Home Dog Care How Much Does a Dog Cost?

How Much Does a Dog Cost?

So, you're thinking about adopting a dog. There is a lot to consider before you bring a new pup home. More than likely, the first question you'll ask is: how much does a dog cost? This is an honest and good question that all responsible pet parents should be asking before adoption.

The short answer is A LOT! As a very long time dog owner who's adopted over 20 pets over the years, I can tell you that a dog is a large expense that you'll be responsible for for many years to come. You're responsible for meeting all of your dog's needs and saving money aside to cover any unexpected expenses that may pop up.

Video Guide - How Much Does a Dog CostAs I explain in my above video, speaking from both personal experience and statistics, the average annual cost of dog ownership is more than $1,000. Keep in mind that larger breeds are more expensive than smaller dogs. Likewise, some breeds are more prone to health issues than others, making them more expensive in the long run.

There are a number of variables that will affect how much your new dog will cost as well. For example, higher quality dog food and products cost more than lower quality options. While no one can tell you exactly how much does a dog cost on an individual level, you can expect to budget thousands of dollars for your furry friend over the course of his life.

In this article, as in my above video, I'll go into more detail to explain how much does a dog cost based on my personal experience of 20 years caring for dogs, and we'll look at some more data to see what other numbers are floating around.

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How Much Does a Dog Cost

how much does a dog cost Initial Costs of Adopting/Buying a Dog

The first thing to consider is the initial cost of the dog that you'll be adopting. Will you be adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization? Are you planning to look for a puppy from a reputable breeder?

Let me say that I NEVER recommend buying a dog/puppy from a pet store. Buying a dog from a store could potentially encourage the business of puppy mills to thrive while there are tens of thousands of dogs in shelters around the world looking for a family to love them. However, if you're set on buying a particular breed of puppy, a reputable breeder is always the best choice.

While it isn't true of all pet stores, many do get their pups from illegal puppy mills. Studies found that these puppies are likely to have health and behavioral issues due to over-breeding and inbreeding.

how much does a dog costAdopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization could cost you anywhere from $0-$250 on average. If you're patient, you can wait for your local shelter to have a waived fee event.

If you do end up paying closer to the $250 end of the spectrum, you're still getting a great deal! Keep in mind that your adoption fee includes the dog, spaying/neutering and all of the required vaccinations. Sometimes the dog may even come microchipped.

According to Forbes, it could cost you anywhere from $500-$3,000 if you choose to adopt a puppy from a reputable breeder. Sometimes even more depending on the breed. So as you can see, there is quite a difference between the cost of adoption from a shelter and purchasing from a breeder.

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One-Time Dog Related Expenses

These are dog related expenses that you'll only have to pay for once. These include:

  • spaying/neutering
  • obedience training
  • initial exam from your veterinarian
  • collar and harness/leash
  • food and water bowls

Spaying a female dog is more expensive than neutering a male. This is because it is a more invasive and complicated surgery. The cost of spaying/neutering your canine companion will also vary depending on the area you live in and the veterinarian you're using.

It will cost you about $100 to neuter a male dog and roughly $200 to spay a female. You can also check with your local Humane Society for low-cost spay and neuter clinics.

The best thing to do is check with the veterinarian that you plan to use and ask how much the procedure will cost before you adopt your new pet. This will allow you to plan ahead for the cost of the operation.

If you choose to take on the task of obedience training yourself, you can save quite a bit of money. If you're going to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer, it's likely to cost you at least $100 if you choose a group setting. If you're interested in private lessons, training could cost you up to $1,000 by the time your dog is fully trained.

Whether you adopt from a shelter or decide to purchase from a breeder, you'll need to pay for an initial health exam from your veterinarian. Other initial costs included necessary supplies like a collar or harness, dog leash and food and water bowls. If you're looking to adopt a puppy, take a look at this puppy starter pack to see the most essential items you'll need to buy for your pooch, and check this new puppy guide on what else to expect as a new dog owner of a young dog.

Annual Expenses of Dog Ownership

If you think the initial expenses are out of your price range, you haven't seen anything yet! The annual expenses of owning a dog are not any cheaper. Keep in mind that larger dogs will need more supplies each year, and some breeds will also require more care than others.

Annual expenses will vary from dog to dog. For example, the cost of food could be anywhere from $200 each year to $1,000+ per year. It will depend on the size of your dog and the quality of the food that you feed him. Personally, I can say that on average it will cost about $350 per year to feed a medium-sized dog a less expensive dry kibble.

You should plan to feed your dog the highest quality diet that you can afford, as it will save you money in the long run.

A higher quality diet will keep your pet healthier, which will save you money on veterinary care in the future. A better diet will also keep your dog's skin and coat healthier, saving you money on grooming care and expenses. I know we're all on a budget, but sometimes spending more money in the beginning will actually save you money over time.

Other annual expenses will include:

  • annual veterinary exam and vaccinations (about $235)
  • toys and treats (about $100)
  • dog licensing fees (about $15)

While you don't really need any other supplies, there are a lot of beneficial things that you can buy to make your dog happy and your life a little easier. Some dog supplies that I recommend all pet parents purchase are:

  • pet health insurance (about $225/year)
  • dog crate ($95 on average, but the price depends on the type and size)
  • bedding ($50 on average, but the price depends on the type and size)

Pet insurance is one of the common questions owners ask if they should invest in, and again, it depends on your personal situation. Read this guide to understand better how it works and how to choose a good plan, but the answer is that you don't always have to buy it and you can instead opt in for a pet savings account. Ultimately, the best option is to have both if you can afford the initial expense, because it saves you money long-term.


Speaking of pet savings account, I recommend that all pet owners keep such an account to cover unexpected costs that may pop up (and they always will come up). I know from my own experience that having some money saved can make an emergency situation a little easier and less stressful, even if you already have a pet insurance plan.

Personally, I suggest saving $2,000 toward unexpected dog expenses. If your dog has an encounter with a porcupine, needs to be de-skunked at the groomers or has a medical emergency, you will be prepared. $2,000 may not cover the entire cost, but it will be a good start and should make the expense manageable on a tight budget.

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.