Is it fair to get a puppy with an old dog?

Do you have a senior dog at home and are wondering about whether it is smart to add a new puppy? You would like to get an addition to your family, but only if your old dog can handle the change (and stress) of adding another dog. Is it even fair to get a puppy with an old dog?

Let’s look at whether you should get a puppy if you already have a senior dog at home, and how to decide based on your lifestyle and your dog’s personality.

Table of Contents

old dog fair puppy

Should I get a puppy with a senior dog?

Before you ever add another dog to your family, you need to be clear about one thing:

You should want to get a puppy, and you should be prepared to care for it. Your senior dog does not need a puppy and he is not responsible for raising the puppy.

If you want to own another dog and you as the owner are going to be training, exercising, playing with and taking care of the puppy – good! But you should not expect the senior dog to enjoy being around the pup, play with the pup or even raise and discipline the puppy for you.

No matter how tolerant and social your older dog is, chances are that he will not be up for being around the puppy 24/7. You will need to have separate spaces for both dogs. The puppy will need time away from your older dog, especially whenever he is “crazy”. If he has the zoomies, is biting or trying to wrestle, he needs to be away from your senior dog.

Does my old dog like puppies/other dogs?

An important question to consider is whether your old dog generally likes other dogs. If you already know that he prefers to stay far away from any other dog or has even shown reactive behavior in the past, getting a puppy will be difficult. You should be prepared to have the two spend a lot of time apart from each other, perhaps even the majority of every day.

The less tolerant your old dog has been of other dogs in the past, the less tolerant you should expect him to be with a new puppy. 

On the other hand, if your dog is very social (perhaps he is a friendly breed like a Golden Retriever or a Doodle) he will likely adapt easier to having a puppy around.

Is my old dog in good physical shape?

Unfortunately, aging dogs are prone to developing a number of different conditions (from kidney disease over joint problems to dental issues and even cancer). Before adding a puppy, absolutely make sure that your old dog is in good health and scores high in the quality of life test. You do not want to have to deal with raising a puppy and taking care of a sick dog at the same time.

Put your old dog on a high-quality supplement and have him at a healthy weight. Make sure that he has a safe and secure yard and cannot run away.

Get him a ramp so he can safely walk up into the car or onto his favorite spot on your couch!

Do you have time to take care of a senior dog and a puppy?

A big question to ask yourself is whether you have time to adequately care for a senior dog and a puppy at the same time. They will require very different types of training, exercise and enrichment. Don’t expect that you can fulfill both dogs’ needs at the same time – you cannot!

While an old dog might want to take a slow 20 minute sniff walk through the neighborhood, your puppy will want to wrestle, run and play! It is not fair to force the puppy to adapt to the senior dog’s lifestyle or vice versa.

You should essentially plan to exercise and train both dogs separately. In the beginning, it will take at least three hours a day to get both dogs’ needs met. If you come home from work after a 12 hour day and only want to relax in front of the TV, do not add a puppy to your senior dog. You won’t be able to take sufficient care of both of them. That’s unfair to both your old dog and the puppy!

Smart setups

The younger the puppy is, the more you should plan to separate both dogs. Once more: It is not fair to assume it is your older dog’s job to discipline and raise the puppy. He doesn’t want a puppy. To him, a puppy is like someone else’s toddler to you. Might be fun to play with for an hour, but not all day, every day!

You should plan to have a puppy-proof area in your house, such as an exercise pen or a space that is restricted by baby gates. Whenever you cannot actively supervise and manage your dogs’ interactions, the puppy needs to be in that enclosure. Do not trust that your old dog will simply walk away from the puppy. This is not fair, and he might also not be physically able to (for example if he would need to walk up a staircase that’s challenging in his old age).

You should never allow a puppy to pester an older dog. If you let this happen, the older dog will learn that he cannot count on you to intervene, and he might take matters into his own paws and escalate the situation. This won’t be good for the puppy and their relationship at all!

Some old dogs also are too tired to defend themselves against a puppy’s antics. In that case, they usually simply shut down and give up. Their last years of life will consist of being annoyed by a younger dog – that’s not fair and should not happen.

puppy in playpen

How long does it take for an older dog to accept a new puppy?

This depends on your setup, your older dog’s disposition and also your puppy.

In general, the crazier your puppy is, the longer it will take the older dog to accept him. If you have an old dog, you should strive to add a calm and laid-back puppy. Choose a breed that is known for its gentle disposition, such as:

  • Shih Tzus
  • Saint Bernards
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

You should ideally not pick a high-energy breed such as:

The better your two dogs’ energies match, the faster they will get along.


In addition, you can help them develop a great bond by being proactive when it comes to management.

Do not allow the puppy to pester the old dog. Be vigilant and supervise them at all times. Make sure that the old dog has plenty of puppy-free time to rest and relax.

You should also not forget to spend one-on-one time with your old dog once you get a new puppy. It is not fair to the older dog to suddenly not have any special time with you anymore. He and you should still keep your routines.

In general, most puppies are tolerated well by older dogs from 8-12 weeks of age. During this time they still sleep a lot and are not as crazy. Once they are about 3-4 months old, they usually get very energetic and rambunctious. You should expect that your older dog will not enjoy the puppy a lot from the age of 4 to 16 months. Around the 18 month mark many puppies slow down considerably and mature. Then your older dog will likely get along with the puppy much better.

How to make it fair for the old dog and the puppy

In order to set yourself up for success, you should:

  • Not get a puppy if you know that your older dog is reactive or aggressive towards other dogs
  • Have sufficient time to provide separate exercise and training for both dogs
  • Make time to take your old dog on one-on-one outings with you – without the puppy
  • Pick a puppy whose energy level ideally matches the one of the older dog (low energy breeds will be better than high-energy breeds)
  • Separate and supervise – never allow the puppy to pester the older dog
  • Create safe spaces where your old dog can relax and rest without the puppy around


Essentially, you should be prepared to have both dogs live fairly separate lives. Should they like each other and enjoy each other’s company – even better! But you cannot trust that this will happen.

If you can guarantee that both will get sufficient exercise, training, enrichment, socialization and time with you, then get the puppy. However, if you count on the chance that your older dog will raise the puppy for you, don’t get one. It will not be fair to him or the pup.