age reasons. This can be because a dog is still quite young, but is no longer a puppy and not 'cute' enough, or simply the owner became bored after a short period of time. Others are abandoned for age related health issues. Whatever the reason, and no matter the age, a dog still has a tremendous amount of love to give.

The average age of a dog in a shelter is 18 months, much younger than many people expect. Part of this reason is older dogs are not always accepted into charities, due to the financial cost of caring for them. The likelihood of a dog being re-homed is also a factor in a shelter's intake decision. For this reason, a number of smaller charities have formed to specifically care for, and re-home, older dogs.

Many potential owners do not choose to adopt a rescue dog, due to concerns related to health and possible unknown health issues. All shelters and rescue charities have the dogs they are saving fully checked by a qualified vet, and will always state any known health issues.

Even if a rescue dog is five years or older, they still have a lot of life to live, and an awful lot of love to give. You will find an older rescue dog wants nothing more than to settle to life in a new, loving family, and longs for routine.

Abandoned... and Looking for Love

Whilst some dogs are given up for financial reasons or home/landlord reasons, many are re-homed simply because the original owners did not take the time to train the dog, and simply did not make the time for the dog. The hard fact is, some owners are plain callous and feel zero guilt when they abandon a dog.

A dog who was not given attention early in life will be more grateful to receive love and care once re-homed. They know what it is to be ignored and unloved. When they get their first taste of real human emotions, they will be overjoyed to finally know what reciprocal love is. Even a mistreated dog will learn to trust again, no matter what their past. A re-homed dog may remain nervous for years after re-homing, but will still long for your love and affection. A puppy will love you unconditionally too, but will be fortunate enough to never know how lucky they are to live an entire life with one owner.

Two Rescue Dogs... One Pure Breed, One Mixed

Please Share Your Comments & Experiences

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    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      3 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Well written article. Yes we support Rescue dogs too. We lost our beautiful Blue Heeler and were devastated. Still miss him nearly 12 months later. But we decided to get a rescue dog and have never looked back. I believe he was beaten and badly treated as he crawled on his belly to us at first. If we lifted our hand he would duck, and even if a shadow went over him he would duck.

      I have also written an article about losing a beloved pet and then choosing a rescue dog on hubpages, I hope you will take time to read it too.


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