How to Budget for a Dog

Phoebe Cooper · May 14, 2024 · All

Author: Natalie Szymiczek

Thinking about bringing a pup into your life (or if your kids won't stop pestering you for one)? It's easy to get swept up in the excitement of cuddles and cuteness, but don't forget about the financial side of things! Budgeting for your new furry friend means considering both the initial costs and ongoing expenses to keep them happy and healthy.

From adoption fees to daily care costs, there's more to consider than meets the eye with dog ownership. Whether you're a seasoned owner or a newbie to the dog world, this guide will help you navigate the financial aspects of bringing a dog into your home.

Costs of Dog Ownership

According to Forbes, the upfront cost of getting a dog can range from $100 (adoption) to $13,000 for designer or purebred dogs. If you are adopting, this cost typically includes medical fees for vaccinations, spay or neuter surgery, and other treatments. If you are purchasing a dog, these medical services may not be included.

The ASPCA estimates that the annual cost of dog ownership is around $500 for small breeds, $750 for large breeds, and $1,000 for large breeds. Other estimates found online, like this one from Rover, estimate annual costs ranging from $1,000 to $5,225 per year.

So, why do the costs of dog ownership vary so widely? It stems from the diverse needs of different breeds. From grooming requirements to veterinary care, each dog's needs vary. Some breeds have more medical needs or are more susceptible to injury or illness. For example, Bulldogs often face respiratory issues due to their flat faces, which require special attention and sometimes surgical intervention. Similarly, breeds with long, floppy ears like Cocker Spaniels are prone to ear infections and require regular cleaning to prevent them.To budget wisely for your new pet, start by pinpointing the breed and its source. Then, consider initial expenses like adoption fees and ongoing costs such as food, grooming, vet care, and emergencies. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Pound vs. Purchase
  • Breed Type
  • Basic Necessities
  • Dog Food
  • Chews and Toys
  • Training Costs
  • Veterinary Costs
  • Travel Costs

Pound vs. Purchase

You have two main options for getting a dog: adopting from a shelter or rescue organization, or purchasing from a breeder. Adopting from a shelter typically involves lower upfront costs, including adoption fees that often cover initial vaccinations and spaying/neutering. Plus, you'll be giving a loving home to a dog in need.

Purchasing from a breeder may incur higher initial costs, depending on the breed and lineage. However, it can provide more predictability in terms of breed characteristics and health history.

Breed Choice

Rare or designer breeds tend to be more expensive, as well as purebred dogs. Large breeds like Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and Irish Wolfhounds tend to have higher food and medical costs due to their size. Breeds that require regular grooming or specialized care, such as Poodles, Afghan Hounds, and Bichon Frises, can incur higher grooming expenses.

Certain breeds are predisposed to genetic health conditions, leading to potentially higher medical expenses over their lifetimes. For instance, breeds like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers may be prone to hip dysplasia and other hereditary diseases.

Basic Necessities

Basic materials for a new dog include a crate ($30-$200), leashes and collars ($10-$50), food and water bowls ($5-$30), toys ($5-$50), and grooming grooming ($20-$50). Overall, expect to spend around $200 to $700 for essential items, depending on quality and breed size.

Dog Food

Anticipate spending $20 to $60 monthly on dog food, unless you opt for freshly made or luxury brands, which could exceed $100 per month.

Chews and Toys

Make sure to budget for chews and toys - otherwise, you may be saying goodbye to your shoes or dealing with damaged furniture! Dogs simply need to chew. It satisfies their natural instincts and improves their well-being. It also improves dental health and provides mental stimulation and stress relief.

Invest in a variety of safe and all-natural dog chews, bones, and treats. Look for long-lasting choices like Bully Sticks or Collagen Sticks for value. Additionally, prioritize to maintain their smile.

Training Costs

Unless you're a seasoned pro at dog ownership and training, you’ll probably want to invest in a trainer, pet obedience class, or a comprehensive dog training course. Untrained dogs may pose safety risks to themselves and others, and cause frustration (as much as we still love them)! Group obedience classes typically range from $50 to $200 for a multi-week course, while private training sessions can cost anywhere from $30 to $150 per hour. For more specialized training, such as behavior modification, costs can be higher, ranging from $200 to $1,500 or more.

Veterinary Costs

On average, annual veterinary expenses for routine care, including vaccinations, check-ups, and preventive medications, can range from $200 to $600. However, unexpected medical expenses such as emergency care, surgeries, or treatment for illnesses can significantly increase costs, sometimes reaching thousands of dollars.

Many pet parents choose to get pet insurance, which can help offset some of these costs. On average, pet insurance premiums can range from $20 to $50 per month. However, premiums can be higher for certain breeds or if you opt for more comprehensive coverage.

Travel Costs

Finally, you’ll want to budget for when you travel. Will you bring your dog with you? Or will you board them or find a pet sitter? These costs can average $15 to $75 per day or higher, depending on the level of care you need.


As you can see, costs vary widely with dog ownership. When budgeting, always research breed-specific expenses and consider factors like size, age, and health predispositions. And don't forget to plan for the unexpected—emergencies happen! But despite the costs, there's nothing quite like bringing your four-legged bundle of joy home to be a cherished part of the family.