A Puppy for Christmas?

Who doesn’t love a puppy?  A puppy is cute, sweet, boundless energy.  Puppies are cuddly.  And, really, there is nothing in the world quite as sweet and wonderful as puppy breath.  I’m a dog person.  I’ve had my Winston the Wonder Chihuahua for seven years now, and I still thank my husband for giving him to me.

But you know what else a puppy is?

A Puppy for Christmas? (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

A puppy is a living creature.

That means that a puppy requires care and training.  You don’t just get a puppy and let it become a free-range thing to fend for itself.  A puppy needs to be fed and watered.  A puppy needs vaccinations.  A puppy needs to be cleaned up after and to be taught that shoes are not appropriate chew toys.  They are work.  Not to mention, they grow up and don’t stay puppies forever.

A puppy is a commitment.

When a family brings home a puppy, that family is making a commitment.  They are saying “We will love you and care for you for your entire life.”  That means that when you move, the dog comes with you.  When you go on holidays, you either make arrangements for the dog to be cared for by someone in your absence (either a kennel, a pet sitter, or trusted family friend) or you bring the dog with you.  When the dog is sick, you take care of him and get medical treatment as required.

And, of course, you give the dog endless amounts of love and receive love in return.

A puppy is NOT a Christmas gift.

As much as I adore puppies, you’d think that means that I think it’s a great idea to give a puppy for a gift, right?


If a family is considering getting a puppy and the ready time coincides with Christmas, great.  But a “surprise Christmas puppy”?  Or a puppy because that’s what the kids are begging for this year for Christmas?  That’s a very, very bad idea.  That’s making the commitment for someone else to be good people for that dog.  You might have the best of intentions, and those kids might be the happiest children ever on Christmas morning… but when the reality sets in of eaten toys and walks even on snow days, that gift may seem more like a burden.  Too many of those “burdens” are dropped off at the animal shelter a few months later.

Some of those “burdens” never make it out and are euthanized because there is no home for them.

At best, I’d say it’s not fair to those poor “burdens” who started out in a home full of promise.  At worst, I’d say it’s immoral and needlessly cruel.

If your kids want a puppy for Christmas, don’t do it.  Remember that a puppy is a forever commitment that they (or you) may not be ready for.

Image credits: imagerymajestic

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. This was a wonderful post. I really hate when animals are no longer wanted and end up at a shelter. They need lots of love and affection.
    Heather recently posted…Thinner End To 2013My Profile

  2. I read this post with my 4 year old in the back of my mind. She keeps asking for a puppy for Christmas. Little does she know the work that comes with that. I keep saying “maybe next year hubby!” 🙂
    Mary @ A Mama collective recently posted…Nicki’s Diapers AIO & Pocket Diaper {12 Days of Peace, Love & Giving Giveaway}My Profile

  3. You are so right! Puppies are not a christmas gift! Any pet is a commitment! And depending upon the breed and the age of the dog it could be a commitment in double digits for years.
    Jessica recently posted…Babo Botanicals’s Special Holiday Promotion: 50% Off all productsMy Profile

  4. We were considering getting another puppy for Christmas. We already have two and they are a great extension of our family. My kids are older and understand the responsibility of caring for an animal. Our dogs stay inside and we house train them. But I agree that people shouldn’t get a puppy for their kids unless they are going to take on the responsibility of caring for it.
    Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families recently posted…Rascal Caught Rearranging My Christmas Decorations on the Fireplace MantelMy Profile

  5. You are SO right, Suzi. I can’t tell you how many dogs end up in shelters after the holidays because the family wasn’t truly ready for the commitment to a life. A puppy of ANY breed is a commitment for at least 10 years. 20 if it’s a toy breed. And a puppy is WORK. Potty-training, obedience training, teething, etc. And puppies grow up to be DOGS.

    As a rescuer of one of the most dumped-off breeds, the American Pit Bull Terrier and other “pit bull’ type dogs, I can’t tell you how many dogs have ended up in our program because a family bought a puppy…and then that puppy grew up to be a dog. The months of March through August are some of the roughest months for rescues because we are called upon to save all the unwanted puppies that were given as gifts. Shelters are absolutely overflowing and rescues like ours, that don’t have a facility but operate through foster homes are full as well. So what happens to all those cute puppies? They’re put down.

