How Much Does It Cost To Own A Dog?

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There are about 80 million households in the U.S. that own a pet. With over 70 million pet dogs in the country, one might wonder why people can’t seem to get over the idea of having canines as household companions.

However, given that science itself backs up the benefits of owning a dog including the preservation of health and overall improved state of mind, it’s not actually surprising that people are flocking to get a dog of their own.

Dogs generally live up to 10 and 13 years for medium-sized and large-sized dogs. Smaller dogs even live further beyond 15 years. If you would think about it, that is a considerable amount of time to care for a dog and the larger the dog, the higher its upkeep.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), one of the largest humane societies in the world tasked with the prevention of animal cruelty, conducted a study on pet care costs where it was revealed that the annual cost of owning a small dog is $737. For medium dogs, the cost is at $894 and $1,040.31 for large dogs.

Now, these amounts are based on just the basic requirements for dog care and do not include emergency costs which could amount to thousands of dollars. With this being said, if you are considering buying or adopting a dog, you may want to ask yourself: do you have the finances to own one?

Breaking Down the Costs Of Owning A Dog

This article will cover the overall costs of buying and owning a dog and would give specific focus on one-time costs like the actual price of the dog as well as recurring costs such as food and grooming. A section would also be devoted for emergency costs that dog owners may face during their pet’s lifetime.

Why Is It Important To Understand The Costs Of Dog Ownership?

Before we proceed to the numbers and figures of dog ownership, we must first understand why it is necessary for us to learn the cost of owning a dog.

Generally, there are three reasons why it matters to know these figures:

  • Well-bred vs. Poorly-bred Dogs

The purchase price of the dog may affect the cost of ownership in the long run.

There is no arguing that well-bred purebred dogs can reach mind-blowing prices making them unaffordable to most people. However, there is a reason why these dogs are more expensive than others.

Purebred dogs are borne from a complex process of breeding wherein breeders thoroughly breed their canine pets in order to eliminate the risks of genetic diseases, making sure that they are of optimum health and sound mind when bought by people. The process is complex and very costly and for this reason, they are given a higher price tag.

It would definitely be a big mistake to choose a cheaper, poorly bred dog with hip dysplasia, severe allergies, and behavioral problems over a well-bred pup because you may end up spending thousands of dollars more on health expenses.

If you can’t afford a purebred dog, you will be better off adopting from a shelter where you are more likely to get a healthier and smarter pet.

  • Dogs Come With A Responsibility

When you buy a dog, you aren’t just buying a furry companion. Owning a dog comes with a big responsibility and you would not only need to devote a considerable amount of money but a whole lot of time as well.

Don’t just dive in head first into getting a dog if you’re not sure if you have what it takes to actually care for a pet. You cannot imagine how many dogs are put down every year just because their owners are unable to provide for their needs.

Not only that, but there are also countless dogs living unfortunate and miserable lives because their owners have chosen to neglect them.

Knowing how much it would cost you to care for a dog before actually getting one can help you realize whether or not you are ready to take on such a big responsibility.

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  • Dogs Are An Investment

Dogs are a wonderful investment and the rewards you would get go beyond that of monetary value. If you play your cards right and treat your dog responsibly and lovingly, you won’t just have a pet but a trusty companion that will love you all throughout its lifetime.

Just like with any investment, it definitely pays to know what you are getting into before making a decision. Getting a dog is no different from buying a house or a car.

Making big investments means you need to do a lot of research getting to know all about the dog. You would need to know all about the dog’s breed, its breeding history and characteristics, medical history, and who its parents are.

You can’t just rush into buying a dog without knowing anything about it, unless, of course, you have a lot of money to waste.

One-Time Costs of Dog Ownership

Dog prices can vary depending on the breed, size, and where you will buy the dog among many other factors.
Purchasing a purebred from a reputable breeder can cost around $500 for small dogs like Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus while large dogs like the Samoyed could reach up to $2,500 and beyond. This is definitely the preferable choice since the dogs will no doubt be healthier and can cost you significantly less in the long run. Here are a few other dog breed options that you have –

If you are opting to adopt a dog from a shelter, prices could range from zero (as in free!) to $375.

