Like the arrival of a new baby, getting a puppy means you’ll need to shop for lots of essentials to keep your new little one safe and healthy. But what’s necessary—and what’s not—may be confusing when you’re wandering down the aisles of the pet store.
“A few things are necessary when bringing home a puppy, such as a collar and leash, while other things such as a backpack carrier are optional,” says Kayla Fratt, certified dog behavior consultant and founder of Journey Dog Training. “Start with the must-haves, and go from there.”
With advice from Fratt, and drawing on our deep bench of product testing, we’ve assembled the most crucial puppy essentials.
Best Puppy Food
Purina Pro Plan High Protein Dry Puppy Food
Available in large and small breed formulas
No artificial colors or flavors
Smaller kibble size for small dogs
Larger bags more cost-effective but can go stale quickly with small breeds
Puppies are growing fast and have about twice the energy needs of an adult dog of the same breed. With their rapid growth, puppies benefit from a higher protein diet, comprising between 22-32 percent of their food intake. Purina Pro Plan Puppy formula uses high-quality protein—derived primarily from chicken—for muscle development, plus bone health ingredients like calcium, phosphorous, and other minerals. The formula also includes probiotics for digestive health, omega-6 fatty acids derived from fish oil, and a wide spectrum of vitamins. This food also contains ingredients such as DHA for brain and vision development.
The bag includes a helpful chart providing month-to-month serving size guidance based on the anticipated adult weight of your puppy. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula is available in 6-, 18-, and 34-pound bags. Purina also offers several variations on the standard puppy food formula, with Purina Pro Plan foods designed for large breeds, toy breeds (smaller kibbles), and young dogs between the age of one and two.
Price at time of publish: $18 (6-pound bag)
Available Flavors: Chicken, lamb | Nutritional Specs: 28% protein, 18% fat, 12% moisture | Bag Sizes: 6, 18, or 34 pounds
Ruffwear Front Range Dog Collar for Everyday Use, 11"-14"
Separate attachment point for ID tags
No size available for toy-sized puppies
With soft, abrasion-resistant webbing material and a beefy quick-release buckle, this is a great all-around everyday collar for dogs of all sizes.
“I like these because they’re wide which disperses the pressure on your dog’s trachea. That’s especially important if a dog doesn’t yet know how to walk on a leash and tends to pull,” says Fratt.
The collar can be hand washed and air-dried, and it has an aluminum V-ring for sturdy leash attachment. It’s available in 10 different colors and three neck sizes ranging from 11 to 26 inches in circumference. There’s also a separate attachment point for ID tags (so they won’t get tangled up and accidentally lost when taking your dog’s leash off and on) and a silicone tag silencer to keep jangling ID tag noise down. In addition, there’s a matching dog leash and harness (sold separately) if you want to keep your pooch color-coordinated.
Price at time of publish: $15
Neck Sizes: 11-14 inches; 14-20 inches; 20-26 inches | Width: 3/4 inch for 11-14 inch size; 1 inch for larger sizes | Colors: 10
Blue-9 Buckle-Neck Balance Harness, Fully Customizable Fit No-Pull Harness
Six-point adjustable sizing
Easy to change sizing as your dog grows
Learning how to properly adjust can take a little practice
Your pup may be better off wearing a harness, rather than a collar, for walks so that he or she doesn’t pull on the lead, causing pressure against the trachea.
“This harness works well for most dogs and is almost endlessly adjustable, which is great for a growing puppy,” says Fratt.
The harness, which is made in the United States, has a six-point adjustment to ensure a more comfortable fit that doesn’t restrict your dog’s movement. This is important because many other harness styles may fit your dog awkwardly and prevent a normal gait; if it looks like your pup is struggling to walk, it’s probably not the right harness or fit, says Fratt. This harness also has multiple leash attachments so you can hook up a double-attachment leash for better control. It’s made of soft, washable nylon and comes in nine bright colors.
Price at time of publish: $40
Girth Sizes: 13.5 inches to 43.5 inches | Width: 5/8 to 1 inch, depending on size | Colors: 8
Best ID Tag
Friends of Morris Animal Foundation Classic Enameled Jewelry Tag
Handsome, jewelry-like design
A percentage of each sale goes to non-profit animal health organization
Can only be engraved on one side
These tags are beautiful, with smooth edges and bright colors such as pink, royal blue, cherry red, or green. The simple but elegant designs include flower-shaped, bone-shaped, square, or round with a flower, bone, paw print, clover or skull-and-crossbones design. They have the appearance of “jewelry” to dress up your dog’s collar (and appeal to your desire to spoil your pet with the finer things in life!) while providing vital information. The engraving is clear and easy-to-read.
