What are the costs of owning a dog?

costs of dog ownership main img updated opt

The decision to bring a dog into your family is exciting and emotional but all too often the costs, financial and otherwise, are not fully understood. As a result far too many dogs are given up for adoption or don't receive adequate care. This article aims 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.

Any financial analysis will be subjective of course, so we've estimated a range over a dog's lifespan to try and give a sense of scale. It's based on our dog-owning experience, and if we've missed anything we'd love to hear from you. The more accurate the picture the better informed people will be, and anything that can contribute to one less re-homing must be a good thing.

How much will your dog really cost opt 

Upfront costs

Initially budget anywhere between $1,350 - $5,400, depending on whether you buy from a breeder or through a rescue centre. For starters you'll need a dog bed, bowls, dog toys, and their first dog collar and leash / harness. A dog crate is included too.

We've included training costs as we believe this is money well spent, helping reduce possible future costs to correct behavioural problems later in the dog's life. If you adopt a dog from a good rescue centre your pet may already be de-sexed and micro-chipped.

Annual costs

Factor in $1,430+ per year to keep your dog happy and healthy. Amounts are added for vaccinations and flea/worm treatments, out of consideration not just to your own dog but others they meet. Registrations are payable annually but you can apply for a Responsible Dog Owner's licence to reduce this cost.

Throughout the year dogs need a variety of pet accessories, such as dog collars, bedding, dog coats, and toys. Prices range from the budget end of the spectrum to high end luxury - we recommend spending a little more where you can as typically higher quality pet accessories will last longer and represent better value in the end.

Other costs

That's not all, there may be more depending on individual needs and circumstances. Amounts can vary considerably therefore we've shown you our assumptions so you can adjust accordingly:

  1. Daycare: three days a week for 48 weeks @ $38/day
  2. Pet Insurance: we've estimated $300 per year. Levels of cover and excess value will vary by policy
  3. Holiday care: our figure includes ten nights @ $50 per night. To keep these costs down we love taking our dog with us - read our post Pet Friendly Accommodation in NZ
  4. Grooming: four sessions p.a. @ $70 each 

The bottom line

The average lifespan for a healthy dog can vary between 8-13 years depending on breed etc. Based on this, the total cost of owning a dog equals somewhere between:

$12,790 (8 year life, low end of scale)
$38,030 (13 year life, high end of scale).

Don't forget, these totals do not include the optional extras above which could significantly increase the total.

It doesn't end there ...

Arguably the 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 shredded mail, chewed slippers, or a couch with no stuffing. Our miniature schnauzer is high energy and smart, demanding at least 1.5 hours every day for exercise and play; hoping he lives for at least 12 years that equals over 7,000 hours, a year of our time in waking hours.

In short, 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 everything worthwhile.

(First published Apr-14, updated Oct-19)


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