  • Shipping & Transport

Distance is the main factor when determining the costs of transporting and shipping your dog. You could definitely save a lot if the source of your pet is near enough for you to drive.

However, most of the time, pets bought from a breeder would have to be transported or shipped via air or ground travel.

Air travel, in particular, can cost quite a lot of money. There are numerous processes involved in air travel including the consultation, preparation, booking, and scheduling. These could cost around $350 to $375 and does not include the airfare as well as the dog’s crate and other items essential for your new pet’s safe travel.

Airfare could range around $300 to $950 depending on the size of your pet and how heavy it is in its crate.
An additional of $295 to $550 plus a $75 handling fee (for some transport services) can be charged if you want your pet transported to your home from the airport.

Prices tend to vary depending on the transport company. Travel kennels or crates will also be provided for around $60 to $275 depending on the size of the dog.

Furthermore, pet transport may not be possible without a health certificate from a veterinarian which may cost you around $30 to $300, consultation fee included.

Estimated Cost: $1,110 to $2,525

  • Certification

If you purchase a dog from a reputable breeder, it is highly likely that it has already been registered with the American Kennel Clubon a limited status. In order for you to change the status from limited to full, the breeder must apply to revoke the limited dog registration for $25.

Afterward, you can apply for a basic registration for only $34.

Aside from the American Kennel Club, there are numerous organizations all over the country that cater to specific types of dog breeds. It would definitely help if you would find an organization exclusive to your chosen dog’s breed.

Estimated Cost: $59

  • Obedience Training

Once you get your dog, one of the first things you can do is to enroll it in an obedience class. Obedience training can definitely help you housebreak your dog.

You have two options to go about with the obedience training. The first one would be enrolling your dog to a class where it will be trained alongside other dogs. This may cost around $119 to $165 for a 10-week class.

If you’re willing to break your budget, you can opt to enroll your dog for a private class for $800. Here, the trainer will come to your home for a one-on-one session with your dog. Social skills and basic commands will also be taught.

Estimated Cost: $119 to $800

  • Dog House & Kennel

If you have the space to accommodate a dog house, you should definitely get one for your dog. Doing this would give your dog its very own space in your home where it can retreat to, rest, and escape the heat.

Dog houses can be fairly cheap if you know where to look. In fact, you can buy a small dog house for as low as $51.86. However, dog house prices can also reach to soaring heights at $526.99.

Another important item that your dog would need is a durable dog kennel or crate that would serve as the dog’s own personal carrier during travels or a place you can put your pet whenever it misbehaves. Dog kennels may cost around $19 to $322.

Estimated Cost: $70.86 to $848.99

  • Initial Veterinary Visit

It doesn’t matter if you got your dog from a highly reputable breeder; the first thing you should always do is to take it to a veterinary clinic to be checked upon.

A physical exam may cost around $33 to $55 depending on what your dog needs. You should be prepared for vaccinations ($10 to $35), de-worming ($15 to $45), and even a heartworm test ($27 to $55) to make sure your dog is healthy and without any health problems.

Know that you would also need to pay for the professional consultation which may range from $35 to $65.

For puppies that are 8 weeks old, they would need to be frequently checked by a vet every few weeks for a series of tests and vaccinations. Luckily, these usually come in a package with prices ranging from $100 to $240 per visit.

Estimated Cost: $120 to $255 (Initial Visit) and $540 (Puppy Visits 8 weeks to 16 weeks)

  • Spaying & Neutering

Spaying and neutering your dog can definitely help lessen the number of canines being put down due to homelessness every year. While spaying and neutering are mostly perceived as a means to control population, there also many other benefits.

Spaying your female dog before it can go into its first heat can help lessen the risks of breast tumors and uterine infections. Neutering male dogs, on the other hand, can help prevent problems in the prostate and testicular cancer.

Not only that, spaying and neutering can also make your dog behave better with males less likely to roam away and exhibit dominant behavior.

