How Much Does a Puppy Cost?

As a Private CFO™ to my clients I often get questions that have nothing to do with the traditional financial planning topics you might imagine.  While many are concerned with high level planning areas like retirement or asset allocation, I’ve found that many younger clients crave “life” advice as they educate themselves on making smarter decisions.

One of the recent questions I was asked was, “How much does a puppy cost?”  Since it’s been a little over a year since I made the big lifestyle change myself, I thought I’d share some of the things you should consider before taking on a little Old Yeller (sorry, I’m dating myself with one of my favorite childhood movies…). They often compare getting a dog to having your first child, so think twice about the financial obligation, opportunity costs and commitment it takes to be a good “parent” to you pup.

  • Cost to buy the dog can range from a rescue at $250 to a full breed up to $2,000. Hypoallergenic breeds such as Vizslas or “designer” pups like a Maltipoo (Maltese-Poodle mix) will pull you at the higher end of the scale.
    • Tip: check out Home Goods, TJ Maxx or other discount stores before going to your local pet store or big box pet store chain
    • Expect to replace these at least twice a year, especially if you have a high energy breed that chews a lot – Labs, German Shorthairs, etc.
  • Vet visits for initial vaccination shots, rabies vaccine, etc.- Total of $700
    • These costs can increase if your dog has skin issues, complications with adapting to his/her environment that might add stress and create other health issues
  • Flee prevention items once a month- $30
  • Dog crate – $75-$100 (depending on size)
    • Get a crate large enough that you can use it for their whole life. Many new crates you can section off so your puppy doesn’t have too much room until they grow into it – “life stages” crates. If you have a bigger breed make sure to get the larger sized crate so you aren’t forced to buy two.
    • Consider Amazon or other low cost retailers before heading to the main street pet stores
  • Dog shampoos, leashes, bowls, accessories etc.- $200 (one time cost)
  • Dog food (large bag) once per month – $50-75
    • I opted for a more expensive grain-free, all natural food hoping that quality food will help prevent future vet bills and promote long term health
  • Dog walker during the day – $15/walk
  • Doggy daycare or boarding when traveling: Daycare $25/day, Boarding $40/night
  • Spay/Neuter- $200-300

Approximate Total One-Time Costs: $2,155

Approximate Annual Year Costs: $3,610

The costs above are estimated hard dollar costs for having a puppy in the first year.  However, these don’t include the opportunity costs that are missed when you have to sacrifice one of the most valuable things in life – TIME.  For example, having to come home early on a night your big client wants to grab a drink, or having to cancel weekend plans with friends because you can’t find a dog sitter.

When considering whether the timing is right to buy a puppy, don’t forget to work these new costs into your budget, and realize how much your life’s responsibilities will change overnight.  In the end, it’s been so worth the cost and time over the last year. Just be prepared to not get much sleep the first few weeks!

Pet Ownership Cost Statistics


About the author  ⁄ Brandon Hayes

Brandon Hayes

Brandon received his B.S. degree in Finance from Elon University. He later went on to earn his MBA from Georgia State University with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Brandon currently holds his Series 7 (General Securities Representative), Series 63, Series 65 (Investment Advisors Law) and Georgia Life, Health and Variable Insurance licenses. A native of Westlake, Ohio, Brandon currently resides in downtown Atlanta. Brandon enjoys running, playing golf and enjoying the outdoors. He’s an avid Arsenal Gunners fan from the English Premier League and enjoys cheering for his favorite college football team, THE Ohio State Buckeyes. Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.

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