I Don’t Care How Good Your Kids Have Been This Year – No Puppies For Christmas

Every year, parents buy their children puppies for Christmas. Who wouldn’t want a puppy? Puppies are adorable! There is probably nothing more adorable on earth, except kittens, which some parents also buy for their children. What usually happens with Christmas puppies is that they become Easter shelter dogs, after the novelty has worn off and people realize that dogs need to be walked, fed, trained, and taken to the veterinarian for regular checkups. Puppies are super cute, but they also require a super not-cute amount of care. The holidays are a very busy, stressful time for people, and Christmas morning is no time to bring an animal into your home, with all the noise and excitement and the fact that if you do get your kids a puppy, it probably came from a puppy mill where it was housed in a cage only 6 inches wider than the dog in each direction.

Most reputable dog breeders won’t sell a dog during the holiday season. They will require an in-home visit to make sure the dog will be going to a good home. They will want to know the ages of your children and meet them to make sure the children understand the amount of care a puppy requires and how to be gentle with a puppy. I’m not trying to piss off responsible dog breeders out there, and most of these people would agree with me on this subject.There are some good dog breeders out there, who breed their dogs rarely and who don’t keep them in tiny cages, but no one needs to spend a few thousand dollars on a purebred for a Christmas present for a child. And even purebred puppies and dogs can end up in animal shelters and rescue groups, which is the only place you should ever get a dog from.

Bringing a new pet into the home for Christmas morning is a bad idea. If you are hell-bent on adding a pet to your family, and you feel your kids are ready for a pet, Christmas is not the time to do it. Even if your kids are the most responsible kids on earth, the majority of the pet care is going to end up on you, the adults in the family. Your child may promise to always walk the dog or change the litter box, but I can promise you, you will be the one doing it most of the time. Getting a puppy for Christmas may seem like a good idea and a totally great photo op, how many times have we seen a television commercial or a Christmas card with an adorable puppy sitting patiently under a tree with a ribbon around its neck? But the reality is, if you purchase a dog from a pet store, it will have most likely come from a puppy mill where it survived in deplorable conditions before making its way under your tree. The same goes for puppies advertised in the newspaper or for sale on the Internet. This video will simultaneously break your heart and fill it with joy:

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  • Michelle

    The supplies under the tree gift is what my mom did when I was in elementary school. It wasn’t until that summer that we found the perfect kitten! If you’ve never owned a pet in your life then I completely agree with not just getting one for your kid on a whim. And i certainly agree that you should NEVER buy your dog from a pet store or the amish. Dogs take lots of time and energy or you end up with a very destructive animal. I love my sheltie but if she doesn’t get walked she is a terror at night and you can bet that she’ll find some socks to destroy.

    • jessica

      Your dog only eats socks?! Maybe your dog could come over some time and explain to my dog that eating socks is super fun and way better than chewing my leather shoes. And, obviously, she’s only interested in eating my really nice shoes- not the ones I got at Payless for 9 dollars. She has discriminating tastes.

  • Narmowen

    For the most part, I agree. But telling people that “the only place you should get a dog is a rescue or animal shelter” is BS. Sometimes, people are looking for something that you can’t find in either of those places. In my case, I want a very specific breed, of a specific age and, yes, color. I want to know the complete health history (and regular history) of my future puppy’s parents and grandparents, and the only way to get those is through a good breeder. And puppys of my breed are hard to find through a rescue, if not impossible.

    • Lastango

      I have specific goals too. I enjoy a really smart dog, with a composed character. Those qualities vary hugely by breed. I also want to begin obedience training at about 6 mo., because that yields a lifetime of benefits for dog and owner. (People being tugged around on a leash by their dogs have no idea it doesn’t have to be that way.)

      That means I’ll be getting a purebred. Sure, I’ll be paying serious money for a good puppy (I’ve done that before), but I know people who got pound dogs and spent a small fortune fixing health problems. I’m all for people getting dogs from the pound, but in my case it doesn’t meet my needs.

