Updated: Aug 2, 2022
Puppies are cute and lovable but they’re also a lot of work. You have to feed them and take them out for bathroom breaks every couple of hours. You need to make sure they’re healthy and happy, which means taking them to the vet for regular checkups and giving them all sorts of toys and treats so they don’t get bored at home.
Budgeting is hard but it’s definitely worth your time. Just like your puppy though, if you take the time to do it right, what you spend each year will pay dividends.
According to the American Pet Products Association breakdown, in the United States in 2021 alone, we spent 123.6 BILLION dollars on our pets! It’s clear. We love them like family.
And now, you’ve decided to bring home a puppy. Congratulations! This is a big decision and one you should not take lightly—but it's also one of the best things you'll ever do for yourself, so don't be afraid to dive in headfirst.
The cost of the actual puppy depends on a variety of factors, including where you purchase it from and the type of breed. Some purebreds can cost as much as $10,000 each, but most puppies will run you less than $500, especially from places like the ASPCA or your local shelter.
But this really falls under what should be budgeted prior to you actually bringing the puppy home.
Just to make sure we are all on the same page… We’ve been happy to review how much you should have saved up before you bring a dog into your home. The same goes for how much a puppy could cost on a monthly basis. We’ll be limiting the scope of today’s discussion to the annual cost of puppy ownership.
Let’s Keep It Clean: Spending on Dog Grooming
Grooming, for most dogs, is an essential part of their existence. So, breaking this down, it’s how often and how expensive this can be that should be your consideration.
The good news is, you don’t have to spend a lot on these. If your dog has long hair that needs regular brushing, you can pick up a cheap brush at the dollar store. For short-haired dogs, consider investing in some nail clippers and a muzzle for nail trimming; many veterinarians offer these services as well as teeth cleaning—it's usually more cost-effective than buying products to do it yourself.
This doesn’t always satisfy your pup's needs though. Depending on the size and breed, you could be spending a lot more than you’d expect just maintaining their mane. They’ll depend on you to keep them silky smooth, clean and unmatted. The average puppy will run you anywhere from as little as $50 to over $500 annually for this work.
Then there’s flea and tick prevention. You’ll want to keep fleas and ticks at bay during those sweltering summer months as they thrive in warm climates. Frontline Plus is a popular monthly topical treatment that kills both fleas and ticks on contact; other options include Revolution (which also treats heartworms) or Advantix II (for protection against mosquitoes).
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t engage in any medications of any type without doing your research and consulting with your vet first.
Affording a Delicious Dish for your Puppy
Possibly the most important thing you will do for your dog will be to feed him or her. If we return to the car metaphor, this is the gas that keeps them going. But your dog can’t run on diesel. They need the right mixture of foods to keep them healthy and perky.
While our automobiles do need gas, it’s probably better to think of food for a dog as the oil. If you put anything other than the recommended weight in, then it could absolutely wreck your engine. Sure it might run for a little bit without any issues. But soon, you’ll notice it misbehaving. Maybe it’ll end up sputtering down the road like an old Model-T in an ancient black and white cartoon.
To cut to the chase, very shortly after, it’ll stop working. The same could be true for your dog. They need the right combination of foods. But, how much and how often?
Puppies should be fed according to their weight, not just their age. For example, if you have a 3-month-old Labrador Retriever weighing 50 pounds, he will need three times as much food as the same size dog that's one year old. That's because they're growing and their metabolism is faster.
We recommend 1-2 meals per day for adult dogs and two meals per day for puppies until they're six months old.
Twice a day is what we do, and we usually tell families that their daily training snacks will be a great “in-between” snack from breakfast to dinner. Others might recommend feeding puppies three times daily because it makes housetraining easier.
Keep in mind that there are different schools of thought on how much or how often your puppy should eat. Some believe a proper diet can slow aging in your pup. So, like most things having to do with your dog, consult your vet. If you have an educated and trusted breeder, they might have certain recommendations as well.
Don’t go for the cheapest options either. Feed your dog the best that you can afford on your budget. They don’t need all the bells and whistles. But they do need something that will keep their motor running.
Pet food and treats are an over $50-billion-a-year industry here in America. That’s too big of a number for most to process. Your puppy will cost as little as $150 for much smaller dogs. For larger dogs or those on highly specialized diets, this could easily exceed $1,000. And, while these costs may seem unfathomable, we want you to be prepared for any possibilities that may arrive based on potential outliers.
Also for portion control, you'll want to make sure the food bowl is the right size for your puppy.
The best option is a stainless steel bowl with no lip around the edge. This means there is less chance of your puppy accidentally hurting themselves on an exposed edge while eating or drinking out of the bowls.
Money Needed for Puppy Health Checks
There's a lot of information on the internet about puppy care, but one important area that can be difficult to understand is vet visits. This is because it's hard to summarize the ins and outs of taking your new dog in for their first checkup.
General health costs for a puppy run between a couple of hundred dollars to several hundred per year. Maybe even thousands depending on the breed or unexpected illnesses that can arise in certain pups.
Unexpected is the key word here. While there are things that you can never prepare for, there are still precautions that can be taken.
We’ve talked about it before, we’ll talk about it again. Pet insurance exists and it should be considered an option by you and your family if your budget allows. Expect about $20 per month but don’t quote us on that as variables like age, breed and pre-existing conditions will affect them wildly.
You shouldn’t have to literally break the piggy bank if an emergency arises. Be smart. Budget right for those unexpected things that we hope never rear their ugly head.
The Cost of Hanging Out or Going for a Walk
Training classes are a great way to socialize your puppy, bond with your pup and teach your new best friend new-found skills for life. You will learn the right ways to train your dog so they don't develop bad habits that can be difficult to break later in life.
You will also meet other people with dogs who are going through similar experiences as you and learn tips from each other.
Because time is always nipping at our heels, sometimes we need help. Classes will cost by the hour (somewhere between $25 and $80) or by course (hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the length and quality of the classes offered).
Training, whether it be performed by you or with a pro, has a plethora of pluses. This is also an opportunity for you to meet other people who have dogs. This socialization can help if you add another dog to your family down the road.
Some Other Yearly, Financial Considerations
A crate is a good place for your puppy to sleep at night and when you can't supervise her or him. It's also a safe place for your dog when you're traveling with him/her on the road or on an airplane, as long as she/he gets plenty of exercise beforehand.
When it comes to your puppy's bed, there are many options. You can make your own, but if you're not crafty it can be a lot of work. If you've got the time and patience, it may be worth it in the long run. If not, there are plenty of beds available through pet stores that aren't too expensive and one will suffice just fine until your pup grows out of it.
There are also some pretty cool dog beds on the market that double as toys or puzzles for dogs - these tend to cost more than those without these bells and whistles. But they give your puppy something new to do when they're not snoozing away in their bed!
You may think that buying toys is just another needless expense, but it’s actually important for your puppy’s safety and well-being! A bored dog will get into trouble and cause trouble for others as well! Also, remember that older dogs often need new toys just as much as younger ones do because their teeth wear down more quickly than ours (even though we know everything there is about being old).
Once you’ve brought your new puppy home, you'll probably want to get him or her a collar and a leash. Collars are a great way to keep your dog safe and visible in an emergency situation, while leashes help you keep control of your puppy when they're exploring or playing.
As well as being useful for keeping your dog safe, there's another reason why these items are such a good idea: they can also be used as identification tags! This can be particularly helpful if you take your pet along with you on car journeys or walks around the neighborhood.
Jenna and the JLDD Team