How Much Does a German Shepherd Cost?

Pet care & safety
German Shepherd Puppy

Is your heart set on a furry guardian with brains and brawn? The German Shepherd regularly ranks in the top 5 of America’s favorite dog breeds for good reason. In fact, in 2023, the German Shepherd was ranked No. 4! German Shepherds are highly trainable and affectionate dogs that are good with families and children. These versatile dogs excel as companions, working partners, and protectors.  

Before you bring home your new best friend, it's important to understand the costs involved. Owning a German Shepherd is a long-term adventure, filled with loyalty, companionship, and yes, financial responsibility. From puppyhood to their senior years, you'll be their provider, ensuring their needs are met for a happy and healthy life. 

German Shepherd Puppy Cost 

You might be asking yourself, “How much does a German Shepherd cost?” Like most things in life, the cost to purchase a German Shepherd puppy can vary based on several different factors. When choosing your family’s next companion, it’s a good idea to do extensive research to make sure that you get a well-bred puppy. Be prepared for an investment: German Shepherd puppies typically range in cost from $1,200 to $3,500.  

Breeder Cost and Reputation 

One of the biggest factors that influences the cost of a German Shepherd puppy is the breeder’s reputation and the associated costs they incur. Reputable breeders prioritize ethical breeding practices by conducting a variety of comprehensive health and genetic testing to ensure that they only breed the healthiest dogs to continue improving the breed. This focus on responsible breeding practices, from testing to the time spent raising well-adjusted puppies, contributes to the breeder's overall costs, which can vary depending on their specific practices and location. Because of this, they have a history of healthy, well-tempered, and stable dogs and often charge more money. 

While you may find much cheaper German Shepherd puppies online or through pet stores, these often come from puppy mills, which prioritize profit over the health and well-being of their dogs. These establishments keep breeding animals in poor conditions, often leading to health problems and behavioral issues in the puppies. By choosing a reputable breeder, you're not only getting a healthier puppy, but you're also supporting ethical breeding practices that benefit the breed as a whole. 

Lineage and Bloodlines 

German Shepherds are versatile dogs, and there are different bloodlines and lineages for show dogs, sport dogs, and working dogs. Purchasing a puppy from a lineage with known champions in their pedigree is going to increase their potential for competition and thus, their cost. 

Coat Color 

When selecting a puppy, many people want a specific coat color or pattern. The rarer coat colors, like all black or sable, may cost more than the standard, more common colors. 


Like most things in life, supply and demand will affect the German Shepherd puppy price. Depending on your location, if there are few available breeders in your area, those puppies may cost more than another area with several breeders who are geographically close to each other. 

The Adoption Alternative: Consider Rescuing a German Shepherd 

An affordable alternative to purchasing a German Shepherd puppy is to adopt from a local shelter or rescue. Adoption fees are usually much lower than the cost of purchasing a puppy, and they usually include things like vaccinations, microchipping, and even spay/neuter.  

Good news for German Shepherd lovers! These loyal companions are one of the dog breeds most commonly found in shelters and rescues. Many people think rescues only have older dogs, but that’s not true. Many shelters and rescues have dogs ranging in age from young puppies to seniors, so even if your heart is set on a young puppy, it’s worth it to consider adoption and giving a loving home to a dog in need. 

Initial Costs of Owning a German Shepherd 

Anytime you bring home a new dog, you’ll need to make sure that they’re all set up with the new puppy essentials needed to keep them comfortable and happy.  

General Supplies. You’ll need the basics like a collar or harness, a leash, food and water bowls, a crate, a dog bed, and a treat pouch for walks. It’s important to choose size-appropriate gear for your dog so they don’t escape while walking, but for things like bedding and a crate, you can opt for your puppy’s expected adult size. These supplies can run upwards of $500, but if you choose high-quality items, you should have most of them for the life of your dog.  

Vaccinations. You’ll want to make sure that your puppy is healthy and protected against disease, and your veterinarian will guide you on the best vaccinations and schedule for your puppy’s lifestyle and age. Puppy vaccination costs are usually around $250 - $450. 

Microchipping. Microchips are small electronic chips implanted underneath the skin that produce a unique identification number connected to your personal contact information in an online microchip registry database. If your pet is lost, this will help reunite you together quickly! This costs between $25 - $60. 

Dog License. Most cities and counties require a dog license, but all areas differ so contact your local shelter, animal control, or city office to determine the requirements for your area. This is typically a minimal cost of about $10 - $20 per year. 

