How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?

The cost of owning a dog ranges between $700 and $1,100 annually, according to the most recent estimates by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). A 2018 survey by financial services company TD Ameritrade found Millennials spend an average of $1,285 on their dogs yearly.

But annual dog expenses vary widely based on a variety factors—from your taste in dog gear to the size of your dog to the average cost of a visit to the veterinarian in your area.

Estimating what a dog will cost must include these variables, as well as your tendency for impulse buys and wild card canine issues, such as health emergencies and property damage caused by destructive chewers and diggers. Only with these in mind will your estimates fall into the ballpark. Read on for our rundown of the approximate costs of owning a dog in the first year, and the annual expenses that continue through your dog’s lifetime.

The First Year Cost of a New Dog

The first year of owning a new dog is the most expensive because it includes adoption fees or or the cost of buying a dog. You must also factor in the new dog supplies you’ll need, whether you’re a first-time dog owner, or already have a dog or two. Dogs need their own dedicated gear in the house to be healthy and happy.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Dog?

The cost of buying a dog varies so dramatically, we can’t even provide a range. Getting a dog from a reputable breeder is typically costly because they put so much care into the health of their sires, dams, and litters. Expect to pay higher prices for American Kennel Club (AKC) registered puppies and the offspring of noted dog show champions, as well as for popular ‘designer’ mixed-breed dogs and certain rare dog breeds. If you’re buying, our
Dog Breed Selector
can help guide you to a breed that’s a good match for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

When choosing a dog breeder, do your research. Check their stated credentials against records with the AKC, as well as national, state, and local dog clubs dedicated to the specific breed. Search online news articles with their name and kennel—lawsuits and criminal records related to their business will show up. The goal is to avoid buying from puppy mills, where dogs are bred with little care for the welfare of the animals or attention to genetic health issues.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Dog?

The cost to adopt a dog varies between organizations, but adoption is typically the cheaper route to dog ownership. Whether you are adopting from a municipal shelter or non-profit rescue, the process includes fees that cover the cost of spaying or neutering, other veterinary tests and care, the shelter facility, staff, and training for volunteers. Consult our detailed post on how to adopt a shelter dog if you decide to take the adoption route.

Puppy (Or Rescue Dog) Expenses for the First Year

The responsibility for spaying or neutering falls to you if you are buying your new puppy from a breeder. The price varies between veterinarians, but routine spaying or neutering procedures can cost up to $300. Seek out low- or reduced-cost spay/neuter programs for the most affordable options. Spaying and neutering have health and behavioral benefits for dogs, and some US cities mandate the procedures by law; as mentioned above, they’re included in adoption fees for rescue dogs.

Other first-year expenses for your new dog include:

  • Dog collars
  • Dog bowls for food and water
  • High-quality dry or wet dog food
  • First veterinarian visit, and follow-ups for vaccinations
  • Flea and tick treatments/preventatives
  • Dog grooming supplies – dog-safe shampoo and toothpaste, toothbrushes, nail clippers, brushes, etc.
  • Dog house training supplies
  • Dog gate(s) – if you want any no-dog-zones in your home
  • Dog crate
  • Dog license – usually a low municipal fee
  • Dog bed
  • Dog treats and toys
  • Dog safety harness for travel in the car
  • Dog first-aid kit
  • Eco-friendly dog waste pick-up bags
  • Dog-safe household cleaning supplies

Ongoing Expenses: The Annual Cost of a Dog

Once you’ve stocked up on dog gear, most ongoing expenses involve restocking supplies or replacing damaged items from the above list. But the annual cost of dog food, treats, and supplies varies depending on what you buy and the size of your dog—it probably won’t surprise you that the cost of gear and food for big dogs is pricier than it is for small dogs.

According to the ASPCA, the annual cost of premium dry dog food for a large dog will run you around $400, and only about half that ($212) for a small dog, with food costs for a medium-size dog landing somewhere in the middle. For toys and treats, the ASPCA puts the annual price tag at $75 for large dogs, $55 for medium-size dogs, and $40 for small dogs. But once again, the exact yearly cost of dog ownership will vary based on individual choices.