Prices for these procedures are dependent on the animal’s weight. Neutering a male dog could cost you as low as $100 (30 pounds and below) to $520 (beyond 100 pounds). Meanwhile spaying a female dog can cost around $125 (30 pounds and below) to $546 (beyond 100 pounds).

The ideal time to spay or neuter a dog is between six and nine months.

Estimated Cost: $100 to $546

  • Euthanasia

Sadly, there will come a time when you would have to bid farewell to your dog and hopefully, it’s because your beloved pet had already grown far too old and not because of any sickness.

When the time comes to finally lay your dog to rest, who better trust than a licensed professional? That way, you would be able to make sure that your pooch won’t be able to feel a thing as it breathes its last.

Veterinary clinics generally offer euthanasia as part of their services and their prices often depend on two factors: the weight of the animal and the presence of the pet owner during the procedure.

Euthanasia based on weight can cost around $60 to $145. Meanwhile, organizations like the Idaho Humane Society charge around $68 to euthanize dogs with the owner absent from the procedure. If the owner wishes to be with their pets until the end, the price may go up to $105.

Before you euthanize your pet, make sure that it truly is the procedure necessary for your dog or you may just end up killing it for no reason. Also, do not forget to make your beloved pet’s last day wonderful.
Take your pet out, pamper it, and make it happy before you finally say goodbye.

Estimated Cost: $60 to $145

  • Cremation

Once the deed has been done and you’ve finally said your last goodbyes, you should know that veterinary clinics and animal organizations also offer cremation services.

There are two ways to go with pet cremation: communal and private.

Out of the two options, communal cremation would definitely be the more cost-effective one being priced as low as $25 to $145. Unfortunately, your dog’s ashes will not be returned to you as your pet would be cremated together with other animals.

Private cremation can cost around $85 to $240 and here, you’d be able to receive the ashes of your late furry companion. Not only that, you may also receive a clay paw print of your pet as a reminder of your time together.

Estimated Cost: $25 to $240

Recurring Costs of Dog Ownership

For would-be dog owners, it is important that you are financially able to provide for the needs of your potential pet. Dog ownership is a lifetime commitment (as long as your pet is alive) and thus you would need to make sure that its regular needs are being provided.

  • Dog Food & Treats

Dog food cost would have to depend on the size of your pet, its level of energy, or if it’s required to eat a special diet. Your dog’s weight is a pretty great determinant of how much it needs to eat per day. For example, if you have a dog that weighs 60 pounds, it is recommended that it eats around 3 to 4 cups each day.

How much you’re going to divide that amount of food per day is up to you. You can feed your dog twice or even thrice a day. In fact, there are pet owners who feed their dogs only once during the entire day. However, experts recommend that dogs should at least be fed twice a day; once in the morning and once in the evening.

Puppies, on the other hand, should be fed at least thrice a day. Not only that, it is highly recommended that dogs be fed high-quality dog food in order to meet their nutritional needs.

When it comes to dog food, however, bigger isn’t always better. Oftentimes, pet owners make the mistake of buying a large bag of dog food for their pets. Unfortunately, once you open a bag of dog food, you only have a limited time before it goes bad which is why you should choose a size your dog would be able to consume in a month.

Dog food typically cost around $14.99 to $59.69 for the 6 to 30-lb. bag. Annually, that would cost you $180 to $700 on dog food alone. Dog treats, on the other hand, are priced around $2.46 to $33.99 which may cost you some $30 to $400 every year.

Estimated Cost: $210 to $1,100 annually

  • Dog Beds

What better way to make your dog comfortable in its new home than by getting a bed? Just remember, though, when you buy a dog bed for your new pet, get one that is durable and of high quality in order to make sure that it will last for a long time.

Remember, dogs are playful creatures and there is no telling the wear-and-tear dog beds may be subjected to. Without a doubt, you would have to buy a number of beds for your dog but getting a high-quality and durable dog bed can help limit replacements throughout your pet’s lifetime.

Dog bed prices can range from $14.99 to $119.99 depending on the quality and size. Most of these beds come equipped with their own pillow and blanket.