The tags feel substantial, and they come in sizes ranging from dime-sized for tiny toy dogs to 1 3/16-inch diameter for larger dogs. The enameled designs with engraved ID information hold up well for years without chipping or fading, and the tags come with a lifetime warranty. This organization donates $1 from each tag purchased to the non-profit Morris Animal Foundation, which researches animal health around the world, including canine cancer research.
Price at time of publish: $11
Diameter: 1 inches, 1 3/16-inch | Lines for Engraving: 3 or 4, depending on tag size | Colors: 11
Lupine Pet Original Designs Dog Leash
Multiple colors and fun patterns
Not all patterns available in all sizes
This leash is made in the United States and will last forever, thanks to the “even if chewed” lifetime guarantee (a big plus with puppies!). It’s got an ultra-soft padded handle, and a strong, solid D-ring attachment with a built-in swivel, which allows you to easily attach the leash to a collar or harness.
Made from durable woven nylon, the leash is hand and machine washable. The bright designs include solids and prints, including seasonal designs if you want to dress your dog up for every holiday. There also are matching collars (sold separately).
Price at time of publish: $13 and up
Width: 1/2, 3/4, and 1 inch | Length: 2, 4, and 6 feet | Designs: 22 with limited edition designs released occasionally
Best Food Bowl
West Paw No-Slip Bowl
No-slip and no jangly noises while eating
Only available in one size, which is too large for toy dogs
This bowl is made in the United States from Seaflex, a blend of 12 percent ocean-bound plastic and the company’s 88 percent zero-waste proprietary Zogoflex material. It is BPA-free, phthalate free, latex free and FDA-complaint (which means it’s safe for even you to eat from, if you were so inclined!). It’s also recyclable through the company.
This dish won’t slip around on the floor, and because of the materials, there’s no clanking and jangling of dog tags against it during feeding time. Best of all, it can be hand washed in hot water or placed on the top rack of your dishwasher for cleaning. It holds a generous 35 ounces of water and up to 4 cups of kibbles and comes in four bright colors.
Price at time of publish: $30
Interior Diameter: 6 inches | Exterior Diameter: 7 inches | Colors: 4
Best Dog Crate
Petmate Vari Kennel
Will last a lifetime
Comes apart for cleaning
Not collapsible for easy storage
Crates are useful tools for keeping your pup safe and out of trouble (no chewing the sofa!) when you’re not at home or to provide a nice, safe place for your fur baby to settle down and feel secure when it’s time to rest and get away from the noise of your household. While a basic wire kennel is a good inexpensive starter kennel, this crate is considered the gold standard by many trainers and vets. It’s useful for home training, as well as travel, such as to the vet’s office.
Make sure you choose the appropriate size; you need a crate that is large enough for a pet to stand up and turn around in, says Fratt. This one comes in a variety of sizes and is made from 90 percent recycled content. It’s made in the USA and has an easy-to-squeeze clasp on the door, as well as ample air flow holes all the way around. The larger sizes have tie-down strap holes so you can secure it in a vehicle. It comes apart for easy cleaning; just hose it down or rinse out in the shower.
Price at time of publish: $40 (small) to $200 (extra large)
Sizes: 19" Interior: 16.2" L x 12" W x 9" H, 24" Interior: 21.5" x 15" x 13.5", 28" Interior: 24.25" x 18.25" x 19.5", 32" Interior: 29.5" x 19.75" x 23.5", 36" Interior: 32.5" x 22.25" x 26", and 40" Interior: 36.25" x 24.75" x 28.8"
Best Puzzle Toy
West Paw Zogoflex Toppl Puzzle Toy
Fantastic for frozen treats
Gnawers should be supervised during use
One of the ways to help teach your dog to stimulate your dog’s brain is with puzzle toys. This toy has a unique shape that’s easy to pack full of goodies such as nut butters, smashed up bananas, or tiny bits of cheese for your pup to explore. Because puppies will be teething and needing to chew to ease their discomfort, this toy is best only for supervised play, not to be left alone.
