How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Dog?

Three Minutes
Oct 10, 2022

Adopting a new dog is an exciting time spent introducing your new four-legged family member to their forever home. However, it can also be an expensive time. You can offset unexpected costs with a little advance preparation, though. Keep reading as we discuss common things all pet parents should budget for when adding a new pup to the family.

Adoption Fees

Depending on where you live and where you adopt from, the adoption fee will vary.

Fees can also fluctuate depending on what type of dog you adopt. Are you thinking of adopting a military dog? Rescue or shelter dog? A senior dog? Many shelters charge lower fees for mixed-breed dogs as opposed to purebreds, or adult dogs instead of puppies.

Even if you get a lower fee or adopt a dog for free through a sponsored adoption, don’t be fooled by thinking the entire adoption is free. There are still several other costs that come with adopting a new pet. But first, let’s take a look at adoption fees for different types of dogs.

How much does it cost to adopt a military dog?

There’s no adoption fee for everyday people to adopt Military Working Dogs (MWDs). However, applicants must meet a strict list of requirements such as being a US citizen, not having anyone under 5 years old in the household, and having a vet lined up.3 Applicants often go on waiting lists.

The DoD Military Working Dog Adoption Program lets people adopt and care for these furry veterans. They can either be retired MWDs or MWDs who didn’t pass the rigorous certification process.3 Either way, most military dogs are loyal and obedient to their owners.

How much does it cost to adopt a shelter dog?

Shelter fees vary widely depending on location and funding. The Animal Humane Society charges between $129 to $767 depending on a variety of factors.4 Most other shelters fall between those amounts as well.

If you’re looking to save money, you can sometimes get a lower adoption fee by looking for discounts or keeping an eye out for dogs who have been in the shelter an extended period of time and have their fees sponsored. Many shelters will also offer discounts for holidays such as National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day (April 30).

How much does it cost to adopt a rescue dog?

Rescue fees are usually between $50 and $500. However, they can also vary based on the rescue.5

Dog rescues differ from dog shelters in their funding and adoption process. While most shelters are government-funded, rescues tend to be privately funded. This can result in higher adoption fees and additional donation requests to help keep the rescue running. Rescues also tend to offer foster programs, have stricter requirements for applicants, and work to help acclimate dogs to their new homes before adoption.

How much does it cost to adopt a senior dog?

While you can adopt senior dogs from shelters and rescues, their adoption fee tends to be lower than the typical range of $50 to $767. This is because senior dogs have shorter lifespans and may have health problems. However, they often make the best gentle and loving companions.

Apartment and Living Fees

If you rent your apartment or house, you may be required to pay a fee to bring your new dog home. Some apartment complexes charge nonrefundable fees when you move in with a pet or adopt a pet while living there. Often you’ll have to pay an upfront fee plus an ongoing “pet rent” every month to have a pet live with you. Of course, fees and additional rent will always vary.

Other apartments may ask for an upfront refundable fee, similar to a security deposit. The initial fee covers any damage that the pet might do to the apartment. If the fee is refundable, you may be able to get some or all of the money back when you move out based on how your dog behaved. Since monthly pet rent is a discretionary fee, it’s legally allowed to be included in your lease (in most cases). While not all renting companies charge such a high fee, it’s worth checking with yours to know if you need to save up before bringing your new dog home.

New Pet Supplies

Be sure to stock up on everything your new pet will need before you bring them home for their first night. Here are some of the must-have supplies when adopting a pet:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Food
  • Collar and leash
  • ID tag
  • Carrier or crate
  • Bed
  • Brush or comb
  • Cleaning supplies and poop baggies/scooper
  • House-training pads
  • Toys
  • Treats

While some of these are one-time costs, others — such as food and puppy pads — will be recurring expenses in your weekly or monthly budget.


You might end up adopting a dog that’s already well-trained and knows how to behave. If so, that’s great!

In most cases, however, your new pet will probably need some training. Whether you get a puppy who needs to learn basic commands, a dog who was abused and needs help working through their fear, or a senior dog whose manners could use a little polishing, it’s not a bad idea to work with a professional trainer. They may be able to help your new dog integrate into the family and learn to behave. Research local dog training facilities to get a feel for what they charge.

Vet Fees

In many cases, the animal shelter or rescue group that you work with can cover the necessary veterinary care fees to get your dog ready to come home. Oftentimes, the adoption fee you pay covers medical exams, initial vaccinations, a heartworm test, and deworming if needed. It also generally covers spaying or neutering if that procedure is needed. Some rescues and shelters even cover microchip implantation.

It’s still a good idea to take your adopted dog to the vet yourself and make sure your new pet is healthy following the adoption. If any additional vaccines, medications, or surgeries are needed, you’ll need to be prepared to cover those costs for your pet’s life. This is where dog insurance can help.2

Consider Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can be a smart investment at the time of adoption. These policies can fit into a family budget, and can even include multiple pets. When you’re adopting a dog, their wellness should be at the top of your mind. A pet insurance policy helps you afford the veterinary care needed to give them a long and healthy life. Consider learning more about MetLife Pet’s dog insurance policies, or get a free quote.1

Protect your New Dog

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Military Working Dog Adoption Program,” United States Air Force

4 “Adoption Fees,” Animal Humane Society

5 “Dog adoption cost (chart)” Rescue Dogs 101

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