Lifetime Costs of Owning a German Shepherd 

The logical next step after figuring out the initial costs of owning a German Shepherd is to understand what kind of ongoing dog prices you’ll encounter to ensure you’re keeping your dog happy and healthy. With an expected life span of 9-12 years, bringing home a German Shepherd means financially committing to providing for them for over a decade.  

Dog food. German Shepherds are large breed dogs that can eat anywhere from 3-6 cups per day, so the dog food costs add up quickly! It’s important to feed high-quality food to support your pup’s health. Depending on what you feed, this can cost anywhere from $60 - $180 per month. 

Grooming. Most German Shepherds have short coats (though long-coated varieties do exist), so while they may not need to visit the groomer regularly, you’ll still need to keep up with their routine brushing and nail trimming. This can cost anywhere from $25 for just a brush and nail clippers to do it yourself to $150 per month if you opt for a professional groomer.  

Veterinary care. Of course, just like people, it’s important to keep your dog in good health by taking him to the vet for annual exams, vaccines, and preventive medications. This can cost anywhere from $700 - $1,500 annually, but the good news is that signing up for a pet insurance plan with an additional wellness plan can help you budget for this cost! 

Pet insurance. It’s a good idea to invest in a pet insurance plan so that you have peace of mind that you can care for your dog instead of being faced with a difficult decision because of finances. German Shepherd insurance plans range from $30 - $80 per month, which can total $360 - $960 per year.  

German Shepherd in Training

Training. German Shepherds are intelligent, high-energy dogs, so taking time to invest in training will ensure that you have a well-mannered family member. This can cost anywhere from $80 to $150 for group classes or upwards of $500 to $3,000 for private training lessons.  

Boarding or Dog Walking. There might be times when you travel and need someone else to care for your dog, so it’s smart to be prepared for this cost. Most kennels and dog sitters charge anywhere from $25 to $80 per day. Depending on your lifestyle, this can cost anywhere from $250 - $2,000 annually.  

Miscellaneous costs. You'll need to be prepared for some other expected and unexpected costs, like toys, new accessories, treats, medications, and more. These miscellaneous items could total up to $100 - $800 annually.  

All in all, owning a German Shepherd is a lifelong financial commitment, and you can expect to spend up to $15,000-$17,000 over the 9-12 years of your dog’s life. This cost could be higher if your dog is diagnosed with a health condition, so choosing to enroll in a dog insurance plan will help prepare you for these costs and alleviate some of the financial stress. 

Common Health Issues and Expenses 

When you’re considering the German Shepherd cost and adding a new pup to your family, you should understand some of their common health problems. Hopefully, your dog will be just fine, but it’s a good idea to be prepared.  

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) in German Shepherds 

Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive neurological disease that affects the spinal cord and causes hind limb weakness and paralysis. There is no treatment, so costs associated with this would go towards diagnosis and supportive care, like rehab or equipment to make moving easier. 

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) in German Shepherds 

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency is the inability of the pancreas to produce sufficient pancreatic enzymes needed to digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins and can lead to poor absorption of nutrients and cause weight loss or increased appetite. Once diagnosed, the dog will need to remain on pancreatic enzymes for the rest of their life and in some cases, a special food.  

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia in German Shepherds 

Unfortunately, German Shepherds are large breed dogs prone to hip, knee, and elbow dysplasia, as well as arthritis. The cost of this can range from X-rays for diagnostics to lifelong joint supplements, rehab therapy, and sometimes even surgery depending on severity.  

Bloat in German Shepherds 

Since German Shepherds have deep chests, they are at risk of bloat, which is when their stomach expands with gas, food, or fluid which puts pressure on other organs and carries the risk of the stomach twisting. Bloating is an emergency, life-threatening condition. While there is a procedure called gastropexy, which staples the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent the stomach from twisting, an active case of bloat requires an emergency veterinary visit and sometimes even immediate surgery. This can cost anywhere from an additional $400 for a gastropexy at the time of a spay or neuter to thousands of dollars for hospitalization. 

How Much Will Your German Shepherd Cost You? 

Bringing a German Shepherd into your life is a significant decision, both financially and emotionally. While the initial cost and ongoing expenses may seem daunting, the rewards of owning this intelligent, loyal, and loving breed are immeasurable. German Shepherds offer companionship, protection, and endless entertainment. Their eagerness to please and trainability make them excellent partners for active families. 

Considering the financial commitment upfront allows you to provide the best possible life for your canine companion. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but for many people, the love, loyalty, and joy a German Shepherd brings make them worth every penny.