Skip to Content

How much does a dog cost?

I got my mutt Ace for free.

His previous owner recognized she would be saving money for every day Ace was out of her life, so she did not accept the $50 I offered her. If she could see this post, then she would really know how much she’s saved!

But I wasn’t attracted to Ace because he was free. Instead, I adopted him because I knew he would fit well into my lifestyle. I admired his gentleness and athleticism. I knew he’d lived with cats and was used to spending time in a kennel.

“Re-homing fee” or not, I was well aware of what I would be spending on my “free” dog in the years ahead. I’m not so sure everyone who gets a dog thinks about what that dog will cost over the next 10 years.

It’s been 27 months now since I brought Ace home to my West Fargo apartment. I decided to add up everything I’ve ever spent on this mutt during the last two years and three months. The details are explained below.

Here are the numbers:

Total cost: $4,731

Yearly cost: $2,102.64


Free to good home

Here are the details:

Everything listed below are actual items or services I have paid for my dog. I have saved every single vet receipt and I keep a monthly budget, so most of the prices are accurate. For the rest, I had to guess. I spend very little on toys and treats (I use cat food) for my dog. But I make up for it through agility classes and other random dog stuff like dog boots and a dog backpack.

I broke up the spending into four categories:
1. Stuff the average dog owners buys
2. Stuff only some dog owners buy
3. Stuff only the crazy dog owners buy
4. Unique vet bills

Keep in mind my dog is 3 years old and 65 pounds. I multiplied certain prices to show per year or per month.

Stuff the average dog owner buys:

Leather leash ($20), initial vet checkup ($32), dog bowls ($16), nylon collar ($8), annual exam and vaccinations ($88 x 2), annual heartworm test ($29 x 3), Heart Guard for six months per year ($45 x 3), toys ($25 x 2), bones and chews ($50 x 2), treats ($12 x 3), food ($25 x 27, I use a mixture of Solid Gold lamb and rice and Purina One lamb and rice. You can save money on dog food by using

Total: $1,335

Stuff only some dog owners buy:

Oatmeal shampoo ($8), plastic Vari Kennel ($80), flea and tick prevention ($40 x 3), beginning obedience class ($45), dog bed ($40), boarding ($22), choke collar ($8), poop bags ($12 x 2), nail trimmer ($9)

Total: $356

Stuff only the crazy dog owners buy:

Dog backpack ($80), second dog bed ($30), second leather leash ($20), fold-up kennel ($25 at a garage sale), more obedience classes ($40 x 3), agility classes ($40 x 6), Gentle Leader ($20), pet fee at Solbakken Resort ($10 x 5), pet deposit for our townhome ($500), monthly “dog rent” ($40 x 19), chewed-up book ($20), chewed-up T-shirt ($25), prong collars ($14 x 3), dog boots ($18), tie-out stake and rope ($30), homemade weave poles ($20), kiddie pool ($8), Canine Good Citizen test ($20)

Total: $2,028

Unique vet bills:

Ear infections, antibiotics, drops and solutions ($528), Q-tips and cotton balls ($4), initial exams for polymyositis ($179), consultation with an eye specialist ($24), prednisone over six months ($161), cyst treatment ($116)

Total: $1012

And the total so far …


That’s $2,066.76 per year
($4,731/27 months= $175.22 per month x 12 = $2,102.64)

And let’s say the dog lives 10 years …

$2,066.76 x 10 years = $20,667.60

That’s one expensive mutt!

Now, if you’ve made it this far, keep in mind that there are a lot of things I have never spent money on, but a lot of dog owners do. Those things include:

Grooming, long-term boarding, daycare, pet sitting, dog walking, vitamins, supplements, pet insurance, spaying or neutering.

If you want a cheaper pet, then get a cat (or two) or a hamster. And, at least a dog’s cheaper than a child.

What do you spend on your dog? Do you think you spend more or less than I do?

If you would like some ideas for finding financial help for dog care or tips for re-homing your dog, see my post on I can’t afford my dog.

How to say no to fostering a dog
Best outdoor dog photos (week 8)