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Too Many Dogs? How Many IS Too Many?

The answer to that question lies in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. Two is too many for some households, ten is too few for others. My own personal best number feels happiest at four. I cannot tell you why I feel that way. That is just when peace and contentment seem to fully set in. But truthfully, that is only because I am the sole human in residence at the moment. There is only so much one person can do, in my opinion. There would be more if I had more help!

I used to think I was the oddball since having four dogs (before I lost Merlin) raised so many eyebrows. Having run a rescue for thirteen odd years, four was the fewest in residence most times. I once had nine here, five of them being puppies. That was a hectic time! I have had eight adult dogs at once, with four being either boarders or temporary fosters on their way somewhere else. Again, hectic!

Nine dogs on a futon.

Nine dogs on a futon.

Not being a fan of hectic, I have since learned to pace myself. Someday, when I have more room, both inside and outside and possibly another human to assist, I want more dogs as the status quo, but until that day comes, I will stick with a maximum of four permanent canine residents.

The reasons for this will shortly become clear. I have a check-list of minimum requirements for a multiple dog household. My own personal check list includes the basics, of course, such as appropriate affectionate attention to all, exercise sufficient to maintain canine (and human!) sanity, extra curricular dog activities when appropriate and cash flow sufficient to properly feed and vet all. Vetting, for me, also includes a monthly pet insurance payment, which actually makes the actual sickness and illness vetting process much easier. Peace of mind does have a price after all!

Your mileage may vary. But my own preferences aside, providing for physical needs is important. Remember, your crew must trust that you can take care of their physical needs in order to FULLY trust you, so this forms the basis of that trust. Do not take that need lightly.

Space is important as far as how many dogs you actually have room for in your home. Indoor space is important, but breed types can determine how important your indoor and outdoor space is. For example, if you have multiple Great Danes, although large, in general, they are not in need of a lot of exercise and running room so a large yard is not necessary. They are also known for liking to lounge around the house so again, as long as you have the space to accommodate such lounging, your house need not be large.

On the other side of the equation, having multiple herding breeds such as Border Collies, will make you wish that you not only have a large fenced yard but a few sheep to herd as well! Know your breed preference requirements when deciding on a happy number for your household!

Multiples mean more work such as laundry, vacuuming, poop scooping, training, walking but also more fun, more laughs, more kisses and love. You have to decide what your own limit it.

One other caveat that is of vital importance: everyone should get along. No one should have to live with permanent barriers between dogs who get along so badly that that there are safety concerns. Mistakes WILL happen. Eventually. So if there’s no fixing the problem, consider re-homing the most recently added crew member who is part of the problem.

Now that I have covered all the high points of how many is appropriate, take the time to tell me in the spaces below, what your crew consists of and why if there is a why? Join me in celebrating a household of multiples!

Please contact me if you want to know, “How many dogs can I have?”

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89 Comments

  1. Caryl February 10, 2016

    I have two dogs: a 100 lb lab and a Pomeranian. I would love to get another dog but I’m afraid it would upset such a great balance. I will probably foster a dog and see how it goes.

  2. Roberta Winchester February 16, 2016

    I just got my 4th rescue a week ago. She’s about a year and very sweet. My 11 year old is part lab and her size does scare the puppy, which is so crazy because she is the gentlest dog on earth. I’ve never had an 11 pound dog before. They do lay by each other and play but if the big dog startles her she growls. They are also both food aggressive, so I have to be careful when feeding. I don’t think I could give her up, and I really feel like they will work it out.

  3. Natasha February 22, 2016

    I have Three Husky, Mallamute mixes. And I’m thinking of getting and Australian Sheppard, How many dogs can I have?

