What are the costs of owning a dog?

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 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. (Cost estimates below have not been updated for several years but should at least serve as a ballpark guide.)

Any financial analysis will inevitably be subjective so we’ve provided a range over a dog’s lifespan, based on our dog-owning experience. If we’ve missed anything we’d love to hear from you. The more accurate the picture the better informed people will be; anything that contributes to one less re-homing is surely positive.

Upfront costs

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 any future costs to remediate behavioural problems later in the dog’s life. If you adopt 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. Registrations are payable annually though you can apply for a Responsible Dog Owner’s licence to reduce this cost.

Dogs require a variety of pet accessories ongoing, such as dog collars, bedding, dog coats, and toys. Prices range from budget to premium – we recommend spending a little more where you can as higher quality pet accessories will likely last longer representing better value in the end.

Optional extras

There may be more depending on individual needs and circumstances. Amounts can vary considerably so we’ve provided our assumptions and you can adjust accordingly:

  • Daycare: three days a week for 48 weeks @ $38/day
  • Pet Insurance: we’ve estimated $300 per year. Levels of cover and excess value vary by policy
  • Holiday care: our figure includes ten nights @ $50 per night. To keep these costs down we prefer to take our dog with us
  • Grooming: four sessions per year at $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).

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 not directly financial, but instead the time and effort necessary to give your dog the life it deserves. Short change your dog of the stimulation it needs and you could end up with shredded magazines or chewed slippers. Our miniature schnauzer is high energy, demanding a couple of hours a 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 dogs give back? Treat your dog well and you’ll be rewarded many times over – that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

(First published Apr-14, updated Oct-19. Certainly nothing has got cheaper since then either.)

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