WHAT ARE THE COSTS OF OWNING A DOG ?
Below is an example of one pet owner who kept up with the costs of owning
2 Dalmatians for about 3 years. Prices reflect 2005 - 2008, so prices could
HOW MUCH WILL MY DOG COST ?
By " A Dog Owner"
"Free to good home, Puppies:$25"
We've all seen the ads in the paper, or the adorable faces peering out
of the pet store windows. Looks like a pretty good deal, eh? Besides, everyone
has a dog - how expensive can it be?
Buying the dog is probably the cheapest expense you will have, whether
you spend $25 or $2,500!
Buying a healthy puppy and keeping it healthy requires quite a bit more
Remember, you're going to be responsible for this puppy for many years,
and it's your responsibility to make sure you can handle the costs of dog
ownership beyond the purchase of that cute puppy.
Since I have medium dogs, weighing 50 to 65 lbs., the following costs are
relative to caring for a Dalmatian.
Smaller dogs may have lower costs in some areas (i.e., a crate, medication,
and food) but will have similar fencing, medical, and grooming costs, etc.
I've included below average initial costs for purchasing a puppy, as well
as yearly costs for having a dog. These are just estimates, of course --
based on our own expenditures.
Costs were divided into "One Time Costs" and "Yearly Costs"
for 2 dogs, 1 male and 1 female.
Examples of my current costs:
One Time Costs
Things you'll have to have when you get a puppy, things that last for several
years, and initial vet costs, etc.
Cost of the puppy -- a well-bred, healthy puppy from a reputable breeder
will cost approximately $500 - $1,500 and some up to $3,000, depending on
the breed and how many champions are in the bloodllines.
A "pet quality" puppy may cost slightly less,
and a "show quality" dog may run much more even
though they are from the same litter with a good bloodline. You will have
a better idea of how this puppy's temperament will turn out and know all
about your puppy. You will have a breeder to fall back on to anwer your
A dog rescued from the local shelter will have initial adoption fees from
$50 to $125, which may or may not include neutering/spaying. You don't know
if the dog has worms, heartworms, is exposed to diseases like parvo or kennel
cough. There could be some serious health problems to deal with.........
or relatively few.
A dog adopted from a rescue will more than likely have been totally vetted
and be in healthy condition. Plus, the foster home will have a good idea
about its personality. A rescue dog can cost from $150 to $400.
MY DOG PRICES
$900 for Rex in 2006. Rex is a pet but of purebred champion pedigree, is
registered, has a microchip, has a wonderful temperament, and has been a
very healthy boy. We bought him as a puppy. He was raised by an experienced
and reputable breeder. Rex loves toys, will chase a frisbee, is a clown,
and loves to go jogging. Rex is smart and is learning a few tricks besides
"shake hands" and "play dead." He is a beautiful dog.
$250 for Lacey in 2007. Lacey was a rescue dog, abused and abandoned by
her owners when she was about 4 years old. She has had some behavioral issues
but we have worked through them in obedience. She is a sweet dog, has great
manners, is more laid back, loves long walks, and plays with Rex. Lacey
does not have the nice build and spotting Rex does, but she does have a
We paid a $250 "donation" to the rescue organization to take
Lacey home when she was 5 years old. She had lived in a foster home for
over 8 months and was housebroken. She was spayed and up-to-date on her
shots, worming, and heartworm medication. She is microchipped. This fee
we consider a bargain considering veterinarian expenses for a puppy to adulthood!
The adoption fee can vary widely depending on the breed, the health problems,
Lacey had a few more medical issues than Rex as seen on her veterinary
PUPPY COSTS - - GETTING STARTED WITH A PUPPY
Initial vet visits -- the initial shots, worming, checkup, etc for a puppy
will run about $60 a visit, for $180 -$240 for several visits. Heartworm
preventative will be started.
For an adult dogs, an initial screening, bloodwork, heartworm check, and
shots should be about $100 - $200.
If you adopted from a shelter, the shots may be included in the adoption
fee. You will still need to have a vet checkup. Many things can be wrong
or hardly anything at all.
Neutering/Spaying -- unless you're seriously interested in genetics, showing,
breed standards, and breed development, you should have your dog spayed
I won't go into the arguments for it at this point, but it will cost you
between $60 - $175 depending upon the sex and where you have it done. Some
local clinics offer spaying and neutering at reduced cost.
Puppy Food Approximately $ 50 - $60 /month for the first 12 months, then
switching to adult food. This cost will vary with the size dog you have.
Also, for a while Rex was eating almost 8 cups a day during a growth spurt
and ate 7 cups a day for a while, but now that he has matured at age 3 years
old, he eats 5 cups a day.
