The Costs of Raising a Puppy

I was inspired recently by a post at Life and My Finances. Derek bought his wife a new (adorable!) puppy, and he shares how this new family member will fit into his financial goals. Of course, he realizes that puppies are not cheap, but Derek knows that they can bring invaluable joy to his family. Derek’s post lead me to think about all the costs involved in raising a puppy, and I have to tell you, there are quite a few. Let’s look at puppy-raising costs through my experience raising a Great Dane.

Purchase Price

First, wherever you find your precious little pup, you’ll have to consider the cost of adoption. Puppies from a breeder generally run anywhere from $300 to $2500 for a pet-quality dog, depending on the breed. The price often correlates to the care; a breeder who will sell a pup for a low price often works the puppy mill angle, so make sure you visit the breeder before plunking down your cash.

On the other hand, one of the best places to find a puppy is at the local humane society. Generally, the humane society is well-run and provides proper care for the dogs. Purchasing a pup from them could save a dog from euthanasia, and the cost of adoption is much lower than from a breeder, often $50 to a few hundred dollars, depending on your local humane society.

Veterinarian Bills

Once you have the puppy in hand (or lap), you’re not off the hook, cash-wise. Puppies require a ton of vaccines, even if they’ve already had the first round through the breeder or humane society. When you factor in the veterinary exams to ensure proper growth, the cost of shots, fees for laboratory tests and spaying/neutering, you’re looking at $500 to $3,000 in vet bills alone in the first year. The total depends on the size of your dog and the average vet costs in your area, so this can vary a lot. Also, some humane societies work closely with vets for low-cost spaying/neutering, so this fee could be a lot less in some areas of the country.

Food, Toys and Other Costs

Now, I got a Great Dane: I knew my food bills would be sky high. She eats eight cups of food a day, or roughly a 40-pound bag of food every three weeks, which costs me about $50 per month. I accounted for this in my planning. What I did not account for was how much other stuff she would eat (or tear apart), like woodwork, carpet, reams of copy paper, expensive dog toys, comforters, dog beds…and the list goes on and on.

I’ve learned the hard way that when planning the costs for a puppy, the first thing you need to account for is a good kennel. I could have saved myself the expense of replacing countless household items had I kenneled her whenever I couldn’t actively watch her or hook her to my belt loop. Kennels can cost upwards of $200 (for a Great Dane-sized kennel), but they are well worth the expense.

Other miscellaneous costs to keep in mind include: toys, a bed, a collar, a leash, flea and heartworm prevention medication, vacation boarding costs, grooming, training (one of the most important expenses in raising my Great Dane), pet licensing, annual exams later in life and (possibly) socialization services like doggy daycare, all of which together can quickly total in the thousands of dollars.

Even though my dog cost a lot more than I ever thought she would, I have enjoyed every moment. She adds a lot to my life, and her canine kisses now balance the puppy moments in which I found her surrounded by stuffing from the couch cushions or an expensive dog toy (that was labeled as indestructible). So, like Derek at Life and My Finances did (and as I should have), anyone who is considering a puppy adoption should ensure that their finances can meet the dog’s needs throughout life.

Congrats, Derek!

Anyone else care to chime in on pet costs? Any other puppy-raising horror stories to offer?

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Anonymous's picture

Melissa wrote:

Tue, 12/13/2011 - 15:47 Comment #: 1

Oh, this is a great post! I've always wanted a dog, but I know it's just not in the cards for me at this point in my life. I can't spare the expense, but I'm also not home enough to give a dog all the attention it deserves.

I've got a cat instead, and she's pretty awesome and — better yet — a total bargain! Her annual vet bill (including shots) is about $100, and then beyond that, she probably costs me between $10 and $15 a month in food, litter, toys, everything. And the companionship is certainly worth a lot more than that!

Anonymous's picture

cashflowmantra wrote:

Tue, 12/13/2011 - 17:41 Comment #: 2

I can tell you that it costs roughly $1200 to have a puppy in the ICU on oxygen for 36 hours and to pay for xrays and vet fees and pain medicine when your son accidentally steps on the little one and breaks 4-5 ribs.

Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Tue, 12/13/2011 - 19:05 Comment #: 3

The best dogs I know have come from the Humane Society! Costs are no joke, though, even with the lower prices there. Plus all the time and added responsibility...that's why I have a turtle haha.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Wed, 12/14/2011 - 18:45 Comment #: 4

Melissa, I love cats too! They certainly are much cheaper. I have 2 cats, and they are much less expensive than my huge dog.

CashFlowMantra, I know the emergency vet stuff is extremely expensive. I worked in an animal hospital as an apprentice before deciding that I wasn't cut out to be a vet (fainting at the smell of blood wouldn't really make me a good vet, I'm afraid). Sorry to hear about your puppy, but glad to hear she recovered! Imagine what we humans would have to pay out of pocket for medical emergencies if we didn't have insurance.

FemmeFrugality, my favorite dog of all times came from the Humane Society. He was pretty cheap because he was a three year old German Shepherd that no one wanted. He was already fixed and all his shots were up to date. Next time I get a dog, I'll go to the Humane Society again...I love my Great Dane now, but I wasn't a fan of her puppy years and her huge puppy expenses! LOL about your turtle expenses and lower responsibility -- maybe my next pet will have to be a reptile!

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