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Feeding your dog
Getting a puppy

"My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can't decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives" - R. Rudner

How much will my dog cost?

"Free to good home", "Puppies:$25"

We've all seen the ads in the paper, or the adorable faces peering out of the pet store windows. Looks like a pretty good deal, eh? Besides, everyone has a dog - how expensive can it be?

Buying a healthy puppy and keeping it healthy requires a bit more financial investment. Remember, you're going to be responsible for this puppy for many years, and it's your responsibility to make sure you can handle the costs of dog ownership beyond the purchase of that cute puppy.

Since I have large dogs, the following costs are relative to buying a large dogs. Smaller dogs may have lower costs in some areas (i.e., a crate or other paraphernalia), but will have the same medical costs, etc.

I've included below average initial costs for purchasing a puppy, as well as yearly costs for having a dog. These are just estimates, of course -- based on our own expenditures.

Initial cost for a puppy
Yearly upkeep
Examples of my current costs

One Time Costs

. . . things you'll have to have when you get a puppy, and initial vet costs, etc.

Dog Costs

Cost of the puppy -- a well-bred, healthy puppy from a reputable breeder will cost approximately $400-600, depending on the breed. A "pet quality" puppy may cost slightly less, and a "show quality" dog from a good line may run much more.

A dog rescued from the local shelter will have initial adoption fees from $30-$100, which may or may not include neutering/spaying.

We paid $650 for Rukh. Uulaq was a rescue dog, abused and abandoned by her owners when she was about a year old. We paid a $100 "donation" to the rescue organization to take her home. This fee can vary (and rescue dogs may often be free) depending on the breed and location.

Vet costs

Initial vet visits -- the initial shots, worming, checkup, etc for a puppy will run $175-$200 for several visits. For an adult dogs, an initial screening and shots should be about $60. If you adopted from a shelter, the shots may be included in the adoption fee. You will still need to have a vet checkup.

Neutering/Spaying -- unless you're seriously interested in genetics, breed standards, and breed development, you should have your dog spayed or neutered. I won't go into the arguments for it at this point, but it will cost you between $60-$150. Many local clinics offer spaying and neutering at very low cost.


Puppy Food Approximately $25/month for the first four months, then switching to adult food.


Bowls -- Most people prefer the steel bowls, but you can find them in plastic and ceramic as well. They run $3-12 at my local pet store.

Crate -- even if you don't crate-train, you will need a crate for transporting your dog. A crate large enough for a big dog will run from $70 for a wire crate, up to $150 for a giant plastic pet crate. The dog should be able to stand up and turn around comfortably in the crate.

Unfortunately, with larger dogs, the size crate needed for a full-grown dog is far too large for a puppy. If you crate train, you need to make sure that the crate is not too large so that the pup will not mess in one end and sleep in the other. Usually, the recommendation is to buy a smaller crate for the puppy, and then a larger one for the adult dog. We just blocked off the back half of the crate with a piece of plywood until they got bigger.

Dog Bed -- we never bought one of these, but you'll need to line the inside of the crate with something, and if you don't want to sacrifice a blanket, a removable-cover dog bed is $30.

Grooming Tools -- basically, a brush and comb, nail clippers, shampoo. $25.

Collar, Leash, etc -- you can spend as little as $10 on this, or as much as $100, depending on what you want. A giant-sized Flexi-lead (a wide tape leash that retracts into the handle) is $60, while a simple nylon lead can be had for as little as $5. There are a number of brands that offer a replacement for a lead or collar if anything happens to it -- anything, including the dog chewing it apart.


Toys and Stuffies -- in order to save your house, you will need to give a puppy toys. Figure on $50 for chewies, squeaky toys, bones, ropes, Kongs, etc. They're not cheap, and chewing puppies tend to go through them at a surprising rate!


Enzyme cleaner -- because your new puppy will pee on the rug. This cleaner will remove the stain and the odor. Figure about $8.

Basic obedience classes -- For large dogs, this is critical. These can range from $50-$200, depending on whether you have puppy class, or personalized obedience classes.
We went with basic puppy obedience, for 6 weeks, then advanced one-on-one work, for a total cost of about $175 per dog.

Books -- I know, we didn't think we'd buy any either, but we did. Figure about $40 for miscellaneous books and stuff. Definitely try "The Art of Raising a Puppy", from the Monks of New Skete.

Misc -- Don't discount the costs of "puppy proofing" your home, as well. We had to get a kid gate to block off the kitchen ($45), several bottles of carpet cleaner ($12), and rebuild the inadequate fence in our yard ($600). Replacing shoes and socks, or things the puppy may chew on figures in here, too.

Since you shouldn't leave your dog chained up, you will either have to have a fenced yard (or add one), or build/buy a chain-link kennel, which can be several hundred dollars

A doghouse is necessary as well, if you intend your dog be outdoors in inclement weather. You can build one yourself, or buy one. In any case, it will probably cost $100-$200. Dogs seem to love those Igloo-looking ones.

Yearly Costs . . . the ongoing costs of owning a dog

Vet Costs

General Vet health -- this is the normal yearly vet costs for your dog. It covers the miscellaneous costs due to cut paws, bit by the cat, ate a shoelace, worms, etc. This can run anywhere from $0-$1000 a year.

It seems to average about $200, regardless of the size of the dog. A standard office visit, which you should have twice a year, runs about $430, depending on your vet.
There are exceptions, of course - we had vet bills of over $4k one year due to two knee surgeries and various other emergencies. It can add up.

Heartworm Medication -- most areas are affected by heartworm at least part of the year. About $10/month.

Fleas -- this may not be a problem in your area (we were continually infested in Georgia, but in Colorado, I don't think I've even seen a flea. There are a number of ways to combat the little beasties, so plan on approximately $5-10 a month.


Dog Food -- for a premium dry food, this can run about $25 a month for a large dog (we go through a 40# bag of food in about 3 1/2 weeks at our house with two dogs). If you feed canned food, this will be higher. Remember that they will have to eat more of a lower-quality food, so the cost eventually evens out.

Other stuff -- we buy a ten pound box of dog biscuits once a month, for about $10. We also supplement with fresh foods and other vitamin and mineral additives. The cost for this is variable.


Dog License -- required in most areas. $10-20/year.


Toys and stuffies -- it may take a while to figure out what toys your dog likes, but it will save wear and tear on your shoes, furniture, and other valuables. Figure about $50/year for bones, chewies, kongs, pull toys, etc.
We discovered that Ghlaive's favorite toy is a stuffed animal, so we buy three our four cheap teddy bears at Target for three or four dollars apiece each year. Maesc doesn't seem to like anything for more than a day or so, but he is pretty happy with a kong and a frisbee.

Examples of our current costs

Here's a summary of our yearly costs for Rukh and Uulaq, just to give you an idea of how much a large dog may cost. Your costs will probably be different.

Rukh Uulaq
Food $270 $270
Heartworm $42 $42
Medication $443 $134
Toys, etc $24 $18
Grooming $122 $122
Misc Vet ~$275 ~$100
Totals $1176$686 Total: $2448
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