I remember begging my parents one Christmas for a dog. My sister and I drew pictures of the Golden Retriever puppy that we wanted and we promised to take care of it. We’d walk it, feed it, play with it and do everything required to take care of it – except pay for it 🙂
My parents never got us a dog and now I understand why. At eight years old, I didn’t understand the cost of owning a dog.
How Much Do Dogs Cost ?
Cost of Getting a Dog
The initial cost of buying a dog varies depending on where you get the dog. if you get the dog from a breeder, you can pay anywhere from $1,000-$2,500 for the dog. If you get the dog from a rescue organization, you can expect to pay from $0-$200.
I first researched buying a dog from a breeder and was quoted $2,000 for an 8-week old puppy. I was very interested in getting an Entlebucher which is a very cute but rare breed.
After much consideration, I decided that a rescue dog would be better suited for my lifestyle. Rescue dogs are much cheaper, they have the health benefits of genetic variation, they are much easier to get than dogs from a breeder, and they make you feel good because you are giving a home to a pup in need! I ultimately paid $162 to a rescue organization for my pup.
Cost of Dog Toys and Accessories
Plan for Growth
When I first got my pup, I had nothing – no dog toys, dog beds, accessories, anything. I stopped at Petsmart on the way home and picked up a dog bed, crate, water bowl, and some toys to the total cost of $75. I then made several more trips to Petsmart in that first month and continue to do so now.
Buying a puppy is even more expensive than buying a dog because they outgrow everything so quickly. The medium sized crate I got that first day was perfect for my little pup but not for the 80+ pound big dog I have now. The tiny dog toys, the little collar and leash, even the water bowl I got all needed to be replaced several times as he got older and bigger.
Save by Buying Used
One way to save on dog accessories is to buy used. I did find a great used dog-crate for $40 at a second-hand store and saved over $60. An extra-large dog crate will run you over $100 at Petsmart.
Expect Replacements if Your Dog is a Chewer
If your dog is a extreme chewer like mine, you’ll have to factor in cost for replacement leashes and toys. I have yet to find a toy that my dog has not destroyed although the Goughnuts – Indestructible Chew Toy is going on strong after three months! Dog toys for extreme chewers will run you $20+ but it’s worth it to avoid an expensive vet bill when your dog gets a cheap toy stuck in its intestines.
I tried out BarkBox and love it!! For the same price as one toy, Barkbox will send you a box full of toys, treats, and accessories each month. (Since my dog is an extreme chewer, his toys are very expensive so that is where I get that figure from). I save money each month by using Barkbox. Now my dog thinks that all boxes that get delivered to the house are his and he gets super excited! It’s adorable.
Get $5 off any new BarkBox Subscription
Cost of Dog Food
It costs me about $45 for a big bag of dog food that lasts about 4 weeks or more. The cost of dog food can be more or less depending on the size of the dog and what brand you buy. I don’t buy the cheapest brand since I care about dog food quality.
How Much Does Going to the Vet Cost ?
Cost of Shots and Vaccinations
I spent about $150 for the pup’s initial shots and vaccines. I plan to spend about this amount every year to keep my dog up to date on his vaccinations. It’s also required for his boarding that he is up to date on the bordatella vaccination so I plan to add that vaccination to the standard list of vaccinations he gets each year.
Cost of a Vet Visit
It runs me about $90 for a vet visit plus the costs any shots, medicine, or procedures. The Vet is EXPENSIVE! I spent an extra $350 at the vet the first month I got the puppy since he had so many bugs and digestive issues when we got him.
My puppy may have been a little bit sicker than most puppies but I have spent $1,150 on the vet so far and he is not even two yet.
How Much is Dog Grooming ?
Dog grooming will run you $30-$90 depending on the size of your dog and the thickness of its coat. I personally find it easier to pay once for dog clippers, shampoo, and a FURminator and I do the grooming myself. It’s healthier for the dog to do grooming at home and if you start them early, the dogs grow less scared of the clippers and the water over time.
How Much is Dog Insurance ?