  4. Melissa February 22, 2016

    I have a Morkie who is 2 lbs a Yorkie who is 5 lbs and a Australian Shepard.
    I am looking and interested in getting a big dog like a mastiff to protect my home.. What’s your opinion I live in town. I have a big yard with doogy door going in and out of heated garage

  5. Holly April 7, 2016

    I have 4 dogs at the minute!! My first one was a 1 year old rescue Great Dane/ Labrador retriever a male called Buster (he responded to that name at the shelter). When Buster was 3 years old I bought an eight week old male basset hound puppy called Dean. Buster didn’t accept Dean at first and because in the difference of energy and size it was pretty hard but now there quite good friends but Dean is a more people dog. When Buster was 4 years old and Dean was 1 year old we bought an eight week old border collie/ Labrador retriever for a proper playmate for Buster this dog was a female and we called her Tilly. When Buster was 8 years old, Dean was 5 years old and Tilly was 4 years old we rescued a 2 year old Pomeranian/chihuahua a female called Mollie. The pack accepted Mollie quite well (the more dogs you have the more the introductions are easier) especially Dean who loved having a playmate his own size even though he can’t rebothered too play most of the time. Now Buster is 10 years old, Dean is 7 years old, Tilly is 6 years old and Mollie is 4 years old we are planning to get a male working cocker spaniel puppy on September 2016 to be my little mate. Thanks for taking your time to read this

  6. Otelia April 23, 2016

    My husband and I had 9 dogs with potential for fighting between siblings. Yesterday while my husband was gone and I was at my moms out of town, the dogs got into a big fight and one of them was badly injured and as a result died. How do we keep peace and harmony with the 8 dogs that are left? One of the 8 dogs is still a puppy at 4 months old.

  7. Elaine May 9, 2016

    Four is a great number to have. Currently I have 7 angels. All a family. The father is a border collie and the mother is a cross between a border collie and a labrador. She had 5 puppies. Sometimes I feel a bit self conscious when taking them to the vet because the receptionist looks irritated when she sees how many dogs I own. I have a white alsation on the way which I am adopting from my stepdad. I’m not sure how these breeds will respond with each other but the other day the dad actually played with the alsation pup. Do you think I should still take them to their regular vet even though the front desk look irritated with my many dogs or should I find another vet, which I don’t really want to do?

  8. Bianca May 12, 2016

    We also have 7 furbabies. GSD, two Spaniel mixes, Pitty Mix, Maltese. Fox Terrier and Min Pinscher. Lost our Jack Russel about two months ago… Thinking of having a baby now.. lost our little girl last year at 5 months pregnant.. Any suggestions?? Thanks, Bianca

  9. Debby McMullen May 18, 2016

    I sent you and email when you submitted this to ask your location but I have not heard back from you. It is imperative that you get a qualified professional in to assess the situation to make sure that something like this never happens again. If you would provide me with your ZIP code, I can direct you to the right person.

  10. Animal lover August 29, 2016

    Hello, i need some advice on what to do. I live in a big 1 bedroom apartment and have 4 little dogs. 3 yorkies a maltese and a morkie. They are my life and i dont know what i would do without them. I was a very depresed individule and they help me with my depretion. Well my issue is my landlord sent me a letter stating that i had 5 days to get them out or she will get them out. What can i do please.

  11. stefanocreativeflow October 31, 2016

    My darling bitch had 9. I have now 3 pups and my girl. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment with a yard. I gave them for adoption but had to fight one family as they tried to sell the puppy for some easy cash the next day to a drug addict. I got her back but they tried to pose as trainers and wanted to buy the whole 3. I decided to keep them. I am not experienced with so many dogs. My latin temper helps me put them in place and they are ok with that. I love them and keep them out in the yard almost all day. Winter is approaching. I would want to find good families for them but it is a small town and the people wanting these dog mixes are few. They are Vorster, labrador, german shepherd and some more we do not know about the dad. I will give it a go. I will buy roller skates and have them pull me around. Eventually, I will get a kidney transplant and by then I hope they are grown and trained. It is a challenge!

