What are the costs of owning a dog?

The decision to bring a dog into your family is exciting and emotional but all too often we underestimate the financial and non-financial commitment required. Sadly as a result too many dogs are given up for adoption or don't receive the care they need.

Our aim is to raise awareness of what you're signing up to when those beautiful puppy eyes tug on your heart strings and you bring one home. The analysis is inevitably subjective - big dog v small dog, budget stuff v premium stuff - so we've estimated a range of total expense over the dog's lifespan. It's based on our dog-owning experience so if we've missed anything we'd love to hear from you. The more complete the picture, the more informed people will be and anything that can contribute to one less rehoming is surely a good thing.

How much will your dog really cost opt 

Getting started

These costs will be anywhere between $1,000 and $3,950 depending on whether you buy from a breeder or through a rescue centre for example. Key things you'll need to buy include a dog bed, bowls, dog toys, and their first dog collar and leash / harness. A dog crate is included too. We have also included costs for training as we believe this is very important and reduces possible costs to correct behavioural problems later in the dog's life. Remember if you adopt a dog from a good rescue centre your pet may already be de-sexed and microchipped.

Annual costs

You will need to budget at least $1,150 per year to keep your dog happy and healthy. We have included amounts for vaccinations and flea / worm treatments out of consideration not just to your own dog but to others they meet out and about. Registrations need to be paid annually but you can apply for a Responsible Dog Owner's licence to reduce this cost.

Throughout the year a dog will need replacement and seasonal pet accessories, such as dog coats, new dog collars and bedding. You can find products to suit any budget however consider spending a little more on items your dog uses every day as you'll typically find higher quality pet accessories last longer.

Optional extras

Just when you thought that was that, there are additional items to consider depending on need and circumstance. These amounts can vary widely so we'll show you how we arrived at our figures and you can adjust as appropriate:

  • Daycare - three days a week for 48 weeks at $38/day
  • Pet Insurance - we've estimated $200 per year but the excess and level of cover will vary by policy
  • Holiday care - our figure includes ten nights @ $50 per night, so you can take a well earned break from your dog. To keep these costs down we prefer to take our dog with us (plus he's great fun) - check out our article on Pet Friendly Accomodation in New Zealand
  • Grooming - four sessions per year @ $60 each 

The bottom line

The average lifespan for a healthy dog can vary between 8-13 years depending on breed etc. Based on this, we estimate the total cost of owning a dog as somewhere between:
$10,200 (8 year life, low end of scale)
$27,610 (13 year life, high end of scale).

And don't forget, these totals do not include the optional extras above which could increase the total dramatically.

But it doesn't end there...

bored dogThe biggest commitment of all is the time and effort required to give your dog the attention it deserves. Short change your dog of the stimulation it needs and you could end up with your slippers eaten or worse a couch with no stuffing. Our miniature schnauzer is typical of his breed - highly energetic, highly intelligent - and demands at least 1.5 hours daily for exercise and playtime, more at weekends. Assuming and hoping he lives for 12 years that equates to nearly 8,000 hours  = almost a year of our time.

In summary dogs are expensive. Then again, so are children. And cars. And holidays. But how do you put a price on the companionship, loyalty, love and laughter they give you each and every day? Treat your dog well and you'll be rewarded many times over and that's what makes it all worthwhile.

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