    • CMJ

      Our dog has all of the qualities your mention and we got her from a puppy rescue – she’s a spaniel mix of some sort and might be the cutest thing in the world (clearly, I am biased). I’ve known many purebred dogs that do not have the qualities you mention.

      I honestly think it varies by dog and really, by the the owner. That being said, if you are a responsible pet owner, you probably got your pet in a responsible way – whether it be through a good breeder or a rescue. Whichever you choose, you should always do your research and a puppy should never be an impulse purchase.

      (and never buy from a pet store..ever, ever, ever)

    • ck

      This is the kind of ignorance that begs education. You have obviously not done all of your homework. Spend your big money on a purebred and leave the same breed of animal in a rescue that are unhealthy and genetically unsound because they’re the product of irresponsible breeders. Don’t think twice about perpetuating this problem. Adoption is the only answer!!!

    • wormfood33

      yep, i agree! obviously, it’s great to rescue if you can, but i worry that a lot of people go into the shelter just wanting a dog and end up picking the one that looks the cutest (or saddest) instead of picking the one that has the qualities that fit their lives/families. then that dog will just get shuffled right back to the shelter when it doesn’t work out. we have two purebred German Shorthaired Pointers, and we did a ton of research to decide on that breed and know what owning one would entail. we bought the first one as a puppy from a responsible (one-time) breeder, and rescued the second. animal shelter’s are a great option, but that’s not the “only place” you can get a dog, and no responsible pet owner should be shamed for getting a purebred if they do it the right way.

    • wormfood33

      oh, and i will add that SOME rescues can be insanely judgmental even though you’re trying to do the right thing. we wanted a dog that had coloring like our first dog, and a few rescues frowned on that. they wanted me to take a dog that was blind, or a dog that was emaciated and needed rehabilitating. that’s not what i was trying to do at the time (though bless the people who are willing to do it) and the rescue completely made me feel awful and shallow. that didn’t sit well with me and i ended up going with other rescues who were more realistic and not judgmental.

    • alice

      I see what you’re saying, but I also understand what the author is trying to do. The fact that puppymills and petstores are still in operation is evidence enough of the continued ignorance of some pet buyers. These are the pet buyers who only value appearance, and think nothing of temperament.

      like the author, i also encourage everyone I know to visit rescues and shelters first, when they’re interested in finding a companion.

      the responsible pet owners who buy purebreds from responsible breeders know exactly what the author means. i’m not saying you’re not one of them! but if you know you’re going through all the right channels to get your purebred, you know that the author is not speaking to you when she says “buy shelter”

    • alice

      and i should add, since it wasn’t specifically mentioned: “responsible purebred channels” are NEVER EVER EVER petstores, or puppymills.

      there’s plenty of resources online that can help anyone locate a *responsible* breeder.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Thank you!

    • Meg

      She said “only” and “ever.” Sounds a lot to me like she author isn’t making exceptions …

    • Tea

      I agree. As I said to someone below, I will one day be the owner of a guide dog, and there are some things that rescue dogs just aren’t suited to, especially for dogs with jobs.

    • ck

      Wrong! You will be able to find a dog suitable for your purpose at a rescue. Just what breed is it you’re looking for? I’ll bet you can find that breed specific rescue!

  • Angela

    I totally agree with everything you said!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaitlyn.mcwilliams Kaitlyn Catherine

    There is no such thing as a ‘reputable breeder’. Somebody who actively makes more animals for profit when 1,000′s die in shelters every day doesn’t care about animals.

    • Tea

      Some people care about maintaining old breed lines, and some people breed purebred dogs specifically for tasks. I know in the future I will be the owner of a pure bred German Shepherd or Lab. Why? Because I’m visually impaired and will be needing a guide dog, and the dog I receive will have been screened and trained from birth to be my partner and helper.

      For service animals, and animals that work and do tasks, pure breeds really are your best option.