Made in the USA, this toy is designed for moderate chewers only (so it’s not a good choice for every dog), is BPA and latex free, and it’s FDA compliant. The cavity has little nubs to hold treats in place until your dog works them out. You can increase the challenge by connecting smaller and larger Toppls together. It’s also dishwasher safe and made with the company’s proprietary zero-waste Zogoflex recyclable material.
Price at time of publish: $20 to $29
Size: Small (2.5 x 3 x 3 inches); Large (3.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches); Extra Large (3.75 x 4.75 x 4.75 inches) | Colors: 4
Best Dog Nail Clippers
Safari Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer
Two sizes available for small or large breeds
Easy to pinch your palm between the handles
You’ll definitely need to learn how to clip your pup’s toenails, and starting at a young age is the way to get them used to this necessary grooming task. Make sure to choose the correct size for your dog’s nails so you’re cutting, not crushing, nails.
There are many different types of trimmers. For example, be aware that rotary grinding-style trimmers, which allow you to file down nails instead of cutting them, aren’t recommended for longhaired dogs; that’s because hair can become wrapped around the rotary tool portion, causing pain or injury. In general, simple is best. “I prefer the clipper style because you can see better exactly what you’re taking off,” says Fratt.
This particular trimmer has double-bladed cutters with a tension spring for a clean cut and better control. The handle is non-slip so you can get a good grip on them, while they can be used whether you’re right or left-handed.
Price at time of publish: $12 (small), $16 (large)
Size: 5 inches (small); 6.6 inches (large)
Best Dog Brush for Sensitive Skin
Conair Pro Pet Soft Slicker Brush
Gentle on sensitive skin
Easy to use on tight spots such as underarms and behind ears
Brush head too small to groom a large puppy or dog
You may need to try out a few different types of brushes for grooming, especially on pups with long-hair, which can mat easily, says Fratt. This slicker brush has plastic, instead of traditional metal pins, to work through tangles, so it’s less stiff and harsh for pets with sensitive skin. The comfortable tips of each pin also are reinforced and coated to prevent tearing at your dog’s skin.
It comes in two sizes; the small is designed for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds, the medium is for medium-sized dogs weighing 30 to 50 pounds. This brush works for getting average mats out of areas such as underarms and behind ears. Plus, it has a grippy memory gel handle that won’t slip out of your hands.
Price at time of publish: $8 (small), $10 (medium)
Size: 2 x 1 x 7 inches (small); 4 x 1 x 7 inches (medium)
Best Dog Brush for De-Matting
Coast Pet Safari Dog De-Matting Comb
Solid feel in the hand
Cuts through most mats effectively
A little large for toy breeds
Chances are, your pup will end up with tangles and knots at some point—often behind the ears, hindquarters or under arms. You could try to painstakingly comb knots out, or you could use this de-matting tool for a quicker, less painful experience for both you and your pet.
This comb has a handle with a solid grip; start at the outer edge of the mats and work inward until it pulls through smoothly. The teeth are designed to cut through extra-tough knots and mats without coming into contact with your dog’s skin. It works well on medium to long-haired dogs and dogs with hair that tends to mat up regularly.
Price at time of publish: $14
Size: 1.5 x 4 x 10 inches
Best Dog Bed
Best Friends by Sheri The Original Calming Donut Bed in Shag Fur
Filling can mat down between washes
A dog bed should be big enough for your dog to stretch out, though every dog has his or her own personal preference.
“One of my dogs likes to lie on the floor, no matter how many different kinds of beds we have throughout the house,” says Fratt. However, many dogs enjoy the feel of a walled bed that cradles them and gives them a backdrop to snuggle up against to feel secure.
This one has a rounded shape and a deep, soothing cradle so dogs can burrow and snuggle in. The bolstered edge gives a comfy headrest. The Calming Donut Cuddler Bed comes in five sizes, and best of all, it can be tossed in the washer and dryer to keep it smelling fresh.
Price at time of publish: $41 (extra small) to $99 (large)
Size: 23, 30, 36, or 45-inch circumference | Fabric: Nylon and shag faux fur
Best Dog Deodorizer
Biokleen Bac-Out Natural Enzyme Stain and Odor Remover
Ready-to-use formula doesn’t have to be diluted
Citrus extracts for light scent
Multi-purpose cleaner for more than pet messes
No fragrance-free option if you’re sensitive to scents
When it comes to puppies, messes (lots of messes!) happen. To clean up accidents, look for cleaners that are bioactive with a live culture, which is a bacteria population that creates enzymes that attach to odor-causing molecules, breaking them down until they become inert.