  12. sarah rolseth November 6, 2016

    Our crew consists of an odd variety. Our first dog being some sort of shepherd mix standing at 19.5″s and weighing 50lbs. She was a craigslist puppy, which sge was chained to a tree then locked in a crate for weeks and all this by the time she was only 13 weeks old. The owners said if we didnt take her they would put her down because nobody wanted her. Shes very hyper and excitable but loves everyone and everything. Our 2nd pup is a red merle Chihuahua. Our friends got him from someone who had mentally disables children who broke one of his legs and killed the other dog they had. So after one of our other dogs passed and going away on a camping trip and leaving our shepherd with a friend. We went to pick her up and ended up being talked into taking him home with us. Then we have our plott hound. We got him off craigslist at 8 weeks old. Expecting him to be in better shape than the rest of our dogs past. But nope. He almost dies because he was so sick and infested with fleas and worms. It took us 6 rounds of dewormers over 8 weeks to get rid of them all. He was only 4lbs when we got him. Hes now a happy goofy 70lb giant goof. And lastly someone had asked me to take in an elderly shih tzu. She is 10. Has a horrible underbite, a hooded vulva, a mass on her breast and was just very oily and smelly and dirty and had fleas. We took her straight to the vet and previous owner did not disclose any of that information at all. And she also has a rear knee that pops in and out of place with every step she takes. We typically take in the dogs nobody wants and get them before they go to the shelter, are turned loose, put down or neglected. They all get along great and actually developed a pack mentality and get upset if we take one somewhere with out the rest. They depend on each other quite a bit. Although its expensive and can be hectic especially with 2 kids, i wouldnt have it any other way.

  13. Emma Miller November 9, 2016

    I have a 80 ibs Rottweiler (bear, unspayed female, 5 years) A 50 ibs Cane Carso/pitbull mix (Bailey, unspayed female,13 months) 5 ibs pomerainian poodle mix (no name yet, unspayed female, 10 months)
    I also live in a 2 bedroom apartment and have a 1 year old daughter. I am getting another pit. That will be my limit.

  14. Patricia Martin November 30, 2016

    Hi, i bought a hairless chinese crested pup 2 years agoand i adopted a yorkie/ cairn terrier mix from shelter. While getting my 2 dogs groomed. The groomer asks me if i like to adopt her 2 hairless chinese females. She was pregnant had 2 big dogs and just didn’t feel as though she was able to care for the girls. Wellll how could i turn down 2 beautiful 1 year old girl chinese cresteds. I honestly don’t feel as though 4 dogs is too many but ive had people tell me 4 dogs are too many.

  15. Lindsay December 6, 2016

    We have a 7 yr old Rotti/Lab, a 7 yr old Husky, a 5 year old Cavalier King Charles and we currently have a foster we think he is about 12 weeks, Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees cross. We have fallen in love with him and are contemplating keeping him… everyone says 4 dogs is crazy… the house is a little hectic with the new pup and the older dogs find him very annoying and don’t pay much attention to him. But it he has such a great demeanor we think he will settle down and be a very good dog with some training. We have a large house and yard so no issues with space. Help, is 4 dogs crazy!?

  16. Bella December 6, 2016

    I got 4 Shelties. 2 males and 2 females.

  17. Laura December 15, 2016

    I have 8 dogs-(from oldest to youngest) Jack, 8 yr old Mini Schnauzer, ZsaZsa 7yr rescued Britney Mix, Macy 6yr old rescued Aussie Mix, Ammo 5 yr old American Britney, Ruger 4 yr old rescued Mini Dauc/Mini Poodle Mix, Piper 3yr old rescued Boston Terrier Mix, Charlie 3yr old Golden Retriever, and the most recent addition- Lulu 1yr old rescued Pit Bull.
    All of our dogs are one big family, they have the occasional (your getting on my nerves leave me alone) bark fest. We did also run into a slight problem between Macy and Lulu but they have learned to love each other, but as with any multiple dog family it is very important to supervise your dogs closely when introducing a new family member and must expect an adjustment period for you and your dogs, and ensure that your home stays a healthy environment for all of your paw babies new and old.
    I am not sure if we are done adding to our dog family yet, we just never know when we will fall in love with that perfect dog at adoption days while picking up supplies at PetsMart or the poor stray that needs a loving home comes into our lives.
    If you can get passed the non stop sweeping/vacuuming, the chorus of barking dogs when a strange noise occurs, the auto ship dog food shipments, the vet bills, the days where you come home to all of your dogs having a bad kennel day and spend the evening after a long day at work bathing dogs and cleaning
    kennels, the stress of finding a person to take care of a pack of loved dogs while you are out of town; then feel free to have as many as you want just remember that every dog depends on their owners for food, shelter, love, training, cuddles, and health.