      For your average pet, rescues are amazing, but they are very rarely good candidates as service animals (There are some exceptions). To say all breeders are selfish or in it for profit is sweeping and bull-headed, because I know the dog that will one day go to this blind gentleman was bred, socialized and trained by people who were hardly just in it for a buck.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Yes, I know this, but my article was about people who buy dogs from pet stores or wacko Internet breeders as pet for their kids during the holidays. Not about the amazing work that trainers do with guide dogs.

    • Tea

      My response was entirely to the person who said there are no breeders who care about animals, because as I said, I do agree that shelter/rescue pets are the best fit for most people and families. Some people have a mindset that breeders should cease existing entirely, which isn’t a good move for people who need working dogs.

      So I don’t actually have any issue with you and your article at all, in fact I agree with the general message and fully understand that most people do not need a pure-bred, especially a puppy mill “mall dog”, I just have a bone to pick with some commenters.

    • ck

      For your information, many guide dogs come from, gasp……rescues!

    • ExBreederWhoCares

      This has got to be one of the most ignorant comments I have ever seen. That’s like saying that someone who actively makes more CHILDREN by having their own instead of adopting one of the thousands who currently live in ‘the system’ doesn’t care about kids.

      Are you aware that shelters ALSO profit from the adoption of animals? They aren’t just handing those animals out for free, often a person will have to pay hundreds of dollars before being allowed to adopt. That’s how shelters stay in business.
      It is not a responsible breeder’s fault that animals get placed in shelters every day, it is the IRRESPONSIBLE people who take them or get them taken away to go there that are at fault. A resonsible and caring breeder will do everything in their power to ensure that their puppies go to a responsible and loving home, just like most shelters would. I used to breed a very specific breed of cat that is almost NEVER found in shelters, and let me tell you that I never, EVER allowed a kitten to go home without an extensive inspection of the person who was wanting to adopt. My kittens were also sent home with their first vaccinations completed AND were all spayed and neutered before being sent home and, while this is generally not a requirement of breeders, I would often make a follow-up call to the adopter (provided they consented to it) within the next week or two just to see that all was well and no problems had come up. And before you get up in my business about only owning purebreds… I also owned a pair of mixed breed rescue cats, a small rescued dog, and even a rescued cockatiel bird at the same time, all of which got the best care I could possibly give them. Now, I dare you tell me that I don’t care about animals just because I also bred them at one time.

      You sound very narrow minded when you slander an entire group of people over the actions of another.

    • ExBreederWhoCares

      Oh, I would also like to point out another thing: VERY few breeders ever actually make a profit from the sale of their animals. Becom­ing a breeder is more of a hobby than a career move. Because of the expenses required to keep up a breeding system, pretty much all of the money they make from the sale of a lit­ter of adorable kit­tens or puppied is likely to be taken up in med­ical bills, food, sup­plies, and other breed­ing costs.They have the ini­tial invest­ment of pur­chas­ing cats or dogs with breed­ing rights and of set­ting up a proper bredding space.Then there will be numer­ous health care expenses for their dogs or cats. An emer­gency C-section, for instance, can cost in the neigh­bor­hood of $1500+. There are also expenses related to proper food, groom­ing, and gen­eral care of the animals.

      You may have noticed that this list of expenses does not include the breeder’s salary. In fact, most breed­ers never break even. That’s why most breed­ers are hobbyists, and do not list breeding as a JOB. They may make SOME profit off of a litter, but it is almost never NEARLY enough to actually LIVE off of after taking out the related expenses.

    • ck

      My question to you is, a HOBBY? A HOBBY! You’re bring more animals into a world where too many already are suffering and dying? As a HOBBY? That’s just plain shameful and what gives breeders even more of a bad name than they already have! A hobby. scheesh

    • lea

      I was 100% behind you until you said “shelters ALSO profit from the adoption of animals”.

      No, no they don’t. The money they charge for their dogs is used to feed, care for and shelter the other dogs in their care. The ones that aren’t so lucky and don’t get snaffled up to their forever homes quickly.

      Any shelter I’ve ever been involved with has always been desperate for money and forced to rely on the kind donations from their communities to keep helping abandoned animals. THAT is how they stay open (not the adoption fees).

