If you’re in the position to welcome a new dog into your home, you should definitely consider adopting rather than buying a pup. There are thousands of dogs in shelters around the country waiting for their forever home.
Worldwide there are an estimated 6.3 million pets in animal shelters every year. In 2019, the Dogs Trust alone (one of many UK rescue charities) cared for 14,301 stray, abandoned, and relinquished dogs.
So, aside from just the numbers, why should you consider adopting a rescue dog? Let’s take a look at 15 amazing reasons!
1. It’s Incredibly Rewarding
Rescuing a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience. You’re giving a dog a second chance. You get the privilege of literally changing a dog’s life, rescuing them from a lonely life in a kennel, and welcoming them into a loving, family home.
As you get to know your new friend and help them overcome being mistreated or unwanted, you can see the trust building between you. You can experience them opening up again, beginning to explore their new home, and express their personality.
Two of my dogs are rescues, one from a very difficult past, and seeing them ‘come back to life’ again is a feeling like no other. I remember the first time my furbaby realised they were safe and began to play with us and our other dogs. Seeing her heal emotionally and overcome her fear was amazing. It was so joyful and rewarding. I’d recommend the experience to anyone who loves dogs.
2. You Could Be Saving a Life
You could even be saving a dog’s life, depending on which rescue centre they’re in. Every year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats in shelters are killed.
In some shelters, dogs are euthanized because they’re unable to find a home and the shelter doesn’t have the room to keep them. Others are euthanized because they are unwell, and the shelter can’t afford to care for them.
In some cases, if a dog has behavioural issues and displays aggression, the shelter might not have the resources to rehabilitate them, so sadly they’re euthanized. All of these cases are devastating, because with the right care so many of these dogs could have been healthy and happy in the long term.
So, by rehoming a dog, you could literally be saving their life. It doesn’t stop there though: you’re not only saving their life, you’re also potentially saving the life of another dog. Shelters are packed full, and by rehoming a dog you’re giving the shelter space to rescue another animal in need.
3. Unconditional Love
If you’ve been around dogs before, you’ll know that to a dog, their owner is their whole world. Yet with a rescue dog, there’s a whole new level of love, adoration, and appreciation from your new best friend.
Once a rescue dog bonds with you and realises they can trust you, that bond is unbreakable. I know from personal experience that when a dog who has been mistreated puts their trust in you, it’s a feeling of total privilege and joy. So, if you’ve been looking for unconditional love, a rescue dog could be just what you need!
4. Support and Guidance
When you rescue a dog, the rescue centre will give you guidance and support throughout the process. When you first meet your furry friend, you’ll be guided through bonding with them.
When you’re ready to take your dog home, you’ll get help to settle them in. You’ll receive guidance on their likes and dislikes, and what they need from you. This makes the whole process so much easier, especially if you’re a new dog owner.
Many of the dogs that come from rescue centres will have already had training, including being toilet trained, which saves you so much time and reduces stress. Some rescue centres will even keep in touch and give you guidance to continue your dog’s training. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and Dogs Trust even give you behavioural advice for your dog for life! You can email or call their advisors anytime you need help.
5. Finding Your Perfect Match
Rescue centres typically have a wide variety of breeds and ages available. This gives you plenty of choice. The staff will help you to find the right dog to fit in with your home, your lifestyle, and of course, your preferences.
When you’re welcoming a new dog into your home it’s crucial that you can meet their needs. This includes being able to afford to care for them going forward, being able to meet their exercise needs, being able to train them, and even being able to keep up with their grooming requirements. Some dogs are more high-maintenance than others.
It’s important that the dog you choose can give you what you need too. You might want a pal who can walk for miles with you, or you may prefer a dog who prefers to snuggle up on the sofa. You might need a pup who is happy being alone for part of the day. You may have other pets or children and want to ensure the dog will interact with them happily.
There are so many factors to take into consideration and a rescue centre can help. They’ve spent time with the dog and know their requirements, their personality, and their likes and dislikes. They can match you with the right dog, ensuring both the dogs and your needs are met.
6. They’re Fully Health Checked
Dogs rehomed from rescue centres are generally healthier. This is because they get a full health assessment when they arrive at the centre. Any health issues are treated by a vet. They will get regular health checks throughout their stay at the shelter and health issues will be dealt with as soon as possible.