Estimated Cost: $14.99 to $119.99

  • Food Bowls & Water Dishes

Living with a dog means that you would constantly replace its food bowls and water dishes from time to time. Investing in ceramic or stainless steel bowls and dishes will be ideal as they are designed to last longer than those of the plastic variety.

Dog bowls have a wide price range starting from $2.49 up to $42.69 and beyond. Water dishes, on the other hand, can range from simple bowls at $15.95 to complex dog water fountains costing up to $79.99.

Furthermore, you should not forget to clean your dog’s food bowl and water dish as they are prone to germs and bacteria. The best way to clean these items is by using mild dish soap and hot water.

Estimated Cost: $18.44 to $122.68

  • Collars & Leashes

You do not need to buy several collars and leashes for your dog because one of each would suffice. Collars and leashes can last many years, more so if you invest in those of higher quality.

Dog leashes are generally priced around $9.49 to $32.99 depending on the quality. For dog collars, you can get one for as low as $4.45 but you can also buy electric ones with a built-in tracking system for whenever your pet gets lost or wanders around. These electric collars can cost around $100.

Estimated Cost: $13 to $132.99

  • Dog Toys

Toys are essential to the stimulation and sharpening of your dog’s mind. They help exercise your dog’s mental process which is why you should always have a couple of dog toys at home.

While it is easy to get carried away while shopping for dog toys, it may give you somewhat a relief to know that they don’t actually cost that much. You have the option to buy expensive toys for your dog but most of them are actually priced at around $1.47 to $15.99.

While it is impractical to buy your dog a new toy every month, you won’t actually feel any loss financially, since they are highly affordable.

Estimated Costs: $17 to $190 per year

  • Grooming

Your dog’s grooming needs are dependent on the type of coat that it has. If it has a short smooth coat, then it would only need a basic grooming session from time to time. Dogs with longer coats and hair that is constantly growing, however, would need to visit a pet groomer more frequently for them to maintain their appearance.

While it is possible for you to do it yourself, it would be ideal to visit a groomer every couple of weeks or so. Having your dog professionally groomed may cost around $30 to $100 depending on the breed and size of your dog.

Basic grooming services often include a bath and blow-dry, hair brushing and de-shedding, haircut, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and anal gland expression. You can also avail of these services for your dog separately.

Estimated Cost: $30 to $100

  • Regular Veterinary Visits

After the initial veterinary examinations, your dog would need to visit the vet at least once a year for a comprehensive wellness examination. Routine vet visits are important for the overall well-being of your dog and for you to find out how your beloved pet is progressing throughout the years.

Vet expenses for dogs usually depend on what comes with the checkup which would often include a physical exam, vaccinations, parasite tests, some blood work, and dental checkups.

The costs may not differ that much from the initial veterinary visit (as explained above) because it mostly consists of the same procedures with the addition of blood work ($85) and dental cleaning ($320). However, prices can still vary depending on the clinics.

Vaccinations, in particular, should always be conducted because they do not only protect your dog but everyone in your family as well. Furthermore, dental cleaning is recommended for your dog at least once a year to keep its mouth and teeth healthy.

Estimated Cost: $525 to $660 (initial vet expenses + dental cleaning and blood work)

  • Pet Sitting/Boarding

Let’s face it. There will be numerous times where you wouldn’t be able to take your dog with you during travels. For this reason, it is important that you know which people to turn to during these instances so that your pet will be properly taken care of.

Dog kennels are boarding facilities where you can take your beloved pet when you need to go out of town. In these places, you are assured that your dog will be cared for properly by highly trained individuals who will see to it that your pet is fed, bathed, and exercised during its stay.

These boarding facilities for dogs usually charge $38 to $100.

If you want your dog to stay at the comfort of your own home while you’re away, you can always choose to hire a pet sitter for around $20 to $50 per day.

Estimated Cost: $20 to $100 (may increase depending on the frequency)

  • Pet Insurance

The future is truly uncertain for you and your pet as time goes by. As your dog ages, there is a big chance for it to develop chronic conditions which could lead to emergency veterinary visits and treatment.  Buying insurance for your dog can help mitigate the large expenses often associated with medical emergencies while also ensuring your pet receives the necessary treatment it needs.

