Why and how to decide who would keep the dog if your relationship broke up

Why and how to decide who would keep the dog if your relationship broke up

Breed Facts

Whether you are involved in a new serious relationship or if you and your partner have been together for many years, many couples and families make a decision to get a new dog together as a joint pet, rather than it being the property of one of the parties or with one party as the main carer and handler.

This type of joint ownership means that you can split the hard work involved in dog ownership between two of you, ensuring that your dog gets double the attention, love and care that they would get from one owner, which obviously provides many advantages for the dog!

However, if you get a dog with another person rather than as it being your own dog entirely, it is important to have a conversation with your partner about the dog’s care, responsibilities, and what would happen to the dog if you and your partner were no longer together. Understandably, this can seem unnecessary and problematic at the time, as when you make a decision to get a dog together, a future where one of the owners is not present is not really in anyone’s mind!

But however stable your relationship is now and how unlikely you feel it is that you might split up in the coming years, it is important to have a conversation with your partner about what would happen to the dog and who would keep it and care for it if you split up, and make some agreements about this before you even get as far as bringing your dog home.

In this article, we will look at the points that you should cover as part of this conversation, and why it is important. Read on to learn more.

Cover the basics

When it comes to having the big conversation, it is important to cover the basics and ensure that you both agree on how to proceed going forwards.

You will need to consider factors such as who the dog will live with if the family ended up living apart, and this should be based on logical decisions based on what is best for the dog, rather than your own egos and emotions.

You should consider who is the most able to care for the dog in terms of being able to spend time with the dog, walk them, fulfil all of their needs and properly care for them, and also in terms of who is most likely to live in the most suitable accommodation for the dog as well.

Part of this decision should be based on factors including who the dog is most strongly bonded with, who can afford to care for the dog day to day, and who is likely to be able to fit dog ownership around their work life in the way that is best for the dog.

You should also agree on what rights the other person has, such as being able to see the dog and spend time with them, and ideally, this can be worked out as part of helping to support the other person in caring for the dog as well as looking at the desires of both owners to see the dog.

Finances should also be considered, in terms of not only who is best able to pay for the dog, but if the other party, who will hopefully remain in contact with the dog, will also help to pay for them.

Consider what is best for the dog

What is best for the dog, rather than the owners should be the priority of both of you, and this may mean things such as that the dog remains in the main home when one party moves out, in order to provide the dog with some continuity and not such a big change in their familiar routines.

It may also mean that you need to work out between you what is best for the dog and both work towards it, such as if one person has plenty of time available to look after the dog day to day, while the other party is more able to fund the dog’s care, requiring both parties to contribute in their own ways.

Prepare to adapt and compromise

When you have “the talk,” it is also important to acknowledge that things can and do change over time; while one of you might be the obvious choice at the moment to care for the dog if you split up tomorrow, in the future this may all change along with other elements as well.

You should make a firm agreement that both of you will undertake any future negotiations with the best interests of the dog in mind, and that what you agree upon today as the best way to proceed for the dog based on your current lives may be apt to change in future.



Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services


Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale