How old do you have to be before buying a dog?

I know what it feels like to be scrolling on instagram and be bombarded with photos and videos of cute doggies on a daily basis. This might be quite hard for you if you are a dog lover and can’t wait to share such bond with your own dog but your parents keeps nagging you about responsibility and how you are too young to actually keep a dog.

It can be very frustrating but sadly they are right. Here’s why.

How old do you have to be before buying a dog?

Legally, you cannot own a dog until you are a legal adult. No breeder or rescue will give a dog to a minor unless their parents accompany them. The reason is that you cannot be held to a contract you sign until you are 18 and there are some legally binding contracts that only an adult can enter.

But if you are getting the dog with your earnings and want to specify, you can have your name down on the registration papers and be recognized as the primary caretaker.

Furthermore, a breeder would want to know if you are actually allowed to own a dog and not trying to cut corners, and they can only be certain unless your parents are present.

Also sometimes, some breeders might want to speak to the members of your family and ask questions to make sure their pups are taken to a suitable home, which is understandable since any responsible breeder would be curious about their pup’s new family. So all of these make it important your parents are present while you are getting your new pup.

I know your parents accompanying you to a breeder can be quite a drag, they might influence you into getting another breed you are not interested in, but looking at the bright side, they could also work in your favor.

For example, they would be able to protect you from getting ripped off by greedy breeders whose asking price are outrageous, or you could work with their experince on detecting unhealthy dogs breeders might lure you to buy. Whatever the case may be, your parents presence would still be an advantage.

How prepared should you be?

I know what you are thinking, how do you get 100% prepared for a dog as a minor?. First of all, you can never be 100% ready. No amount of reading or research would prepare you enough for your new adopted friend.

Dogs differs and you have to meet your dog and spend some quality time with it, for you to know it’s personality and know how to fully take care of it.

Factors to consider before getting a dog.

There are a lot of things to consider before getting a dog at such age, but let us start with the most obvious question, “Would you have time for the dog? “.

This question should be the first you should consider because as a teenager, juggling your academics with raising a dog might not be quite easy especially when you have to  go away to college. This could cause depression in your dog, as your dog cannot understand why it is being abandoned.

Dogs unlike cats, require lots of attention and care, so if you would be going away for 8 hours everyday for school, and you probably are spending most of your evenings out with friends or occupied with homework, then you might have to understand that it is probably isn’t realistic to get a dog.

Your dog would need your human company as much as you also need human company, so if you can’t give it that, then it is not the right time.

Another question you should be asking yourself, is if you are financially capable of taking care of the dog’s needs. Dog care can be quite expensive and a high schooler’s allowance will not be sufficient to take care of all it’s needs.

Can you pay for regular check ups at the vets? Or are you prepared in case there is an emergency you have to deal with and have need to spend some unforseen cash? Decent vets aren’t cheap and your dog will need to visit the vet at least once in a year. The bigger the dog, the more expensive the med.

Can you afford quality dog food? Dog’s food are of different quality, the one good for your dog might be quite expensive and since you will want to give it the best, it would cost you more money.

 Your dog might also require a different and more expensive food while growing up, joint supplements and extensive vet care as it gets older and you should be able to commit to a senior dog as it is a pup.


If you can manage all of this, then go for it but remember you need your parents approval. But if not, wait a few years till you are finally established. Remember, having a dog is a life time commitment and not just for you but for the dog also.

Someone once said, “Dogs are wonderful companions to have in your life but you also have to make sure you are a wonderful human to be in a dog’s life too”, so think deeply before making any decision. I hope it works out for you and your future furry friend, whenever that might be.

Related Information.

Will my dog affect my studying?

No worries. Having a dog won’t affect your studying or pull your grades down, unless you lack discipline yourself. Give the dog a room away from where you are studying and make sure it has a pet run to block off the room.

Visiting the dog can provide a calming study break which is far more preferable than checking through your phone. Just make sure you visit the dog often to avoid it getting lonely.

 It is advisable to better not get a puppy as they require more attention than adult dogs. There are millions of dogs that get killed every year at shelter that run out of room so adopting a dog is definitely better.