Buying A ‘Started’ Dog

Buying a puppy can be a fun and exciting time for any hunter. Puppies are always very cute and tend to always sell themselves. Puppies, however, do require a great deal of time and energy to train. In today’s busy world, a lot of people do not have the time to dedicate to it. This is when buying a “started” or fully-trained dog may be an option for that person.

Jason Dommeyer

Purchasing older dogs, however, can also be more difficult than buying a pup.

When buying an older dog, people often have an exact idea of what the dog should look like or certain skills the dog should possess. Expectations are often too high, and many people do not want to pay for a lot of these things. In searching for this type of dog, it is important to have an open mind when talking to previous owners. Whether it is a private party or a trainer, there are certain things to keep in mind throughout the process. 

Disadvantages Of A Started Dog
Let’s start with the disadvantages to buying a started or finished dog. There is an important bonding period that takes place between dogs and owners, and that happens between 2 months and 8 months of age, and that time obviously will be missed. This is a time that can help build a trusting relationship of both love and affection along with an element of respect. Since it will be missed, it is important for an owner buying an older dog to try and spend extra time with their new dog when first getting it home. 

The second downfall I feel is there may be a sense of gratitude/satisfaction that may be lost when purchasing an older dog. It takes a great deal of work to train a young puppy, and after that dog reaches 6- to 8 months in age, it is always fun to see how all your effort have paid off. Keep this in mind when buying an older dog and be prepared to pay for someone else’s time and hard work!

Advantages Of A Started Dog
Now let’s talk about some advantages of getting an older dog. First of all, you will have a pretty good idea about the future size and looks of the dog. Most started or finished dogs will range between 6- to 24 months in age and will almost be full grown. Younger dogs will, of course, fill out a little more, but for the most part the dog’s height and weight (give or take a few pounds) will remain the same. 

The dog’s overall build will be pretty apparent at this stage also. If you like a blocky dog, you should be able to tell if the dog will have that type of body frame. However, if you want a more lanky dog (maybe you do more upland hunting), make sure this "teen age" dog has that more athletic build. 

Desire and overall attitude are genetic traits that can not be trained. Older dogs will tell you in a short period of time what kind of "get up and go" he or she possesses. Depending on what you are looking for, this may be one of the most important things that buying an older dog may give you. Consider the type of hunting you do, the family environment that you intend on providing for the dog, and what kind of handler you feel that you are, when it comes to the amount of drive you want in your new dog.

Save With An Older Dog
The plus to buying a dog a little older is cost. Now many of you reading this may wonder how I can say buying a dog for $1,000- to $4,000 will actually save you money, but believe me when I say this! When you start itemizing all the cost and expenses that go into the first two years of a dog’s life you will quickly realize that anyone selling a trained, older dog is losing money! 

With all this being said, hopefully a potential dog buyer now understands more about the process that goes into buying an older dog. Remember one thing, this is a 10- to 12-year investment, and is not only going to be your hunting companion, but in most cases, part of your family. Do some homework and spend as much as you can afford into this investment.

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Jason Dommeyer has a lifetime of hunting experience and 15 years experience as a dog trainer. He has turned many pets into expert hunting dogs at Cannon River Kennels ( In addition to training hundreds of hunting companions, he has trained dogs for premier pheasant hunting lodges in South Dakota along with duck hunting lodges in Mississippi and Mexico. His experience also includes both hunting and guiding for upland and waterfowl game from Canada to South America. For more information on training your dog with Cannon River Kennels, call 507-663-6143 or visit ( He provides dog training tips twice a month.

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