  18. Lilliana January 2, 2017

    My family has 6 dogs but I really want my mom to let us have another dog that we rescued on the street. She looks like a border collie/husky mix and about 7 years old and she is very well mannered and a good dog. My mom says that she cant but I told her that I will give her all my Christmas and birthday money I have saved up (around $695.91) and I even said I will sell all my toys to get enough money to take care of her. My big brothers (17 and 19 almost 20) even said they will use there money from work (around $200 in payment not including tips) to help pay for her care but my mom still thinks 7 is to many. Right now we have a mini English bull dog; Lucy Lu(going to be 2 years old), a dalmation; Scout (going to be 3 years old), a Maltese/Shih tzu mix; Bentley (going to be 2 years old), a shih tzu; Zsa Zsa(going to be 13 years old), a yorkie/poodle mix; Chloe (going to be 6 years old), and a teacup yorkie; Scooter (going to be 11 years old). All of our dogs are very good, well behaved dogs and are trained really good just like the one we rescued 2 days ago. So I dont see a problem with it but my mom still is not sure. Please help! Is 7 to many??

  19. Taylor January 11, 2017

    Our pack has 5 members. The oldest tobi; jack russel terrier beagle mix he is 4 years old about 30 lbs. Then Caesar; GSD year and a half about 100 lbs. Next is Zeus; GSD/husky mix year old about 75lbs. All three of them were craigslist dogs. Tobi and zeus were badly abused. Then we rescued from the shelter our 1st girl kahlua; boxer pit mix about 55lbs. We thought we were done with 4 until i found Nova; 9week old pure bred pitbull who was going to the pound if they couldnt find her a home. So of course we adjusted and made room. It gets very hectic for us especially because we live on a military base.. But we have a three bedroom home fenced in back yard amd its just me and my husband. The dogs have their own room lol. They bark like crazy and the two big boys fight over food occasionally but we make it work. I love my family.

  20. Panyia January 13, 2017

    I have three dogs – an 8 year old Japanese Chin, a 3 year old Chihuahua mix, and a 4 month old Havanese/Poodle. After reading this article, it’s good to know that I’m not the only person who gets crazy looks whenever I mention how many pets I own. There’s also no reason why I decided to get a third dog, other than that I can handle it – time wise and financially. Truth be told, I could totally handle four dogs, but my budget can’t, so I’m at three.

  21. Diondre January 24, 2017

    My first dog was a lab/pit mix. My 2nd dog was a pitbull. My third dog i recently got in nov was a Dogo argentino. And im getting a 4th dog today. I have just always been in love with dogs and think 4 is a good balance for me and my girlfriend. And they get along very well. With me going to college and settling in the same state as i went to college with me not having any family around they are my family. I never feel lonely at all with them around. I remember when i lost a good friend to a car accident last february my oldest lab/pit mix really took care of me. I remember when she laid in front of me watching me cry and she literally got up and gave me a hug. Thats when i knew i had a furever friend in her.

  22. April January 29, 2017

    I have a Pomeranian, shitzu, daschund and Japanese chin. I love these guys and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Some people make fun of me and say I’m crazy. I don’t believe I am. I think people who love animals are a special breed within themselves.

  23. Alissa February 22, 2017

    I currently have 8 dogs and 5 cats. My husband is laid off from work right now and the pets are driving him crazy! From the muddy paws when it rains to the ‘accidents’ in the house to the constant barking, his patience is wearing thin and I have no idea what to do! We share the chores pretty evenly, but having 13 pets means there is always something to clean, someone to feed and someone getting into mischief. I need help and I have no idea who to ask or how to get it.

