A Major Investment: The Costs Associated with Dog Ownership

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Whoever said the best things in life are free must not have owned a dog.

As most dog owners will tell you, the myriad benefits a dog brings to your life – including love, companionship, and entertainment – are simply priceless. But dog ownership, itself, often comes with a hefty price tag.

Quite simply, dog ownership represents a major, longterm investment. It’s not a sum approaching the nearly quarter of a million dollars often linked to raising a child to age 18 within a middle-income family, but it’s substantial enough to make many prospective dog owners pause and rethink their decision.

In a perfect world, dog ownership would be dictated by care level rather than dollar amount. But until this utopia presents itself, here’s a guide to the costs involved with incorporating a canine companion into your life.

Your Guide to the Costs of Pet Ownership

Dogs prove to be such an integral part of many of our lives. They make us laugh and furnish us with unconditional love. In exchange for the incredible level of enjoyment dogs bring us, we’re responsible for ensuring their health and well-being.

The decision to pursue dog ownership involves such an emotional commitment that many people don’t stop to fully consider the financial implications. They’re readily aware of the initial cost associated with obtaining their pooch from a pet store, breeder, or rescue organization, but haven’t considered the bigger picture – that of an emotional and financial investment that will likely last 10 to 15 years.

Before embarking on a lifelong commitment, it’s worthwhile to conduct basic research and know exactly what’s in store. The cost of owning a dog is an important consideration and may even help you decide which type of pet (dog or otherwise) is best for you and your budget.

What It Costs to Own a Dog

While some impulse purchases prove relatively harmless, that’s certainly not the case when it comes to dog ownership. The expense of owning a dog is probably the most overlooked consequence of any pet-owner relationship.

The costs of dog ownership vary based on many factors, including the age of your dog at the time you obtain him, his life expectancy, his size, what level of luxury (or lack thereof) you wish to provide, and whether that particular breed requires any special needs. A puppy or newly-acquired dog typically costs considerably more during the first year of ownership when you must furnish initial supplies, provide proper vaccinations, and consider having your dog spayed or neutered.

In general, whereas large- to giant-sized dogs cost more on an annual basis (in large part due to greater food consumption), small- to medium-sized dogs cost more overall based on a longer life expectancy.

Small- to medium-sized dogs:

  • Estimated first-year cost: $740 to $1,325
  • Estimated annual cost thereafter: $500 to $875

Large- to giant-sized dogs:

  • Estimated first-year cost: $1,020 to $1,825
  • Estimated annual cost thereafter: $690 to $875

Lifetime Costs of Dog Ownership

When you calculate the estimated lifetime expense associated with owning a dog, the total dollar amount often proves startlingly high. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that these costs will likely be spread over a span of 10 to 15 years. The goal of this exercise is not to reduce the human-pet bond to a dollar figure, but rather to offer perspective to those considering dog ownership.

As previously mentioned, small- to medium-sized dogs tend to live longer, thus they require a larger overall investment. And it’s necessary to keep in mind that projections like these do not account for a major illness or injury, which could easily inflate a dog’s lifetime cost by several thousand dollars, provided you don’t have pet insurance.

Small- to medium-sized dogs:

  • Estimated life expectancy: 14 years
  • Estimated lifetime cost: $7,240 to $12,700

Large- to giant-sized dogs:

  • Estimated life expectancy: 8 years
  • Estimated lifetime cost: $5,850 to $7,950

 

What Does it Cost to Have a Dog?

While learning the estimated lifetime cost of dog ownership may cause someone to think twice before pursuing a canine, having a breakdown of individual expenses often proves more useful from a budgeting standpoint. The following figures were gleaned from a survey conducted by the American Kennel Club. Although the individual dollar amounts will vary considerably, this itemized listing affords perspective.

One-Time Expenses:

  • Purchase/adoption fees – $646
  • Spay/neuter – $160
  • Emergency Vet Visits/Surgeries – $631
  • Training Fees/Supplies – $340
  • General Supplies (bowl, crate, leashes) – $350
  • Total – $2,127

Annual Expenses:

  • Food – $446
  • Vet Care (check-ups, shots) – $423
  • Travel – $279
  • Grooming – $190
  • Pet sitting, walking, boarding – $223
  • Toys/treats – $217
  • Ongoing Training – $254
  • Dog events – $457
  • Total – $2,489

What Does it REALLY Cost to Own A Dog?

As with many aspects of life, dog ownership tends to involve hidden costs. For “pet parents” who go out of their way to furnish a canine companion with toys, grooming, and even dog daycare, these extra costs can pile up quickly. Consequently, it’s advisable to allot for hidden fees when budgeting your cost of dog ownership.

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