Little girl with puppy in front of Christmas tree.

The Annual Cost to Own a Dog. Can you Afford It?

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How much is that doggie in the window? A lot more than you may think.

What’s more idyllic than a surprise puppy under a Christmas tree?  Idyllic yes, but those who have owned dogs know that it’s also the moment that chaos and expenses begin. Those cuddly balls of fur require lots of exercise, patience, veterinary care, and yes, money.

We’re not trying to be a doggie downer here. A dog can be your best friend. And depending on your dog, it can truly become a member of the family — a playmate for kids, a comforting couch-potato companion, and a watchful guard for your home.

Before you purchase or adopt a dog, it’s good to get a clear picture of the expenses involved. Pet ownership is a commitment that, hopefully, will last for many years. And as most pet owners will tell you, it is priceless.

First things first. What to consider before you choose a dog.

1. What kind of dog will be best for you?

If you have a family, investigate popular dogs for kids — breeds that are patient with little ones. Good family dogs love to play but are also trainable and learn when it’s time to settle down and be obedient.

2. What size dog works for your household?

Large dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Irish Settersan really fill up a room, and wagging tails can knock things off a coffee table. These breeds also require room to run and play, so there may be an investment in a fence or an invisible fence in your future. Medium-size dogs, like French Bulldogs, beagles, and Cocker Spaniels might be more manageable. And if you live in a small space, toy breeds can be a good choice.

3. How much time do you have to give to the dog?

If you’re away at work all day, you may need a crate to secure the dog and hire a dog walker or pet sitter to take care of the dog while you’re gone. A bored dog can get into mischief destroying furniture, shoes, and other valuables. You will soon learn that chew toys are a necessary investment.

4. If you rent your home, there are rules about the size and breeds that are allowed.

Many apartments only allow dogs up to a certain size and weight, and some don’t allow breeds such as Chow Chows American Staffordshires (Pit Bulls). Remember, puppies grow. You don’t want to get a dog that will outgrow its size limit.Dog grooming tools laid out diagonally alongside a red ball and dog food in a bowl.

Initial costs of dog ownership

There are many upfront and initial expenses of dog ownership. Luckily, many of these should be a one-time or limited-time expense. The Canine Journal lists many of the expenses of dog ownership here and breaks them down by state.

  1. If you choose a purebred dog from a reputable breeder (and please never choose a cheap puppy mill!) you can expect to pay $500 to $2000 or more for your dog.
  2. If you decide to adopt a dog from rescue agency, shelter, or Humane Society, adoption fees can range from $50 to $500 and usually include initial vaccines and spay or neutering. It is important to understand that government animal care and the Humane Society will require that the dog is spayed or neutered before allowing you to take the pet home.
  3. Your first stop after you get your dog should be to a veterinarian to give the dog an examination and set you on a vaccine schedule. This is a good time to investigate good vets in your area. Ask your friends who they recommend. You will want someone you trust and feel comfortable with. It’s extra nice if your dog feels comfortable with the vet too. Initial vet care averages $200 to $250. Your puppy will need regular visits for checkups and vaccines until about 16 weeks of age. This is good time to have your pup microchipped to prevent losing it, for about $25 to $50.
  4. Just like bringing home a baby, there are a quite a few supplies you need when bringing a dog home:

If you want the dog to spend time outside without a leash, you’ll also need:

The costs of all these things can be anywhere from $250 to $2,000.

Little girl on examination table with dog while the veterinarian listens to his heart.

Ongoing costs of dog ownership

According to, the monthly cost of owning a dog is somewhere between $125 and $824. The annual cost is between $1500 and $9900. Naturally, this broad range has less to do with the dog and more to do with the habits of the owners and their location.

The American Kennel Club also advises that you also take into consideration the size of the dog. Small breeds have a life expectancy of 15 years, medium breeds 12 years and large breeds 10 years. So, the lifetime cost of dog ownership may increase as size decreases.

Aside from all the expenses listed above, you need to think about a few more needs or wants. If you’ve ever strolled through a PetSmart store or scrolled through, you know the opportunities to splurge on your pet are endless.

  1. Daily care such as hiring dog walkers or pet sitters
  2. Professional obedience training (although pricey, it can make life with pups so much more manageable and enjoyable)
  3. Professional grooming – necessary for many breeds, unless you want to become skilled at doing it yourself
  4. Pet insurance – this usually doesn’t cover routine care, but can help in times of illness or accident
  5. Puppy daycare and boarding
  6. Special treats and gourmet food
  7. Ongoing veterinary care, including dental care

Surprise costs (There are always surprises with pups.)

Raising a puppy — instead of getting an older dog that may already be housetrained — is sure to come with some mishaps and damage. We’ve heard that the general rule for living through the “chewing” phase for breeds like Labrador Retrievers is about two years. Somewhere along the line you will lose a pair of shoes (boots are extra tasty), socks, maybe a pillow, and some kid’s toys mistaken for chew toys.

Be prepared to clean up lots of accidents on the floor and carpets. You may want to invest in some slippers with outdoor soles for early morning and late-night walks. Note: Do not keep slippers where the dog can get its teeth on them.

With all that chewing, let’s hope your dog doesn’t ingest anything it shouldn’t. Swallowing something they shouldn’t may lead to serious vet costs. Remember to keep trash cans out of range. “Garbage Can Gastritis” is a common ailment with pups but may require a visit to the vet.

Emergencies of illness and injury can be a major financial stress on pet owners. It’s important to plan ahead with some savings in case of such a crisis or invest in pet insurance. When this isn’t possible, a fixed-rate personal loan may relieve the stress while you care for the pet and eliminate the rising cost of interest associated with credit cards.

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References used on December 10, 2021

Costs of Owning a Dog

How Much Will You Spend on Your Dog in His Lifetime?

The Cost of Owning a Dog in 2020

The True Cost Of Owning A Dog: Can You Really Afford That Furry Friend?

Best Dog Breeds for Kids

Pet Emergencies: The high cost of medical care.

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