This Holiday Season, Remember: A Puppy Is NOT a Present

A dog should always be a considered choice and NEVER an impulse buy. Please help us spread the word about this during this high gift-giving season.


We all have them. The in-law who unapologetically keeps an “outside dog.” Or the friend who thought it was cool to let the family retriever shack up with the dog down the street so her kids could witness the “miracle of life.” Or the coworker who surprised his fiancee on her birthday with a Yorkie puppy from the pet store.

And let’s be honest: They make us feel like complete failures as responsible pet people. Yes, our own dogs went to puppy socials, play with lead-free toys, and were “fixed” at an appropriate age. But maybe we didn’t share that article on where pet store puppies come from enough on Facebook, or made our stance on the benefits of spay/neuter loud enough for those in our immediate networks to hear.

As the holidays approach, so does an opportunity to educate the people around us on a timely issue: that of puppies being given as holiday presents without too much thought or planning beforehand. I don’t know about you, but I cringe inwardly when I see stock photos of dogs with bows strapped to their heads displayed in wrapped boxes beneath Christmas trees. It’s an image that’s readily accepted all over the world. But that doesn’t make it right.

Because a puppy should never be:

1. A novelty item. One that was a smash hit on Christmas morning, but an undesirable chore in the post-holiday world. A dog is at the very least a 10-year commitment, and if your intended recipients are not up to the task, you have no business gifting them with one.

2. A stuffed toy. Some dogs might resemble one (I’m looking at you, Boo!) but again, the responsibilities associated with toy vs. dog aren’t remotely in the same region. And if your daughter is obsessed with Pomeranians because of Boo, there’s a stuffed animal replica you can buy her.

3. An imposition. Just because you thought a puppy would make a great gift doesn’t mean the recipient does. When your big “surprise” goes south, are you prepared to care for the pup for the rest of its days? We hope your backup plan doesn’t involve dumping him at the already-overcrowded local shelter.

4. An impulse buy. If your family isn’t up to the commitment, you can’t just return that puppy to the pet store. It’s not unusual for puppies returned to pet shops to be put down in horrendous ways, either. Please, please, please do your homework if you’re adding a dog to the family. Research dog breeds to find the best fit. Find a breed-specific rescue group or a reputable hobby breeder if you must have a purebred. Or go to the shelter as a family and make an informed decision together.

To be clear: We are not opposed to you adding a dog to the family during the holiday season if the addition is one planned far in advance. We only ask that you make an informed decision and not a knee-jerk one that is bad for everyone down the line. This time of year is notorious for last-minute impulse buys, so I hope you understand the concern.

If you’re a regular Dogster reader, you probably already know these things. But it’s highly possible there are people you know who don’t. You can help us reach those people by sharing this article, or using the graphics below on your Facebook and/or Twitter feeds. We hope they’ll be a great conversation starter for your friends and family.

For Facebook:


This is our current profile photo on Facebook and Twitter, and we hope you’ll borrow it to help spread the word. Drag and drop the image to your screen to save it. (The icon is 160 pixels square if youre wondering.)


We’ve made two for you to choose from. Again, just drag and drop your favorite from our screen to your desktop or save it like you would any other image (depending on the device you’re on). These look small here, but they are actually 851 x 315 pixels, the perfect size for a Facebook cover shot.

Option 1:

Or Option 2:

This is what your profile page will look like with cover shot and profile photo both updated:


If you want to share the message but don’t want to update your profile, that’s cool, too. You can share one of the banners below:

For Twitter:


Take the Facebook photo above and size it down within Twitter, or grab the sized-down image (73 pixels square) you see at left.


If you upload this to twitter and change the settings to “tile,” here’s what it looks like:

Thank you for reading! With your help, I hope we can make a small dent in puppy impulse buys this December.

Special thanks go to SAY Media’s Mira Kim, for helping us make these lovely graphics, and to Dogster writer Maria Goodavage for inspring this.

Photo Credits: English Bulldog with bow photo and puppy in box photo via Shutterstock.

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