How Much Does it Cost to Own a Dog

How Much Does it Cost to Own a Dog

Author WDF Staff


Getting a dog is one of life’s great joys. When picking which breed we want and thinking about different compatibility aspects, like energy levels or grooming needs, new dog owners rarely think about the cost of owning a dog. Money might be an uncomfortable topic, but it is a topic we need to discuss when talking about dog ownership.

If you have experience in that department and you already own a dog, it is possible you talked to someone from your family or friends about the possibility of getting a dog. Many people might say, “Dogs cost too much” or something else down that line. However, they rarely know exactly how much a dog costs. If you are thinking about becoming a dog owner, thinking about budgets and costs is essential. Here is what you should know about the costs of owning a dog.

Getting a dog

Purchasing and the first year of dog ownership are usually the most expensive. However, there are different ways of getting a dog. The difference between adoption and purchasing a dog from a breeder is quite different moneywise. Here is the main difference;

woman and her dog


The cost of each individual puppy will vary. The price will depend on the puppy’s show quality, pedigree, and most of all - breed. Some breeds are more expensive than others, especially those that are rare or prone to diseases, which means the breeder needs to take extra care in terms of healthy breeding. Usually, you can expect a cost between $700 - $2.500, depending on the breed.


There are many perfectly good dogs in shelters across the country. They need good homes and people that will love them. Adoption is a cheaper option, but it is not free. Some shelters will require you to pay adoption fees and medical costs for the dog you are adopting. Some shelters won’t require any kind of payments, so you can expect a price between $0 - $300.

Initial costs

That is the cost of getting a dog to your home, but that is not all it takes to be a good dog owner. There are other things you need to calculate in the costs of getting a dog. The second thing you will have to buy is the essential equipment your dog will need. That equipment is leashes, collars or harnesses, bowls, toys, and a bed or a crate.

Leashes, collars, harnesses

Luckily, there are many different options when it comes to buying dog equipment. Large online shops or local pet stores offer a variety of choices most dog owners will find satisfactory. If you have a prepared budget, you will know precisely how much you can spend on leashes and collars. You can find decent things for as little as $20, but if you want a good dog harness for your puppy, some options go for a significantly higher price. You can expect the costs for these things to be from $20 - $250.

puppy sleeping on couch

Bowls and toys

All dogs need bowls. Your dog should have at least two bowls - one for water and one for food. This is especially important at the beginning of the puppy’s life when you should closely monitor their development and water and food intake. There are automated feeders that will automatically dispense food, and they can cost more than $100.

Check out these amazing dog bowls - The best elevated dog bowls.

Puppies will need toys; otherwise, they might become bored and find joy in destroying valuable things like furniture or shoes. Luckily, they don’t need much. Sometimes, an old sock will be the best toy in the world. Although, we would recommend getting something for teething and something puppies can chew on safely. Bowls and toys can range from $25 - $300, depending on your budget.

If you don’t know what toys to get your dog, check out this article - Best dog toys.

Dog bed or crate

Getting your dog a decent dog bed or crate is important for several reasons. There are dog beds that provide additional comfort, and puppies separated from their mothers and breeders can be anxious at first. Making sure they have a comfy bed or crate will help them transition to an independent dog that is becoming your new family member. Depending on your dog’s needs and size, you can expect a cost between $29 - $400. There are even dog crates that double as furniture, and their price is even higher. Here are some great suggestions for dog beds - Comforting dog beds.

puppy belly rubs

Veterinary costs

One of the most significant initial costs of getting a dog is veterinary costs. Your new puppy will need parasite preventives, shots, and if you are not planning on becoming a breeder or breed your dog, spaying or neutering. Again, depending on the breed and the size, the costs will look something like this;

Parasite treatment - $50 - $100

Neutering or spaying - $20 - $300

Vet treatment and shots - $50 - $300

Puppies will need to be vaccinated, and new dog owners can often be confused about when they should be done. Check out this article for more information - Puppy shot schedule.

Puppy food

One of the most important things your puppy will need at the start of their new lives is high-quality food. Puppies are growing and developing quickly, and by the end of their first year, most breeds will be done with growing. They will reach their full size by the 12th month of their lives, and that will require good dog food that will support their development.

puppy on a beach

There are different dog food manufacturers, and knowing which one to pick is essential. You can always talk to your vet about dog food and what option would be best for your new puppy. When budgeting for dog food costs, you should choose a brand that offers the most value for your money. There are great options you can choose from, and if you don’t know where to start, check out this article for puppy food suggestions - Best puppy food. You can expect monthly costs for puppy and dog food to be between $30 - $50. High-quality foods like Orijen or Canidae will go for a slightly higher price, and if they fit your budget, they would be a great choice.

