How Much Does It Cost to Have a Dog?

Bigstock Photo
Bigstock Photo

If you’re thinking about adding a dog to your family, you may be wondering if you can afford it. Here’s our guide to costs associated with having a dog in your pack.

Acquisition: Your initial cost to buy a dog will vary greatly depending on the breed (or lack thereof) and on where you buy. If you adopt a dog from a public shelter, your fees will generally be much lower than any other means of obtaining a dog. Shelter fees generally cover spay/neuter, worming, and up-to-date shots. Depending on where you live, shelter fees may run from $50 to $300. Many shelters hold special adoption events where fees may be discounted or waived altogether, particularly if their cages are full.

If you adopt from a private rescue organization, costs may be higher because you are supporting the organization, as well as paying for the medical care of your specific dog. Expect to pay $200 to $500 from a rescue, which will include spay/neuter, worming, and up-to-date shots.

If you purchase from a pet store…please don’t! Most pet store dogs come from puppy mills, and come with a myriad of health problems. Go directly to a reputable breeder instead.

Purchasing from a breeder is generally the most expensive option, but may be best if you are looking for a specific breed and don’t want to wait until one comes into a shelter or rescue. Spend the time to make sure you are dealing with a reputable breeder. They should have no more than 2 – 3 breeds on the property, and should know quite a bit about the breeds they have. They may be picky about who they will sell to, and you may be put on a waiting list if approved for one of their puppies. Rare breeds will be more expensive than more common dogs. You might pay just a few hundred for a Beagle, but upwards of $1,500 for a Vizsla in parts of the country where they are not common. Breeder prices do not typically include spay/neuter, but they will do worming and first shots for their puppies.

First Year: If your dog is not spayed or neutered upon acquisition, expect to pay at least $150 unless you can find a non-profit clinic that will do it more cheaply. For puppies, you will also have a round or two of shots to pay for. Assuming your dog is generally healthy, you won’t need more than one check-up during the first year, but you will have to buy heartworm preventative and flea/tick medication. Expect to pay about $300 for first year medical expenses, plus spay/neuter.

Also during the first year, you will need to buy food and water dishes, a leash and collar, toys, a crate (if desired), a bed (if desired), and food. Budget: $500 – $1,000, depending on the size of the dog and the type of food you choose to feed.

On-going: Every year after the first, you will need a vet check ($50 – $100), shots and meds ($100 – $200), food ($200 – $800), and toys/miscellaneous ($10 – millions, if desired). Injuries and illnesses can add exponentially to your vet bill.

Expect your dog to live to the age of 10 – 15 years old. In general, smaller dogs live longer but cost less per year than larger dogs.

As you can see, this is an expensive addition to your family. Make sure your budget is up to it before you decide you need a dog.

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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