Cost of dog health insurance
I pay $32 per month for dog insurance. I pay my vet and then the company reimburses me for what I paid.
I have had no problem getting claims processed or getting responses from Embrace, the company I use for pet insurance. The only complaint I have about Embrace Pet Insurance is that they count some ridiculous things as “pre-existing conditions” and thus, I get no coverage for them.
For example, my dog has a penchant for licking puddles and eating poop so he keeps getting giardia every few months. Embrace unfortunately counts getting giardia as having a pre-existing condition and thus I cannot get reimbursed for any bills related to a second case of giardia within 12 months of the first. It’s a pain.
Overall, I’ve probably evened out between what I have spent on pet insurance and what I have paid to the vet. I have heard horror stories from coworkers who have paid $5,000+ for their dog’s ACL surgery so pet insurance is worth it to me.
Although, my dog goes to the vet less and less now that he is older. I may decide to stop paying for insurance soon.
How Much is Dog Boarding ?
Cost of doggy day care
I took my dog to doggy day care from 6 months to a year and paid $20 a day.
The cost was worth it to me at the time but I soon realized how ridiculous it was to pay that much for doggy day care and how bad doggy daycare was for my dog. With 10+ dogs in the play pen at one time, it was too much for him. He got in fights and would eat other dog’s poop which would cause him to get sick.
I stopped taking him to doggy daycare and adjusted my schedule to be home earlier. My dog is happier and my vet bills have went way down since he is no longer getting sick from eating poop!
Cost of overnight boarding
I occasionally have to board my dog and pay $30 a day for dog boarding. Boarding is EXPENSIVE! I used to board my dog at the doggy day care but have since found another place that is a bit cheaper and a better environment.
I spent $1,500 on doggy day care and boarding in the six months that I was taking him to that first place. I then spent about $500 boarding my dog at the second place, totaling $2,000 for dog boarding and doggy daycare.
How Much is Dog Training ?
In April of this year, I decided that my dog needed training. He was a bit out of control and I felt I needed professional help. The great dog boarding place offered dog training so I took advantage of it. It was $1,200 for a four-week boarding and training package.
It was hard being away from my dog for four weeks, but at the end of four weeks I picked up a dog who could walk calmly on leash, lay down quietly next to me, and just generally listen to me. I don’t regret spending that money on dog training at all.
The Total Cost of Dog Ownership
I’ve owned my dog for twenty months and so far I have spent $6,700 on him. OUCH! The cost is broken down into doggy day care and boarding $2,000, dog training $1,200, the vet $1,150, pet insurance $665, and all other associated costs I mentioned above.
I spent $3,877 on my dog in the 8 months I had him in 2014 and $2,840 in the 12 months I had him in 2015. The higher cost in 2014 makes since since I had to re-buy items as he grew, I was taking him to doggy day care, and he went to the vet quite a bit in his first few months. The 2015 cost is also high since I took him to doggy day care through January and spent the money on dog training in April. I won’t have those expenses in future.
Overall, I expect to spend about $2,000/yr on my dog going forward.
The Benefits of Owning a Dog
Despite the crazy expense of owning a dog, I don’t regret getting a dog for the reasons below.
I’ve become that person that shows people pictures of their dog. I love him. There’s nothing better than having a bad day and coming home to your tail-wagging best friend.
My dog has forced me to do more outdoors. We go on walks everyday and I like to take him on hikes during the weekend. Everything you hear about becoming more active when you get a dog is true.
My friends have dogs too so going on hikes with our dogs is a social activity. Our dogs enjoy playing with each other as well.
Having a Dog is Worth the Cost
I love my fur-baby and wouldn’t trade him for the world!
Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I will only recommend products I actually use regularly.
Do you have a dog? How much does it cost you to own a dog?
- How to Make a Backyard Movie Theater with a projector screen - September 19, 2020
- HONEST Passive Income Planner Girl by Michelle Rohr course review - May 25, 2020
- 35 Pink Aesthetic Wallpapers with Quotes and Collages - May 20, 2020
Financial Goalie says
Hi Millennial Boss! Thank you so much for writing this article! I plan to own a poodle/water portugese/labradoodle next year. I was curious to see how much it would cost to own a puppy or a dog, and came across your blog. Thank you for the great details regarding how much it would cost to own a puppy!