      Our local dog refuge has the most amazing people running it. They will pay for vet care and kennel costs (at boarding kennels, when theirs are full) out of their own pockets to save a life. I drop off dog food to them once in a while, when I can afford to (especially when my little fuss pot turns her nose up at a new brand I’ve just forked out for!).

      (but as I said, I do agree that their are some reputable breeders out there, and you do sound like you fit in that category)

    • ExBreederWhoCares

      Yes, I realized later that was the wrong way to phrase myself, and for that I apologize. What you just said is what I MEANT to say, not so much that they profit for THEMSELVES in the fees they charge for adoptions and donations they receive, but that they DO profit in a way that goes to the benefit of the other animals that are left in their care.

      I’m afraid I just got a little bit incensed at the ignorance in the comment I replied to and lost my ability to filter my words.

    • ck

      I just cannot agree there are any ‘reputable’ breeders with all the homeless neglected abused animals of every kind out there in this world needing a loving home. If your breeding you’re doing it for the money, not for the welfare of the animals. Pure and simple as that.

    • ck

      True, but you’ve seen the light! You no longer breed so you must have come to the conclusion it’s just plain wrong! Good for you!

    • ExBreederWhoCares

      Sweetheart, I did not come to conclusion that it is wrong, and by assuming such you sound like a very ignorant person. I came to a point where it was no longer feasible for me to continue breeding, due to financial reasons that required me to get a real job that no longer aloowed me to devote the time, money, and attention to my animals that proper and responsible breeding requires. As I stated, very few breeders ever actually profit off what they do, most of the money goes right back into paying for medical costs and other care of the animals. So I finished off one last breeding cycle, saw the kittens off to their homes, and spayed my Queens and neutered my Studs to allow them to live the rest of their lives in a happy retirement with me. I bred not simply as a hobby though, nor for money, but because I truly loved the breed of cat I bred and wanted to share them with others.

      Demonizing me and other breeders for “bringing more animals into a world where too many are already suffering and dying” is like demonizing HUMANS who “breed” by having their own children in a world where too many are already suffering in the foster care system. The “breeders” you SHOULD be attacking are the irresponsible backyard breeders, such as puppy mill owners and just plain stupid people who refuse to have their animals spayed and neutered to prevent unwanted litters, and therefore have ZERO regard for the health and safety of the animals they are bringing into this world.

      At least my animals never went to unfit homes, were always in perfect health, spayed/neutered (to prevent exactly what you’re trying to demonize my previous “profession” for), and vaccinated before I ever sent them out of my care. You have every right to feel the way you do, but do yourself a favor and at least educate yourself on how the breeding system actually works when it is practiced by people who know what they’re doing so you don’t sound so ignorant when you speak on it.
      Oh, and it would probably be a good idea for you to NEVER assume the reasons someone has for doing, or NOT doing, something ever again.

  • LoriG215

    I don’t want to get started on this topic, because I will get so angry that I might speak hastily. But to everyone who is talking about “reputable breeders”, and how “their dog” must have “certain traits only a purebred can have”, I call BS! I have two boxers, both rescued. There are such things as breed-specific rescues, like the one from which our female boxer was adopted. Our male boxer came from our local shelter. Neither had health or behavior problems, and have been incredible additions to our family. And say what you will about service dogs needing to be of a pure bloodline, and I will still say you are wrong. Some of the most amazing service animals come from shelters and rescues all across this country, and also just happen to be mixed breed. I need to stop now, before I really get angry. I know I will never change your mind, but please…. Don’t shop. Adopt. Change the life of a rescue pet, and he will change yours for the better. RESCUE!!!!

    • Meg

      If there were no breeders, there would be no breed-specific rescues. Purebred dogs have to come from SOMEWHERE.

    • Cherry

      Only pedigrees come from registered breeders.
      Purebred only means the parents are the same breed…not exactly a difficult task for backyard breeders and millers. You can find purebreds in any petshop…does not mean they’re pedigreed

      There are purebred rescues BECAUSE idiots bought a purebred from a shoddy cheap breeder they found in the paper and, like you two, had no idea of the difference between a purebred and a pedigree purebred.

