Money Saving 301
March 22, 2023

How much is a puppy?

It can be so hard to resist a puppy. With so many adorable videos now on social media, it’s easy to be sucked into the puppy love. Since owning a dog is a major commitment of up to 16 years, it’s important to consider the costs.

All the annual costs of pet ownership will be multiplied over your dog’s lifetime. These range from equipment like leashes or collars to toys, veterinary care, boarding, medications, grooming, and food.

Let’s take a good look – how much is a dog or puppy?

What’s the average dog price?

The initial price of a puppy varies widely and will depend on a number of factors. You’ll want to consider:

  • What dog breed should I get? Prices for American Kennel Club (AKC) registered purebred dogs, especially those intended for dog showing competitions, can run easily up to $5,000 depending on the breed. Some may be even more expensive. If you are flexible about the breed you can keep your costs much lower.
  • Is adopting a dog OK? Generally speaking, adopting a dog from a shelter is much less expensive than buying from a breeder. (Adopting a dog from a shelter also means giving a dog in need a good home.) Adoption fees do vary, and puppies may have higher adoption fees than adult dogs. The Animal Humane Society, for instance, lists its standard adoption fees as $129 to $767 for dogs and puppies. When adopting a dog from a shelter the initial veterinary care, spaying or neutering, and vaccines may be covered as part of the adoption fee. If you buy a dog from a breeder, keep in mind that you may have to cover this care yourself. First-year veterinary costs are estimated at $100 to $350.
  • Am I set on adopting a puppy, or would an adult dog be a better fit? If you’re intent on getting a puppy, be sure you are prepared for the cost of equipment, training, and time you’ll need to invest. If you’re gone most days, a puppy may not be the best choice since they need to be socialized, trained, let out at frequent intervals, etc. An adult dog may be a better choice for those who work long hours, don’t want to deal with potty training, or generally need a “ready-made” pet who has some basic training.
  • Do I need my dog to do a specific job (volunteer therapy dog, herding, service animal, et al)? If you’re looking for a dog to do a specific job, you need to do your research on finding the right dog and training for the job. The cost of a trained dog will vary widely based on the amount and quality of training, etc.

Annual Cost of Owning a Dog

The investment for a dog doesn’t end with dog prices. Make sure you have a good understanding of your budget before you decide if you can afford a dog. (Budgeting apps can help too.)  Every year, you’ll have these costs to account for:

  • Food: The bigger the dog, the more they’ll eat. A very active or working dog will eat more than a couch potato. Your veterinarian can tell you how much is appropriate for your dog and recommend a food, and you can estimate costs from there. Keep in mind that any pet can develop health problems at any time, just like us, which could mean a change to a more expensive food.
  • Veterinary checkups: Every dog needs at least an annual vet checkup. Puppies will go through a series of vaccinations, but many people don’t realize these have to be repeated. The average national cost for a dog’s routine check-up is $50 to $250. Overall vet costs including wellness check-ups, dental care, lab tests and vaccines can total between $700 and $1,500 per year. These may or may not include…
  • Medications and vitamins Including flea/tick protection: If a dog gets sick, it could require medication for a lifetime just like a human. But many pet novices don’t realize that all dogs are in need of monthly flea and tick protection, heartworm prevention, and deworming medication. These can be expensive and though ordering online can save you money, they’ll still add up fast.
  • Leashes/collars/coats: Every dog will need a collar that fits and a sturdy leash. If you get a puppy, you may need different collars as they grow. Some puppies also love to chew through leashes! Coats are also needed if you live in a cold climate or have a small/short-hair dog. Your vet can tell you if your dog needs a coat.
  • Grooming/bathing supplies and/or services: Depending on the type of dog or puppy you choose, grooming costs can vary a lot. When a puppy is small you might be able to bathe it in the kitchen sink or bathtub. The bigger it gets, the more wiggly, and the longer its hair, the more difficult that will get. If your dog requires grooming, a groomer can tell you how often and how expensive grooming appointments should be. Some dogs need a bath and haircut every month.
  • Toys: Obviously, how much you spend on toys for your dog is a personal preference, but a few things can make a difference. If you get a puppy or a breed that chews (think Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and many other large dogs) you will want to have plenty of toys on hand. The bigger and stronger the dog, the more toys you may go through, and faster, so be prepared to get these dogs a few high-quality chewing toys.
  • Day care or other pet care: If you work long hours, you may choose to send your dog to “doggie daycare” a few days a week, especially if you choose to get a puppy.  You’ll also want to have a plan for your dog’s care if you go out of town.  Relatives and neighbors are a great option if you have people you can trust.  Boarding your dog with a professional care facility or your vet can easily cost hundreds of dollars a week.
  • Pet insurance: While it’s fairly easy to budget for standard vet visits, the unexpected can catch up to you fast. It may pay to think about pet insurance.

Pet Insurance For Dogs

What is pet insurance? Just like insurance for humans, it may pay part of standard and/or emergency veterinary costs for your dog. If your dog is involved in an accident, or tears its ACL, or is diagnosed with a chronic illness, vet bills can get high fast. Pet insurance is becoming a popular option to manage these risks.

Check online to find the best pet insurance for your pet and your budget.  Check out How to Create a Budget You Can Stick To for help.

Did you know? Black dogs and older dogs have a hard time getting adopted from shelters. Consider getting a black dog as they’re just as lovable as any other.

Puppy Ownership FAQ

How much does it cost to adopt a puppy?

The Animal Humane Society, for instance, lists its standard adoption fees as $129 to $767 for dogs and puppies. It’s a good idea to call several shelters near you and ask about their adoption fees.

What’s the cheapest dog?

Generally speaking, adoption is the least expensive option for getting a dog. Just keep in mind there are lots of other expenses!

How expensive is a dog monthly?

This depends on lots of factors like those we’ve listed above. Do your research on the above questions and you should have a good sense how much the dog you want will cost monthly.

What's the cheapest puppy breed?

A mixed-breed dog from a shelter is the cheapest puppy breed.

Is a one-year-old dog a puppy?

Officially speaking, all puppies become adult dogs at age one. Many dogs will act like a puppy much longer, and some will continue to grow for up to 24 months.

What’s the best pet insurance?

Do an online search and gather information about several pet insurance providers to determine which best fits your needs. You can always research pet insurance through a trusted organization, like or, for their recommendations.

Personal loans for dogs?

While an installment loan could help you purchase a dog, it’s very unlikely to provide enough money to care for your dog over the course of its life. If you can’t afford a dog right now, you can consider the many volunteer options available, such as fostering or helping at the local SPCA.

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