Dogs are great companions that can bring a house to life. They offer love and company, can make excellent walking and exercise partners, and become a part of the family for many years. But they do come at a cost. The actual cost depends on a lot of factors ranging from the size of the dog, with big dogs not only costing more to feed but also attracting higher veterinary and grooming costs, while some breeds are more prone to certain hereditary conditions.
In general, owning a dog in Australia costs anywhere between $1,500–$3,000 per year, with the first year attracting the highest costs and generally requiring a budget of up to $5,000. For many people, these costs are more than worth it, but it is important to know how much you should expect to spend so that you can budget accurately.
Bringing Home a New Dog: One-Time Costs
Typically, the largest first-year cost of owning a dog is the cost of buying or adopting the dog in the first place. However, there are additional costs, such as the purchase of one-off items like crates and beds. These may not need replacing for at least several years, but you will need them when you bring your new dog home.
The most common way to get a dog for free is from friends or family. It may also be possible to adopt senior dogs with minimal or no adoption fees because shelters struggle to rehome old dogs and it helps free up space. When taking a dog for free, it is still important that you have a good history and background of the dog. Ensure it has had health checks and its parents screened for any breed-appropriate conditions.
Adopting a dog means taking one that has been surrendered by its previous owner or has never had an owner. There are many reasons that dogs are surrendered and find themselves in the care of shelters, and you should try to determine the reason for a dog being there before you consider adoption, especially if you have children at home. Adoption fees vary according to location, the shelter itself, and potentially even the age and type of dog. Expect to pay between $200–$1,200 with typical adoption fees around $500.
Buying from a breeder is the most expensive option. It enables you to choose the breed of dog you get and, as long as you use a reputable breeder, the puppy and its parents should have undergone all the appropriate health checks and screening. Costs vary dramatically, with mixed breed dogs generally costing the least, usually between $200–$700. Designer and purebred dogs can cost several thousands of dollars.
Initial Setup and Supplies
It may be possible to reuse any dog beds, crates, and other accessories you have at home or that you can take from friends and family, but if you need or want to buy everything new, the cost will likely cost several hundred dollars and include the purchase of things like beds, bowls, toys, grooming equipment, leashes and harnesses, and more.
List of Dog Care Supplies and Costs
|ID Tag and Collar
|$10 – $30
|$150 – $500
|$250 – $600
|$200 – $400
|$45 – $55
|$250 – $500
|$30 – $100
|Nail Clipper (optional)
|$10 – $30
|$10 – $20
|$20 – $100
|$10 – $40
|Food and Water Bowls
|$20 – $50
How Much Does a Dog Cost Per Month?
Monthly costs will vary for your dog, according to whether they need any veterinary treatment or routine care like flea treatment, boarding costs when you go away, and whether you need to replace any items like a dog bed. Some costs, like pet insurance, will remain the same each month, and food costs should be roughly similar.
Healthcare is the highest ongoing monthly cost of owning a dog and includes everything from food to grooming. One cost that should be included is pet insurance. Pet insurance financially covers you from any unexpected vet bills and while it can seem like an unnecessary expense when your dog is fit and healthy, it can save you considerable money.
There are many different foods on the market ranging from raw or fresh food to dry kibble, and there are pros and cons to each. There are also dozens of manufacturers, and this means that food costs can vary greatly from one dog to the next. This amount also includes treats and training treats.
Some owners groom their pets themselves. This means brushing teeth, clipping nails, trimming hair, and bathing your dog. Doing so does reduce costs, but you will still need to buy dog shampoo, toothpaste, and other essentials. The higher costs are associated with regular professional grooming.
Medications and Vet Visits
Pet insurance is a good way to budget and can help avoid unexpected and large vet bills, but it doesn’t cover every medication, and some policies do not cover all illnesses or vet charges. You can take out wellness packages, which provide routine medications like flea treatments for a monthly cost.
Pet insurance really is a lifesaver in some cases. Vet bills can reach several thousands of dollars in extreme circumstances, and even less complicated and easily resolved problems can still cost hundreds. Pet insurance might seem like a waste of money if your dog is not ill, but it essentially lets you spread the cost of vet bills and has a single, usually low, monthly payment.
Pet insurance costs vary according to the type of policy, the size of your excess, and even the breed of dog you have, so shop around to get the best quote with the most competitive prices.
Environment maintenance costs for dogs tend to be quite low because you won’t need litter. However, you will likely need some items, like poo bags and liners for a dog crate.
Entertainment is an important part of a dog’s life. A bored dog is more likely to exhibit antisocial and behavioral issues. They can even become anxious and depressed. Entertainment costs include toys but may also include the cost of training, agility, or canine sports classes. If you need any equipment for these classes, then the costs will naturally be higher, but your dog will lead a more enriched life as a result.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Dog
Although typical costs vary greatly from one dog to the next and for different owners, you should expect to budget between $100–$300 per month to include everything from food to training classes. Using pet insurance, wellness coverage, and food subscriptions can reduce the lifetime costs of owning a pet. They also provide you with a level monthly figure, so you have a better idea of how much you will have to pay every month.
Additional Costs to Factor In
Some costs don’t easily fit into any category, and they may occur infrequently or not at all. For example, you only have to pay boarding or kennel fees when you go away or if you don’t know somebody who will take care of your dog while you’re gone. Other such fees might include the cost of advertising if your dog goes missing.
Owning a Dog on a Budget
You do need to ensure that your dog is well cared for, has a healthy diet, gets good exercise, and is stimulated physically and mentally, but that doesn’t mean that you need an unlimited budget and there are ways that you can save money when owning a dog. Pet insurance and wellness plans can save money if your dog gets ill and treatment attracts high vet bills. Shop around to get the best deals. Take advantage of discounts like multi-pet and even senior discounts if available and if you qualify.
Although food should be good quality, you don’t have to opt for the most expensive brand, while subscription services can also save you a few dollars on every bag or every crate of food you buy. Enlist the help of friends and family to walk or pet sit your dog while you’re away and learn how to groom your dog and take on tooth brushing and bathing yourself.
More than a third of Australian households have at least one dog, and they remain one of our most popular types of pets because they provide companionship and love, as well as entertainment. They can even encourage us to get fit and stay healthy.
Owning a dog doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it does come with some costs. Expect to pay anywhere up to $5,000 to buy or adopt a dog in the first place with the first year of ownership costing up to $5,000, with each year thereafter costing between $1,500–$3,000. Costs can come above and below these figures. It is possible to save money in most areas of dog ownership, but you should ensure good quality food, regular exercise, and adequate mental stimulation, for all of your benefits.
Featured Image Credit: Jantanee Boonkhaw, Shutterstock