Bowls -- Most people prefer the steel bowls, but you can
find them in plastic and ceramic as well. They run $5 - 20 at my local pet
Crate -- even if you don't crate-train, you will need
a crate for transporting your dog. A crate large enough for a big dog will
run from $70 for a wire crate, up to $150 for a large plastic pet crate.
The dog should be able to stand up and turn around comfortably in the crate.
The size crate needed for a full-grown dog may be too large for a puppy.
If you crate train, you need to make sure that the crate is not too large
so that the pup will not mess in one end and sleep in the other. You must
be reliable in taking your puppy out often, and as soon as he wakes up or
whines to go potty.
Usually, the recommendation is to buy a smaller crate for the puppy, and
then a larger one for the adult dog. We just blocked off the back half of
the crate with a piece of plywood until they got bigger.
Dog Beds -- You'll need to make a bed of something, and
if you don't want to sacrifice a comforter or blanket, a removable-cover
dog bed or a thick washable sherpa pad from a pet store or dog catalog is
$30. I got a very washable pad for the 'outside' bed since the dogs would
track in grass or dirt. By outside, I mean the dogs were in a well protected
storage building and had free run of the yard while we were at work.
Grooming Tools --Dalmatians are short coated, so no fancy
brushes are needed. Basically, I bought a brush and curry comb, nail clippers,
tooth scaler, and shampoo. $45.
Toenail grinder: Dremel rechargeable grinders are $20 in stores like Wal
Mart. The dogs prefer this over the clippers any day of the week.
Collar, Lead/leash, etc -- you can spend as little as
$ 20 on this, or as much as $100, depending on what you want.
A Flexi-lead (a wide tape leash that retracts into the
handle) is $25 to $50, while a simple nylon lead can be had for as little
as $6. There are a number of brands that offer a replacement for a lead
or collar if anything happens to it -- anything, including the dog chewing
WARNING: When using a Flexi-lead, it is important to maintain a firm grip
so the dog does not yank the handle out of your hand and go running off
or in front of a car!
Toys, Squeakies, and Stuffies -- in order to save your house, you will
need to give puppy toys. Figure on $50 for chewies, squeaky toys, bones,
ropes, Kongs, etc. They're not cheap, and chewing puppies tend to go through
them at a surprising rate!
Hit the thrift stores and ration out the chewy rolls. Don't get anything
dangerous like the chew hoofs or rawhide chews with knots on the ends.
Enzyme cleaner -- because your new puppy will pee on the rug. This cleaner
will remove the stain and the odor. Figure about $20 - $45 in a year.
Basic obedience classes -- For dogs, this is critical.
These can range from $50-$200, depending on whether you have puppy class,
or personalized obedience classes.
We went with basic socialization and obedience for 6 weeks, then to more
steady basic obedience work, for a total cost of about $160 per dog and
two classes. Total for the first year was therefore $320.
Each year, we go back and take a class in obedience for $80. The dogs are
the better for it and I learn a lot!
Books -- I know, we didn't think we'd buy any either, but
we did. Figure about $60 for breed books and training books.
Misc -- Don't discount the costs of "puppy proofing"
your home, as well.
We had to get 2 babygates to block off the kitchen ($80),
several bottles of carpet cleaner ($20), and
rebuild the inadequate fence in our yard ($600).
Replacing shoes and socks, or things the puppy may chew on figures in here,
too. Keep your guard up on what lies on the floor can be fair game to a
WHERE TO LIVE and DO YOU HAVE A FENCE ?
My dogs are indoor and outdoor dogs. When we are home, they are mostly
indoor. They are our companions and unless exercising or enjoying the weather,
they are part of the family.
Since you shouldn't leave your dog chained up, you will either have to
have a fenced yard (or add one) for $1,000 to $3,000, or build/buy a decent
sized chain-link pen, which can be $400.
The pen MUST provide enough space to exercise and consider dog trails and
mud if the dog is limited in its movement about a pen. He may get bored
and try to escape the pen or dig. Your dog will need more exercise if confined
to a pen for long hours. You may need a cover for the pen, such as a tarp
or something more durable and solid.
I would encourage fencing in the entire yard or at least a large area in
which to exercise and play.
A doghouse may be necessary as well, if you intend your dog be outdoors
in inclement weather. Some dogs get access to a storage building, garage,
We outfitted the back half of a storage building, using the front for the
lawn mower and lawn supplies and fencing off the rear for the dogs. A doggie
door was installed. 2 Kuranda dog beds with sherpa dog pad were put inside.
This was a day long project but has been in place for 6 years now.
