What do dogs cost?
A few times a week we get calls from people asking how much our puppies cost. We welcome these calls. Because no one should ever buy a puppy from a store and it’s a chance for us to educate people on the right ways to get a dog. For the record: we don’t sell puppies or dogs.
If you, or someone you know needs to know, we’re happy to help, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. This post is about considering all the things that go into the budget once that puppy is yours. The initial purchase price is just the start.
Give it some thought
Aside from the calls we get from actual people, we see data about what people are searching for when they happen to land on Golly Gear’s website. It’s great that people are searching for puppies – the world would be a better place if everybody knew the unconditional love of dogs. It’s awful that people are searching for “cheap chihuahua puppies.” That search subject made us sad.
We know there are lots of people who get free, or really inexpensive puppies when their sister-in-law’s cousin’s friend’s dog had an “oops litter.” But the initial cost of a dog is just the beginning.
Considerations when budgeting for a dog
The first budget consideration is all the “stuff” a new dog or puppy needs. Just the basics would include: collar, harness, leash, two bowls, crate, car restraint, food, treats, bed, brush, comb, and toys. Depending on where you live, your dog may also need a coat, sweater, and boots. The cost for this list, depending on your taste and shopping skill, may range from a couple hundred dollars to as much as you’re willing to spend.
The first stop you make, before your new dog even steps foot in the house, might be your veterinarian’s office. The cost for that initial visit, and continuing care, changes dramatically, based on where you live and your access to veterinary services in your area.
But “smart shopping” for a veterinarian isn’t always a great idea. The cheapest option may not be the best. We’re always a little dismayed when we see social media posts from our local dog groups asking for “cheap” options for neuter/spay surgery. Do you want the least expensive veterinarian, or the one who will take exquisite care of your dog?
Budgeting for vet care
Googling the annual cost of a dog, the general guideline is about $500 initially and $500 annually thereafter. That seems really low to us, but we do live in a metropolitan area where costs can be higher.
Pet insurance is becoming more popular in the last few years and we’ve heard both good and bad about it. Like any investment, do your research and make sure you know what it covers and doesn’t.
Many policies exclude pre-existing conditions, which may include issues that your dog’s breed is prone to. And it’s important to know what those may be. A friend of ours has Dachshunds. Dachshunds are prone to back problems and, at some point in their lives, generally need back surgery. When our friend gets a new Dachshund puppy, she sets aside money to pay for the surgery, because insurance has not covered it for her dogs.
Other budget items
Depending on your breed, you may also need to budget for grooming. We know that “doodles” are popular and all of them need professional, as well as at-home, grooming. Grooming costs also depend on where you live, but it’s a recurring budget line. Figure about every six to eight weeks.
With dog food, the general wisdom is to get the best you can afford. We find the website dogfoodadvisor.com to be a valuable resource in dog food ratings and advice.
Time. In the last year or so, many of us have spent more time at home than we ever thought we would. Our dogs have loved it. But is it sustainable? If/when life resumes a more “normal” schedule, will you still have time for a dog? Dogs are worth the time, but it is something to think about.
Line by line
Budgeting for a dog is a consideration, but not the only one. It’s an instance where you listen to your head, but your heart gets to weigh in on the decision, too.