  24. JoAnne March 4, 2017

    We have 6 dogs. 1 German Shepard, 1 Cavachon and 4 Morkies. They make my house a happy home!

  25. Carine March 16, 2017

    We have 14. 12 Dachshunds, 1Chihuahua mix, and 1 Chesapeake. All but the chessie are seniors. Everybody is fixed and microchipped. If vet attention is needed they go. I am currently working my way down the list having teeth cleanings done. Our home is very clean. We have 2 acres all fenced in seperate pieces. This requires lots of work and lots of money. No vacations together. We truly would have a much different financial lifestyle if we did not have all of them (seniors need to go to the vet often, got one with renal disease and one with liver disease and one in a cart.) The RX food is astronomically high. But you know what? We are happpy and we love them dearly!

  26. Kirsty March 26, 2017

    I loved this blog and then loved all the comments more! I found this as we’re contemplating a third dog – we have two small lurchers. The oldest (dog) is roughly 18 months and we also have a one year old bitch. Both were adopted at six months of age so we’ve been living with two crazy, energetic pups but now the training is paying off and they’re settling with age we’d love a third (and probably a fourth!). I’d get another young lurcher I think but any cute young rescue mutt will be in with a chance! Part of the reason I want a third is do that I can take individual dogs out with me (whether to agility classes or just to a coffee shop for socialisation) without leaving a dog alone.

  27. Kelly April 6, 2017

    I have 7 dogs and 2 cats. All rescues and they are my world. I am a single parent to foster kids. I feel judged a lot for how many furbabies I have but my heart would be empty without them.

  28. Julia Girard April 10, 2017

    I have 4 dogs and reading all your posts has made me feel so much better about it! My dad and most my family think I’m crazy (they aren’t dog people) they always tell me I’m crazy and I have too many. I have molly a chihuahua who has a lot of anxiety issues. Then I have another chihuahua named allie that helps molly a lot when I’m gone. I have foxxy a tibetian spaniel. And a newly added chihuahua named poquito. She’s been with me for about two months but is still very different from the others. The other 3 dogs lay on the couch with me, but she’s rather lay somewhere else. Also doesn’t try to get too much attention from me. I was thinking about taking her back to the rescue. I’m just wondering if she’s not happy. Her and allie fight over toys sometime and she’s very food aggressive. I’d just like her to be part of the group.

  29. Hudson Wyatt April 23, 2017

    We just rescued a 4th dog. 4 dogs. Kind of daunting. Her name is Zoe (not Zoey). She is probably 8 lbs.

  30. Patti May 8, 2017

    I have 3 female rescue dogs, a sheltie mix, aussie mix and collie mix, thinking of a 4th who needs some tender loving care and patience…am i crazy???? Its only me to take care of them all. My current ones are relatively easy at ages 6 to ? as our last dog our vet is unable to place her age. New pup is one is a shelter very scared of people but loves dogs, so I am thinking of trying to adopt and get her to come around. She is being given virtually no attention at 5 months of age, really sad

  31. Barbara Hood May 25, 2017

    I am thinking of adding a 4th fur baby. I have a yorkie mix, 2 yorkies and the 4th one would be a yorkie adoption. The new baby has an open font but the vet said she is in great health and could live a normal life. I have a call into my vet to see what problems arise with an open font(a soft spot on top of the head).

    I have a big fenced in back yard and work about 25 hours outside of the home. I walk my dogs and of course take them for regular vet checks and teeth cleanings. They all sleep with me and I always feel like they save me …..

  32. Anonymous June 4, 2017

    I have 3 dogs and I wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s so much better than two. It all just comes down to money.

  33. Diane June 4, 2017

    We have 4 dogs. 2, 8 year old shelter dogs, 1, 5 year old got from friend, and 1, 6year old we got from Korean meatfarm. Love them all. Wouldn’t change a thing.

  34. Debby McMullen June 12, 2017

    If you feel like you can meet all of their needs, then go for it!

