Adding a canine companion to your household can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Owning a pet is not only a financial sacrifice, but also a huge time commitment. You should understand the monetary commitment involved before committing to dog ownership. Adjusting your personal budget is crucial to ensure a positive outcome for both you and your new best friend.
Initial Cost of Owning a Dog
Before bringing your new dog home, you’ll need to purchase a few key items like: food and water dishes, a leash, a bed, a crate or kennel, and maybe a few chew toys to protect your shoe collection. These are all necessary for the comfort of your animal and cost anywhere from $400 to $600.
Adoption vs. Breeder
Once you’ve done your research to decide the type of dog that matches your lifestyle, you will likely have an idea of whether you will be purchasing from a breeder or adopting from a shelter or humane society. Both adoption and purchasing from a breeder have their pros and cons.
Purchasing from a breeder typically means you get to raise your puppy from as young as six weeks old. Raising a dog from a young age also requires more time for training and care but is a benefit because you can teach them good behaviors from the beginning. Good breeding can help you save money down the line by avoiding bills related to degenerative and temperament disorders commonly related to “puppy mills”. However, purchasing from a validated and professional breeder can be more costly, ranging from $800 to $1500 depending on breed.
Adoption fees are typically more affordable, these fees can range from $400 to $800. Adopting from a shelter almost always include spaying or neutering, vaccinations, tracking chips, and more depending on the shelter. In order to ensure the dog is going home to a loving “forever” family, many shelters have an application process involved that can take time. Adopting a dog that’s already a few years old may mean he or she may require behavior correction that can be more difficult at an older age.
Initial Shots and Medical Costs
The average medical cost for a puppy is around $75–100 in their first year. These costs include core vaccines, which are administered in a series of three: at 6, 12, and 16 weeks old. It is also a good idea to get your dog “fixed” once they’ve hit the appropriate age. This one time procedure typically costs about $200, but programs exist that help with vet bills for those that otherwise can’t afford it.
If you own instead of rent, the decision to bring a dog home is yours alone. As a renter you’ll need to make arrangements with your property manager to confirm your dog is allowed to live with you. Pet fees are often required before bringing your dog home and can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 per year. This fee is meant to cover additional cleaning, repairs, and maintenance due to the presence of your pet. It is very important to take care of this beforehand to avoid a breach of contract that could result in your eviction.
“Puppy-proofing” your home includes but is not limited to: dog gates, trash-cans with lids, and carpet/floor cleaner for those accidents that will happen. If you intend on your dog living outside, you can expect to pay about $100 to $300 for a dog house to protect from the elements, and also to provide a safe place. You may want to purchase an additional food and water dish for outside, too.
Licensing and Training
Most cities require that you register your dog for about $10 to $20 annually. This is primarily to help reunite lost dogs with their owners. These fees can be higher for dogs that have not been spayed or neutered.
Expect to pay about $150 for obedience training. To save money, enroll in group training sessions, which are less expensive than private one-on-one lessons. There are also countless books and online resources on the subject. With enough time and patience, you can train your dog at home for less.
Long Term Costs
Depending on size and overall health, your dog’s life can range anywhere from 9 to 14 years. Costs will vary from year to year, but some are relatively predictable.
If you can afford it, pet insurance is a great idea. It is always better to have it and not need it than the other way around. Just like car insurance, your pet insurance premium will depend on the “make and model” of your dog. The most typical range is between $30 and $50 per month. Even though it may seem like a lot on top of everything else, you’ll be happy you did if your dog eats an entire pack of socks when you run to the store to grab milk, or needs surgery caused by hip dysplasia later in life.
Food costs vary, depending on the quality of kibble and size of your canine, you can expect to pay $15 to $40 per month for food. Although your dog doesn’t need toys, most owners spend about $20 to $30 a month on toys. Toys keep your dogs’ mouths busy and keep them entertained. Distracting them away from chewing on shoes, furniture and anything else that looks tasty.
To keep your dog healthy, brush your dog regularly. You’ll likely want to take them to a professional groomer a few times a year for sanitary reasons. Professional grooming can cost anywhere from $50 to $100. Many dog owners choose to do their own grooming. Although it may take longer to get the same result, the cost of clippers and a bottle of shampoo will stretch your dollar much further than paying a professional.
Like everything else in life, you can’t plan for everything. Your dog will be no exception to this rule and you might have to use a credit card or dip into your savings to cover unexpected costs.
Injury and Illness
The healthiest, most disciplined dog is still likely to have a few vet visits outside routine check-ups. Maybe they got kennel-cough when you went to your best friend’s destination wedding, or they were plagued with fleas at the dog park or attacked by another animal.
As time goes, on you’ll need to replace the dog bed, collars, and leashes every year or so. Most likely, with a puppy you’ll end up replacing any household items they can get their paws on. To prevent property damage, retrain yourself to keep “chewable” items out of reach. There are too many videos out there that depict some version of an owner coming home to a pile of foam that used to be a love seat. Prepare for the possibility of replacing items like furniture and pillows at least once.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to take your dog with you every time you have to leave town. A cheap option is to ask a friend or family member to watch your pet. If this isn’t an option, you’ll likely need to board your pet. The cost of boarding depends on things like where you live, the breed, and the length of stay. Plan on boarding costing between $25 and $45 per night.
Cost to Own a Dog
The table below shows approximations for the upfront, long-term, and unexpected expenses of dog ownership. Every dog is different, and you could end up spending much less, but this is a reasonable number to base your decision around.
Expect your dog to cost about $4,000 to $5,000 the first year. That may seem like a lot, but to put things in perspective, that’s less than $14.00 per day on the high end. Think about expenses you can cut out to stick to your budget, so you and your new best friend can start your adventure together.
Thank you to guest blogger Tim Henley from Fiscal Tiger.