Discrimination of the elderly - Restricting Seniors to Older Pets

I wonder - is it fair and reasonable to disallow elderly people to adopt younger dogs, only restricting them to older pets. I feel that their policies restricting ‘seniors for seniors’ only is ageist and discriminatory. I know that there are much more important issues in the world than pet ownership but when you are old, lonely and have limited social contacts, a pet can provide wonderful companionship and enormous mental health benefits. My elderly mother is in this position, in excellent health and we certainly do not expect to lose her anytime soon!!!


It depends on the dog and on the owner. The reasons senior dogs are suggested for old people include:

  • Less training needs
  • Lower exercise requirements
  • Less likely to become problem animals due to neglecting the above areas
  • Already personality tested for an elderly owner
  • Less long term expenses
  • Less likely to outlive the owner and becoming an unwanted burden to their family
  • Not as long term commitment. If the owner has to be moved into a nursing home in 5 years what happens to the dog?

If none of the above is an issue for the senior in question, then I don’t see why not. A lot can change in the lifetime of an animal though, keeping in mind some dogs live past 20!


I think the more concerning area of discrimination for the elderly is simply through companies and even government agencies disregarding the technological capabilities of many older clients. This was discussed a bit in this thread.


Is it discrimination to make any decision based on a persons age?

Whether it is providing a service, selling goods or ownership of a dog it would appear all the same. We all make good and some poor decisions in life. Older Australians are more likely to be able to make good decisions given all the not so good ones they may have made or witnessed in their lifetime.

As an older person do you worry about what will happen to your pet if you pass before it. Or do you fret in your own misery as you struggle watching it sufffer in old age only to miss it more, once the Vet has removed the pain, and feeling you might be next?

It seems a difficult question for anyone other than the individual pet owner to answer.

Many dogs and generally other pets suffer far worse lives at the hands of younger individuals who only have part time commitments to their pets.

Are we asking the right question?
The capacity of any one to look after a pet properly should have nothing to do with age.

There are a few legal exceptions with age or similar requirements. You need to be a certain minimum age as required by law for a few things in life. You need to be mentally capable legally for some too!

The best dog for us is any that is too large to be a python snack and too smart to go near Mr Black, and too lazy to chase the brush turkeys. Would help if it can clean up after itself too. Nothing about age in that?


I am assuming the organisations declining young animals for seniors are the Re-homing / Council Pound / Pet Recyclers. I have not heard of Pet Shops or Breeders refusing Seniors.

I am wondering if their statistics reflect Seniors as more likely to surrender pets (or be confiscated) with years of life remaining? Otherwise it is a form of discrimination.

I am more familiar with people having to give up their pets because they are moving to a house that does not allow them (renters) or the pet no longer suits their family (new baby) or it has become a problem they can’t (or won’t) solve - constant barking, escaping, destruction - mostly due to boredom with everyone away during the day.
I have taken on “older dogs” and it can be a problem. The vet bills are usually higher later in life. Two didn’t realise the Master had died and one spent 18 months attempting to escape and return home - finally giving up and dying a year later. I ended up with Dad’s retired working dogs - he thinking they would end their days lying on the lounge by the fire, reality was these dogs suffered anguish at being inside when they had been ordered out all their lives, they lacked work, they missed him, scrapped with the others, hassled the chooks, rounded up anything on legs, and I wasn’t getting the relationship I wanted. They usually died early - just gave up. I did love them, but they were working dogs, not pets.

I no longer have a dog - but when I did, my Will considered them and their future (including maintenance). They came with a good donation and all equipment.


I have not heard of Pet Shops or Breeders refusing Seniors.

Pet shops largely wont as they usually exist for profit first.

I work with a Husky breeder and she vets all her clients before agreeing to sell, as many people don’t understand how high maintenance they are. She does competitive sled dogging to keep hers suitably occupied. Some of her adult dogs she sells as sporting dogs only as they simply cannot be kept as backyard pets.

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