Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only. While Budget Direct has endeavoured to ensure the information we’ve relied on is accurate and current, we do not guarantee it. Budget Direct accepts no liability for this information.

Whether you’re buying or adopting, owning a dog can be an exciting, yet daunting endeavour. If you’re unsure about how to prepare for a puppy, or how to adopt an adult dog, then here is our guide on what you should know before owning a dog.

See more of Budget Direct’s pet ownership guides.

Buying a puppy

If you choose to buy a puppy from a breeder it’s important that you do a lot of research on where to purchase a dog. A good breeder should employ positive ethical practices to ensure that puppies and their parents are kept safe and healthy.

A responsible breeder will provide a lot of information about your puppy and encourage you to meet them several times before you bring them home. They should also have a clean and safe area for all of the puppies and their mother and should not let puppies leave their mother until they are at least eight weeks old.

Benefits of a breeder:

  • You’re more likely to purchase a pedigree puppy from a breeder
  • If you choose a pedigree you can better predict the size and appearance and the puppy’s physical and emotional wellbeing
  • The breeder will have started to socialise the puppy
  • The breeder can provide a full medical history of the puppy and will sometimes send it directly to a vet when requested
  • The breeder will have the puppy microchipped
  • The breeder will provide information on the puppy’s diet to date.

It’s important to note that in Queensland and several other states across Australia it is a legal requirement that all animals that are sold or given away must be microchipped.

Before buying a puppy:

  • Research your puppy’s breed personality traits and habits
  • Find out if your puppy is weaned (transitioned from its mother’s milk to a solid diet)
  • Request the age of the puppy’s mother to ensure that they are healthy
  • Check the living conditions of the mother and their litter
  • Spend time and play with the puppy
  • Give the puppy something to help them to get used to the smell of your home

Make sure to have your vet check the puppy’s physical condition immediately. This can include weighing the puppy, checking their skin and fur, eyes and ears and teeth and mouth. Your vet can also check for hernias, dental issues, cleft palates, etc.

It’s important to remember that some puppies can be predisposed to specific health conditions and other common dog diseases. Your breeder and a trusted vet can let you know of any health conditions related to your dog’s specific breed or size.

Adopting a dog

Choosing to adopt an adult dog can be an extremely rewarding experience. But before you adopt, make sure to carefully research best adoption practices and develop an understanding of what your adult dog may need.

Benefits of adopting an adult dog:

  • If you adopt through a registered rescue or shelter, the dog will already be desexed and microchipped, removing that additional vet expense.
  • Adult dogs may already be house trained
  • Adult dogs may already be trained using basic commands
  • Adult dogs already have a developed personality, so you’ll have a better idea of how they’ll fit with your family
  • Adult dogs may have lower energy levels than a puppy. This is sometimes dependent on the dog’s breed
  • The size of an adult dog is already defined.

Before bringing an adult dog home, get an insight as to:

  • The age of the dog
  • What kind of life they’ve had
  • What type of personality do they have
  • Whether or not they have a calm disposition around other dogs
  • If they are suitable for a home with children
  • If there is anything that makes the dog anxious, scared, or aggressive
  • If the dog has any health conditions

Similar to a puppy, it’s also important that you spend time with an adult dog before adopting them. See if you can take your prospective dog on a walk or in the car so that they can get more comfortable with you.

The cost of owning a dog

Owning a pet (especially a dog or a puppy) in Australia can get very expensive. As of 2019 Australians are estimated to be spending over $13 billion on food, health, accessories, and veterinary services.[1]

As the most popular type of pet in Australia, there are a lot of initial and ongoing costs associated with buying or adopting a puppy or adult dog [1]. While not every cost will necessarily apply, here are examples of some costs that could apply to you initially, and on an ongoing basis:

Initial costs:

  • Buying or adopting your puppy or dog
  • Vaccination
  • De-sexing
  • Microchipping and registration
  • Bedding
  • Water and food bowls
  • Food

Ongoing costs:

  • Food
  • Grooming
  • Boarding
  • Veterinary services (check-ups, illness, or injury, etc.)
  • Flea prevention, worming/heartworm prevention, and tick prevention
  • Accessories (collars, leashes, coats, etc.)
  • Toys and enrichment items
  • Puppy training/behavioural therapy
  • Dog registration
  • Pet insurance

Read more on how much it costs to own a pet in Australia.

Choosing the right dog breed

When choosing the best dog breed for you and your family you should always consider the size of your living space, your lifestyle, your budget, and the size of the dog. Other considerations could also include whether a particular breed is good with kids, if they’re a good guard dog or if they’re a hypoallergenic breed.

Another important question to ask yourself is whether you want a purebred puppy or a mixed breed puppy? As they grow older, puppies will develop different needs and temperaments which is why it’s so important for owners to choose the right breed from the beginning.

Pure bred puppies

  • If you choose a particular pedigree you’ll be able to better predict the size and appearance of your puppy as they grow
  • You’ll be better informed about a pure-bred puppy’s temperament, how they were socialised and the nature of your puppy’s parents
  • These types of puppies may be more sensitive to a certain lifestyle and environmental elements. So if you have a puppy that needs a lot of exercise then it may not be suited to living in a small apartment.
  • Some breeds can be predisposed to particular health conditions.

Mixed breed puppies

  • If you choose a mixed breed puppy then it may be a little difficult to predict their adult size and temperament as they grow
  • They may have an unknown medical history, and this can be very common amongst rescue dogs
  • Ask a lot of questions and take advice from your vet on adoptions and from the people at rescue organisations who know these puppies best.

Insuring your dog

Whether you choose to buy or adopt your puppy, if you decide to take out pet insurance you should consider insuring them when you first get them as some insurance providers will not cover pre-existing conditions (i.e. conditions that arise before the policy starts and/or during any relevant waiting periods).

Budget Direct has pet insurance that’s easy to understand. With one level of affordable cover, Budget Direct has your pet’s essentials covered.


See more of Budget Direct’s pet ownership guides.


[1] Animal Medicines Australia, 2019, Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people