During the winter, we use an oil filled radiator heater ( $40) and during
the summer a high velocity fan blows ($35). The storage building is shaded
by large trees. We both work and having a good shelter was a necessity.
A dog house can be built, or or buy one.
In any case, it will probably cost $100-$200. Dogs seem to love those Igloo-looking
or lg cabin-looking ones.
Depending upon the type of coat and the severeness of the weather in your
location, the doghouse or building may have to be heated in winter. In the
summer, there needs to be plenty of shade, maybe a fan, a large water container
the dog cannot turn over, and perhaps a kiddie pool to lie in. Use some
good sense here.
YEARLY COSTS . . . the ON-GOING COSTS OF OWNING
General Vet health -- this is the normal yearly vet costs for your dog.
It covers the miscellaneous costs due to cut paws, bit by the cat, ate a
shoelace, worms, got a disease, etc. This can run anywhere from $100 - $1,000
Veterinary care seems to average about $200, regardless of the size of
the dog. A standard office visit, which you should have twice a year, runs
about $100, depending on your vet. You will need to worm your dog to catch
any cycle of worms, get heartworm preventative, and flea preventative. Your
dog may need a vaccination such as rabies.
There are exceptions, of course - we had vet bills of over $4,000 one year
due to two knee surgeries and various other emergencies. It can add up.
Heartworm Medication -- most areas are affected by heartworm at least part
of the year. About $10 - $15 /month per dog
Fleas - this may not be a problem in your area. There are a number of ways
to combat the little beasties, so plan on approximately $20 - 50 a month.
You can use topical, Comfortis tablets, sprays, as well as spray the house
and yard, and wash the dog beds.
Dog Food -- Buying a good dog food is one of the best
things you can do for your dog.
A premium dry food can run about $50 - $80 a month for 2 medium dogs.
If you feed canned food, this will be much higher.
Remember that they will have to eat more of a lower-quality food, so the
cost eventually evens out.
OTHER STUFF -- we buy a ten pound box of dog biscuits
once a month, for about $20. Sometimes I need a good shampoo.
We also supplement with fresh foods and other vitamin and mineral additives.
The cost for this is variable.
Dog License -- required in most areas. $15 - 40 /year. If a dog is neutered,
Toys and stuffies -- it may take a while to figure out what toys your dog
likes, but it will save temptation on your shoes, furniture, and other valuables.
I find child safe toys at thrift stores can work well; look for those with
sewn in eyes and nothing a dog can chew off and swallow - know your dog.
Once again, for mature dogs, same as puppies, figure about $50/year for
bones, chewies, kongs, pull toys, etc.
We discovered that one dog's favorite toy is a stuffed animal, so we check
out the thrift stores or we buy 3 or 4 four cheap teddy bears at Target
for $4 dollars apiece each year.
Another dog doesn't seem to like anything for more than a day or so, but
he is pretty happy with a kong and a frisbee.
EXAMPLES OF MY COSTS
Here's a summary of our INITIAL AND YEARLY COSTS for Rex
and Lacey, just to give you an idea of how much a medium dog may cost. Your
costs will probably be different.
............... Rex .......... Lacey
Initial cost $900 ............$250 (Lacey was spayed and fully vetted)
Vet bills (See above narrative)
Feed Bowls $20...............$15
Outside buckets $15 ...............$15
2 baby gates............................. $80
Storage shed isulated,
oil filled radiator heater,
and doggie door .....................$450
Collars & Leads $30 .............. $30
Kuranda dog bed,
very durable $70..................... $62
Dog crates & pails $125 ...............$80
Dog beds, in house $ 40................$40
Dog beds, outside $ 30................$30
Fencing & building supplies divided between the dogs.
.................................... Rex .............. Lacey
ONE TIME TOTALS $1, 840 and $1,132
GRAND ONE TIME TOTAL: $2,972.00
.......................... Rex ............. Lacey
Food $42 x 12 = $508 ......... $420 (Lacey eats less)
Treats $20 x 12 = ..............$240
Drontal Plus wormer
x 2 a year $26+ /dog $60 ............. $50 (Lacey weighs less)
Heartworm $12 x 12 = $42...............$42
Comfortis flea tab
$10 x 5 summer mos. $50................$50
Adams Flea spray .................$28
Medication $135 .......... $ 420 (Lacey became ill)
Toys, etc $30 ............. $20
Grooming $125 ............ $125
Misc Vet ~ $120 .............$280 (Lacey became ill)
Obedience training $80 $80
Dog license $15 ................$15 (neutered discount)
...............Rex ............. Lacey
TOTALS: $1,289 and $1,636
GRAND TOTAL for YEAR $2,925 for year for 2 dogs
therefore about $1,462 per year for 1 dog