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What It Costs to Own a Dog

By: Dr. John Williams

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Penlights that double as lug wrenches, the latest buffalo meat and chocolate cream pie diet book - ever wonder why all these questionable items are grouped together in the checkout lane?

The answer is pretty simple: all of them fall under the heading "impulse purchasing" – things we buy on impulse, without taking the time to consider their usefulness. We are all susceptible. If you don't believe it, look in your garage or "junk drawer."

While most impulse purchases are harmless enough, some are anything but trivial. Consider an addition to the family - of the four-legged variety. Often, well-intentioned people see a puppy that captures their heart and, without considering the ramifications, impulsively take the animal home.

The expense of owning a pet is probably the most overlooked consequence of any pet-owner relationship. Advances in pet care, especially in the development of pet foods and medical research, have caused ownership costs to increase over the last 10 years. Since it's not likely that this trend will reverse itself any time soon, potential "pet parents" should consider their finances before taking home a new pet.

While it is certainly not necessary that a dog have a diamond collar or a Wedgwood china food bowl, all owners need to provide the basics of professional medical care, quality food and adequate shelter. The only other necessity for a responsible owner to provide is love - and that's free.

Listed below are approximate costs of basic care for dogs. Costs can vary widely, depending on where you live and specifics associated with each individual pet.

The Cost of a Dog

The costs of a new puppy vary significantly. A mixed breed from a local animal shelter will be a lot cheaper than a pure breed, and the quality of the pure breed will push the purchase price even higher.

"Show quality" puppies with impressive pedigrees and desired conformation characteristics will be much more expensive than those designated as "pet quality." In addition, the type of purebred dog will directly affect the costs. Common breeds, such as cocker spaniels, schnauzers and beagles will cost less than the same quality of rare breeds.

Small to medium-sized dogs

  • Estimated life span: 14 years
  • First year: $740 to $1,325
  • Estimated annual costs thereafter: $500 to $875

    Total cost over a dog's lifetime is about $7,240 to $12,700.

    Large to giant-sized dogs

  • Estimated life span: 8 years
  • First year: $1020 to $1,825
  • Estimated annual costs thereafter: $690 to $875

    Total estimated lifetime cost: $5,850 to $7,950.

    Puppies – The First Year

    Veterinary Care/Laboratory Tests - $100 to $200
    Physical examinations and Immunizations - $80 to $200
    Internal/External Parasite Treatment and Control - $100 to $150
    Spay/Neuter - $90 to $200. The cost often depends on the dog's size and age.
    Food - $150 to $250
    Miscellaneous (collars, leads, crate, toys, bed, obedience training) - $250 to $285

    Total: $770 to $1,285

    Dogs - Annual Costs

    Veterinary Care/Examinations/Laboratory - $150 to $255
    Immunizations - $60 to $75
    Internal/External Parasite Preventatives - $120 to $190
    Food - $150 to $300
    Miscellaneous - $100 to $125

    Total: $580 to $945

    NOTE: Amounts vary considerably, based on factors such as growth rate and size of the adult dog, types of food and unforeseen medical conditions. Generally, puppies require more routine medical attention than adult dogs. However, statistics show that older animals (those over eight years old) will require more veterinary care than younger adults.

    You should also note that costs vary between stores, veterinarians and by region.

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