      And unless the rescue gives them out for free, you’re still freaking shopping.

    • Meg

      I do not know of one single rescue that gives dogs away for free. Not. One. The only place I know of to get free dogs are the boxes of free puppies you find in the Wal-Mart parking lots from time to time, owned by people who were too lazy to spay their dogs or who thought letting her have “just one” litter would teach their children the “miracle of life.” So what’s your plan here? No one is ever allowed to charge for an animal, ever? Not rescues or responsible breeders recouping their costs? Not shelters trying to defray the overhead so they can continue to house animals instead of taking them behind a shed and shooting them? Is that your preference?

      Not all purebred rescue dogs are from puppymills; if you read any of my other comments, you’ll see I extoll the virtues of responsible, small-scale breeding operations. But by all means, make assumptions about my level of knowledge and/or intelligence. My from-a-responsible-breeder champion-pedigreed-and-registered CKCSpaniel will love me, regardless of the opinion of anyone on the intertubes, and his opinion is the only one I care about ;-)

    • ck

      A Pedigree as you call it, is nothing but a piece of paper awarded to you by the AKC for perpetuating this myth you have. Hug your piece of paper and shame on you! I look around and see what you so called reputable breeders have done to the animals in questions. Improve upon what God fashioned with His hands? And that is were your so called ‘pure’ breeds came from. God’s own Hand. Save His creatures don’t EXPLOIT them!

    • ck

      Pedigrees are just a piece of paper. Take your piece of paper for a walk and give it a big hug.

    • zippy

      Typical AR nut response. Showing your dog, and loving that dog just as much as any other pets you own, is NOT mutually exclusive. Please go ask my show girl dobie how much she and her 3 rescue sisters are loved EQUALLY. :D

      I encourage you to go to an ACTUAL AKC show or a breed club meeting for whatever kind of dog you own and talk to REAL breeders and exhibitors, before poo-poo’ing an entire group of people that you don’t even know! Because I can tell you right now that nobody is swimming in pools of puppy cash or show prize cash, if that is why you hate everyone with pedigreed dogs. :)

    • http://twitter.com/dgdoesstuff Fish Jones

      While true, a good portion of the problem is awkward shelters.

      Many, many, *many!* people go to a shelter first, put up with a very long list of awkward rules that make no sense (oh, you didn’t vaccinate your last dog every 3?? months? You only did it every 6? months? Shame on you, no dog for you.), get fed up, and *then* they go to a breeder because the breeder doesn’t care.

    • ck

      There are NO reputable breeders. LoriG is absolutely correct. There a breed specific rescues as well as shelters full of purebreds! Anyone that says different doesn’t have their facts straight and only looks at animals in terms of $signs. Not love! No EXCUSES! Adoption is the only way!

  • Meg

    “giving an unwanted animal a home rather than paying for one.”

    Well, rescues cost money, too. Virtually all shelters charge fees, and with the shelters around here, breed-specific rescues usually snap up purebred dogs on the first day they’re available (when the stray hold expires) and charges an “adoption fee” of many hundreds of dollars. Yes, both shelters and rescuers have expenses, too, and should be able to support that. But I’ve seen rescues that charge $500-750 for purebreds. That’s not THAT much less than a responsible breeder would charge (depending on the breed.) So technically … put as much “adoptive” language as you like there, you’re still buying a dog.

    I have had shelter dogs. I have had purebreds from responsible breeders. I’ve loved them equally, and both groups have their pros and cons. I AGREE with the author’s point that the holidays are a terrible time to bring a new puppy into the family! But why can’t we leave the message there instead of starting a judgmental shame-off against people who want a purebred dog through humane, appropriate channels?

    • ck

      Adoption fees are NOT buying an animal! They’re to re-coup the cost of spay/neuter, shots, vet checks. Do you think after paying for what should have been the owners responsibility, rescues can just give them away? And if they did that, how many animals would just go out on a whim? And end up right back where they started! Adoption is the only way to go if you are a TRUE animal lover!

