56 questions to ask when adopting a dog

Shelter dogs often come with a troubled history or special care information that you’ll need to know about, so it is vitally important that you are prepared and informed by knowing the questions to ask when adopting a dog.

There are so many great reasons to adopt a shelter or rescue dog, but you definitely need to ensure that they are a good match for your home and lifestyle before making a commitment.

Most rescues enjoy talking about their dogs and will be happy to answer your questions.

Pet adoption websites such as adoptapet or petfinder will often have detailed information about each of the animals listed and you can contact the 3rd party who has placed the listing to ask for further information.

Suggested reading: Adopting Vs buying a dogBest pet adoption websites, Ways to identify a reputable dog rescue shelter

To put your mind at ease and help with this process here are 56 important questions to ask when adopting a dog below.

Table of Contents

Questions To Ask Yourself

Before you find out as much as possible about a specific dog, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is everyone keen to adopt a dog in your household? Will they help out?
  • Do any members of your household have any allergies that may be affected by dog hair etc?
  • Can you afford it?
  • How will your lifestyle (work & social obligations) affect your ability to care for a dog?
  • What breed is the best fit for your current lifestyle?
  • What age of dog is the best fit for your current lifestyle?
  • Can you train and care for a dog with behavioral issues?
  • Do you need a dog that is reliable with children and will get on with other dogs and animals?
  • Do you need a dog that will travel well?
  • What size of dog can your home accommodate?


  • How long have they been in the rescue or shelter?
  • How did they end up in the rescue or shelter?
  • Have they been neglected or abused?
  • Have they spent any time living on the streets?
  • Have they been previously adopted and returned? If yes, why?
  • What breed are they?
  • What is their approximate age?


  • How much exercise do they need?
  • What are their energy levels like?
  • What are their favorite activities?


  • Have they been checked over by a vet?
  • Do they have any health conditions? Allergies? Skin Conditions? Joint Issues?
  • Have they been spayed/neutered?
  • Are they up to date on all vaccinations?
  • Do they have a microchip?

Behavior & Temperament 

  • Is there any history of biting?
  • How do they get along with other animals?
  • Are they known for inappropriate chewing?
  • Do they have any resource-guarding issues with food, toys, etc?
  • Are they dependent or independent?
  • What are they scared of?
  • Do they bark excessively at night or when left alone?
  • How do they get along with children?
  • How are they with strangers?
  • Is there any history of aggression?
  • Do they travel well?
  • How do they react to being left alone?


  • Are they house-trained?
  • Do they have any signals to go outside?
  • Have they been on any specific potty schedule?
  • Do they know any basic commands (sit, lay, stay, come)?
  • Do they come back when called?
  • Do they know their name and react to it?
  • How are they on/off a leash?
  • Are they crate-trained?
  • What motivates them, food, toys, play, etc?


  • What are they currently eating?
  • How big will they get?
  • What are their grooming requirements?
  • How are they with grooming? Baths, nail clipping, etc? 

Does the shelter or rescue offer or can they recommend…

  • Training classes?
  • A food bank?
  • Grooming?
  • Emergency or routine vet care?
  • Boarding?

Can I return the dog?

Asking if you can return a dog is a very important question to ask. There are a number of reasons dogs are returned after adoption, no matter how hard you try to make things work. Any reputable shelter or rescue should encourage adopters to return their dogs if necessary. 

Suggested reading: First 24 hours with rescue dog

Have we missed any questions to ask when adopting a dog?

Are there any important questions to ask before adopting a dog you think should be added?

We would love to hear from you, feel free to comment below.

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