    THINK before giving an animal as a gift. ANY animal, puppy, kitten, (bunnies and chicks during Easter time also get dumped). It’s a LIFE that hangs in the balance. Your child may beg and plead for a puppy during the holidays but unless the entire family is ready, willing and able to care for that life…for it’s entire lifetime…don’t do it. Get a stuffed animal instead. Or better yet: have your children volunteer in a local shelter for a while. They’ll get to play with the animals, learn about rescuing and understand what happens when people are irresponsible even with the best of intentions. Then, once they understand the magnitude of their request…maybe then you can ADOPT a dog.
    Jackie recently posted…HomeMy Profile

    • Jackie, thank you so much for weighing in on this. As a rescuer that I respect, your feedback adds a lot to the conversation.

  6. Great post. We adopted our older dog(as a puppy) from the seltzer and our second was 2 yrs old thru CL. The second’s owner was a 19 year old college student who got him as a joint pet w her bf. uhm , bad idea.

  7. I don’t think that any living creature is a good gift, period. I have heard WAY too many stories of people receiving pets, usually from significant others, when they are in NO position to care for them. There was an apartment complex at the university I attended that had a HUGE feral cat population living in and around the dumpsters because of this very thing (and people abandoning them outside). It makes me sad.
    Lauren Stevens recently posted…The Little Bee Co.: Cloth With a CauseMy Profile

  8. We are petless for the first time ever right now! I miss out Daisy (Lab) then next month our indoor cat got out on accident and was killed by a neighbor dog. Too rough of losses to go get another, but my 5 year old really wants another puppy! We travel and moved far from friends and family this summer so a new pet would end up being a hassel. Someday….
    Erinn S recently posted…Friday Favorites Giveaway LinkyMy Profile

  9. Puppies are sweet but not gifts. 🙂 They are new members to the family and should be thought of as such!
    Krystal recently posted…Hostess Gift Ideas | Soirees & SangriaMy Profile

  10. I couldn’t agree more. Pets for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc makes me want to scream. There is such an uptick in pets in shelters a few months after the holidays that it makes me crazy. The cat that I adopted in May was, what I suspect, a cat that the kids got bored with. They adopted him as a kitten from the shelter and returned him when he was just over a year old and no longer a kitten. Their loss is my gain but it still makes me sad.
    Regan recently posted…Pic to Win with Revolution Foods – A Healthy Convenient Choice.My Profile

  11. Loved this post. Although, I’ve never had pets in my life, so I’m not really a lover :-/ But I am going to share this post the MINUTE anyone starts hinting at this type of “present.”
    Jenna @ A Mama Collective recently posted…The Hippy Homemaker {Review and Giveaway}My Profile

  12. I know what a huge responsibility a pet is, we have three cats, but I never thought about it this way before. Thanks for the new perspective!
    Kassondra recently posted…Blogging 101 – Special ProjectsMy Profile

  13. Oh I couldn’t agree more. I get so mad at animals for presents. The only time I can see it, is IF you were planning it already, thought it out, deciding the animal was a fit for your family and then decided it would be great to make the arrival even more special by adding this pet at a holiday or special day. That is it. NOT because of the day.
    Debi@TheSpringMount6Pack recently posted…Magic Sound Box- A Perfect Stocking Stuffer For TeensMy Profile

  14. Oh and to add, my inlaws thought they were being funny one year and gave my 1-2 year olds baby ducks for Easter. It was a complete nightmare. We lived in a tiny apartment and had no way of caring for them, with no warning at all. Just showed up and handed them over.
    Debi@TheSpringMount6Pack recently posted…Magic Sound Box- A Perfect Stocking Stuffer For TeensMy Profile

  15. My Kids Ask Me For A Puppy ALLL THE TIME… They Don’t Realize The Hard Work. Love. Attention Thst Goes long With Raising A Dog, I Know Better I Know I’lLL BE THE ONE TAKING CARE OF It, I LOVE Anomals But Have Too Much On My Plate Right Now To Get One, I Agree With You!!!
    Lisa Jones recently posted…FREE Phone Call From Santa!My Profile

  16. I love pets but again I feel it’s a big commitment.

  17. I love this post! People truly do not understand the full committment that getting a puppy is if they never had a pet before. It’s like having a new baby!
    reesa lewandowski recently posted…Dress First – ReviewMy Profile

  18. Such a timely post I saw 10 dogs being given up because the family got them and realized they don’t have time for them.

  19. Elisebet F says:

    Very true! It’s the same for any pet. Just go to a shelter and ask…the majority of animals there were given up by owners who could no longer care for them. They’d been in the shelter so long, they were about to be put down when I adopted them.

  20. Elisebet F says:

    Okay, and somehow I deleted half my post above, so it no longer makes sense!!! I was trying to say that my cats were surrendered and in the shelter so long, they were about to be put down.

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