Should You Get a Puppy for Christmas?

Do you know my parents?
Do you know my parents? | Source

Puppy for Christmas?

Undoubtedly, there is nothing quite as cute as the idea of a little puppy as a gift for someone you love for Christmas. Especially a furry little ball of love that tugs at your heartstrings. Your spontaneous, creative side convinces you that a puppy will make the best Christmas gift for your loved one - the perfect companion for them.

Wait a minute! This little puppy is going to be one huge serious responsibility from the moment you place him or her (not really an 'it') in their soft basket by the stove - until the day they leave this world, about ten years from this Christmas. My article hopes to outline what getting this puppy will actually mean to you, to the puppy, to the person you love (and to society) in order to help you decide (with this rational side of your brain) if you should get a puppy for Christmas.

Please, consider the following really carefully:

  • A puppy is fundamentally, an individual (a friend)
  • Is dependent on you
  • Will be faithful for life, unconditionally
  • The owner is always responsible for the puppy/dog
  • The owner will have an intense relationship with this pet

If you can see through to accepting all these responsibilities, as you would in any loving relationship, actually if you can see that the person you are getting the puppy for accepting all these responsibilities and developing that loving relationship - then, well, you could consider getting them a puppy, even for Christmas.

What Does Owning a Pet Mean?

When and if a person gets their loyal friend puppy they are obliged to enter into a loving relationship with that puppy. It is no one-sided flippant deal, so it's imperative to get it as right as can be. There are lots of questions to be asked and answered with certainty before you think further about getting that little darling:

  • Can my loved-one really enter into this relationship?

Are they realistically able to? Are they old enough? Have they got the time? Have they got the mobility? Can they walk the dog safely and alone in the street or in the park? Can they afford a pet? Do you think they really want a pet? Do you imagine that they'll go walking the dog daily, take them to the vet every year, keep them clean?

Will their lives improve with a pet puppy?

  • Will they want this relationship after Christmas?

You wouldn't give the gift of a sweetheart, or a sibling to another person for Christmas would you, (even if you could)? So why would you make a gift of a puppy - which asks the same of a relationship?

Did You Know?

Bewtween 5 million and 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters in the USA every year.

60% of those dogs are euthanized.

About 20% of people who leave dogs in a shelters, adopted them from a shelter.

In the UK about 105,000 stray dogs are abandoned every year with about 300 being picked up every day by the 'pounds' (animal shelters)

My Mother and her Dog at the Beach

My mother and Aggie at the beach
My mother and Aggie at the beach | Source

Why Give a Puppy Dog for Christmas?

It doesn't make particular sense to give a puppy to anyone for Christmas because this little friend is for life and can be given anytime you find the right one. But once you know that someone you love wants a puppy dog, or would be happier because of owning a little puppy dog, then Christmas can be as good a time as ever, if you know A FEW important things about this new relationship:

  • You know the future owner so well that you know which puppy dog is just the right one for them.
  • You know that they wanted a puppy.

So you consider these factors next:

  • height and weight - (how easy or difficult to handle)
  • how much they'll eat - (how much money to spend on food and maintenance)
  • maybe a small pet (puppy) is better than a big one - (because our loved-one wants to hold them a lot)
  • or a puppy that your loved one can hold in their arms all the time, or not at all
  • that's going to be good for them because it's an active dog (walking would be good for the owner too)

My brother gave my mother a little Westie (West Highland White Terrier) when she was about 80. They knew she would make her very happy and this little puppy has become my mother's shadow and constant companion. They adore each other and are good for each other (See the photo at the beach!) This was the best and most considerate gift they could have given to our mother.

Alternatively, you could tell your loved-one that you want to get them a puppy for Christmas and ask them to look for the one they really want - and you can get it for them any time in the year.

This is really all about love. Yours is love - for your loved-one. Theirs is going to be about love - for their new puppy (and dog, for life), and of course, we all know who the puppy is going to love, forever more! So there's no rush to get it done for Christmas is there?

What if I can't Take Care of the Puppy?

If any of the above questions or considerations raise doubts, then the very best action is no action at all. Please look at the facts in the box on your right, above.

Surely there are many other super thoughtful gifts that you could give for Christmas, that will show your love, (down payment on a car, new clothes, a holiday, a dinner in a nice restaurant, musical instrumant), so best turn the page on a puppy for Christmas. Some new, potentially less harmful idea for a gift will surely come your way. No damage will be done.

Slip it under the Christmas tree.

If some other time of the year, when the Christmas stress of decision making is off, and that idea to have a puppy seems like a really good idea after all, you could go to your closest animal shelter together and chose the perfect puppy. You could always decide this is your puppy for Christmas, then!

