The Cost of Owning a Dog

Do you want to know if you can afford to own a dog?

Owning a dog is just pawesome. Having a faithful and furry companion who follows you everywhere, hanging on to your every word – well, you just can’t beat it.

But along with the fun of early morning walks, exciting hiking excursions, and evening snuggles on the couch, comes the reality of what it actually costs to take on the responsibility of a dog. 

Whether you’ve already acquired your new canine sidekick, or you are considering adopting a happy tail-wagger into your home, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the cost of raising them. 

Just how much does it cost to own a dog? Somewhere between $700 and $2000 annually is a good ballpark figure. The price varies depending on where you live – in the city, vet bills are typically higher, for example – and what you’ve got to buy in the way of equipment, toys, and treats.

Although the average cost is between $700-$2000, pet parents on a budget see expenses on the lower end of the scale. But many will spend significantly more, especially if they tend to not keep track of what they dish out or follow a pet ownership financial plan.

To start off on the right paw in pet parenthood, it’s best to be in-the-know when it comes to the types of expenses you will encounter with doggy ownership. Wag! is happy to help you with that!

Finding your dog

Have you been to the local animal shelter and have a rescue dog in mind? Or do you plan to get your pooch from a responsible breeder? Remember, it’s not as simple as just buying the dog and bringing them home. You’ve got to be sure they are the right fit for your family. Know what you are getting into and never make an impulse decision when buying a pet.

On top of the adoption or purchase fees come expenses like spaying or neutering your dog and after surgery care. Even though these costs may come later depending on how old your new furry addition is when they come home, it’s best to factor the expense into the initial purchase fee of the dog.

If you choose to get your dog from an adoption center, most likely, a lot of the expenses will be covered in the adoption fee of around $200-$300. The spaying or neutering procedure is typically covered, as are the initial vaccines against illness. Even microchipping your pupster is often part of the adoption cost.

When buying your dog from a breeder, you’ll have to add the cost of neutering or spaying when your dog is old enough. This could cost between $200 and $500, depending on the length of anesthesia and the recovery time in the hospital. The size of the dog can play a part in surgery expenses, too. There is also the financial outlay for pre-operation bloodwork and post-op pain medication. 

Your vet may want to bring your new pet’s vaccines up to date if they are not current already. The immunization expense is hard to pin down and may vary from state to state or city to city. A cost of $200 for the initial vaccinations is a general figure.

Of course, there is the price you pay for your dog purchased from a breeder. That will depend on the breed. A Labrador Retriever, for example, may cost around $800-$1500, and if the breeder chooses to do some of the legwork like vaccinations and microchipping, the price will go up.

Bringing your dog home

Along with the initial medical care, are costs for basic day to day pooch-related comforts. Your doggo will need a crate if you plan to crate train them, and that can cost between $25 and $150 for a basic model. Other simple needs are listed in the chart below:

Doggy Bed


Leash and collar


Food and water bowls


Shampoo and teeth care


Poop bags


Toys and treats


Don’t forget, you will have to prep your wallet for other initial outlay expenses, like flea and tick preventative medication at $30-$100, microchipping about $35, and a dog license for approximately $25.

Don’t be overwhelmed with the initial expenses required to make your new pooch feel right at home – after all, you want them to settle in as soon as possible. Snap up a bargain by planning ahead and keeping your eye out for sales on equipment.

The first-time outset for your dog will cover everything needed to start your dog’s life off on the right paw. From a registration license to a doggy bone, giving your dog all of the necessities will have them barking in happiness.

On the low end of the scale, the expenses to outfit your new pupper as detailed above will total around $400. On the higher end, expect to dish out around $1000. 

Monthly expenses when owning a dog

Calculating your annual expenses can be a challenge until you get to know your dog. Your dog's size, how big of an appetite they have, and what type of food you will be feeding them all make a difference.

Food: It’s important that you don’t buy the cheapest food available. A quality diet will save you money in the long run. Consider the payment for food as a saving on vet bills - a healthy diet avoids vet visits for things like gastrointestinal disturbances or skin and coat problems. Plan on spending $25 to $75 a month for food, which will vary depending on your dog’s size. Specialized diets, if needed, will cost more. 

Preventative medication: Budget between $30 and $50 a month for preventatives like flea and tick control. Not only is the use of preventatives extremely important for your pooch’s health, but keeping a flea invasion out of the home is a money saver, too. Eliminating fleas can be costly. Taking care of your dog’s teeth by brushing them a few times a week and giving them dental chews is essential to remember. Plan on $20 a month to keep your pup’s pearly whites sparkling and healthy.

Fun stuff: All wrapped up in a neat little package are items like poop bags, toys, and treats. About $10 each month will cover these small, but pupperific items. Don’t forget vet-approved shampoo and pet wipes for keeping your canine kiddo clean.

Grooming: If the breed of dog you own requires clipping and trimming, budget for a monthly or bi-monthly spruce-up. Clip your pet’s nails at home, or let the groomer do it. Appointments may cost $40 to $125 every month or two but will keep your dog frolicking in comfort. This fee will be based on your four-legger’s size and the thickness and type of coat.

Extras: Are you a pet parent with a busy schedule? Do meetings at work sometimes cause you to work overtime? Have a budget of around $100 a month for expenses like dog walking. The pawfect plan is to join a flyball or agility club for extra fun, and that expense can be tied into your “extras” budget.

Dog training: Training your dog is an essential part of pet parenthood but also a rewarding one. Pups and owners that train together form an incredible bond. It’s also a joy to have the best-trained dog on the block! Don’t miss a step by signing up for group or private in-home training, and budget between $100 and $250 a month.

Veterinarian visits: You’ll need to take your dog to the vet at least once a year, and sometimes twice. If you’ve acquired a puppy, the visits will be more often the first year. Expect to pay between $100 and $250 per visit. Remember to keep $1000 on hand for emergencies. Put your doggo’s welfare at the forefront and consider pet insurance to cover unexpected illnesses and accidents.

The expenses mentioned here may not come up every month or apply to each and every dog. Still, it’s wise to keep in mind some of the care your pet will need. If you were to encounter everything we’ve detailed in our list, your monthly output would be between $400 and $800 each month at best.

Don’t forget on the occasion that you just can’t bring your dog along with you, you’ll need to have options for boarding and pet sitting. Most dogs love a pooch-perfect sleepover party. Be sure your dog is well-socialized by taking them on lots of walks to meet and greet other neighborhood pet parents and their furry charges. Is your new dog super-excited and active? Having a fenced-in yard is a convenience for late-night games of fetch in the backyard.

How to save on pet expenses

As mentioned, some factors can help you save on expenses, such as veterinary bills. We’ve listed some of the impawtant stuff again here:

  • When buying a dog, you may want to request a vet check to possibly shed light on potential health issues down the road. 

  • Keep up to date on preventative medicines. Keep the required medication on-hand to keep parasites like fleas and harmful ticks away. This can save you on medical expenses and keep your dog safe.

  • Follow your veterinarian's advised vaccination schedule to keep your dog free of preventable disease.

  • Feed your furry companion good quality food. The long-term benefits are many, like a reduced chance of dental and gastrointestinal problems.

  • Consider pet health insurance. Need help deciding on an insurance provider? Look to a company like Fursure for the pawfect free advice on choosing the best coverage.