The Real Cost of Owning a Dog

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The Real Cost of Owning a Dog

Adopting a puppy always sounds like a good idea. They’re cute, cuddly and always ready to play. But that puppy will have to go to the vet, take preventative medications, eat, get groomed and so much more. Here’s a breakdown of costs to consider before adopting or purchasing a dog.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the lifetime costs of dogs by size are as follows:

  • Small: $15,000 for an average life expectancy of 15 years
  • Medium: $15,800 for an average life expectancy of 13 years
  • Large: $14,500 for an average life expectancy of 10 years

As you can see, this isn’t pocket change you’re dealing with. So where is the money being spent?

Starting Costs

Before you bring your new pup home, your house will need to be set up. Your dog will need a bed, toys, bowls, grooming tools, a collar, a leash, a kennel, food, and treats. These costs add up quickly, depending on the needs of the breed you choose.


Like humans, dogs need to visit the doctor for an annual checkup. A visit to the vet usually includes a wellness check, vaccines, lab tests and dental care. All of these procedures add up…and fast. A typical visit to the vet could cost $100 – $400, depending on the procedures.

Keep in mind, these estimates are for routine visits, not emergencies. If anything happens to your furry friend over the weekend or late at night – like a snake bite, vomiting or broken bone –emergency vet visits can be $300 – $1,000 depending on care. To better protect you and your pet you can consider purchasing pet insurance, very similar to health insurance for humans, there are options for pet coverage! 


Your furry friend will have to eat at least two meals per day. Depending on your dog’s size, the amount of food you feed it will vary. On average, dry kibble for one dog will cost between $200 and $1,400 per year – factors to consider are the size and age of your dog, how much food is consumed, and the quality of the ingredients in the food you choose to purchase.


Most dogs require professional grooming – whether it’s the full service, a nail trim, or bath. Dogs like Maltese, Poodles and Border Collies will require a full groom at least once a month to keep their hair from getting tangled and matted. On average, people spend about $50 – $200 per session, depending on the dog’s size.

For short-haired dogs like beagles, Boston Terriers and Rottweilers, a simple brushing or bath will do the trick, which is often less than $30.

Consider purchasing some of the grooming tools yourself – such as brushes, nail clippers, and scissors to cut down on monthly professional grooming costs. Giving your dog a bath at home can help cut costs as well – all you need is a bottle of dog shampoo and a fluffy towel to dry them off with.


It’s easy to forget about the things our dogs will need after we bring them home. For example, if you work all day, considering a dog walker or pet sitter may add to your monthly expenses. If you’re going on vacation, boarding fees will add up quickly. Additionally, not every pup comes pre-trained, so you may want to pay a professional to help you along the way.

If your pup chews your new shoes, tears up a rug or destroys the wires behind your TV…those will have to be replaced. It’s a good idea to set aside an emergency fund for your new friend to cover these unexpected, but probable costs.

At the end of the day, we all love our furry friends, but as we can see, bringing one home can get expensive. It’s important to consider the costs of the breed you want, and plan ahead to ensure there are no surprises.

What are some unexpected costs you have faced with a pup in the past? We’d love to know!

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