© 2012 Penelope Hart

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Comments 33 comments

Robin profile image

Robin 4 years ago from San Francisco

We have been talking about puppies a lot in our household as our German Shepherd is getting older. I think you make a lot of great points. Having a dog is an enormous responsibility and commitment - a puppy even more! We are looking into getting a seeing eye dog drop out as they will have already gone through the puppy stages and be somewhat trained. Thanks for the information!


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

It is such a huge commitment but oh so worth it. We have had two dogs and loved them till the very end. The second was my eldest son's dog and when Lello got so old that he couldn't see any more and his hearing was a little odd, and he was incontinent, my son (who was at work all day) found him the most wonderful dog hotel to stay at in the country, paid for it with his hard earned earnings (going almost broke but didn't care about that!) and visited him every evening. His dog recognized him coming and smothered him with licks until his very last breath, which they were lucky enough to share. Great dog. I wish you all the very best with your seeing eye friend - and lots of love of course. Thanks for sharing.


ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 4 years ago from United States

What an excellent hub! I agree: taking on a dog is a huge commitment and responsibility. It breaks my heart to think of all the dogs abandoned on the streets or in the shelters... Giving a dog as a Christmas gift should be a really thought out, well planned event that will benefit both dog and owner.


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales

Our puppy is arriving on the 11th Oct! He is a trainee guide dog (seeing eye) pup. We will have him until he is 14 months old, when he'll graduate to 'big school'. We think this is an ideal way for our family to have the doggy experience without the 15 year commitment. We can then choose whether to have another or not. He's a goldie x lab, black, and is called Obie. He'll be 7 wks old. Ah...

On the subject of giving a pup as a gift... well, I'm not so sure. My mother did it for my stepfather and, to be very honest, it was not a good decision. They love the dog to bits but were unable to train him properly and he has caused a lot of problems - none of them his fault, of course. You are right, it is a huge decision and should be thought through very carefully - and also discussed with the recipient (if they are to be the one looking after pup) beforehand.


mikkis profile image

mikkis 4 years ago from Oklahoma

Great hub and reminder about the commitment and responsibility of owning a dog. The statistics for how many dogs are abandoned or sold because the owners were not ready or prepared are saddening.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

ThePracticalMommy. It's so easy to think what a cute idea isn't it, but really, as we agree, it needs a lot of thought.

the raggededge. Lots of love with Obie!!! How will you part with him? Please get back on this!

mikki. dog stats everywhere are horrendous. thanks for your comment here.


wilderness profile image

wilderness 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Have to go with others here, giving a puppy as a gift needs very careful thought. If it's for your child it will likely end up as "yours" and not the childs, if it's for another adult in a different household YOU are making a long term commitment for THEM. Something to be approached very carefully.

At the least, it should be discussed with the recipient and they should be made a big part of the choosing process.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

wilderness Yes, often a puppy as a gift for a child becomes one more serious job for mom or dad to do - for years!

And deciding for someone else isn't really fair either. Getting a puppy really needs a lot of thought - and responsibility.

Thanks so much for your comments.


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales

We know that it will be hard to say goodbye but we know that we are just babysitting. We hope that he will go on to bigger and better things and that we can be proud we had a hand (or a paw) in that. We've spoken to other puppy walkers and they say that the first one is hard but then the next one arrives and the job begins again. They keep us informed of our pups' progress and we get to see them again if we want to.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

We gave my mom a dog once. She wasn't happy. This is a very instructive and thought provoking hub.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

Great hub. We got a puppy on a whim once from a shelter and it was a disaster and I still regret it today. We do have a dog now, but only after a lot of research and getting to know him. Love the picture of Aggie and your mom at the beach!


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

ragged, hi again. So full of admiration for what you are doing with Obie and really happy that if you let him go you will be able to keep in touch with him. He'd love that as much as you wouldn't he?

tirelesstraveler. So good of you to come in and share your unhappy experience with everyone. Thank you.

Glimmer Twin Fan. You aren't the only one to get a puppy on a whim, so easy to do, so hard to get right. How nice that you have a nice dog now. Hope you'll be as happy as mom and Aggie!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

You've made excellent points here GoodLady...buying a puppy for someone else, any time of year, is something that needs a lot of thought. You mentioned the life-long comittment, the size issue...after all you wouldn't want a St. Bernard in an apartment...and so on. Well done.

Voted up and useful.


jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 4 years ago from Scotland

There was an advertising campaign in the UK a few years ago aimed at people who gifted dogs at Christmas time because more puppies were abandoned by owners in January than any other time of year.

The Slogan was"A dog is for life, not just for Christmas".....jimmy


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

tillsontitan. You'd want a Westie in an apartment like my mothers, perhaps, but yes, lots of thought has to go into getting a puppy, and then more thought again.

jimmythejock. UK is the best for social awareness and campaigns; there have been quite a few important ones through the years and "A dog for life, not just for Christmas" is just one of those. Thanks so much for reminding us of that slogan. It hits the spot.


