What Is the Best Age To Get a Puppy for a Child? [Family Guide]

Does your kid wish for a dog every birthday? If your child is desperate to have a furry buddy at home, you probably wonder about what the best age is for them to get a puppy.

Puppies are undeniably an excellent addition to any family home. But these cute animals also need a lot of work. This fact is why you may have questions about when is the right time to get a puppy for your kid.

best age to get a puppy
What is the best age to get a puppy for a child? [Family Guide]

So how do you know that your kid is ready for this responsibility?  

The Best Age To Get a Puppy

Puppies are bundles of joy for children and parents alike. So when the time comes for a child to get a pet, they will most likely want a puppy. 

However, you need to consider your child’s age before you head over to your local pet store or shelter. We’ve compiled what to expect if you get a dog or puppy for your child at various age points.   


A puppy is not an easy thing for a newborn to handle. A newborn puppy is dependent on parents like you for everything, including food, water, and medication. So having one at home will mean you need to take care of both the puppy and your newborn.

The best thing about getting a puppy for your newborn is that infants exposed to dogs are less likely to develop allergic reactions.

Remember that you have to take time to pick the right breed of dog if you want to get your newborn a puppy. Your baby should also not be left unattended with dogs, especially those that aren’t trained yet. 

newborn baby and a dog
A baby and a dog are sleeping together.

One Year Old

When your child is one year old, it’s a good age to start interacting with a puppy. At this age, your toddler will be able to hold and cuddle the puppy. 

At this age, you will be able to train your child to take care of the puppy. Note, though, that you still have to supervise your child if they are alone with the puppy. A small dog is also a good option as it’s easier for them to handle. 

Samoyed puppy with a girl
A white Samoyed puppy and a little girl are playing together.

Three Years Old

Getting a dog for your kid when they are three years old is also a good idea. This will enable your kid to be able to walk the puppy and play with it. 

At three years old, most kids know the difference between right and wrong, which means they will be able to handle the responsibility of taking care of a puppy. This understanding means you can leave your kid alone with the puppy sometimes.

Puppies will also be highly beneficial at this age because children that have pets tend to have less loneliness, improved self-esteem, and better social skills. 

girl and a puppy
The little girl and a puppy are playing on the field.

Five Years Old

By the time your child reaches five years old, they should already know how to be responsible and independent. 

Children at this age are capable of caring for a puppy on their own. They know how to take care of the dog, play with it, and even feed it. You can leave your child at home with the pet since your kid can now follow instructions and tend to the puppy’s needs.

Plus, you can teach your child to be a responsible pet owner.

However, you still need to be firm in giving your kid instructions about the puppy. For example, make sure that your child knows that they have to keep the dog on a leash when they’re outside and should not leave the pet on its own in the house. 

puppy growls when picked up
Reader Linda emailed us and asked “My puppy growls when I pick her up. Help!”

10 Years Old or Older

As your child reaches this age, there is no doubt that they are responsible enough to take care of a pet independently

At this age, you can leave your child at home for the day, and all you have to do is trust that there is no danger of your kid getting hurt or having trouble training the puppy.

However, your kid will still need your help when paying for the pet’s daily expenses. 

labrador playing with kids
Labradors are huge fans of babies as they age. Active families love a Lab!

Other Factors to Keep in Mind

Besides the best age to get a puppy for your child, there are other factors you need to consider when you’re thinking of getting a pet. 

Genuine Interest

If your child’s main reason for wanting a dog is their friends all have dogs or a particular TV show, then it’s probably not the right time to get them a pet. As much as you can, do not be impulsive in getting your kid a pet just because you feel guilty for not granting their wish.

Your kid has to be 100% interested in having a puppy to be able to take care of it, especially when you are not around.

If your child truly loves dogs, they will be interested in learning more about them. So even if your kid is still young, we recommend talking to them about what it means to be a pet owner. 

little girl and a husky
A young girl and her Husky puppy

Pet Care Contribution

You also need to make sure that your child can contribute to the daily tasks related to raising a pet. While you can still assist your child, a good way to know if they are ready to be a pet owner is to see if they can do their part by cleaning the pet’s cage, feeding it, taking it on walks, and filling up its water bowl. 

bernese mountain puppy drinking milk
A Bernese Mountain puppy feeding a bottle of milk.

Other Pets in the Household

If there are already pets in your household, you need to think about how the new dog will fit in with them. For example, if you already have cats, you should introduce the puppy slowly to your kitties.

For older dogs, you need to make sure that your dog accepts the puppy. If you have a highly dominant dog that will likely not accept the new addition to the family, then you may want to reconsider getting your kid a pet. 

Border Collie meets cat
Border Collie puppy meets the cat for the first time.

The Willingness of Parents To Do the Work

Puppies need a lot of attention. These countless tasks include:

  • Getting walked
  • Being fed
  • Taking a bath
  • Visiting the veterinarian

At this point, you need to decide if you’re willing to take on these responsibilities.

Your kid will not be able to do all these tasks alone, so you need to make sure you have time to spend with your pet while your child is at school or taking care of the other needs of your family.

Dogs keep you company, especially during the times you are alone. They even contribute to health benefits such as lower levels of stress for both kids and adults. That said, you shouldn’t get a puppy if you think you’ll get tired of taking care of it after a few weeks or months.

a maltese puppy takes a forest hike with two owners
A Maltese puppy hiking with two humans. Even small dogs enjoy hikes!

Right Puppy for the Family

We recommend you consider these factors when finding the right puppy for your kid. 


For young kids, you want to get a small-sized dog as it will be easier to handle and cuddle. Dogs like Shih Tzus or Pugs are a great choice.

If your kid is old enough, then you want to get a bigger dog that will be able to play around with them. But, of course, this is not a hard and fast rule.

maltipoo puppy sit grass
A white small Maltipoo puppy waits patiently in the grass. Good boy! Photo: Unsplash/Xuan Nguyen

Energy Level

Some dogs require more playtime than others. For example, herding dogs such as Border Collies and German Shepherds need a lot of exercise.

Meanwhile, Hound dogs like Beagles and Basset Hounds like digging holes and exploring. Terriers such as Jack Russel Terriers and Yorkshire Terriers may require less exercise because they just want to play around. 

corgi puppy running
A cute Corgi puppy running on the grass.


Some breeds are generally easier to train, such as the Labrador or Golden Retriever, especially for kids. On the other hand, you should avoid aggressive dog breeds and those that are smart escape artists. 

Yorkshire Terrier at the park
Yorkshire Terrier is being trained at the park.

Who Is Responsible for the New Puppy? 

When deciding the best age to get a puppy, it’s important to remember that the responsibility of taking care of a pet isn’t only on your child. You need to be involved too. Of course, many parents believe that the responsibility of taking care of pets increases as their child gets older.

While there are many things your child can do in terms of taking care of the pet, some of the responsibilities are still on you. For example, you need to ensure that the dog gets adequate exercise, food, socialization, and warmth.

Keep in mind that dogs should be a part of your family. Let your child understand that having a puppy is a huge commitment. You can’t simply get rid of the dog after a few months. 

family with Shiba Inu puppies
Family playing with Shiba Inu puppies at the park.

Verdict: It Depends on You

Dogs are the most common pets, and it is very common for parents to get them for their children. But the truth is, the answer to the best age to get a puppy for your kid depends on your unique situation.

If you have any doubts about your child’s ability to take care of the pet, you may want to consider waiting a little longer. But if your child shows genuine interest and is willing to put in work, it may be the right time to bring this furry addition to your family.