This means that when you adopt a dog, they’re cleared as healthy. If they do have any ongoing health issues you’ll be fully aware of them and know what treatment they’ll need in the future. Rescue dogs will also be fully vaccinated, treated for fleas and worms, and typically will be spayed or neutered.
7. It’s More Affordable
Buying a dog from a breeder can be expensive. Prices have risen in the last year due to a surge in people buying puppies during the COVID19 pandemic. The Dog’s Trust states that prices have risen by between 56% and 89% depending on the breed you’re buying. Prices average anywhere between £1000 to £2000, or more for very sought-after breeds!
Buying a dog online can mean you’re not completely sure what you’re getting. The dogs may not be healthy or checked behaviourally to ensure they’re going to be a good fit for your home. You might end up with costly vet bills or even worse, having to take the dog to a shelter because you can’t look after them (which only contributes to the problem of dogs without homes).
Typically, when you buy a dog, you will also need to pay to get them fully vaccinated and spayed or neutered. Rehoming a dog is much more affordable. Depending on the rescue centre, a rehoming fee (which is usually around £200) is charged. You’ll know the dog is healthy, behaviour checked, and a great match for you!
With some centres, this fee even includes a rehoming pack. For example, with Battersea Dog and Cat Home, their rehoming fee covers a full veterinary and behavioural assessment, microchipping, initial vaccinations, a collar, identification tag, a lead, spaying or neutering, and four weeks’ free Petplan insurance to get you started.
The Dogs Trust offer a similar rehoming package and if you adopt a puppy from them, your fee will include attending a four-week Dog School course. This helps you train your puppy and learn how to look after them properly, to set both you and them up for success.
8. Reducing the Number of Unwanted Dogs
There are so many unwanted dogs all around the world. They’re left abandoned on the streets as strays to fend for themselves or without homes in a shelter. There are 600 million stray dogs across the world. Adopting instead of shopping helps to reduce the number of unwanted dogs.
You’re also setting an example for those around you, showing them how rewarding adopting can be. It might feel like a small act, but the more people who are part of the change we want to see, the more likely we are to end backyard breeding, puppy farming, and dogs without homes.
9. Rescue Dogs Are ‘Good Dogs’
Some people worry that dogs in rescue centres are ‘bad dogs’: they’re concerned that they are aggressive or will cause trouble, and that’s why they don’t have a home. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Most dogs are left in shelters through no fault of their own. Common reasons for giving your dog up at a shelter or abandoning them on the street include:
Owners being unable to afford to care for their animals
Owners becoming unwell, meaning they can’t keep up with their dog’s needs
Owners buying the wrong breed and finding the dog doesn’t ‘fit in’ with their lifestyle
Personal problems, such as loss of a job or a death in the family
Having to move to a place that doesn’t accommodate pets
The dog becoming unwell and the owner being financially unable to pay for their vet bills
In some cases, dogs might have had small behavioural issues that the owner wasn’t able to deal with. Sadly, these issues are typically minor and easily dealt with, but owners are often unprepared to do so. These issues typically include toileting in the house, not walking well on the lead, or barking while their owner isn’t home.
In very rare cases, dogs may be taken to a rescue centre because they have a history of biting. However, even in these cases it’s typically not the dog’s fault and rather a lack of awareness of warning signs by their owner.
Whatever the reason for them being in a rescue centre, the centre will help to treat any health issues and rehabilitate them to deal with any behavioural issues, as we mentioned earlier. They’ll be trained so they’re ready for their new home and you’ll be given ongoing help with training.
No dog will be rehomed from a rescue centre without being ready behaviourally and physically. Rescue centres don’t rehome dogs who are a danger, so you can rest assured that any dog you rehome from a rescue centre is a ‘good dog’.
10. There Are Dogs of All Ages
Some people decide to buy a dog from a breeder because they want a puppy or a young dog, without realising that there are dogs of all ages in rescue centres. Many shelters have puppies waiting to be rehomed. Some are abandoned as puppies while others are born at the shelter after their pregnant mother was given up.
Even if it’s not a puppy you’re after, many dogs at shelters are young, often under two or three years old. However, don’t overlook rehoming an older dog, as it can be very rewarding. As an added bonus, older dogs are typically already toilet trained, know basic commands, and can be easier to take care of than a puppy.
