What are the cost of owning a dog?

"My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child.
We can't decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives"

- R. Rudner

What are the costs of owning a dog?
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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 have increased.




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 financial investment.

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 questions.

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.


$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 pretty face.

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, and location/transportation.

Lacey had a few more medical issues than Rex as seen on her veterinary costs.



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 or neutered.
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 store.

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 it apart.

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 puppy!


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, or other.

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.


Vet Costs

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 a year.

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, it's cheaper.


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.



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


Carpet shampoo........................$20

Fencing.................................... $600

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



.......................... 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

Cost owning dog puppy