Estimated Cost: $25 to over $70 per month.

Annual Dog Ownership Costs

When you decide to buy and own a dog, just know that you will definitely spend more during your pet’s first year with you as you take into account the brunt of the initial expenses and responsibilities that come with the ownership as well as the actual price of the dog.

After the dog’s first year, be prepared to spend around $875 to $2,600 for every year that follows. Bear in mind that this rough estimation does not include your dog’s emergency expenses.

Product/ServiceCost (First Year)Cost (Annual)
Dog Purchase$500 to $2,500
Shipping & Transport$1,110 to $2,525
Obedience Training$119 to $800
Dog House & Kennel$70.86 to $848.99
Vet Visit$120 to $255$525 to $660
Spaying & Neutering$100 to $546
Euthanasia$60 to $145
Cremation$25 to $240
Dog Food & Treats$210 to $1,100$210 to $1,100
Dog Beds$14.99 to $119.99$14.99 to $119.99
Food Bowl & Water Dish$18.44 to $122.68$18.44 to $122.68
Collars & Leashes$13 to $132.99$13 to $132.99
Dog Toys$17 to $190$17 to $190
Grooming$30 to $100$30 to $100
Pet Boarding/Sitting$20 to $100$20 to $100
Pet Insurance$25 to $70$25 to $75
TOTAL:$2,512.29 to $9,854.65$873.43 to $2,600.66

Emergency Costs of Dog Ownership

Emergencies can happen at any time and sad to say, can be often. Unfortunately, they don’t often come cheap. This means that you should always be prepared for hospitalizations, surgeries, and treatment caused by diseases or accidents.

With medical emergencies, be prepared to spend thousands of dollars because they can become very costly. In fact, some of the most advanced surgeries performed on your pet can cost up to $6,500 and that is just for a single surgery.

With this being said, getting your dog insured is recommended to avoid taking out a huge sum in a single transaction which would definitely hurt your finances. If you’re not keen on buying insurance for your pet, you can opt to save a portion of your income to be put into an emergency fund.

Things to Consider When You’re on a Budget

  • Consider your lifestyle when buying a dog. Don’t base your choice on attractiveness alone. During this time, it would be best to reflect upon your living situations and choose a breed that you know you can afford to raise.
  • Consider adopting. While it would be ideal to purchase a purebred from a reputable breeder, opting to adopt would be the best choice if you are on a tight budget. Adopting from a shelter may give you a better quality pet than cheap dogs sold by questionable breeders, pet stores, and puppy mills.
  • Do your research. It pays to be well-informed. Take extra time learning all about the breed of your choice including its history, characteristics, and needs.
  • Create a budget plan. Doing this can help you control your expenses and can help you avoid spending too little or too much on your dog’s needs.
  • Consider grooming your dog on your own. While this may require you to learn how to effectively groom your dog, which may include bathing, haircuts, nail trimmings, and more, it can definitely help you save on expenses and limit the times you take your pet to a professional dog groomer.
  • Shop around. When shopping for dog food and other dog-related items, do not limit yourself to a single store because shopping around can help you find cost-effective deals. Take advantage of discounted items, coupons, and promos. Always give time to compare prices but never sacrifice quality for quantity.
  • Go for generic medications. This is pretty self-explanatory. When buying medicine for your pet, it would help you save money by avoiding branded drugs. Always ask the pharmacy for generic options.
  • Dog-proof your house. Dogs are highly active creatures and would no doubt explore your home to find something interesting to “chew” on. If you don’t want your furniture or appliances to get damaged, it would do you well to dog-proof your home.
  • Choose your vet carefully. While your choice may be limited to those available in your area, it would be wise to choose a vet you can trust and stay with for a long time. Vets usually offer discounts to loyal clients.
  • Devote time to your pet. Play with your dog and give some time for daily walks because doing so can promote good health which lessens the likelihood of illnesses and bad behavior.
Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin Hitchcock currently owns a husky-mix but also has experience with a wide range of dogs, cats, reptiles, and fish. She has written for a number of popular pet sites, including The Happy Puppy Site, Cat Life Today, and TheLabradorSite.

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