How much does a dog cost? A lot more than you expect

The Cost of a Dog

Just how much does a dog cost? Many people looking to purchase a canine companion ask this question. There are a few different factors to consider when budgeting for a dog. So, how much does a dog cost? A typical dog can cost its owner over its lifetime between $27,000 and $42,000.

Average First Year Expenses


Purchasing a Dog

$ 150 - 2,000


$ 200 - 1,500


$ 250 - 750

Vet Bills

$ 250 - 1,500


$ 100 - 350


$ 350 - 700


$ 1,300 - 6,800


The amount that you will spend on a dog initially has a lot to do with what breed you choose to get, and where you choose to get it from. A dog that you are adopting from a breeder can cost at least twice as much as a dog that you adopt from an animal shelter.

When you adopt from an animal shelter, says to expect a fee ranging from $425 to $800, although most shelters do not charge this much. Included in the adoption fee is a veterinary exam, fixing, heartworm testing, microchipping, deworming, treatment for fleas and ticks, collar and ID tags, and distemper and rabies vaccinations. While at first glance the cost may seem high, it is actually a really good bang for your buck.

There is so much variation in the cost of dog breeds, but typically a purebred dog is going to be more expensive than a mutt. The average cost of a Labrador retriever, one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, is between $800 and $1200. What is included in that fee can vary from breeder to breeder, but generally speaking you will still have to pay for some procedures, like spaying/neutering and vaccinations.

lab puppy in bowl


Before you even purchase your dog, there are a lot of supplies that you will need to have to be prepared for your furry friend’s arrival. Some initial purchases will include:

  • Dog bed
  • Food/water bowls
  • Leash
  • Collar (if one is not provided for you)
  • Chew toys
  • Treats
  • Identification tags (if not provided for you)

The prices for these items are extremely variable, depending on the size and quality that you get. Most dog owners want their pets to be comfortable and have what is necessary to keep them happy, and will spend more money to do so. This is also just a list of the bare minimum purchases, and many dog owners will find other things they want to get their pet.

Remember that some of the items on the list will have to be bought frequently (such as food and treats) and others will have to be replaced every so often (such as dog beds, toys, and leashes). It is extremely important to keep this in mind when budgeting for how much dogs cost.

how much does a dog cost


Even the healthiest of dogs needs to take flea/tick and heartworm medication. It is recommended that these be given monthly. The prices on these can range, but most packages are $20 at minimum.

Some dog owners choose to give their dogs vitamins in support of overall health. There are brands of vitamins that can be purchased quite inexpensively. You should also check in with your vet before giving your dog any type of supplement because depending on your dog’s diet, some could do more harm than good.

If your dog has any sort of health condition, you will need to buy medication for this. Dogs with diabetes need medicine daily, and some dogs might need a prescription for medicine (such as anxiety medication) that they take from time to time.

When you first buy a dog you often don’t know what medical conditions he will develop. That’s why you should save some money in case health issues arise.

Vet Bills

Veterinary care is an important part of keeping your dog healthy. With good care comes expense. Vets go to school for many years in order to learn to give pets the best possible care, and that is the quality care that you pay for.

When you spay or neuter your dog, you are looking at a cost of about $200, according to Money Under 30. An initial medical exam costs around $70, however you will need to get your dog annual medical exams, which are about $235. If you opt to get pet health insurance for your dog, this will cost approximately $225.

Keep in mind that these are just the baseline costs. If your pet gets sick or injured, you will have to take him into the vet for a medical examination. This can be crucial to the dog’s health and should be budgeted for.

how much does a dog cost


Whether it’s going back to your hometown for the holidays to catch up with your parents, or taking a much needed beach vacation, chances are good that at some point you will have to leave your pet in someone else’s care. If you have friends or family members around that are always able to watch your dog when you go away, that’s great! But if not, you will have to pay for the cost of boarding your dog in a kennel.

A stay at a kennel typically costs between $25-$45 per night, says PetCareRx. So if you leave for a week you’re looking at a minimum cost of $175. The least expensive options provide the most basic care and if you want your dog to be pampered you will have to pay more.


Certain breeds of dogs need to go to the groomer to get their coat taken care of. The price of getting your dog groomed depends on the size of the dog and the amount of grooming that needs to be done, but generally you are looking at paying an average of $53 per visit, says Angie’s List. Some dogs need to be groomed more often than others, and frequency of visits should also be accounted for when budgeting for a dog.

dog bathing

Final Thoughts: How much does a dog cost?

Owning a dog is a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it comes with its costs. So before you make the decision to purchase a dog, make sure that you understand how much does a dog cost so that you can provide for all of his care. If you wait until you are financially sound to purchase a dog, your pet will get the care he needs, and you will be less stressed about affording your new friend.

About the author

Melanie Fox

Hi there, I'm Melanie Fox, editor at Beloved Bark. We look to provide people with the knowledge and tools to make smarter, more educated choices for their dogs. We have made it our mission to inform our followers with expert advice and recommendations, that will make a difference in your dog's life.

1 comment
Rosemary - June 18, 2017

Hi Melanie,

This is a great post! And something all people considering bringing a best friend into their lives should read.

Caring for our canine friends is expensive, there’s no way around it. We have 3 babies, so it’s triple the cost.

Their food is the most expensive. They eat a raw diet. Although it is still cheaper than kibble and saves on vet bills.

Boarding is the second most expensive regular cost. I guess I could cut costs there by booking a regular kennel. But they get a family one with their own private play area.

I do save costs on grooming because I groom them at home. It’s extra work but it’s also a bonding experience.

But our biggest expense is our 9 year old GSD. She had hip surgery in December 2016 and has rehab twice a week at hydro therapy.

I think folks who’s dogs need any kind of orthopedic surgery get fixated on the actual cost of the surgery which is pale in comparison to the constant rehab, supplements and pain protocol items.

But it’s essential to recovery and for a dog her age it’s something that’ll last for the rest of her life. But it’s so worth it to see her improve and be pain free.

And besides she’s my responsibility, something I took on when I invited her into our lives knowing that she has hip dysplasia. I wanted to make her sunset years the best she’s ever had. So adopting her was a no-brainer for me.

Time is another cost. It takes time to work with our dogs and train them. Of course that’s not measurable in a number but it’s another solid commitment we have to make. But again so worth it to see them develop and grow.

Thanks for creating awareness around this important subject.

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