Dog paw on cage in shelter.
The idea that an adult dog is somehow "damaged goods" as an adoption prospect is strangely pervasive, especially among people for whom an older dog would be perfect — novices with neither the time nor the experience to raise a puppy properly.

Mature dogs of 5 years and older are especially recommended, since many dogs have an extended adolescence that can be avoided by choosing a dog who's often overlooked in the shelter. Many older dogs have years of loving left, and they deserve a chance.

The older dog can slide easily into your life and will bond just as surely as the dog you took home as a puppy. And older dogs are everywhere, available from private homes, rescue groups and shelters.

If you're interested in a purebred, a rescue group specializing in your breed can be the deal of the century — these volunteer organizations typically offer their dogs for the cost of the shots and neutering that they've already taken care of.

While the older dog can be a marvelous find, you still have to be selective. While expecting to work on some things as your new dog gets used to you is reasonable, you want to avoid those animals who have too many problems, especially if one of them is aggression. Working with shelters or rescue groups that evaluate their dogs and provide them with basic training is highly recommended, as is signing up your new dog for a training class to help work through the rough patches.