Southern Charm Mini Aussies/Mini American Shepherds of Georgia
Karla and Chelsea Benjamin
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The Cost of Owning A Dog

The cost of owning a dog is about more than just the expense of food. Unfortunately, many people do not take the time to budget for a dog before getting one, leading to trouble down the road. Can you afford a dog? Learn your limits before you get a dog to help you make the right decisions. Financially providing for your dogs is a big part of being a responsible dog owner. 

There are ways to save money depending on the choices you make. Contributing factors include your dog's size and age, the region in which you live, your own lifestyle, and your dog's individual needs.

Initial Investment
Consider costs when choosing a dog. Any new dog or puppy will come with substantial expenses. If you decide to purchase a purebred dog from a breeder, you can expect to spend $500-2000, give or take. Spend the extra money on a quality dog from a reputable and professional breeder, not a "backyard breeder." It will cost you less in the long run because the dog will be healthier (and it's the right thing to do).

If you like mixed-breed dogs and you want to do your part to help dogs in need, then get your dog from a reputable shelter or rescue group. If you still want a purebred, there are plenty of breed-specific rescue groups. Adopting from a shelter or rescue can cost as little as $50-200. You are most likely to get a healthy dog when adopting from a reputable shelter or rescue group. Be aware that dogs with unknown histories might come with illnesses, so you may spend a bit extra on veterinary care at first if you adopt from a shelter.

Regardless of where you get your new dog, the very first thing you should do is get that dog to a good veterinarian. Depending on the need for vaccines, preventive medications, and special treatments, that first visit will likely cost you anywhere from $50-100, so be prepared. Vet bills for a young puppy will likely range from $100-200 depending on the puppy's health and the region in which you live. Puppies need to visit the vet every few week until about 16 weeks of age, and each visit can run you $50-100 depending on your pup's needs.

Your next major expense will be dog supplies. These include dog food, leashes, collars, beds, toys and so on. You also need to think about obedience classes and/or training resources. When the time comes to have your puppy spayed or neutered, expect to spend anywhere from $150 to $500. Bottom line, the first year with your new dog can cost twice the typical annual cost of subsequent years, so be prepared.

Food and Treats
It is important to feed your dog a high-quality dog food and healthy dog treats. This will likely cost anywhere from $20-60 per month ($250-700 per year). Food expenses vary based on the size and energy level of your dog as well as the quality of the food.

Dog toys are an important part of your dog's mental stimulation and exercise. Though some of us may indulge, you can probably plan on spending $25-150 per year. If you are like those of us who cannot resist a cute toy, this figure can become several hundred dollars higher. Another reason you may spend more on toys: a very destructive dog may go through toys faster, so if you have one of these dogs, invest in the toys designed for "tough chewers".

Every dog deserves a cozy bed and keeping one or two around the house will cost you $50-200 a year. Prices go up in relation to size and quality. Getting durable, high-quality and easy-to-clean dog beds can extend the life of the beds and keep costs down in the long run.

Leashes and Collars
Your dog must have at least one leash and one collar (with ID tags). Depending on the size and quality, most dog owners spend $20-50 per year on leashes and collars.

Your dog's grooming needs are largely based upon the type of hair coat he has. Smooth coated, short-haired dogs require little more than basic grooming while dogs with constantly growing hair will need to visit the groomer on a routine basis. Between the cost of grooming tools and visits to the groomer, you can plan on spending anywhere from $30-500 a year.

Routine Veterinary Care
Routine veterinary care is a huge part of keeping your dog healthy. Plan on going to the vet for wellness checkups once or twice a year at a cost of at least $150-300 yearly. Annual blood work can add about $100-200. Dental cleanings are often recommended once every few years and usually cost at least $200. Of course, vet costs will be higher if your dog develops a health problem. This is especially the case as your dog grows older. Consider purchasing pet insurance for your dog, which will cover a percentage of vet expenses. Overall, you should budget about $200-800 per year for veterinary costs, and that does not
 include preventive medications or supplements.

Preventive Medications and Supplements
All dogs need medications to prevent heartworms, fleas, ticks and other parasites. Your veterinarian will guide you towards the best products based on your climate and your dog's needs. Some dogs will also benefit from vitamins and supplements. In general, you will probably spend $100-300 per year for these items depending on the size of your dog and his specific needs.

Obedience Classes or Training Resources
Though most dogs will only go to obedience school in their first year or two, training is something that should be ongoing throughout your dog's life. Whether you are buying books and DVDs for at-home training or you enroll your dog in obedience classes, budget at least $25-300 per year for training needs.

Pet Sitters or Boarding
Most people will need to leave their dogs behind once or twice a year. Typically, this will cost about $100-300 a year. However, if you travel frequently, expect to spend much more. Boarding tends to cost less than hiring a pet sitter, but many dog owners prefer the individual attention a pet sitter can offer and think it is worth the extra expense. Alternatively, if you decide to travel with your dog, your can expect your travel fees to increase.

Emergencies and Other Unexpected Expenses
No one can predict the future; the unexpected occurs in life all the time. As a good dog owner, you should do your best to be ready for life's little surprises. Emergencies, chronic illnesses, disasters and other unplanned expenses can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. The cost of an emergency vet hospital visit can start around $500 and go up to $2000 or more. Advanced surgery is somewhere around $1500-$5000. If your sick pet needs to stay in the ICU, you could be looking at $200-500 per day or more. 
The best way to stay prepared is to set aside extra money in savings, if possible. In a perfect world, dog owners would never have to make choices for their dogs based on money alone, Instead, it should be about what is best for their dogs. With proper planning (and a little luck) you can provide for your own dog and live a long and happy life together.

Basic Cost of Owning a Dog
Yearly Expense 

Type of Expense Food and Treats --  $250 - 700
Toys --  $25 - 150
Beds--  $50 - 200
Leashes and Collars --   $20 - 50
Grooming--   $30 - 500
Routine Veterinary Care (healthy dog)--  $600 - 1100
Preventive Medications and Supplements  --  $100 - 300
Training Classes or Resources--  $25 - 300
Pet sitters or Boarding--  $100 - 300
Yearly Total -- $1200-3600  
 Average Monthly Cost of Owning a Dog --  $100-300