The Cost of Owning Your Dog
For many people, a dog with a cheap price tag is an impulse item. After all, how can you go wrong with a free puppy? But remember that puppy, whether free or costly, will need you to pay for his well-being for the next decade or so. Be sure you know what you're getting into.
The purchase price of a dog depends on its breed, source, and whether you want the dog for show, work, or simply as a companion. Some breeds are more expensive than others, either because they are undergoing a popularity surge, they are expensive to breed (perhaps often needing a Caesarean section, for example), have small litters, are expensive to maintain, or are rare. Check several sources before accepting that the first price you are quoted is the norm. If you want a dog for competition, it will probably come from titled parents and its price will reflect the work and expense put into getting those titles. Even if you simply want a companion, puppies from breeders who do appropriate health testing for that breed should cost more to reflect the expense of that testing as well as the added peace of mind you derive from it. Puppies from pet stores usually cost the most, followed by those from breeders, those from rescue groups and finally, those from shelters. In general, the cost of acquiring your dog is small compared to what you will spend caring for him over the next years.
Depending on the size and activity of the dog, and the quality of food you buy, you could spend from $15 to $100 a month feeding one dog. Dry food costs less to feed than canned.
Depending on coat type, you may need to pay a groomer once every month or two. This fee can range from $40 to $100 or more. Keep your dog tangle-free, since groomers charge extra for matted dogs. If your dog requires clipping, buy a clipper and try doing it yourself. The effect won’t be as good, but you’ll get better at it with practice. You can also cut costs of nail clipping by having your veterinarian show you how to clip nails, and buying a nail clipper ($5 to $10) to do it yourself.
Veterinary bills will make up a large part of your expenses. A dog's first and last year of life are usually the most expensive. For a puppy, expect at least three vet visits for exams, vaccines, and other preventive care. On top of that, plan to buy medications for heart prevention or parasite control. Next, factor in the cost of spaying or neutering your dog, which can vary based on the age and sex of the dog, the type of anesthesia used, and even what part of the country you live in. Similarly, annual wellness costs can vary depending on where you live, what tests or services your veterinarian recommends (and the frequency), and the age of your dog. Expect to pay upwards of $100 per minor illness or accident, and significantly more (into the thousands) for more serious conditions. Senior dogs often develop diseases that need ongoing treatment and entail high costs. Health insurance is available, costing anywhere from $50 to $400 per year. Different policies have different deductibles and coverage.
A collar and leash can cost $15 and up; a crate costs about $35 to $150, depending on size and type. Toys can run from practically free for homemade versions, or from about $4 to $15 each for store-bought versions. Coats and sweaters cost between $15 and $40 each, depending on size and style. Food and water bowls can range from free (use your own bowls) to about $10.
Boarding or dog sitters run between $15 and $40 a day, depending on the dog's size and the amenities you want.Rates are higher in metropolitan areas. Additional services, such as grooming, walking or training cost extra.
Obedience classes run from $50 to $150 per eight week session. Private lessons cost more. Lessons offered by a dog or obedience club usually cost less.
A license may cost up to $60 per year. Most urban areas require annual licenses for dogs, although many rural areas do not. The fee for spayed and neutered dogs is often less than that for intact dogs.
A fence or other containment system can be one of your most expensive items. The best containment system is a fence, which could costs thousands of dollars, or you can also have a kennel run constructed, which may cost even more.
It's almost impossible to have a dog without having home repair bills. Chewed furniture, shredded carpet, and new paint for doors and screens for windows are the most common projects. Count on carpet cleaning---or replacement. Keeping your puppy confined in a dog-proof area when you can’t watch him will cut down on repair bills. While you're at it, count on replacing a few pairs of chewed shoes.
Costs in metropolitan areas tend to be higher than costs in rural areas for most services.
A "free" dog may be the deal of a lifetime, but make sure you have enough funds to keep up your part of the deal.