COVID-19 caused several spikes in demand. Unsurprisingly, we saw tissues, hand sanitizer, and masks all flying off the shelves. But social distancing led many to search for something else too—a dog!

I myself adopted a wonderful shepherd mix with a broken leg back in the spring of 2020. And based on a Rover study, 67% of U.S. dog owners also got a new one during the pandemic.1 But dog love can be blind, especially to expenses. So together we'll review the necessary finances before bringing home your new four-legged friend. 

Picking Up Your Pup

One of the biggest financial questions comes at the start, where are you getting your dog? One option is a local shelter. By adopting you’re not only saving a life, but also some serious cash. For one, shelters often take care of vaccinations for free or for a low fee of around $20.2 Furthermore, typical adoption fees of $50 - $250, are far lower than average breeder costs.3

If you do decide to visit a breeder, anticipate it being more expensive. In fact, it’s been estimated that 80% of puppies from breeders cost between $500 - $2,500.4 Below, we went ahead and listed some of the most popular breeds for 2021.1 Additionally, we incorporated average puppy costs for each breed based on research conducted by petbudget.4 

  • Labrador Retriever - $400 to $1,500
  • Golden Retriever - $700 to $2,000
  • German Shepherd - $450 - $1,900
  • Goldendoodle - $1200 - $3,200
  • Chihuahua - $375 - $2420

Feeling unsure at this stage in the process? Feel free to contact us.

Move-In Costs

When your furry friend comes home with you, you’ll have to make sure they’re up to date on their health. If the shelter or breeder hasn’t provided them already, you could be looking at $75 - $100 for core vaccinations and a potential, additional $15 - $20 for a rabies shot.2 Moreover, if not already done, anticipate a cost of $50 - $300 for spaying or neutering your dog.5 

Now let’s talk about move-in and training costs. Nobody wants their house to look like a tornado hit it, especially if they’re looking to enter the market or have remodeling done. So if you’re house training your dog yourself, expect to shell out for a crate, leash, housebreaking pads, and plenty of cleaning supplies.

You’ll also want to make sure your now fully vaccinated, well-behaving buddy feels comfortable in their new home. Typically this means: dog toys, food and water dishes, and a dog bed at minimum. All together, needed home supplies have been estimated between $150 - $350.5 But my personal experience leads me to advise budgeting on the more expensive side.

Not sure if you’re ready? No sweat, let’s talk about it

On-Going Costs: Food, Health, and Caregiving

Unfortunately for your wallet, the costs don’t stop at your own door. There’s plenty more to pay for in the long-run. So it’s best to start budgeting for trips to the vet, pet store, and kennel well ahead of time. Below is a breakdown of some annual, continuous care estimates:

  • Food - Costs will vary depending on dog size and brand quality. Some sources estimate that owners spend between $250 - $700 annually.6   But, based on my own experience, that’s not nearly enough…
    • PLEASE NOTE: I say budget WAY more! Quality ingredients come at a premium price. But, it’s often worth it given the overall health benefits. If you plan to buy organic, higher-quality foods, your thinking needs to extend into the thousands
      • Ex: The Farmer’s Dog provides a service for creating and ordering quality dishes for your dog. They have a precision calculator that tailors food recommendations specifically to your pup.8 I used it myself for an older, medium-sized dog and was paying ~ $2,000/yr.
  • Medication - Ongoing medication for things like fleas, ticks, and heartworms has been estimated at around $600 a year.5
  • Pet Insurance - You may choose to invest in pet insurance to help offset your dog’s medical expenses. In 2021, it was found that average premium for dog accident and illness insurance was $599 annually.7
  • Kennel/Dog Sitter - Finding family or friends to watch your dog is ideal. But sometimes it's necessary to send your dog to a sitter or kennel. Rates will vary, but it has been estimated that a kennel and sitter range between $20 - $40 a day.5 

These are just some of the expenses you’re likely to encounter. Unexpected sickness and injury can get expensive fast. For example, in active larger breeds, knee surgery is common and can cost as much as $5,000.3 To best prepare for these expenses, it’s best to do your homework on the likely health challenges your breed is prone to face.

Worried about continual costs? I can happily share my experience and approach. Let’s talk.

End of Life Costs

I unfortunately know this cost all too well. And I’ll be the first to tell you it’s one paid emotionally and financially. Thankfully, we can at least prepare ourselves for the financial side, which gives us more breathing room to handle the emotional one. 

Like humans, the health care costs for dogs can increase dramatically in the later years. You can anticipate needing to beef up the annual vet trips and medication costs above as your dog gets older. And if the time comes to put them down, you can expect it to run you anywhere between $200 - $300.5 

Dealing with this yourself or know someone who is? I’ve been there. Feel free to reach out

The Bottom Line 

A dog is a wonderful, but expensive commitment (if you’re truly caring for it like a family member). However, the costs shouldn’t outweigh the memories, fun, and company they can provide you and your family. If you prepare properly, you can enjoy your new four-legged friend with a lot less stress. 

As someone who’s actually owned a dog, I’ve experienced all of the above first hand. It’s a privilege for me to help others navigate the same. If you're interested to start planning together, please don’t hesitate to call 650-336-0598 or fill out a contact card here