How Much Do Dogs Cost: Understanding the Costs of Getting & Keeping a Dog

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Puppy playing with owner outside in the grass

A dog’s love and companionship are priceless. Well, sort of. Actually, your canine companion can be quite spendy, and figuring out the question “how much does a dog cost?” is an important first step on the road to considering getting a dog. The financial aspects of dogs can easily be overlooked or underestimated, as there are many factors at play—initial purchase price or adoption fee, preventative veterinary costs, emergency costs, equipment, grooming, food, and even dog health insurance.  

How Much Does a Dog Cost 

Bringing a furry friend into your life is a wonderful decision, but it's essential to consider the financial responsibilities that come with owning a dog. The initial cost of adopting or purchasing a dog, including essential vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and basic supplies, can range from $250 to $3,000 or more, depending on the breed, age, and location.  

Additionally, regular expenses such as food, grooming, veterinary care, and supplies can add up to $800 to $2,000 or more per year. These costs vary significantly, depending on the size and needs of your dog, as well as your personal choices. It's important to carefully consider these expenses, not including any potential emergencies, before making the decision to welcome a dog into your life. 

Initial Costs of Getting a Dog 

There are a lot of options for finding a dog that will become part of your family, all with varying costs associated. Even “free” dogs will cost you something up front. The answer to how much does a dog cost will vary, but it will always involve some financial obligation. 

Adoption Or Purchasing a Dog 

Two of the most common ways of getting a dog are through adoption and purchasing. Adoption through a shelter, humane society, or rescue is a great way to give a second chance to a homeless pup, but it will nearly always come with an adoption fee of $50-$300 or more to help cover any medical care the dog has received as well as any boarding costs. 

Purchasing a dog from a breeder, retailer, or other source can help you find a dog with the specific breed, lineage, and characteristics you're seeking. If going this route, just be sure to choose a reputable breeder that has done their homework, keeps their dogs in good, clean conditions, and is in it for the dogs, not the profit. How much dogs cost will depend on the breed, area you live, and lineage and may cost you a couple hundred dollars to more than $5,000. 

Initial Medical Costs for Your Dog 

Adopting or purchasing a dog is just the beginning. While most shelters and breeders will provide the first round of vaccinations and dewormings, you’re responsible for the rest. For puppies, this means another 2-3 shots, spaying or neutering, a wellness check and potentially more. How much are vaccines for dogs? That depends on what you’re getting, where you live, and what else is included (such as an exam or deworming). For a rough estimate, $30-$150 should cover most bases.  

The cost to spay a dog and the cost to neuter a dog will again vary depending on your location, as well as the size of your dog. Smaller dogs typically have lower procedure costs, and neutering is generally less expensive than spaying. The total cost for these procedures can range from $100 to $600. 

You may also want to look into the cost of microchipping a dog in order to get your new companion a permanent form of identification should they ever become lost. Be aware that some brands of microchips have a recurring subscription cost to provide the most protection. 

Dog standing inside with a ball in its mouth

Cost of Necessary Dog Supplies 

It’s now time to outfit your dog and your home to ensure their comfort and safety. Dogs require a lot of stuff—a major factor to consider when looking at how much it costs to have a dog. A comfortable bed, durable bowls, a well-fitting collar and leash, a safe crate, and engaging toys are among the essential items that will enhance your dog's life. You may even need to fence your yard.  

It helps to have a checklist to make sure you get all of the necessities. It's tricky to give an exact number because there are so many things to consider, but you're probably looking at spending at least $50 to $200 on the basics. 

Ongoing Annual Dog Related Expenses 

Once you have your dog home, healthy and happy, it’s time to look at some ongoing expenses so you can determine how much a dog costs every year. It may surprise you! 

Dog Food 

Food is a major and recurring cost in having a dog. They’re going to go through a lot of it! Choosing the right food can be difficult, but a healthy diet is the foundation for a healthy dog, so be sure you get something that works for your dog as well as your budget. Dog food can cost $600-$2,000+ per year.  

Veterinary Care 

Your veterinarian would love to see your dog at least once per year. This will give them a chance to update vaccinations and make sure everything is shipshape. It may include lab work as well and come in between $50-$300. Dog dental cleaning costs should be considered as well to help prevent dental disease, and of course, bad breath. Let’s not forget preventative medications to keep your pup parasite-free, and medications for on-going issues that may cost you as little as $50 or as much as $600+ per year.  

A dog wellness plan can help reimburse you for the cost of routine care such as vaccinations, checkups, and preventive medications, and it can also help you budget for these costs by spreading them out over monthly payments. An optional add-on to pet insurance, a dog wellness plan can be a valuable tool for dog owners who want to ensure that their furry friends receive the best possible care. 

Dog Grooming 

Some dogs are going to need minimal at-home grooming and others are going to need some professional primping. Either way, there is some investment in grooming your dog. That may be the tools to do it at home or monthly appointments with the doggie salon, or even lessons for the DIYers to get expert results without the expert. You may pay $10-$20 for a couple of good brushes, or $30-$80 or more per appointment. 