Optional and Unexpected Dog Expenses

Professional dog services—grooming, dog walkers, doggy daycare, overnight boarding, obedience training, and agility classes—fall into the category of optional expenses because you can groom, train, and exercise your dog on your own. Many people also have nearby family members or friends who can pitch in to help with walks, or to dog sit during vacations.

But for other dog owners, outsourcing these jobs is a necessity. Whether they’re struggling with obedience training, have no time for grooming, or don’t have family to help out with walks and overnight trips, these services are lifesavers. They can be pricey though, so factor them into your budgeting if you think you’ll need one or more of these dog care services.

Unexpected medical issues can also raise annual costs. If your dog develops a chronic illness or has a medical emergency, you’ll have to pay for any resulting medical care, medications, or surgical procedures out of pocket. Pet insurance can offset medical costs, but the plans are expensive and usually don’t cover 100 percent of veterinarian bills.

Finally, you adore your furry best friend, and want him to have the best—but that Captain America costume or umpteenth dog toy doesn’t count as a necessity. These extras are admittedly hard to resist; to prevent overspending, establish an annual ‘fun and games’ dog budget and then honor it.

Dogs are expensive, but the annual costs of owning a dog can vary by thousands of dollars. Before bringing a dog home, honestly assess what services and gear you’ll need and how these expenses fit into your household budget. What you learn will help guide your decisions about food, supplies, family dog care duties, services, and fun extras. The more you understand the financial realities of owning a dog, the more prepared you are for the priceless rewards of a furry best friend.

7 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?”

  1. Wow! This seems actually kind of low. Where do you find dog food that costs just $30 a month? My dog eats good food and we try to get it on sale but it’s around $50 a month. Then she has allergies – medicine is about $150 a month. Then grooming – even though she’s a lab, because of her allergies I have her bathed twice a month – there’s another $50. I’d do it myself but live in a condo and no outdoor space to do it. She’s expensive but would I trade her for anything? NOPE! She’s my best friend and the reason I stay sane! 😀

  2. Trainer? If you can’t train a dog yourself you shouldn’t have one.

    I also agree about eh $30 a month on food. Only if you are feeding your dog some crap store brand food. I spend about $140 a month a food. Not to mention, healthy treats, chewies and supplements.

    I’m not so sure the author has ever had a dog. Well, maybe a pocket puppy but anyone who has a real dog knows $30 is nothing.

  3. Also agree on the food, $30 could get you a good quality dog food, but it won’t last you the month if you have a dog any bigger than a beagle!
    One cost that’s not included in the total is preventative medications (heartworm, flea/tick). $200+/year depending on brand of medications and size of dog.
    And it’s not clear if the $250/year for vetting includes shots & tests or not.
    Additionally, microchipping or licensing with the city if required by law. Some microchip company’s have an annual fee as well for additional services. $5-45/year

  4. Where did you guys get this cost estimates? I’m spending around $1500/ dog and I’d like to save money where I can.

  5. To maximize your dogs quality of life initial set up costs can be daunting and then there are the unavoidable visits to the vet and the never ending increases in food costs. Unfortunately these are fast becoming serious deterrents to otherwise would be dog owners. Like other readers I find the estimates above misleading and not helpful. I am all for more people owning dogs but they need to go into it with their eyes wide open.
    I currently have two Border Collies and spend $350 Cdn a month on food alone and they aren’t big eaters! That does not include healthy treats and biscuits etc. They eat a raw diet. I would hate to think what I have spent over the years in infrastructure (exercise area/dog run fencing, dog beds, frisbees, balls, bowls, collars leashes vet bills, etc). But that is just the monetary commitment of sharing your life with a dog? More importantly there is a huge investment in your time to keep them healthy in mind and body. Had Border Collies now for 40 years and don’t regret spending any amount on them because the positives they have brought to our household far outweigh the costs. You very quickly realize that the moment you loose one, but please accept it is not an insignificant financial/human commitment if you live up to the responsibility in every sense of the word.

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