There are lots of things to prepare for when getting a puppy (e.g. the mess, the 4 am outdoor toilet trips, the constant energy). One thing that a lot of new puppy-owners overlook is the cost. There are lots of initial costs to consider when buying a puppy. It’s important that you can afford all of this so that your pup is getting everything that it needs. Below are some of the biggest costs to consider.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to pick up a puppy for free. Adopting a puppy often means paying a breeder a fee in advance. Puppy breeder adoption fees can vary from $100 to 10,000. It all depends on the reputability of the breeder, the popularity and scarcity of the breed, and whatever extras may be provided (some breeders will provide health checks, vaccinations, and equipment).
Some of the most expensive breeds include chow chows, rottweilers, Tibetan Mastiffs, Samoyeds, and Lowchens. Prize breeders will charge the highest fees – their dogs tend to be from a long line of pure-bred dogs. Unless you’re thinking of taking part in Crufts, there’s generally no reason to pay top dollar for such a dog.
The cheapest breeds include mixed breeds, American foxhounds, rat terriers, and dachshunds – a reputable breeder will usually charge around $300 to $600 for such dogs. You should be wary of breeders that charge very low rates. Some of them could be puppy mills, which are likely to keep lots of dogs in bad conditions while often forcing mothers to produce constant litters. A good breeder will allow you to visit the puppies, will keep them until at least 6 weeks, and will arrange health checks to ensure that each puppy is healthy – lookout for these signs when choosing a breeder.
Vaccinations are the next cost to consider. While some breeders will pay for this, the majority won’t. Shots generally cost between $50 and $300 depending on how many you get.
Core vaccines include canine parvovirus, rabies, distemper, and canine hepatitis (rabies is the only compulsory one across the US – but the others are highly recommended). Certain breeds may also need to be vaccinated against Bordetella bronchiseptica (especially if you plan on boarding the dog), Borrelia burgdorferi, and Leptospira bacteria.
A veterinarian will be able to provide a vaccination schedule for you. Most of these vaccines only need to be provided once during puppyhood, however, some states offer low-cost and free rabies clinics that are run by local veterinarians.
Spaying/neutering is optional – most owners will choose to do it in order to moderate behavior and avoid accidental litters. It costs between $35 and $400 to spay or neuter a dog. Spaying tends to be more expensive as it is a more complicated procedure.
You should always use a licensed and reputable vet to carry out spaying or neutering.
Other initial vet costs
If your puppy hasn’t already had a basic medical examination, this may also be required. Micro-chipping has also become popular recently – this might be another cost you want to consider. Such procedures can vary in cost depending on the vet you use. If you do plan to micro-chip, the best time to do this is at the same time they are spayed or neutered.
Throughout your dog’s life, there are likely to be many trips to the vets. These may just consist of checkups and booster shots, however, even the healthiest dogs will usually experience some health problems that will need treatment. The cost of such check-ups and treatments can add up. Taking out pet insurance is often recommended because of this – while you’ll have to pay a monthly insurance fee, it will help to pay for any treatment, which could be more affordable than having to pay the occasional large vet bill.
You can take out a lifetime scheme for your dog as a puppy. Pet insurance for puppies is generally quite cheap, although certain breeds that are more prone to health problems could be more expensive to insure such as french bulldogs and rottweilers. Always shop around in order to find the best rates.
All puppies can benefit from professional training – especially if you’ve never raised a puppy before. This can help to teach them good behaviors early, as well as helping to teach you everything you may need as a dog owner.
You may be able to find group puppy training courses local to you. There are also online puppy courses as found at this link, which can teach you everything you need to know virtually. Consider which type of training course is right for you.
Puppy training costs vary a lot. The cheapest classes will typically charge $30 for an hour, while some dog training disobedience schools may charge up to $600 per week. Online courses are sometimes the best deal. When choosing any training course, it’s important to always research the trainer to ensure that they are experienced and reputable.
Puppies love toys. Due to their inquisitive playful nature and the fact that they will be teething, most puppies will want to chew on anything that they can. Providing a good amount of chew toys will prevent them from using your shoes or the TV remote as an improvised chew toy.
You can buy dog toys as cheap as $5, but don’t expect these toys to be very robust. It’s worth splashing out on more expensive toys marketed as ‘indestructible’ – they won’t be torn apart in the first ten minutes of play and will keep your puppy satisfied.
DIY toys are another option for keeping puppies occupied on a budget. If you’ve got some old t-shirts, you can knot these together and create your own rope toy. You can also keep many dogs entertained simply by putting a treat inside an empty plastic bottle (just make sure to remove the lid as this could be a choking hazard). You can find more DIY dog toy ideas here.
Puppies require a specialized diet in order to get all the right nutrients they need. A breeder may be able to recommend a diet plan, including which food brands to buy. In most cases, specialized kibble for puppies will be necessary.
Expect to pay around $40 to $60 on dog food. It’s often possible to buy puppy kibble in bulk to save money in the long run – a large bag could provide the same amount as five small bags while costing less than five small bags. Be wary of buying very cheap kibble as it may not necessarily meet the nutritional needs of your dog – do your research into new brands before buying them. Also, keep the kibble in a dry place and in a container as kibble can go “bad” or attract vermin if left opened outside or in a garage.
You’ll also need to buy some basic equipment before adopting a puppy. This could include a dog bed, a crate, feeding bowls, a collar or harness, a lead and poop bags.
You can buy all of this from a pet store or you may be able to buy some of it used online (except poop bags of course!). Items of equipment will vary in cost depending on the size you need and the quality you desire. For instance, you may be able to buy a used dog crate for a small breed for $50, however, a new crate for a bigger breed may cost four times this amount. You can also expect to pay more for a high-quality harness and extendable lead than you would for a cheap collar and chain lead.