How Much Does a Dog Cost?

5 min read Jun 06, 2022

Whether you’ve owned a dog or not before, you know that the relationship between owner and pet is a special one. But that special bond comes with certain expenses. So how much does a dog cost? Understanding the financial commitment involved as a pet parent is important before purchasing a new furry friend. To learn more about the costs associated with a new dog, let’s go through a quick rundown of the most common dog-ownership expenses.

How Much Does a Dog Cost Per Year?

The average cost of owning a dog is approximately $1,400 per year, according to the ASPCA.2 This figure can be higher or lower based on your dog’s size, breed, and health issues. Here’s how those costs break down: 



Routine Medical Costs (Vaccines, Wellness Visits, etc.)


Preventative Medication (Heartworm, Flea/ Tick)




Kennel / Boarding (per day)




Grooming Supplies (Shampoo, Conditioner)


Annual Total




How Much Is a Dog Itself?

The amount you spend on your dog can vary depending on many factors, including where you get them, the breed of the dog, its size, and even what state you are in.

Costs of purebred and designer dogs

If you purchase a puppy from a breeder, you can often expect to pay anywhere from $500 – $3,000.

For example, while more common breeds like Labrador Retrievers are on the less expensive side of the price spectrum ($400 – $1,500), harder to find and harder to breed dogs like French Bulldogs may cost you more ($1,800 – $4,500).3

It’s always important to do research about the particular breed you’re looking for because purebred dogs and designer dog breeds (labradoodles, cockapoos, etc.) can definitely spike the price.

Costs of adopting a dog or puppy

Another option is adopting a dog from a reputable shelter or rescue, which may be a more affordable idea. According to the Animal Humane Society, the adoption cost can be anywhere between $50 and $700. Remember, this can include an adoption fee as well.4

In addition to being cheaper, adopting a dog is usually the easiest and fastest way to get one as you don’t have to deal with a breeder’s waitlist.

Understanding the Initial Costs of Owning a Dog

When jumping into a new journey with a new dog, it’s important to realize that the first year of dog ownership may be the most expensive. Due to the many upfront costs and purchases you’ll have to make before you even get your dog, there are many expenses you should consider budgeting for. These upfront costs often include:

●     Spaying or neutering  ($50 – $500)

●     First-time vaccinations ($300)

●     Microchipping ($20)

●     Dog supplies ($50 – $300)

●     Training classes ($200)

How much does a puppy cost vs. an older dog?

Puppies often tend to cost a little more than older dogs, especially when it comes to veterinary care. In fact, the first year of veterinary care for a puppy can cost $500 – $1,000 between all the puppy vaccinations, exams, and spaying or neutering. 5

Food and treats

Dog food and dog treats are arguably the most important expense you will incur for your new dog. Because of the many types of food and treats available on the market, this is where you can ultimately be selective in what you want to feed your new dog.

Keep in mind the bigger the dog, the more they may eat. Additionally, high-energy, active dogs may need a higher calorie intake (more food). Be sure to ask your veterinarian for food suggestions, as they likely have knowledge of favorite foods and brands for your particular breed.

Your dog's diet can also play a big role in their overall health, so if you’re looking to cut costs, nutrition may not be the place to do it.


Like food, bigger dogs require larger toys, which can cost more. The toys you purchase may depend on what your dog enjoys and how rough they get. Some quality dog toys for tough chewers can cost as much as $20 per toy.6 Keep in mind that if your dog is a notoriously rough player, you may need to replace one or more of these toys over time.

Essential dog supplies and accessories

Alongside the necessary day-to-day items a new dog will need like food and toys, additional supplies, such as walking accessories, crates and more can add up on your shopping list too.

According to Hepper,7 below are some of the most common costs associated with dog supplies.


$25 – $60


$50 –$100


$35 – $150

Initial healthcare costs

In the first few months with your new dog, expect to bring them to the veterinarian a few times to get them established and checked. Be sure to get an initial physical done, receive vaccinations (especially if your pet is coming from a shelter), and set up annual wellness exams for your dog. A wellness exam can be a yearly vet visit, in which your dog receives their necessary vaccines and check-ups.

Provided all is well, expect to pay around $200 – $350 both upfront and each year for veterinary care.8

Unexpected Dog Costs

Accidents can happen and unexpected costs may arise throughout the course of your dog’s life. It’s important to be prepared for whatever gets thrown at you. For example, treatment at an emergency animal hospital for an illness or injury can easily cost a pet-owner as much as $4,000.9  These unexpected accidents require emergency funding from pet parents, and more often than not, they are nearly impossible to predict.

Because anything from an emergency surgery to a chronic illness can come at any unexpected time (and cost you anywhere from $500 – $5,000), it’s important to be prepared ahead of time. One great idea is setting aside money in savings each month for your pet, or even opening up a credit card or checking account dedicated to your pet’s health. Many pet owners often find themselves in financial holes when it comes to the unexpected, so be proactive from the get-go as a new owner.

Dog Insurance and How to Save on Dog Costs

If budgeting is a concern, dog insurance can be a great way to save on expensive and unexpected vet bills. According to an article on, the average dog insurance policy in 2021 can save a pet owner thousands of dollars in the long run.10

MetLife Pet Insurance1 offers several insurance options for both dogs and cats, allowing pet parents the freedom to select the coverage they need.

Bottom Line

Purchasing and maintaining a dog is an exciting adventure for every pet owner, but it comes with financial responsibility. Budgeting and preparation are the best way to keep both you and your puppy happy and healthy.

And MetLife Pet Insurance can help cover some of those bigger costs associated with owning a dog. To learn more about how MetLife can help save you money, get a free dog insurance quote today.

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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 Cutting Pet Care Costs | ASPCA

3 Puppy Prices,

4 Adoption Fees, Animal Humane Society

5 Adopting an Older Dog vs a Puppy: Pros and Cons, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

6 19 Best Indestructible Dog Toys For Aggressive Chewers,

7 How Much Does a Dog Cost , Hepper

8 How Much Will a Vet Visit Cost? , Wellness Pet Food

9 The True Cost of Pet Ownership, Money Under 30

10 How Much it Costs to Own a Dog or Cat in 2021, CNET