Start Up Costs for Owning a Dog

by on Jan 29 2014 - 40 Comments

JulepTheDogToday’s post is from our regular Wednesday contributor, Cat.

So, I have this little creature in my house. Her name is Julep. You can see her picture on the left there.

Julep is a 5 year old mixed-breed rescue dog who is so spoiled she sleeps with her head on my pillow. If you told her she was a dog, she’d be astonished, seeing as she operates her day-to-day life with the assumption that she’s human.

I want you to know I begged my husband for this dog. We were only dating at the time, and I would talk incessantly about getting one. He would even take me on dates to pet stores where you could play with puppies for 15 minutes or so. He thought that would maybe quell my hope for having one of my own, but obviously it only made me want a dog more.

I finally got Julep for my birthday in 2009, a few months after my husband and I got engaged. She was a rescue from a puppy mill, which had several litters of puppies all over the property. Of the 30 puppies at the puppy mill, Julep was the smallest and the one in the most need of care.  So, once we were able to get her into our possession, she required a lot of vet visits.

The start up costs of owning her were way more than what I predicted, so if you are thinking of owning a dog, here are some things to consider:

1. Vaccines & De-Worming

I wasn’t as financially responsible 5 years ago as I am now, so I don’t have the exact numbers that we spent on Julep’s initial health check ups. I do remember that she had two different types of worms from the bad conditions she was living in, and that all of her initial vaccines and de-worming were approximately $500.00.

2. Spay/Neuter

Unless you are a breeder or have show dogs, the responsible thing to do is to spay or neuter your pet. Given that Julep is a mutt and her history at the puppy mill, this was an easy decision for us since we did not want to further contribute to the problem. For $150 with a student discount, Julep got spayed and microchipped.

3. Crates and Collars

You will have to buy a few different collars because you’ll need puppy sized collars and then as your dog grows, you’ll need other sizes. We had to do the same thing with dog crates. We thought that Julep was a German Shepherd mix based on her appearance and so we purchased a huge $100 dog crate from a friend. Well, it turns out that Julep stopped growing at 35 pounds, so the large crate was unnecessary. She now has one that is appropriate for her size, although we never use it now that she is grown up and potty trained. (She spends most of her day lounging on the couch or in a sun spot on the floor.)

4. Training Supplies

Julep went through a 6 week obedience class starting when she was just 10 weeks old. This was about $150 if I remember correctly, and I’m really glad we did it. Although she’s definitely not perfect with her obedience, she can do some pretty fun tricks. This class also led us to buy special harnesses for walking her, etc. which all add up.

In all my begging for this dog, I never took the time to look up how much she would cost. I was fresh out of school when I got her and about about start graduate school, so I definitely didn’t have $1,000 of discretionary income to spend on her medical bills, food, obedience training, and dog gear. I wasn’t tracking my spending at the time, and I’m sure it didn’t help the credit card debt that I eventually got into. Still, this little dog of mine was worth every penny. Now to see how she handles having her space invaded by two babies in just a few weeks…

Do you have a dog? Do you remember the start up costs?

40 comments
moneymatters
moneymatters

We had a little Shih Tzu for 6 years (until she didn't get along with our new infant son) and I can't remember her being overly expensive.  Yes, there was the occasional expensive vet visit, but as long as you budget for that and have some money stashed away, it isn't usually too bad.


The cost that was an even bigger drain was the loss of freedom, and the cost of having to constantly care for the dog.  Having to feed her, take her on walks, play with her, and not being able to just leave on a trip at the drop of a hat. There were quite a few times we had to turn down trips with friends because we couldn't find someone to watch the dog for us.  


So yeah, the costs of having a dog are a real thing to consider, but also don't forget the loss of freedom, the loss of time caring for the dog and all the emotions that will be invested in the dog..

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

Julep is a beautiful dog.  Our friend is going to Japan for 5 years starting this Summer to be a missionary.  We just might take in her Goldendoodle : )  She's going to bring her down to the cities (she lives about 2 hours away I think, not 100% sure) so we can meet her and see how Lena and her interact.  Lena is a priority but it would be nice if they got along and Lena wasn't stressed out about it.

Eyesonthedollar
Eyesonthedollar

I was on the humane society board for 10 years and I cannot tell you how many calls we got each week from people who couldn't afford food or vet bills for their pets. I certainly never thought of the costs when I got my first dog. I think most people consider what a bag of dog food costs and not much else. 

StudentDebtSurvivor
StudentDebtSurvivor

We have a dog and 2 kitties (all rescues). We paid a $250 adoption fee for our dog Brooklyn. We always say it's the best $250 we've ever spent. He brings us so much love and affection we could never pay him back.

Beachbudget
Beachbudget

Cats too! Nothing makes me more upset or angry than when I hear stories of dogs and cats being returned or dumped because owners were irresponsible. I don't think people take a lot of these things into consideration. Julep is a sweetie! 

moneysavingdude
moneysavingdude

Cute dog! I have a Siberian Husky and it costs me about $1000 in his first six months. Although, I didn't enrolled him on any obedience class because I decided to teach him on my own.

