The Cost of a Getting a Dog

When most people think of the cost of getting a pet, they think of the purchasing/adopting cost of getting the animal. If you’re getting a dog from a reputable breeder, the price could be anything from $800 to several thousand dollars. If you’re adopting the dog from the humane society or a shelter, the cost could be between $35 and $400. It all depends on the animal and whether or not it’s a pure-breed or a mix.

(Side note: you’ll notice I didn’t put “acquiring the dog at a pet store” in there. Despite their claims, many pet stores sell puppy mill puppies, which is not only tragic for the animals, but can end up costing you more than you bargained for in the form of a difficult-to-train animal with potential genetic defects. This does not apply to all pet stores, but if you’re going to get a dog from a pet store, be sure to ask the right questions.)

But there are other costs associated with the new dog, which many would-be pet owners don’t consider, and can end up affecting the short-term and long-term budget more than they anticipated.

Initial Cost

Purebred: $500 – $2,000
Mutt / Rescue: $40 – $400

Depends on the type of dog. Make sure that you always buy your dog from a reputable breeder (the dog will be healthier in the long run) or adopt from a reputable shelter.

The Dog’s First Check-up

This depends on the shots your new dog needs (versus what they already have; many shelters keep all their adoptable animals up-to-date with shots, which is what you pay for when you adopt them), and what area of the world you live in. Some areas require certain vaccinations that aren’t necessary in other parts of the world.

New Puppy: $100 – $300
Young to Adult Dog: $50 – $300
Senior Dog: $100 – $400

Future Check-ups/Emergency Care

A yearly physical is just as recommended for your pet as it is for you, and usually runs between $25 and $45.

Shots are another expense, often yearly, although a “two-year study by a committee of the American Veterinary Medical Association concluded in 2001 that the annual-shots advice is not based on scientific data, and some vaccines are effective longer than a year. That’s important, because other research has associated annual shots with harmful and often fatal side effects, such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia in dogs and sarcomas in cats.”

An annual exam for a dog, depending on the size of the dog and the shots required, will run $70 – $130.

And of course, emergency care is often the biggest expense. Having a broken bone set can cost $600 or more and an emergency surgery can cost upwards of $2,000. Chemotherapy and organ transplants, which are available, can cost $8,000 or more.

If you’re concerned about emergency vet bills, there are three options:

  1. You can get pet health insurance.
  2. You can set up an emergency fund specifically for your pet.
  3. You can check out the resources available through the Humane Society, where they have ways of helping afford the cost of pet care, including low-cost vet clinics, and other options.

Pet health care is definitely the more glamorous option, but is another cost to add to your monthly budget, and one you may not be able to justify or afford. If you’re considering pet insurance the American Animal Health Association (AAHA) has the following suggestions:

  • Be sure you understand what the policy covers. Some policies (but not all) cover some preventative care, such as vaccinations, but there may be additional cost for this coverage.
  • Understand the exclusions. Almost all policies exclude pre-existing conditions and some exclude hereditary conditions. Some may exclude certain conditions unique to certain breeds.
    Almost all policies have a deductible and a co-pay requirement. Some pay according to a set schedule of “usual and customary fees” while some pay based on the actual incurred expense. Be sure you understand how expenses will be reimbursed.
  • Ask whether or not the policy allows you to seek care from a veterinarian of your own choosing or whether you must go to a veterinarian that participates in the company’s network of providers. When faced with a pet’s serious illness, most pet owners want to be able to obtain care from their regular veterinarian.
  • Speak with your veterinarian or someone on her practice team. While veterinarians do not sell insurance, chances are they have had experience with the policy you are considering and can provide helpful advice.2

An emergency fund also adds a cost to your budget, but it’s money that you get to determine where and how to spend, no insurance paperwork required.

The final option — finding low-cost options — takes the most research, which means time, but often time is the resource you have to trade when you are low on money.


Making a Home for Your New Pet

Crate: $100 – $200
Bed: $ 20 -$100
Bowl: $10 – $150 (If you get one of the really fancy food regulators.)
Collar, Leash, Tags: $20 – $50

Registration: $0 – $30, depending on where you live and whether or not the dog is spayed/neutered.

And, of course, if you live in an apartment, like we do…
Apartment Registration Fee: $200 – $350
Increased Pet Rent: $15 – $30 / month

Food and Other Miscellaneous Expenses

A 40 lb. bag of food costs between $35 and $50, depending on if you get the cheap stuff or fancy stuff — the latter being arguably better for the health of your dog in the long run. A medium/large adult dog (40-60 lbs.), will eat a 40 lb. bag in about a month and a half.

For the math on that: A 40-60 lb. dog needs 2-3 cups of food a day (this of course depends on your dog, and the recommendations of your vet, whom you should consult to be sure how much to feed your pet), and there are roughly 160-180 cups of food in a 40 lb. bag of food.

(For more info about how and what to feed your dog, check out:

Then there’s the costs of pet-proofing your house, if you haven’t already, which may include a new trashcan, finding new places to store your cleaning products, and making sure that all things breakable and chewable are out of easy reach.

The Morale of the Story

All told, the first month or two of ownership, a dog will cost you…

Adopt a Puppy Buy a Purebred
Initial Cost $30 – $400 $500 – $2,000
First Vet Visit $50 – $400 $100 – $300
New Supplies
Cage $100 – $200
Bed $20 – $100
Leash, Collar, Tags $20 – $50
Registration $0 – $30
Apartment Pet Fee $200 – $350
Increased Pet Rent $15 – $30
Owning $220 – $1180 $740 – $2,680
Renting $435 – $1560 $955 – $3,060

And on a month-to-month, year-to-year basis, you’ll spend roughly…

Monthly Yearly
Vet Visits $5.83 – 10.83 $70 – $130
Food $13.75 – $19.17 $165 – $230
Toys $10 – $20 $120 – $240
Registration $1.25 – $2.50 $15 – $30
Emergency Fund $10 – $50 $120 – $600
Dog Health Insurance $22 – $28 $264 – $336
+ Monthly Rent $15 – $30 $180 – 360
Owning $62.83 – $130.50 $754 – $1,566
Renting $77.83 – $160.50 $934 – $1,926

Which is to say, if you’re going to get a dog, know that, depending on where you live, and your choices of breed and pet supplies, it could cost you upwards of $3,000, which is much more than even the cost of getting a very expensive purebred puppy.

Of course, your new pet may only cost you $220, but if you’re prepared to spend a few thousand dollars and you only have to spend a few hundred, you’ll be in very good shape. The point is, do the research, and just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

Other Resources

Uncle Matty’s Dog Advice – What Your New Puppy Needs