No problem! You can probably do it much cheaper than me if you skip the doggy day care and dog training! If I lived closer to work and had owned a pet prior, I probably could have skipped both too. Good luck!
Jen @ Frugal Millennial says
Your dog is adorable! I must have gone to an expensive animal rescue – the adoption fee for my dog was $400.
Thanks! Wow – $400!! Although, I guess giving money to support an animal rescue is a good thing 🙂
Hope the fee included all of your dogs shots, etc.
Andrew @ Debt Freedom Journey says
Julie, I love this article. I am actually a veterinarian by day, so I find this very interesting. I think the hardest part of my job is watching people make tough decisions about their pet’s care based on finances. My biggest struggle is not trying to hand all of my clients a copy of The Total Money Makeover.
Tip: With the insurance, watch out. A lot of them don’t cover “bilateral” conditions. Meaning if he does end up needing ACL surgery, if he needs surgery on his OTHER ACL (which about 60% of dogs do) it may not be covered. I would check with Embrace. We see a lot of folks with Trupanion but I believe they have that restriction as well.
My advice as a veterinarian? Don’t get a pet unless you read this article 🙂
Would be interested in sharing this on my blog. Let me know if you’d be interested.
Of course! Post away! I’d love to know what things I should bring my dog into the vet for and when should I wait it out. I was so paranoid when he was a puppy that I would take him in quite frequently which was expensive.
Frugal Familia says
We’ve got two pooches and I must say the one looks almost identical to your little guy, we named him Simba. They certainly aren’t cheap, we recently had a vet bill for $1,200 which is never fun but like you said they are worth every penny and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Yup! He’s my best buddy! Funny our dogs look alike! Do you know what kind of a dog Simba is?
Frugal Familia says
He’s the best kind, a rescue 🙂 The shelter told us he was german shepherd and shar pei mix but now that he’s grown up we also see some lab/pit bull maybe? We talked about getting one of those DNA tests off Amazon for like 80 bucks, but not sure how reliable those are and at the end of the day we figured what’s the point!
I’m of the same mind regarding the DNA tests. There is the brand Wisdom that has festivals some time and sells their kits for half off – I haven’t been tempted enough to try it but maybe I will.
This is a great post! Dogs in general give us a warm fuzzy feeling. And this feeling can cloud our judgement when it comes to being honest about the costs and life long responsibility of having a dog.
Now with the festive season upon us, many people will be giving and receiving dogs and puppies as gifts. I think what you’ve shared here is so relevant to this time of the year.
Such an important reminder to everyone considering giving a pet as a gift for the holidays.
Hans Aberg says
I had been planning to buy a JRT and looking for ways how much it would cost. Now, I got an idea.
Thanks for sharing the post. 🙂
Glad I could help! I love my pup but I’ve also spent thousands on him!
Sara @ BestPetReviews says
Thanks for the heads up! I definitely will save up some money to buy a dog. I think there are some things that people could cut out some of the costs, like finding friends or family to stay with the dog. I know that working on bathing your dog yourself also saves a lot. I agree, dogs are expensive, and stressful, and can chew your items, but the unconditional love is so worth it! 🙂
Dogs are definitely worth every single penny. A lot of things can get a bit expensive like vet costs. Luckily we have a vet that gives discount to pensioners and my mom is a pensioner so I don’t have to pay too much for checkups or other procedures. They saved my dog when he was bitten so I trust them even though they’re not expensive.
Wishing you many happy moments with your sweet furry friend 🙂
Brennan Z says
I love my dog, but she definetly isn’t cheap! Like you’ve said in your blog post, there’s so many different expenses that come along with owning a dog. Although for me, it’s all very well worth it in the end.
Don’t you think? 🙂
Sarah Cummings says
Somehow insurance for dogs never crossed my mind! Thanks for the post!