11. There Are All Sorts of Breeds
Just as people worry about the age of dogs in shelters, some think that there are only crossbreeds waiting to be rehomed. In fact, there are a whole variety of breeds in rescue centres, including purebred dogs. An estimated 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t overlook crossbreeds, as they’re often healthier than purebred dogs. This is because they’re less likely to have genetic diseases. They’re even likely to live longer! Plus, they’re also just as cute and provide just as much love as a purebred pooch.
Pitbulls and Staffies (Staffordshire Bull Terriers) are commonly seen in shelters in high numbers. This is because they’ve been discriminated against, with a lot of people seeing them as aggressive or dangerous. If you’ve ever had the privilege of owning or being friends with one of these breeds, you’ll know this is far from the case. They’re actually usually extremely loving, gentle, loyal dogs.
Any breed can be aggressive, and any breed can be trained to act in an aggressive way. It’s not the breed itself, but rather the dog’s owners and the experiences the dog goes through in their life that leads to aggressive behaviour.
As we mentioned earlier, no rescue centre will rehome a dog that isn’t safe or ready for their new home. Pitbulls and Staffies can be an amazing family pet, so I hope you’ll consider them if you’re looking for a new dog.
12. Owning a Dog Has So Many Benefits
Owning a dog has a ton of benefits for both your physical health and your mental health. Having a dog encourages you to get out of the house and get more active. Studies show that dog owners are four times more likely to meet daily exercise guidelines than those without a dog.
Having a dog is a comfort and helps to reduce stress, even in difficult times. Plenty of research shows that stroking your dog lowers blood pressure and heart rate, slows breathing, relaxes muscle tension, and reduces levels of cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’).
Lower levels of stress even reduces the risk of other health issues, with dog owners having a reduced risk of death and improved heart health. Dogs are also great company and make you feel less alone.
If you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ll know that just having them around you makes you happier. They boost your mood and can even be helpful if you struggle with mental illness. These are just a few of the benefits of owning a dog, and a rescue dog can provide with all these benefits!
13. Dogs Are Naturally Pack Animals
Your dog’s ancestors would have lived in packs (meaning a group) to live and hunt together. Many dogs will still enjoy having another dog around in the home, so if you already have one dog, it doesn’t mean you can’t adopt another.
Of course, you have to be prepared for the extra responsibility of another dog and be able to financially provide for them. You should also be fairly confident that your dog will be happy to have a friend. Some dogs will be more likely to enjoy having another dog in the home, while others might find it stressful.
One of the benefits of adopting another dog rather than buying one, is that the rescue centre will be able to advise you about which dogs in their care are comfortable living with other dogs.
They might even let you bring your dog to the rescue centre to meet your potential new family member (although this depends on the shelter). They will likely be able to give ongoing guidance while you’re settling your new dog into the home and helping your dogs to bond.
14. Setting a Good Example
If you have children, adopting a dog rather than buying one can be a great example. It can show them the importance of helping an animal in need and teach them how rewarding it can be. It can teach them all about kindness, compassion, and caring.
Having a dog can have so many benefits for children, including boosting their mood; helping them to build confidence; teaching them responsibility; encouraging exercise; and giving them a furry friend to keep them company.
15. It’s Fun!
Finally, adopting a rescue dog is fun! It’s eventful and exciting. Getting to know your new best friend is enjoyable and heart-warming. Playing with them and watching them have fun is entertaining. Introducing them to your home and seeing them have new experiences is gratifying.
Getting active and going out on walks to show them the world around you is pleasurable for both them and you! Not to mention the pure joy and relaxation of the adorable cuddles as they start to feel comfortable with you.
If you’re lucky enough to be considering welcoming a new dog into your life, a rescue dog could be the best choice for you. You’ll be snuggling up on the sofa (or adventuring outdoors) with your new pal before you know it. Best of all, you can take pride in the fact that you’ve given a dog their forever home and been part of making the world a better place for other dogs too!
Ann-Marie is a freelance writer, with many years of experience studying and working with dogs. She has fostered, rescued, and rehabilitated dogs over the years, having a passion for helping animals who need her. She lives in the UK with her 3 dogs, her husband, and their rabbit. Her passions including her animals, hiking, being outdoors, writing, and colourful hair! She loves going on adventures with her pups and exploring the UK's beautiful countryside.