How much?Liz Mallia
A dog is a long-term commitment, and can be surprisingly costly. It’s not just paying for the dog’s food and toys: there are other costs involved.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that a dog owner can spend between $1,314 and $1,843 in the first year of ownership, depending on the size of the dog.
A purebred pup can cost hundreds or more. Sounds expensive, but a reputable dog breeder needs to charge enough to cover the costs of breeding, vet care and other associated expenses. A reputable breeder should also be able to provide you with a healthy, well-bred puppy.
Adopting a dog from a rescue is generally cheaper, though often you will be expected to donate to the rescue: different dog rescues have different policies.
Good quality dog food can be surprisingly costly. It’s better to feed quality dog food than cheap food, as cheap food is often high in wheat. Quality dog food is balanced to meet your dog’s nutritional needs. Food costs per year can amount to around $300, though it can be more or less depending on how much your dog eats and the type of food you buy.
In the first year alone, a puppy will need multiple vaccinations, spaying or neutering, flea drops and worm tablets, and any incidental care (after all, accidents do happen).
You can reduce vet costs by keeping an eye on your dog’s health. Regularly treat your dog for fleas, ticks, and worms. You can brush your dog’s teeth to keep them clean and healthy, and regular check-ups will help you find a problem before it becomes a big (and potentially expensive) issue.
Keep in mind that some breeds are more prone to poor health; for example, German Shepherds often suffer from hip dysplasia.
Experienced dog owners may be able to train a dog themselves, but new owners may feel more comfortable going to puppy classes. If your dog has behavioural problems, such as destructive or aggressive behaviour, you may need the help of a dog trainer, which can be costly. However, investing in training at an early age can nip behavioural problems in the bud.
If your heart is set on a Poodle or an Afghan hound, you will need to consider the cost of grooming. Some breeds are low maintenance and just need the occasional bath and some brushing. Dogs that don’t shed or have long fur will need regular grooming to prevent matted and tangled fur.