  35. Izzy July 21, 2017

    When it comes down to it who cares what other people think. I have 8 dogs, five cats, and five birds. Yes, it’s never ending mopping, sweeping, and poop patrol but in the end the critters and me are happy. That’s what it comes down to: good pack dynamics, and a schedule. There is no number that is “too much” it all depends on how much time, money, training, and effort you are willing to put it.

  36. Marta Towne August 15, 2017

    I have four and a half dogs and four cats, lol. Scruffy is a terrier/chiuahua cross 12yrs/20lbs, lex is a Chihuahua cross 11years/15lbs, Annie is a Chihuahua cross 9 years, 6 lbs and Oscar is a hound cross, 5 years and 80lbs. Then I have Taco, a 3 pound 5 year old Chihuahua! Four cats timmy@10y, David@9yrs, Toothless@4yrs and Archangel @2yrs.

  37. Samantha August 25, 2017

    Okay I have 2 pit bulls at home and they are an even mix of I want to lay around and be lazy and I wanna romp and play . I also have a small whippet who just hides for the most part haha she likes solitude and is kinda old . I found a beautiful Pitt and I’m head over heels for her but I’m scared my house may be too small. Please help me !!! How many dogs is too many?! And how many would you suggest in a smaller house ?!

  38. Amy September 20, 2017

    I have 6 but in a week it will be 7 with a new puppy rescue. I’d love having my guys we range from a 10pd morkie to a 105pd Great Dane. In the middle we have a American bulldog who is 100pds a Beagle mix who is 45, a German Shepherd mix who is currently 45pd but I don’t think she’s getting much bigger and a 20 pd mix mutt. And the puppy we are getting is a Great Dane. Yeah I’m crazy I know it but I have two kids who are older who help me a lot. We have a acre of a 9foot privacy fence which is a massive help they all go out whenever they feel like it. The only issue is our bulldog she has some bully issues with the smaller guys but it’s only sometimes she can’t be out running with the little guys and for the most part she knows it she’s super smart. But I think it’s all up to the person the only thing that sucks is traveling it gets costly!! But we have a dog sitter, our big girls go to the kennel An the little guys stay here with out dog sitter and it works. I worry if something would happen the sitter wouldn’t know what to do w the big girls they can be a hand full and sometimes playtime can get a little out of hand nothing bad but mom worries

  39. Heidi C Hausmann September 23, 2017

    Great article I hope I can still respond. As an Independent Rescue for over 30 years and a 501(C)3 for several, I have always had dogs pass thru my Home.

    My Rescue is foster based and we have worked with puppies, adult healthy, aggressive and very sick dogs as well as Seniors.

    I run a Doggie Camp during Summer months and have had as many as 14 under roof. For many years, I had one dog, Fostering 2-3.

    Having unexpected Health issues this year, I have a Pack of 6 and 3 Fosters, all 3 are Special Needs. One with Hemangiosarcoma, one with a genetic and severe SAS and heart murmur 5/6, and one with Anal Furunculosis.

    Two of the 9 are 15 and 15-1/2. True miracles all around me. My two worst cases, were listed as “Terminal” and given a weekend and weeks to live respectively. Both are about to celebrate 2 years under Roof post Rescue and bleak prognoses.

    Eventually, I see myself having 4 to 5 in my Pack and 1-2 Fosters.

    My Saving Grace is this last year I am able to work from Home. It is indeed full time work but the most rewarding work I know.

    My former career allows me to pursue my passion but i believe I will be Rescuing dogs and other animals til I draw my last breath.

    While multiple dogs is not for the faint of heart, it is doable and quite an adventure. My smallest dog is 55 lbs. My largest is 120, a King Shepherd. My average is 75 lbs so they are fairly large.

    Having 3 very well trained dogs helps. They actually assist in my rehabilitating each Rescue and help calm the newcomers. I believe my two sickest Fosters are alive today because they chose to fight and loved my Pack.

    I have a small home filled with Love and keep it very clean. Staying ahead of the Pack is key.

    Thanks for your article.
    Rescue On!

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