A Christmas Puppy: 7 Questions to Consider

Christmas is just around the corner! If you’re anything like us, you’ve just started thinking about shopping for loved ones. A new puppy is one of the most requested and most popular gifts this time of year. Purebred and designer dogs – especially Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers – quickly find homes prior to the holidays, so it is best to plan ahead. Before looking for a puppy this Christmas, take note of the top seven most important considerations:

1. Have you researched the right breed for you?

labradoodle
Labradoodles are hypoallergenic, making life with a pet easier for people allergic to pet dander.

Nothing says your family is looking to raise a puppy for the long-haul quite like doing the due diligence needed to pick out the right breed for your lifestyle. Try to find a breed that works best with your family’s needs. Labradoodles are hypoallergenic, making life with a pet that much easier for people who are sensitive to pet dander. If you have someone in your family who has a disability, such as autism spectrum disorder, a Labrador or Golden Retriever can be trained as a therapy animal to alleviate stress.

2. Have you done the necessary preparation for welcoming home a new puppy?

It’s important to make sure that getting a Christmas puppy is not an impulsive decision. Any lack of proper preparation can increase the stress the animal feels during their transition process. Establishing routine is important for a dog entering into a new environment, and this is especially true when it comes to certain breeds. Make sure you have all the essentials – proper food, leash and collar, grooming tools and more. Make room in your schedule for regular walks and exercise if the breed requires. If your family is active, if your house receives many visitors, if you have never trained a puppy before, you might want to consider getting a breed that needs exercise, is social, or is highly intelligent/easy-to-train, respectively.

3. Have you rearranged your budget with your new pet in mind?

Thinking about adding a puppy to the home is easy. After all, it’s hard to resist the bright, glittering eyes of a five-week old German Shepherd or the whimsical, goofy nature of a Golden Retriever. However, experts show that the cost of long-term ownership adds up and it’s important to be realistic about whether you have room in the budget for another family member. The average cost of owning a dog in the first year, according to the ASPCA, is nearly $1250. This isn’t a surprise when you add in all the puppy-related expenses such as first shots, checkups, and puppy supplies.

4. What is your household like?

Are you a big family that likes to stay inside? Do you have small children or no children at all? What type of housing unit do you live in? Does it allow dogs, and if so, will you be able to find a place that allows dogs if you need to move? Thinking about the size and potential restrictions of your household does not necessarily mean that you cannot get the pet of your dreams. It only means that you might want to consider some of these factors before making a Christmas puppy decision.

5. What is your lifestyle like?

australian shepherd
The Australian Shepherd requires attention and is best for a family able to devote time to training, exercise and socialization.

While nature vs. nurture certainly does apply to the overall personality of the dog, there is no denying that some breeds, like Australian shepherds, need to have more attention paid to their energy and personal needs. Breeds like Doodles, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers remain popular because of their adaptability to family life. But no matter what breed you choose, it is still important to think about how active your family is, how often you are home, and the climate you live in.

6. What’ll happen to your pet if something happens to you?

Few take into account all the considerations above, and even fewer think about who will take care of their pet in the event of an untimely sickness or death. Dr. Jessica Pierce suggests that pet owners (or potential pet owners) make a plan that names certain caregivers should the owner no longer be able to care for the pet. This plan ought to consist of written instructions for pet care, as well as additional financing for the caregivers if needed.

7. Why are you getting a dog?

Last but certainly not least, think about the reasons why you want a dog. A Christmas puppy is not a gift meant for quick delight. Rather, if you have given thought to the breed that’s right for your family, if you’re prepared for a long-term commitment, and you are ready to take on training and veterinary care, then a puppy for Christmas is one of the most magical ways that you can add a companion to your family that everyone will love unconditionally.

While it might seem like doing the necessary research could make a Christmas gift more like a Christmas expectation, answering these honest questions will ultimately make the experience of owning a puppy not only worth it, but the most beneficial for the whole family. When your little dog-eared Holly, Blitzen, Tinsel, or Rudolph runs into your arms on the morning of the 25th, you’ll not only cherish that moment forever, but also be able to care for and treasure your pup for their lifetime.