How Much Does a Dog Cost?

5 min read
Dec 20, 2022

Whether you’ve owned a dog or not, you know that the relationship between owner and pet is a special one. But that special bond comes with certain expenses. But how much does a dog cost? Understanding the financial commitment involved as a pet parent is important before welcoming a new furry friend to your home. 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 a 2021 study by 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


Monthly costs for a dog

There are some dog care items that you will purchase monthly. Food is the most obvious one, with the average pet parent spending $300 a year (or roughly $25 a month) on food.² This number can easily exceed this if you have more than one dog or need to purchase prescription dog food. Flea and tick medication is given monthly but you can opt to buy them in bulk to save money. If certain food and medication are prescribed by your vet, pet insurance may help cover the cost for you.

Not-so-obvious monthly costs are treats and chew toys. Certain breeds, like American pit bulls, are heavy chewers. Pet parents may find themselves replacing toys more often than they expect, so plan accordingly.

How Much Is a Dog Itself?

How much is a dog? This can be a tough question to answer. The amount you spend on your dog can vary depending on many factors, including where you get them, the breed of the dog, their size, and even what state you live in.

Costs of purebred and designer dogs

If you purchase a puppy from a breeder, you can often expect to pay anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.3

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 (goldendoodles, cockapoos, etc.) can definitely spike the price.

Most expensive dog breeds

The most expensive dogs can typically be bought as puppies from reputable breeders. The average cost of some of the priciest puppies you can find are:³

Remember, buying isn’t the only option. There are plenty of beautiful puppies out there that are waiting for you for adoption.

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 $700.4  Remember, this can include an adoption fee which covers your new dog’s vaccines, microchipping, and general health care.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. Take a moment to check your local animal shelter or rescue. You’ll be surprised what you may find.

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 costs often include:²

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 with all the puppy vaccinations, exams, and procedures like 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 and active dogs may need a higher calorie intake (more food) than others. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for food suggestions, as they likely have knowledge of the best 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 and possibly more 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 to your shopping list too.

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


$8 – $40

Collar & ID

$15 – $30


$20 –$80

Crate (optional)

$15 – $100

Initial healthcare costs

You should expect to bring your new dog to the veterinarian a few times within the first few months 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 the necessary vaccines and check-ups.8

dog gets inspected at the vet

Recurring Dog Costs

Dog rent and apartment fees

If you’re like many Americans, you live in an apartment or a rental property. Most rental agencies or private landlords ask for pet rent or a one-time fee. There may be a deposit for cleaning when you move out in addition to monthly pet rent. Be sure to get these fees in writing and factor them into your budget before you get a nasty shock.

Rabies license

Many counties in the U.S. request that pet parents submit proof of vaccinations for rabies along with a small fee every few years. Your vet can provide you with a copy of your vaccines for your local government but the fee will vary considerably. Give your local animal control for details on what paperwork they need and how much you’re expected to pay.

Doggy daycare

Many pet parents travel often or work at an office so they opt to have someone look after them while they’re away. If this sounds like you, you may want to budget for a doggy daycare. These facilities provide enrichment for dogs, making sure your pup gets some playtime, gets a good meal, and socializes with other animals. The cost of doggy daycare can range anywhere from $15 to $70 depending on what the facility offers and the city you live in.

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 $5,000.10  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, it’s important to be prepared ahead of time. One great idea is setting aside money in your 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.

5 Ways To Save Money on Your Dog

An overlooked part of responsible pet ownership is managing your finances. There are some costs that can’t be overlooked — like adoption fees — but there are other ways to save money. Here are five ideas on how to save money while spoiling your pet.

  1. Buy secondhand pet accessories. Check your local thrift stores or consignment stores for used items like dog bowls, leashes, collars, and even crates. You’ll be surprised what you can find.
  2. Invest in quality dog food. Spending a few dollars more on good food can potentially save you thousands in vet bills later from preventable diseases, such as diabetes.
  3. Look for low-cost vaccine clinics. Many pet supply box stores run low-cost vaccine clinics. This may be a good option if you have more than one dog who needs vaccinations.
  4. Adopt your dog. Humane centers and animal shelters are full of dogs waiting for a forever home. In fact, many organizations waive adoption fees a few times a year. Check them out before you shell out money for a purebred dog.
  5. Get dog insurance while your dog is young. Younger dogs tend to be healthier dogs, leading to lower monthly premiums. Depending on your coverage, your policy could reimburse you for wellness checks. Later on, your dog’s policy could cover certain illnesses because they wouldn’t be considered pre-existing conditions.

Dog Insurance and How It Can 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 a 2021 article from CNET, the average dog insurance policy can save a pet owner thousands of dollars in vet bills in certain situations.11

MetLife Pet Insurance1 offers several insurance options for both dogs and cats, allowing pet parents the freedom to select the coverage they need. We even allow coverage for multiple pets under one deductible and policy with our unique family option.

Bottom Line

Welcoming a dog into your home 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.

MetLife Pet Insurance can help cover some of those bigger costs associated with owning a dog. Get started today with a free quote from MetLife Pet Insurance, winner of the “Pet Insurance of the Year” Award in the 2023 Pet Independent Innovation Awards Program.

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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,” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

3 “Puppy Prices in the US: Range & Average for 151 Breeds,”

4 “Adoption Fees,” Animal Humane Society

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

6 “21 Best Indestructible Dog Toys: Top Picks For Aggressive Chewers,”

7 “How Much Does Owning a Dog Cost? (Updated in 2022),“ Hepper

8 “Wellness Examination in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

9 “How Much Will a Vet Visit Cost?,” Wellness Pet Food

10 “The Annual Cost of Pet Ownership: Can You Afford a Furry Friend?,” Money Under 30

11 “Here's How Much It Costs to Own a Dog or Cat in 2021,” CNET 

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