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How Much Does It Cost to Have a Dog?

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Dogs add so much to our lives! They make us laugh with their crazy antics, lift our spirits when we're feeling down, and even improve our overall wellbeing. But caring for a dog definitely ups your family budget.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Dog?

If you're looking to welcome a dog into your home, please consider adopting one from a shelter. Adoption fees can be much lower than the expense of getting a dog from a breeder, which can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the breed. Some shelters also include spaying or neutering, microchipping, and a first round of vaccinations in their fee.

You can search for a nearby shelter and check out some useful adoption resources online. There are so many wonderful dogs waiting for their forever homes at shelters across the country. You could even be saving a life by adopting a shelter dog.

Initial Costs of Getting a Dog

According to our strategic partner The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®), you can plan on spending around $470 for a small dog, $565 for a medium dog, or $560 for a large dog on one-time costs.*

Dog Must-Haves

The ASPCA's estimate of start-up costs for getting a dog includes initial medical care, spaying or neutering, and these essential items:

  • Collar – Your dog will need a collar that's right for their size—not so big that it could fall off and not so small that it's uncomfortable for your dog to wear. You'll also need to get an ID tag with their name and your contact information to attach to the collar.
  • Leash – You'll want at least one sturdy leash to go on lots of long walks together. You may want to buy more than one so you can hang them by the front and back doors or leave one in your car if you like to head to the dog park. A leash and a collar might cost you around $25 to $35.*
  • Carrier – If you have a small or medium dog, you'll need a carrier to take them places like the veterinarian's office. This can cost about $40 to $60 depending on the type of carrier you choose.*
  • Crate– Many dogs feel secure in their crate, which is a trait that goes back to their den-loving wolf ancestors. By providing your dog with a crate, you're giving them a safe space to rest and stay out of trouble for short periods of time when needed.
  • Training class – You can expect to pay around $110 for a training class where your dog can learn the basics, such as understanding important commands and behaving while walking on a leash.* If you bring home an adult or senior dog, you may not need to pay a trainer.


There are all sorts of other items you may want to buy for your dog. They're not necessary, but you may want to invest in things like a cozy pet bed. Your dog may be perfectly fine curling up on a soft towel or blanket, but a pet bed of their own can be helpful if you want to discourage them from napping on the couch.

Pet tech gadgets are also nice-to-haves. For instance, if your dog will be home alone for stretches of time, you might want to set up a two-way video to keep a virtual eye on them. Some of these gadgets let you toss out treats or play games with your dog through an app on your phone.

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What Is the Yearly Cost of Having a Dog?

The ASPCA estimates the annual costs of a dog based on size. Small dogs, like Boston Terriers or Pugs, cost around $512 a year. Medium pups, such as German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers, cost about $669 a year. Large dogs, which include Great Danes and Bullmastiffs, cost around $1,040.31 a year.*

So, what is the monthly cost of having a dog? It may be easier to budget for a dog by the month, which is an estimated $42.66 for small dogs, $55.75 for medium pups, and $86.69 for large ones.* These numbers include dog-related expenses for the year, such as:

  • Food – You'll want to pick a complete and balanced dog food suited to your pup's age and activity level. Your veterinarian can give you suggestions on which ones to choose for your dog.
  • Recurring medical expenses – Your dog will need regular veterinary care to help keep them healthy, such as annual check-ups, vaccinations, heartworm medication, flea and tick preventative, and dental cleanings.
  • Safe dog toys – Toys keep your dog physically and mentally active, which can help avoid frustration and unwanted behaviors. Make sure any toys you give your dog are sturdy enough that they can't be ripped apart.
  • Treats – Dogs go crazy for treats, and they're fine to give your pup in moderation. They certainly come in handy when you want to teach your dog a new trick or praise them for good behavior.
  • License – You may need to purchase a license for your dog and renew it each year, depending on the requirements in your area. You can look them up online or contact your local government office.
  • Miscellaneous – The ASPCA includes miscellaneous costs of $35 for small dogs, $45 for medium dogs, and $65 for large dogs.* These can consist of items like extra cleaning supplies for pet messes or doggie waste baggies.

If you have a dog with long hair, you'll also need to factor in expenses for grooming. These can run around $264 for small dogs, $320 for medium dogs, and $408 for large dogs per year.*

Lifestyle Costs

Your lifestyle can impact how much it costs to have a dog. Do you have to be at work during the day? You may need to hire a dog walker to stop in and take your pooch out. Or you may decide to sign your dog up for doggie daycare to have some fun with other pups. Do you think you'll take vacations without your dog? You'll need to pay for a dog sitter or boarding facility.

You may also be charged an extra pet fee if you live in a condo, townhome, or apartment. This fee helps cover potential damage to the dwelling, such as stained carpeting or scratched floors. Before you get a dog, make sure you check with your landlord or homeowner's association about any expenses and rules regarding pets.

Unexpected Costs

Even the best-behaved dog can get into trouble now and then, which can lead to property damage. Dogs have been known to chew on expensive shoes, dig a hole in wall-to-wall carpeting, scratch hardwood floors with their nails, and gnaw on furniture legs. When something like this occurs, you'll need to cover the repair or replacement costs.

Additionally, dogs can get hurt or sick and need costly veterinary care. They might tumble down the stairs and break a paw, get bitten by another dog and require stitches, or swallow a sock and need surgery. They can also come down with all sorts of ailments, such as tummy issues, ear infections, or pneumonia. The costs of potential accidents and illnesses are unpredictable, but you can set yourself up with some financial cushion by enrolling in a pet insurance plan.

How Much Does Dog Insurance Cost?

The cost of dog insurance depends on a few factors, including your selected coverage, where you live, and the age and breed of your dog. You should balance coverage and cost when you compare dog insurance plans. A cheaper plan might seem like a great deal, but it won't be much help if it doesn't cover enough of your dog's health needs.

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Ways to Save on Dog Costs

Having a dog can get expensive, but there are creative ways to help reduce costs.

  • Compare prices. Shop around online or at nearby stores to find the lowest prices.
  • Stock up. It can be less expensive to purchase essentials like food, treats, and cleaning supplies in bulk or stock up on them when you spot a good sale.
  • Make your dog's toys. There are all sorts of fun ideas for DIY dog toys online, or you can fashion some out of everyday household items, like tennis balls or knotted up T-shirts.
  • Whip up some treats. It's easy to make inexpensive, healthy treats for your dog. You can also give your dog-safe fruits and veggies, like cut-up apples, sweet potatoes, or carrots, to snack on.
  • Look into dog insurance. By covering your dog, you can get help managing the costs of accidents, illnesses, behavioral conditions, routine preventive care, and more.


The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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