Dog Training  

You can’t consider “how much does a dog cost?” without thinking through training. This is another dog cost with lots of variation depending on your skill level and what you want your dog to learn. Training can be as simple as knowing a few key commands or complex enough to make your dog the center of entertainment at your next dinner party. With some time and patience, training can happen at home or you may choose to take classes or enlist a professional trainer. It may only cost you time, or you could pay around $50 per session. 

Leashes, Collars, Beds (The Necessities) 

We mentioned the cost of these essentials earlier, but you're probably going to need to buy more throughout the years.  Whether they grow out of them, destroy them, or they’re just too hairy to clean one more time, buying new necessities like collars, leashes, crates, and beds will be an occasional event. You may spend under $50 for this or upwards of several hundred. 

Dog laying on the floor surrounded by toys

Toys And Treats (The Fun Stuff) 

Along with the necessities, you’ll also be replenishing your dog’s toy and treat supply regularly. Toys and treats might seem like optional extras, but they're actually really important for your dog's well-being. They can help them learn, stay entertained, and avoid boredom-induced mischief. Again, you may spend a few dollars, or several hundred depending on your dog’s needs. 

Additional Dog Related Services 

Some other add-ons that may or may not pertain to your dog are things like doggie day care, hiring a dog walker for a midday break, or boarding or pet sitting while you’re away for extended periods. Some dog parents may never use these services, and some may need them on a daily basis. Either way, you may pay $20 per day for day care or a dog walker, or you may pay $200+ for boarding over the holidays. 

Doggie Emergency and Unexpected Expenses 

All of the above expenses are more or less under your control, but unfortunately, knowing how much does it cost to have a dog also needs to include those unforeseen expenses. These usually come in the way of emergency veterinary care or surgeries for an injury or illness.  

Veterinary emergencies can occur at any time, often without warning. These unpredictable events can range from minor injuries sustained during playtime to life-threatening illnesses that require extensive treatment. The costs associated with these emergencies can be staggering, easily surpassing the annual budget set aside for routine veterinary care.  

It may even include boarding your dog during a natural disaster, like a hurricane or earthquake. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires, can disrupt lives and cause displacement. In these instances, ensuring the safety of your beloved pet may involve boarding them at a pet care facility. While boarding fees are typically less expensive than emergency veterinary care, they can still add a significant burden to the overall cost of dog ownership. 

Hopefully, these scenarios never happen, but budgeting for them should still be a consideration. Check your dog health insurance policy to see if they cover these emergency or unexpected expenses and think about setting some money aside for a raining-cats-and-dogs kind of day. 

Ways to Save on Dog Expenses 

We’re all looking for ways to pinch pennies in our lives, and it’s helpful to reduce how much a dog costs per year. Let’s look at some ways of doing this. 


In general, adopting a dog is less expensive than buying one. Adopting an adult dog can also be less expensive than a puppy simply because they’re through the growing phase, they may have had some training, and they’re (hopefully) less likely to destroy all of these possessions in a chewing frenzy. You also know exactly what you’re getting with an adult dog, including how big they’ll get and potentially some medical issues you’ll be dealing with.  

However, it's important to consider that additional costs may arise if the adopted dog exhibits behavioral issues or requires extensive training. Addressing behavioral problems may involve working with a professional dog trainer, which can incur additional expenses. Similarly, dogs with significant training needs, such as those with a history of neglect or abuse, may require specialized training programs that can be costly. 

Along those same lines, pay attention to what the adoption fees are getting you. For some dogs they may cover vaccinations, spaying or neutering, or even some training.  

At-home Versus Professional Pet Services 

With unlimited resources, we might always want a professional to tackle certain aspects of our dog’s life, but that isn’t always financially feasible. Instead, you may look into grooming and training on your own or potentially with the help of some informational videos. Speak to your vet for some recommendations. 

Discount Dog Supplies 

Secondhand stores and online marketplaces are great areas to look for pet supplies. You can find some great gently used items there for your dog at affordable prices. Also, consider buying dog food in bulk. Dog food keeps well in the freezer, so buy the larger bag for a lower price per pound and freeze half of it for later. 

Dog outside shaking its owners hand

Pet Health Insurance 

Keeping your pet healthy is the biggest money saver there is, and purchasing a pet health insurance policy can help you do that. Make sure to compare pet insurance policies before you settle on the right one for you. These policies cover emergency pet health costs that may pop up, potentially allowing you to provide lifesaving medical care for your pet when paying out of pocket might not be an option.  

Pet health insurance is like a financial shield against unexpected vet bills. It covers a ton of stuff, from accidents to illnesses to surgeries, so you can spread out the cost over manageable monthly payments instead of being hit with a huge bill. This way, money doesn't stand in the way of getting your furry friend the care they need, even when it's unexpected, so it pays to do a little research in to how much pet insurance costs.

Beyond financial protection, pet health insurance also provides peace of mind, allowing you to focus on providing your pet with the best possible care without the worry of overwhelming medical bills. Investing in pet health insurance safeguards your pet's health and well-being, demonstrating your unwavering commitment to their lifelong care. 

So How Much Does a Dog Cost? 

The cost of getting a dog is a big one, but well worth it for the love and companionship you’ll get in return. But before you take that leap, be sure you understand what your bank account is getting into. Knowing how much a dog costs will help ensure that you can provide a lifetime of love, protection and care for your pet.