2 black and white puppies sitting in grass

Q. I’m thinking about getting a pair of puppies, so they can keep each other company. Would you suggest choosing two from the same litter or different litters?

A. I don’t usually recommend raising two puppies together. The first-year start-up costs of puppies — vaccinations, spaying or neutering, as well as unexpected visits to the ER because youngsters often get into trouble — easily outpace the routine maintenance costs of adult pets. And that’s not counting all the other supplies you need for a puppy, including toys, a collar and leash, and a crate. Multiply that by two and you face some serious budget implications.

There’s also the issue of time. Raising a puppy requires a serious commitment, from properly socializing a youngster to attending puppy kindergarten sessions and training classes for more mature puppies. Youngsters who miss out on early socialization and opportunities for learning are more likely to turn into problem adult dogs — and you don’t get a second chance to raise a puppy right. If you have two puppies, you’ll need double the time to provide each one with the socialization and training he deserves.

If you believe that you can handle the time and money constraints, you may be better off selecting puppies from different litters. Puppies from the same litter, especially those of the same sex, may have dominance issues. Reputable breeders often raise promising show or working puppies in the homes of friends or family to allow the youngsters to blossom in environments free of bossier siblings. Of course, even if you do get puppies from different litters, you still need to work with each one individually to prevent the dogs from intensely bonding with each other instead of human family members.

As an alternative, you may consider getting a puppy and a well-mannered adult dog. There are many advantages to this scenario: Adult dogs are generally less costly than puppies, especially when it comes to vet bills. If you work with a respected rescue group or shelter, you’ll find many wonderful adult dogs who require far less time, money, and effort in order to become ideal companions. Plus, an older dog can be a good influence on a puppy, as long as you allow the adult dog to settle in for a month or two before bringing the youngster home.

Regardless of your decision, I applaud your intention to provide the best quality of life for the two dogs you bring into your family. They will be very lucky indeed.

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