Think you’re ready to own a dog? Be sure you can afford a dog before you decide to adopt or purchase a pet. Here are a few of the costs associated with owning a dog.

By Sierra Burgos
August 24, 2020
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Credit: Fuse / Getty

Yippee! The time has finally come—you’ve done your research, you picked out a pet, and now you’re officially ready to become a dog parent. But before you bring Fido home, be sure to consider the cost of owning a dog and have funds set aside to provide the best possible life for your new four-legged friend. 

Bringing Your Dog Home

During the first year of your dog’s life, you’ll spend extra money to gather all the supplies needed to keep them happy. These one-time costs include purchasing food bowls, a bed, toys, a leash, and a collar. Keep in mind the dog may need new ones down the line if they’ll grow much bigger.

Luckily, the initial adoption fee or purchase price will only be included in your annual expenses once. Certain vaccinations, microchips, and spaying/neutering are also a one-time cost. You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this first year of their life will probably be the most expensive.

The Cost of Owning a Dog by Breed

It’s important to point out that some breeds are more expensive than others. If you’re looking for a lower financial commitment, you may want to avoid certain breeds that are more known for medical issues and costly upkeep. The most expensive dog breeds include Samoyeds, chow chows, Tibetan mastiffs, Rottweilers, French bulldogs, and Saint Bernards. These breeds, while beautiful, tend to cost a prettier penny due to the longer list of health problems and grooming needs. 

On the most affordable list of dog breeds, you can find beagles, Chihuahuas, dachshunds, bichon frises, and terrier mixes. Of course, a mutt (or mixed breed) dog will always be a less expensive option. In a lot of cases, seeking out a mixed breed from your local rescue organization saves you money—think cheaper adoption fees, vaccinations, and spay/neuter already taken care of.

Annual Expenses

When we think about everyday expenses, we typically think of food and shelter. But a lot more goes into it. Grooming, for example, can be upwards of $500 a year depending on the breed you pick and whether or not they’ll need professional attention. A full groom (bath, clip, etc.) for a poodle could be up to $150 a session. Coat upkeep is essential in keeping your dog healthy, no matter the price.

Think about your household. Now, think about your household with the addition of a dog. Do you have valuables or rooms she needs to stay out of? You may end up needing to purchase a gate or kennel of sorts to section off your home. Bedding, water bowls, and leashes will need to be replaced every so often as well.

Toys and treats will be an essential expense to help teach your dog good behaviors. “You may notice that your new pet is not as well-mannered as you hoped. Oftentimes, this is the case with puppies and young dogs who need to learn basic manners and how to walk on a leash, but adult dogs need training sometimes, too,” Kelly DiCicco, Manager of Promotions for the ASPCA, says. If treats don’t do the trick, you may need to shell out some extra cash to pay for training classes.

Lifetime Expenses of Owning a Dog

After yearly expenses, we must think about the lifetime costs of owning a dog. This mostly depends on the overall health and wellness of your pet – are you prepared for the unexpected costs?

First, think about preventative care. You’ll need to get your dog heartworm tests and prevention, flea and tick prevention, and vaccines to ensure they stay healthy and to help keep unexpected vet bills from adding up. You’ll also need to set aside some funds for the possibility of an emergency vet visit. Maybe your pooch got a little too curious and dug into something they shouldn’t have, or ate something toxic off the counter. Unforeseen operations can cost thousands. Even when you’re prepared with pet insurance, you’ll be paying hundreds a year to keep that coverage in the event of an accident.

“Pet owners should also consider expenses that come along with life events, such as travel and moving,” DiCicco says. “For example, some apartments require a pet deposit fee and you may need to pay additional cleaning fees.” If you travel a lot, you’ll either need to pay for a dog sitter or boarding facility, or pay to travel with your dog. Taking your dog on a flight costs an average of $125 each way.

For a closer look at the numbers, we gathered the average costs of owning a dog and predicted the lifetime cost. The following expenses are based on data from Money, the AKC, and Petfinder.

Expense

First Year Cost

Following Years Cost

Adoption or purchase fee

$50-$500

$0

Food

$150-$400

$150-$450

Food and water bowls

$10-$50

$0-$30

Toys and treats

$20-$300

$20-300

Bedding or crate

$25-$250

$0-250

Leash and collar

$20-$50

$0-$50

Grooming

$30-$500

$0-$500

Preventative medicines

$100-$600

$50-$500

Routine vet care

$100-$350

$80-$250

Emergency vet care /

Pet insurance

$0-$600

$0-$1,000

Training classes

$25-$300

$0-$300

Dog walking 

$0-$800

$0-$800

Dog sitters or boarding

$100-$300

$100-$300

Pet deposit (apartment)

$0-$400

$0-$400

Average monthly cost

$52-$450

$33-$427

Average yearly cost

$630-$5,400

$400-$5,130

Average lifetime cost

$4,000-$51,300

Budgeting for a Dog

Getting a dog doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. There are plenty of ways to save when it comes to dog ownership. 

“One way to potentially save some of the upfront cost of adding a new pet is to consider adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue organization,” DiCicco says. “Usually when you adopt a pet, they have been examined by a veterinarian and the costs of spay/neuter, age-appropriate vaccinations, and sometimes even microchipping [are] included in the adoption fee, which can vary depending on the shelter or rescue organization.”

Always ask what’s included in the adoption fee to see where you’re covered. You could also consider an adult dog that doesn’t need as many procedures or supplies as a puppy might.

Search around for deals on dog food. By looking online or buying in bulk, you can save time and money down the road. You can also check out secondhand supplies from swap sites or yard sales—dog crates go for much cheaper used than new.

Try your hand at training or grooming through online tutorials and tips. Grooming tools and dog shampoo won’t cost as much as a visit to the groomers. Do some research on training methods and be sure to have plenty of training treats on hand for when your pooch shows good behavior.

Even with all the budgeting in the world, owning a dog can get pretty pricey. That’s why it’s important to address these costs upfront and have money set aside for whatever your dog may need. With the proper planning, you’ll be able to provide the best possible life for your four-legged pal. And luckily, the sloppy kisses come at no extra cost.