You’ve done your research and decided on just the right puppy breed for your family. Now it’s time to consider how much you can expect to spend on your new pet. The first year of a puppy’s life tends to be the most expensive, and it’s essential to be prepared ahead of time. This article will look at how much a puppy costs to buy and raise, including factors that may influence individual prices.
Buying vs Adopting a New Puppy
The first cost you’ll need to plan for is buying or adopting your new puppy. This can be one of the highest prices you’ll pay but is also subject to the widest variation. In some cases, you may be lucky enough to get a puppy for free, but that is uncommon.
Adoption is one of the most cost-effective ways to get a new puppy. You can expect to pay an adoption fee, which will vary based on the type of organization you work with. City or county animal shelters are the least expensive, while private and breed-specific rescues usually charge more. A good range to expect is $50–$350.
You’ll likely buy your dog from a breeder if you’ve decided on a purebred or designer puppy. Depending on breed and location, costs range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Choosing a breeder is about more than just price, however.
Look for a responsible breeder knowledgeable about your chosen breed’s required health testing and certifications. When done properly, dog breeding is an expensive enterprise, and you are taking some chances if you go for the cheapest puppy without checking out the breeder first.
How Much Does a Puppy Cost to Raise?
In the first year of raising your puppy, you’re typically looking at two general categories of costs: veterinary care and all the start-up puppy gear you’ll need.
The primary factors that will influence how much you pay for these items are your puppy’s size and breed, location, and where you purchase your supplies.
Because your puppy will grow for at least a year (longer if you have a giant breed,) some costs may increase as they get bigger. You may also need to purchase multiple sizes of collars, beds, or crates to keep up with your growing dog.
This chart provides a snapshot of the general costs for standard puppy supplies and gear. Prices are taken from Chewy and will vary if you buy them elsewhere, but this should give you a general idea of what you can expect to spend.
Collar and leash
If this isn’t your first puppy, you may have some of this gear leftover from a previous pet. Many can also be purchased secondhand or gotten free from a friend.
Typically, dogs go to the vet the most at the very beginning and end of their lives. You can expect to be at the vet every few weeks until your pup’s first set of shots is complete. Dewormers, parasite prevention, and dental care items are also potential early expenses.
Finally, spay and neuter surgeries generally occur during the puppy’s first year. Your puppy’s weight will help determine the costs for many of these items, including the surgery.
Veterinary costs are among those most impacted by location. Based on Banfield prices, this chart shows what you can expect to pay for common puppy medical costs in three regions of the country.
Puppy shot series
Spay package, < 6 months
Spay package, > 6 months
Neuter, < 6 months
Neuter, > 6 months
Additional Costs to Anticipate
The first year of a puppy’s life can be unpredictable regarding additional costs, especially for medical care. Puppies are often their own worst enemy, suffering accidents or swallowing things they shouldn’t. Emergency medical care is tough to budget for but almost always needed at some point.
Other possible costs to anticipate include training classes. You can undertake training and socialization on your own, but you may need assistance. Puppy training costs will vary if you choose a group class (usually cheapest), private training, or send your puppy to live at a training facility (most expensive).
If your puppy is a Doodle or other breed that needs regular grooming, they’ll need their first haircut around 4–6 months. The frequency of cuts varies by hairstyle, but every 2–3 months is a good rule of thumb.
Finally, you’ll need to account for repairing any damage your rambunctious puppy does to your belongings. Whether it’s a torn screen door, filling holes in the yard, or replacing chewed-up shoes, your pup may cost you in more ways than one!
Does Pet Insurance Cover Puppy Medical Costs?
Most pet insurance policies work as accident-and-illness plans. Some providers have optional wellness plans for an additional fee. These can help cover the costs of shots and other preventative medical care.
Pay close attention to what’s covered if you consider a wellness insurance plan. Not all of them cover one of the most significant first-year veterinary expenses, spay or neuter surgery. Some plans offer specific puppy wellness policies that cover spaying and neutering.
Regardless of whether you decide on a wellness policy, you should strongly consider purchasing pet insurance for your puppy. Most plans offer cheaper premiums if you enroll puppies young. Early enrollment also lessens the chance that your puppy will develop any medical conditions that insurance would consider pre-existing.
Saving Money on Raising a Puppy
We already touched on some ways you can save money on the cost of buying and raising a puppy. These include purchasing secondhand gear and adopting a puppy rather than buying one from a breeder. Pet insurance, while it is an additional monthly expense, can help shoulder the crippling cost of veterinary emergencies.
Low-cost veterinary care may be available in your area. Many animal shelters offer free or reduced spay and neuter clinics. They often provide shots at a reduced cost as well.
Puppy food costs vary considerably by brand, and the more expensive food isn’t always the best. Dogs could care less whether they’re eating “whole meats” like more expensive brands advertise. All commercial puppy food is nutritionally balanced, and your pup may thrive on a supermarket brand.
Before you buy or adopt a new puppy, it’s vital that you and everyone in your household are on board with the decision. The first year of your puppy’s life can be expensive, but once that’s over, expect a decade or more of continued costs throughout your dog’s lifetime.
Many owners bring home a cute puppy on impulse without seriously considering the costs involved. Unfortunately, those pups often end up in need of new homes. Save yourself and your pet stress and heartbreak by researching all the costs and responsibilities of raising a puppy before you commit.
Featured Image Credit: Pattarit S, Shutterstock