Adopting Dogs As Survival Animals

Though a pet is a huge responsibility, the advantages of having one around when you or your family or property need protection are many. If you’re looking for a fighting partner who would gladly lay down his life for you or a companion to keep you company when you’re scared, tired and down, then a dog is a great bet. We’d like to talk about the benefits of adopting a dog versus buying one for your survival pet.


Dogs can serve many purposes in a survival situation, depending upon the size and breed. One problem with buying a dog from a breeder (without going into the puppy mill conversation!) is that if you buy from a breeder or a pet store, you’re going to pay through the nose. Some dogs cost upwards of $2000 and even an “inexpensive” one is going to cost you $400 or more.

Nowadays, the breeds have become so mixed that even what used to be considered mutts are now sold as “hybrid” specialty dogs; Peek-a-Poos, Australian labradoodles, and the originator of the idea, the Goldendoodle. These dogs are just as pricey, if not more expensive, than purebred animals. However, you can adopt a dog from a local shelter for less than $100. Sometimes they even have free events. That’s quite a savings!

Another savings for you is that shelter dogs are almost always already spayed or neutered and they have their immunizations. All of that is covered in the adoption fee for a fraction of the price that it would cost you to have it done at a vet.

Choose Your Breed

One of the best things about adopting a shelter dog is that you can go to the shelter and choose from a wide array of animals. Small dogs, big dogs, medium dogs, all in one place. Animal shelters are one-stop pet shopping and you can spend some time with each animal to see if you like his personality. Shelter workers tend to be a bit more honest about their observations than pet store folks, too.

We’ve adopted several dogs from different shelters and the one thing that shelters all have in common is an overabundance of large and medium-sized dogs. Everybody wants the cute little lap dogs so they go fast but the big ones often don’t make it out alive because they cost more to feed, are too big for an apartment, or are intimidating to first-time dog owners. If you’re looking for a dog for protection or work, this benefit definitely works in your favor!

Shelter Dogs are Often House Broken Already

Without a doubt, one of the most frustrating issues with buying a puppy is house training it. You have to be there regularly and take it out often. Shelter dogs often end up there because their owners surrendered them for one reason or another and are already housebroken. You get all of the benefits with none of the mess.

You can Get an Adult Dog from a Shelter

Full-grown German Shepherds are terrifying when they have their teeth bared while growling at you, but shepherd puppies aren’t quite so intimidating. If you want a dog that can protect you and yours now then you want an adult dog, not one that will eventually grow into his role.

Shelter dogs tend to be full-grown, though there are sometimes puppies available if that’s what you really want. For our purposes, though, it’s good that we have so many dogs to choose from that can at least warn us of intruders on their first night home.

Dogs are Loyal, Regardless of Age

Many people want to get a puppy so that the dog can grow up with the family. They believe that this makes the dog more loyal to them. As a person who has adopted many dogs over the years, let me dispel that myth right now. My shelter dogs are as loyal as they come and they were that way from almost the very beginning.

Dogs are smart; they know who loves them and feeds them and it doesn’t usually take them long to build a bond with you and your family.

Video first seen on Southern Prepper 1

Words of Caution When Adopting

Shelter dogs come from different backgrounds. Some were strays that were picked up by animal control, some were surrendered by their owners due to relocation, financial hardship or changes in circumstance and some were confiscated from people due to neglect or abuse.

You may be fortunate enough to learn why the dog was there but regardless of the reason, he may have some issues that you should be aware of. Remember that even if he was in a loving home, he was abandoned and put in doggy prison. Shelters are loud and smell differently; also, the dog is probably mourning the loss of his family and familiar surroundings.

These factors may combine to create some unwanted behaviors that aren’t representative of the dog’s true personality, at least for the first few days. He may be guarded, standoffish or timid. Because he’s been locked in a cage and was unable to be walked, he may have an accident or two. He may cry.

Give him a few days to calm down and settle in. Walk him regularly, be patient and show him some love. Chances are good that he’ll adapt fairly quickly; dogs are tested pretty thoroughly for good personalities before the shelter will allow them to be adopted out so aggression most likely won’t be an issue. Still, be cautious at first when you reach for him and when you feed him because everything is still new and scary.

Especially if the dog has been abused, he’ll come to appreciate the love and attention that he’s getting and you’ll likely have the most loyal friend that you could ask for within just a few weeks. Then you can begin training him to do whatever it is that he’s suited for; guarding the house, babysitting, carrying a pack or pulling a sled are all options depending upon your dog.

The bottom line is that shelter dogs are suited to make great survival dogs in a SHTF scenario. You can choose the type you want and you can choose the age and training level. Basically, you get to hand-pick the perfect dog for you with plenty of choices if you go to a shelter, plus you’ll be saving a life (and maybe more when he defends your home and your family when SHTF!). Finally, it won’t cost a fortune to gain a tremendous asset to your survival efforts. Adopting a shelter dog for survival is a win for both of you!

Have you adopted shelter dogs for survival? If so, please tell us about your experience in the comments section below.


This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia


Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.

Latest comments
  • Spoken like someone who either read the local shelter brochure or who volunteers a foster home or time at a shelter. Just barely glanced off the many problems with adopting a shelter dog, not the least being most shelter workers know virtually nothing about dogs.

  • Great article, and while I agree that there can be problems with shelter dogs there can also be problems with dogs from kennels. We have raised several dogs over the past thirty years and all but one of our dogs were shelter and rescue dogs. Our most recent had been terribly abused. She had been tied to a tree by a rope till it became imbedded in her neck and had been starved. The dog managed to chew her way free. She went through several surgeries to save her life. She is a German Shepherd and in spite of the horrible treatment she had suffered she is the most loving and protective dog you could ask for! The shelter workers were helpful, kind and knew their jobs well

  • we have 4 dogs, all strays when we found them. 2 big/med. sized and 2 small. not sure about fighting but they sure let us know when somebody comes around. we use them as living burglar alarms.

  • I would say go with a better quality dog food (from the video) – you feed less, so less storage room. Victor has high quality (Texas sourced, so you don’t have to worry about contamination like foreign made items) 50 lb. bags that I pick up at my feed store for a little over $30/bag.

  • I adopted a Catahoula Cur…probably the best dog I’ve had… only thing is she is a bit timid, but she makes ALOT of noise. Hopefully that will warn others that intruders are not welcome. Only 1 other dog that I adopted that was excellent guard dog German Shepard/Yellow Lab mix. She was a scary looking dog if you didn’t know her. Big bark, nasty growl, and big dog!