Buying a puppy for Christmas is a contentious topic. Some people would say it’s always a bad decision while others love the idea of a big, serious surprise for the holiday. It’s a nuanced issue and that means it isn’t a good idea for everyone. However, if you take the time to think over some crucial questions, the answer will become clear.
What to Consider if You’re Thinking of Buying a Puppy for Christmas
Before you pop over to the pet shop or local animal rescue to pick a dog, think deeply about this gift. Here are some things to consider:
Don’t Act on Impulse
The reason so many people caution against buying a puppy for Christmas is that it’s an impulsive act that results in poor person to puppy matches. Dogs are cute and furry, but they come with lots of responsibility.
If you want to give a dog as a gift, there need to be months of planning before you put your money down. Why? Because the result is giving someone a living animal that might result in the animal being returned or given away. No one wants that.
A good idea is to have multiple subtle conversations with the person you want to give a dog to. Talk to them about their needs, their concerns, and the realities of dog ownership. If anything sounds off, you might want to consider another gift.
Does the Person Getting the Dog Actually Want One?
Not everyone is a dog person. There are also people that talk about getting a dog but never actually plan to do it. If you are buying a puppy for someone this Christmas, it’s important to think pragmatically.
Once you do the “good deed” of giving the dog as a gift, the recipient is stuck with a 10 to 15 (or more!) year commitment. Along with the time commitment comes all the other commitments: financial, emotional, etc. Being a dog-parent is meaningful, and it’s not fair to spring that onto someone who isn’t absolutely ready to receive it.
Can the Person Afford to Care for a Dog?
We already covered commitments, but this one is exceptionally important. Dogs come with substantial financial responsibilities. From the food they eat to their preventative vet care — it all costs money. Is the recipient of the puppy ready for this? Do they have a steady job?
If the person you’re giving a dog to is a child, are their parents willing to take on that burden? The best way to assess this is to simply ask. During this conversation, you may find that the person is indeed not ready for a puppy, and that will save some heartache later.
Vet the Breeder Thoroughly
Planning to purchase a dog from a breeder? Some dog breeders are upstanding with a positive reputation. Others, however, are ready and willing to offload a pricey dog with medical issues while the demand is high. Be sure to take your time and vet breeders months in advance of the holiday season.
Buying through a breeder often involves making a deposit on litters that are not yet born or just born. Then, it will be weeks or months before the dog is ready to go to their forever home. The risk is waiting until the last minute and settling for a questionable breeder. So, plan in advance!
If Rescuing, Learn the Dog’s Story
Rescuing a dog is a wonderful way to go. You help your community and a dog in need all at once. However, rescued dogs can come with some special needs while others are completely healthy.
Either way, you want to learn as much as you can about a rescued dog to understand how they will act in a new home. A deep dive into their history will make them easier to train and live with.
Alternatives to Buying a Puppy for Christmas
While surprising someone with a puppy is a huge special gesture, they are not the only ways to incorporate animals into your gift. Here are a couple of ideas:
Take the Person Out to Pick Their Own Pet (and You Pay for It)
Instead of a surprise, how about a planned gift? Talk to the gift recipient and ask them directly if they want you to buy them a dog. If they agree, you can make the entire day special!
Go out for breakfast, travel to the breeder or animal shelter, and take their new dog to the pet store to stock up on the necessities. Feeling extra generous? Help them buy the supplies too.
This is an outstanding way to ensure the person you’re gifting a puppy to is happy with their gift. They get to be a part of the decision-making process and it will lead to better outcomes for them and their new pet.
Buy Pet Supplies for a Pet They Already Have
Do they already have a pet? Why not head to the pet supply shop and go on a shopping spree? Buying toys, treats, food, and a new collar or bed is a helpful gesture.
Your friend or family member will appreciate the time you take out of your day to spend with them, and it goes to help their pet.
For someone struggling with their finances, this is a thoughtful gift, as well. Buying extra dog food will remove some financial burden in the short term.
The Bottom Line
Here’s a summary of what you should be asking yourself before you buy a puppy for a loved one:
- Was this an impulsive choice?
- Does the person want a dog?
- Can they afford a dog?
- Is the breeder reputable?
- Did you receive a history report for a rescued dog before purchasing it?
These questions are few, but they are complex. The biggest takeaway is that puppies aren’t the right choice as a gift for most people. They certainly shouldn’t be an impulsive gift. Take your time thinking about buying a puppy this Christmas with these questions to guide you.