Overall initial costs

When picking a puppy, there will be some significant costs involved. Of course, it will depend on whether you are actually buying a purebred, well-bred dog with a good pedigree or you are adopting one. The initial costs will look something like this;

Adoption initial costs - $224 - $2.000

Buying initial costs - $924 - $4.000

It is important to know that these are just estimates, and the exact costs can be very different. There are purebred dogs that cost more than 7 or 8 thousand dollars. Still, we are using data on average dog owners that will not be interested in getting the most expensive dogs in the world.

woman and dog in park

Overall first-year cost

The first-yeat of a puppy’s life is usually the most costly, assuming no major surgeries or therapies for severe diseases will be needed. Unfortunately, that is not something we can count on or foresee. What we can do is calculate the overall costs for the first year of dog ownership. Based on our estimates, you can expect costs in this range;

Adoption option - $754 - $2.750

Buying option - $1.454 - $4.850

You must prepare your budget and act accordingly because it is clear that just getting a dog can be a significant cost. However, getting a new puppy at home cannot be measured in money.

Additional costs throughout the dog’s life

The initial costs might be higher than most of us would expect, but the costs will become easier to bear when the growing and developing is done. The food adult dogs eat is slightly different and doesn’t have to include nutrients developing puppies might need. However, the price of average adult dog food is between $30 - $60. Again, larger breeds like the Mastiff will need more food than small dogs like the Pomeranian. That is an important part of dog ownership future dog owners need to include in their calculations. Here are some additional costs that you will probably have for your adult dog.

akita puppy rawhide bone


Not all of us have the knowledge and time required to properly train a dog, especially a breed that can be stubborn, like an Afghan Hound or an Airedale Terrier. In that case, the best solution is to get a professional trainer or enroll your dog in obedience classes that will help them develop into a well-behaved and obedient dog. The cost of obedience training for dogs will depend on the trainer you work with and your location. The prices are lower the further you go from cities. You can expect $25 - $300, depending on your dog’s progress.


Most of us don’t know how to effectively and safely cut our dog’s hair. However, there are things we can do at home that will impact grooming costs. We can brush the dog’s teeth, clip their nails, brush them, and give them baths. However, some dog breeds are high-maintenance, and if you’d like to keep their coat “show-worthy,” you will need professional help. A yearly budget for grooming services should be $30 - $500, depending on the breed and the needs your dog might have.

Want to know more about grooming a dog at home? Check out this article - DIY dog grooming.

Dog walking

Although dog walking is not a necessity and many dog owners do this themselves, the reality is that we sometimes just don’t have enough time to walk our dog the way they were supposed to be walked. If you have a busy schedule, you will need dog walking services. This can rack up pretty fast, so make sure you include this in your monthly budget. The average price of a walk is $20, and if you use this service 5 times a week, you can expect to pay $440 a month.

puppies sleeping

You can find out how to pick the best dog walker here - Getting a dog walker.

Preventive medications and shots for adult dogs

Just because your dog is older doesn’t mean they don’t have to go for check-ups regularly. If you have an unhealthy dog, the check for their therapy can rack up pretty quickly. Deworming should be routinely done, and if everything is alright with your dog, they should go at least once a year for a check-up. Regular vet visits will be between $200 - $500 per year. Medications to prevent parasite infections like ticks, fleas, whipworms, or heartworms will cost around $100 - $500, depending on the needs and size of your dog.

Veterinary emergencies

Based on statistics, nearly all dogs have some sort of veterinary emergency in their lives. It can be something terrible, or it can be something that sounds worse than it is but requires hospitalization. That is the most expensive part of dog ownership. A simple visit to the vet emergency hospital can be between $100 and $500. Complicated surgeries can go as high as $5.000, and hospitalization can be between $200 - $500 per day.

This is not something that can be calculated, and if you are lucky, your dog might go through their life without having any kind of emergencies. However, statistics tell us that is usually not the case. The best thing you can do is pay for pet insurance or save an “emergency” fund.

The overall yearly cost of an adult dog - $915 - $2.960 (without any health emergencies)

Senior dog costs

Senior dogs and puppies are the most fragile group, and they are prone to different vet emergencies. Older dogs are prone to various health issues, and there are some significant costs your dog might attract. Most senior dogs will have some sort of joint and skeletal issues, so your vet will probably recommend some kind of supplements. They will also require orthopedic dog beds that provide excellent lumbar support, and senior dogs will often visit the vet. Old dogs will require grooming, walking, and everything adult dogs will, plus some additional equipment.

One of the most common supplements seniors dog take is glucosamine. Check out this article for more information - Glucosamine for dogs.

Vet costs and visits

Older dogs will likely need a bit more veterinary care. They will need help with some health issues, just like our seniors do. Unfortunately, they cannot stay with us forever, and they will need all our support in their golden years. The good news is that senior dog food has the same price range as adult dog food; the main difference is in the ingredients.

A senior dog should also take preventative medications and shots, which means you should budget the same as you would for an adult dog. The worst part of dog ownership is the moment our dogs leave us. That is something no dog owner wants to think about, but it is another thing you will have to pay for your pet. There are different pet cemeteries and services that can assist you during these times, but they all come at a certain cost. 

The overall yearly senior dog costs - $1.415 - $4260 (without medical emergency)

In conclusion

Getting a dog is a huge commitment and not something that should be taken lightly. They are living beings, and they require proper care to survive and thrive. The good news is, dog owners are usually ready to spend a lot of money on their dogs, and none of us regret it. From personal experience, we can tell you that when your dog is sick and needs surgery, there is nothing you wouldn’t do to make your four-legged best friend feel better.

Plan your budget carefully, and make sure you can afford to be a responsible dog owner.

World Dog Finder team

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