ImpersonalFinance
ImpersonalFinance

Dogs are deinfitely expensive!  Ours had coccidia or something like that, and between the crate, spay, toys, and things she chewed, it was not cheap.  But, I wouldn't trade her for the world.

moneycone
moneycone

Timely post!  We've been itching to get a dog for our toddler!  I had no idea what it takes to get a dog!

SenseofCents
SenseofCents

We have two dogs. One was pretty cheap because she is a mutt that we rescued. The other is a runt French Bulldog and the costs for him just keep going up and up. 


They are both neutered/spayed. We didn't pay much for that because an animal shelter near our home does it for super cheap (I think it was $30 each). However, I have heard of people paying $800!


Then they needed a ton of shots, especially our frenchie because they just have overall bad health.

DonebyForty
DonebyForty

Great overview of the rather high initial costs of owning a dog. Though I typically tell people that it's not the up front costs you need to worry about, but the decade plus ongoing costs of vet visits and dog food that get you. Still, when I come home to our goldens, tails-a-wagging, I think they're worth it.

SimplySave
SimplySave

Excellent points. My dog came neutered but I still had to pay a $300 adoption fee.

HassleFreeSaver
HassleFreeSaver

Super darling dog! My husband I got our two pups before our house was ready for them, so the cost of our fence could be factored into the cost of owning dogs! Otherwise, we paid $500 for them both which included puppy-training classes that we foolishly ditched. They were already neutered and also  had the shots they needed at 8 weeks. I think  the biggest unexpected expense came a full year later when one choked out the other -- $1,700 in vet bills later, our little guy was on the mend. Worth every penny!

Practical Cents
Practical Cents

I thought about getting a dog but then my sister told me about all the costs involved and it's not really for me.   She also told me about her costs for dog sitting when she travels.  That can get expensive too if you don't have anyone to watch your pets.

JourneytoSaving
JourneytoSaving

She is too adorable! Pet costs can really add up quickly. The responsible thing is to make sure you can afford one, or at least be willing to pay for their care. I work at a shelter and we have a lot of people wanting to turn their pets in because they don't have the money. It's heartbreaking! My cats aren't cheap but I don't regret rescuing them at all. I can't wait to have a dog!

blonde_finance
blonde_finance

I love that Julep sleeps with her head on your pillow! And you absolutely have to think about start up costs for pets because they can certainly add up to significant numbers. We recently got a cat, which was a gift from my mother-in-law for my son, and even though she paid for the cat, we had about $500 in start-up costs. It made for a very expensive gift for us. 

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

Cute dog! My wife had two daschunds before we got married and we had them the first few years we were married (I've since learned that I hate daschunds ;)) and it's definitely not a cheap endeavor. They've since "retired" to SoCal with my in-laws and everyone is happier.  ;)

RFIndependence
RFIndependence

I'd like a dog but I need a puppy as I think an adult dog would "play" with my chickens and kill them. Getting them neutered is free in Guatemala as several charities want to reduce the number of street dogs.

brokeandbeau
brokeandbeau

And these are the reasons I do not own a pet ;)

fitisthenewpoor
fitisthenewpoor

At my rescue, we tell new adopters to budget around $300 is new-dog costs. But most rescues will pay for spay/neuters, vaccinations, and training (for larger dogs only). Don't forget checking to see if your city requires you to register your dog. In Chicago, it's only $5, but it's essential. Also, getting heartworm and flea/tick med is necessary too! 

Holly at ClubThrifty
Holly at ClubThrifty

Awwww.....how cute!  That's so sweet of you to rescue Julep!  We have an 11-year-old dachshund, Pablo.  He was given to me as a gift by my ex.  He's been a great dog and hasn't cost us much aside from annual shots and heartworm pills.  =)

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

@EyesonthedollarYeah, that is so so sad. :( I don't think I could work for a humane society. I would adopt every animal there.

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

@moneysavingdudeYes I think for our next dog we could probably do better with obedience on our now now that we've had one!!

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

@moneyconeOh yes they are so expensive but so awesome. I can't wait to give each of my twins a puppy someday!

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

@SenseofCentsYea I've heard outrageous amounts for spay/neutering!! Not necessary when there are so many other places out there!

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

@Raquel@Practical CentsOh yes that too!! The last time we took a trip we left her at my in laws house but we are moving soon and will have to think of something else!

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

@JourneytoSavingAw thank you! That's so cool you work at the shelter. I don't know if I could do it. I'd come home with a dog a day I think!

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

@blonde_financeOh I have a post coming soon about expensive gifts like that! I love it when people say on facebook "Oh my husband is so awesome! He just bought me a car!" It's like no, honey, he just gave you a car payment. ;) lol.

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

@fitisthenewpoorOh yes registering is a start up cost that I didn't think of! :) And those monthly treatments aren't cheap. Speaking of, I need to find a cheaper place to get them.

SimplySave
SimplySave

Yes definitely! I love my little dude so I try to support the shelter a bit throughout the year too