This formula works not only on pet odors, but also on wine spills, cloth diapers, and other smelly substances, so it’s multi-use. This cleaner also is plant-based and Green Seal certified and doesn’t contain any artificial fragrance or colors. It’s a pet parent favorite for both pet urine and vomit stains so it’s practical to keep on hand long.
Price at time of publish: $27
Size: Available in 32- and 128-ounce bottles
Regalo Easy Step Extra Wide Walk Thru Baby Gate
Built-in walkthrough door
Includes extension kit
Available in two sizes
Only available in white
The Regalo Easy Step Baby Gate is a great way to keep curious puppies out of rooms or areas where they might get into trouble, have accidents, or hurt themselves. This particular baby gate expands to fit doorways between 29 and 34 inches wide, and it also includes a 6-inch extension that increases its width to a maximum of 38.5 inches. It’s made from steel and is 30 inches tall, and it uses pressure mounts to hold the gate in place, saving you from having to drill into your walls.
Don’t worry about climbing over the baby gate, either. It has a convenient walk-through design that makes it easy for your family to open, and the one-touch safety lock ensures your puppy won’t get through. The gate is lightweight and easy to assemble, and can give you peace of mind that you pup isn’t getting into mischief when you’re not looking.
Price at time of publish: $45
Best Poop Bags
Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags
Easy to open and separate
Fits in all standard dispensers
Available scented or unscented
Only compostable at municipal facilities
Even if you have a backyard where your dog can do their business, it’s a good idea to have poop bags on hand—you never know where you’ll be when nature calls! The Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags are an extremely popular choice among pet parents, as they’re thick, strong, and leakproof. Each roll has 15 bags on it, and you can choose from unscented or lavender-scented bags, but either way, the bags will help contain odors. The bags are easy to separate and open, and the roll cores are recyclable and made from recycled materials.
Price at time of publish: $15
Best Teething Ring
N-Bone Puppy Teething Ring
Digestible and edible
Can get a little sticky and messy during chewing
Teething rings are perfect for puppies who have an urge to chew, but aren't yet aggressive or strong chewers. N-Bone Puppy Teething Rings are dense, fully edible, and have supplemental nutrition, including calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. That's why it's one of our very favorite chew toys for puppies. While your young puppy will probably love teething rings, be sure to check the serving size—for very young dogs, a partial ring may well be enough. Watch out, they can also be a little messy.
Price at time of publish: $11 (6 count bag)
What to Look for When Choosing Puppy Essentials
It’s fine to pick up that cute doggie sweater for your new pup, but if you’re on a budget, stick with the things your dog can’t go without (see FAQs below). Then buy the fun stuff!
With all that play time and roughhousing, puppies can be hard on their possessions. Look for products that come with a lifetime warranty, when possible. Many collars and leashes are made from nylon webbing, which can withstand thousands of pounds of pressure. However, they are vulnerable to chewing. Until you have a sense of how destructive your puppy may be, it’s important to keep commonly used accessories like leashes away from them when not under your supervision.
Products That Grow with Them
Products that can adapt as your puppy grows are a smart choice. This is especially important with large breeds, which go from a handful to a full-sized 70-pound dog seemingly overnight! For example, when shopping for a crate for large breed puppies, look for one that has a divider that allows you to increase your pup’s interior space in the crate as he or she grows, says Fratt.
What do I need to buy for a new puppy?
It depends on your household (and budget), but there are certain items that aren’t negotiable. For starters, every dog needs nutritious food, a food bowl, leash, and collar with ID tags. Your dog should be microchipped but still wear tags.
“Only vets and some shelters and rescue organizations have devices to scan microchips,” says Fratt. “If your dog is lost, you want whoever finds him or her to be able to contact you immediately. The average person won’t have a microchip scanner or may not even know about this technology.”
Other must-haves include cleanup products for the inevitable accidents during housetraining, grooming tools such as a brush and nail trimmers, and a way to safely contain your dog, such as a crate.
“You need to be able to protect your dog from your stuff and your stuff from your dog,” says Fratt. After that, it’s up to you as far as how much you want to spoil your new fur baby.
Why Trust The Spruce?
We consulted a dog trainer and certified dog behavior expert to learn what essentials are necessary for every new puppy, as well as leaned on personal experiences with using the above products on real dogs. Writer Arricca SanSone shares her home with two papillons who prefer her bed to any other in the house.