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas

GoodLady, I agree with many of the other comments. You have made many wonderful points. My first puppy was in fact a Christmas puppy. I did have the honor of picking her out. She was an awkward looking dog and it made her doubly adorable. Imagine a Scottish Terrier and Dachshund mix. She was as black as black could be. We were five siblings when we brought Mitzi home and we all had to promise to care for her. The only problem? We all fought over her. We had her for 13 years and she still manages to pop into conversations when we reminisce.

Thanks for sharing all your wonderful points. Pets should be brought into a family for life and they deserve great care. Our Mitzi was definitely a part of the family.

Great slogan that Jimmy shared "A dog for life, not just for Christmas"


chrissieklinger profile image

chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

When my husband and I were in our first home together we got a chocolate lab puppy just after Christmas one year as my Christmas/Birthday present. It helped us prepare for having kids shortly after. My little puppy has given us lots of memories and just turned 14 years old. Our kids have grown up with him and are now 12 and 9, a big part of our family will be missing when he eventually does pass away!


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

Miss Olive. Lucky Mitzi and lucky you. And I know what those reminiscing conversations are like, we always do it too - a great family dog is ALWAYS part of the family.

chrissie Hi. I think you're right, a little puppy does prepare for children a bit - and then when everyone is little that little dog is just an amazing companion. Thanks for your story.


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

You know what's really sad? Evidently lots of pets get dropped off at shelters around the holidays because people decide they don't want to be bothered with a dog interfering with holiday plans. That's what the folks at the shelter told me five years ago when I got my girl dog in December. So a lot of this year's Christmas puppies become next year's shelter pets. =(

You're right - you have to make sure it is really the right choice to get a Christmas puppy!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Puppies need a lot of attention, care and training when they're first brought into a new family. Christmastime for most people is fairly busy and personally I don't think it's the best time to get a puppy. But it does depend on the person who is getting the puppy.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

A puppy sounds like a great idea as a Christmas gift until you really think of the responsibility - hateful to think they have to go to the shelter. Thanks for your comment Natashalh

It does really depend on the person and how you 'know' they will be able to have a loving relationship with their puppy, but Christmas time is a bit chaotic I do agree Just Ask Susan. Many thanks for your share.


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

A puppy is undoubtedly many child's dream present and what parent doesn't want to make their child's dreams come true? But, as you point out, it's not a decision to take lightly - for all the reasons you highlight. If the recipient, and everyone around, is aware of, and accepts, the responsibility then a puppy is a great present for all concerned.

Wish everyone thought it through very carefully, with their head, not their heart.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

Yup, agree. It's a disaster when families get it wrong (with their heads). It's wonderful when they get it right and their dog becomes their best friend. Thanks Judi Bee.


2besure profile image

2besure 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Great food for thought! Getting an animal, cat dog, chicks, bunny rabbits, etc. should never be an impulse buy. It should be a long-term commitment! Good job! Voted up. FB


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

2besure. Appreciate your comments and your votes!


CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 4 years ago

Great hub, it's the 10 year part that hurts the most. Some dogs I've had for more than 10 years and some for much less due to cancer. I wish they lived longer as when they go they take a piece of your heart with them. Up, useful and interesting.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

I know what you mean. It hurt so so much when they leave us. my poor sister had to put her 17 year old Westie down yesterday and she is devastated. Everywhere she went, show brought her little Phoebe with her and now she has such an empty space around her. Appreciate your votes, thanks.


BethDW 4 years ago

Thank you for writing this hub! So many people purchase puppies as christmas gifts, or on a whim for other special occasions, and then when the dog gets older/is not so cute and tiny and fluffy anymore, they decide that they no longer want the responsibility. Both of my dogs are adopted, and both were frivolous decisions for their previous owners (my lab was purchased by someone who really didn't have the space for her when she got larger; and my shih tzu/beagle was purchased by a couple that really didn't have the time and energy to put into training a puppy high energy puppy...they decided to re-home her when she was only five months old!). We wouldn't have so many dogs in shelters if people were more responsible when making the decision to purchase puppies from breeders. Having a dog really is a lifetime commitment!


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

Yes, it's such an important commitment too. And when the relationship begins, it's so wonderful isn't it? Thanks for comment.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

getting a pup is the same as getting a kitty, a lot of responsibilities and care required. I have an old cat who invited a younger cat to stay at our house. A sick cat


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Great topic. I once read that when the movie 101 Dalmatians came out, animal shelters filled up with dalmatians after Christmas!


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 2 years ago from Rome, Italy Author

That's bizzare!

Nice of you to comment. Thanks.

Important stuff right now.


Robie Benve profile image

Robie Benve 2 years ago from Ohio

That's why I never wanted a pet: I feel I could not provide the proper care, too much going on already. Great points you make, totally agree.

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