    • zippy

      Lol. What about people like my family who rescued 3 dogs, and purchased ONE from a reputable show breeder since we wanted to get into showing? People like you have exactly ZERO business telling other pet owners where to get their dogs! Especially the ones who have a legit reason for buying from a good breeder instead of adopting, such as show people like us or people who want a working animal. And before you tell me EVERY shelter dog can be trained to do a task, go tell our armed forces and law enforcement to get their K9 trained dogs from a shelter instead of a working breeder…be prepared to get a bunch of laughs in your face!

  • VanCan

    My friends with dogs from rescue organizations paid between $500 and $800 dollars for them. That’s a lot of money for mutts. “Designer dogs” (those, again, would be mutts) on Craigslist and in pet stores go for $250 and up. Licensed AKC breeder? Empty your wallet. The only affordable option is the SPCA and you’d better be ready to pounce if you want anything that’s not a pit bull. Even the SPCA here is getting mighty particular about what types of families they’ll let take a dog. You have to have the right fence, the right work schedule, the right number of children (preferably none), and be willing to pop for doggy daycare and the most expensive food. Dog ownership is becoming an upper-middle class privilege.

    • zippy

      No offense, but that is the way IT SHOULD BE. Bargain bin grocery store food is not nutritious at all for your dog! In fact, you’ll actually SAVE money buying the higher quality food since they’ll eat less of it! (due to the fact that there’s more ACTUAL food and no CRAP) And of course you have to have proper fencing and a good work schedule…you don’t want fido jumping over/digging under that fence and do a jailbreak, and don’t you even DARE tell me that things like boarding (or hiring a house sitter) while you are on vacation and obedience classes aren’t necessary! With all due respect, if you can’t even afford an extra $20-30 a month for better food or a few hundred for a “semester” of training classes…how the hell do you ever expect to afford that inevitable big vet bill? I’ll give you my family’s example…in one year, my chihuahua required a surgery on her legs, and the dobie had to have an equally expensive procedure. After everything was said and done, this EASILY cost my parents at least a few thousand dollars…which is why I’m so glad my family is the one that owned these dogs! Because the average pet owner would balk at that bill and euthanize their dog instead of doing the right thing.

      Owning a dog is NOT a right. It is a *privledge* reserved for those who can properly afford to give a dog (or any other pet for that matter) the proper vet care they need, as well as QUALITY food that gives them proper nutrition, AND things like training classes and some kind of activity like agility or a dog mill/treadmill to get that exercise in!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=718757061 Sheryl Lyon

    I don’t usually criticize other blogs but this is utter nonsense.

    Buying from pet stores (supporting puppy mills) IS a horrible idea 365 days a year, not just at Christmas. Adopting/rescuing a dog on death row from a shelter is a GREAT idea 365 days a year, including the holidays.

    Please show the evidence that pets adopted at Christmas are treated worse because I have read statistics that show the opposite is true.

    There is, however, evidence that shelter owners/directors help perpetuate the myth of Christmas adoptions being a bad idea so they can take a nice long Christmas break while millions of animals in their care are euthanized.

  • Car133

    What is it with people who work for rescue organizations? Must be seriously jaded by all the irresponsible pet owners out there. Gimme a break – aren’t you generalizing just a little? Do you really believe that NOONE – no responsible parent- can purchase a pure bred puppy from a home breeder, put it in a box, and give it to their delighted kids on Christmas morning and have the story have a happy ending? I did this- many years ago- and that puppy is now a gray faced old dog having spent a long life with our family. I wanted a puppy- and a boxer- not a random shelter dog. My dog was neutered, cared for, and loved. I support the shelter in my town and have adopted several shelter kittens. The patronizing holier than though attitude of this post is ridiculous. Get over yourself. Everyone’s different- every situation is unique- and saying things like the only place you should ever get a dog is a shelter or no one should get a dog on Christmas – is just stupid.