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How Much Does A Dog Cost?
●June 16, 2021●6 minute read
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Dogs bring unconditional love and affection to your life. But it’s important to consider your lifestyle and budget before you bring a furry friend home. The excitement of having a new family member may set you back thousands of dollars without you realising.
How much does it cost to buy a dog?
Buying a dog is a huge personal and financial commitment. MoneySmart estimates that owning a dog can cost upwards of $34,000 over the course of its lifetime.
There are ways to increase or decrease how much your furry friend costs you. For starters, the breed you choose plays a big role in its cost. If you want a purebred or designer breed dog, you should prepare to fork out possibly thousands of dollars. Mixed breed dogs generally cost less than purebreds, but still make excellent pets. As such, you should carefully consider which breed best suits your lifestyle and financial situation.
Buying from a pet shop or breeder
Buying a dog from a pet shop or breeder can cost anywhere from $600 to $3,500 and upwards. Generally, the more ‘designer’ a dog breed is, the more expensive it will be.
When considering a dog from one of these places, you should try to visit the shop or residence before buying. During this visit, you should assess the conditions of the shop or home, and make sure the puppies are being treated properly. If they’re not, you may end up with a dog that has medical conditions or behavioural problems.
Adopting or rescuing
Adopting or rescuing a dog can save you a lot of money in upfront costs. If you’re thinking about adopting or rescuing, there are many animal welfare and adoption organisations in Australia to choose from. The RSPCA is one of these, which rehomes over 40% of their rescued dogs each year. Many rescued dogs they adopt out already have their vaccinations, microchipping, and are de-sexed.
The RSPCA estimates adoption and rescuing costs to be roughly $500. While these rescued dogs may not be puppies, adopting an ‘older’ dog means saving hundreds on veterinary costs. The RSPCA also holds an annual ‘Clear the Shelters’ day, where sheltered animals are offered for adoption at highly discounted prices. This incentive was introduced to adopt out as many animals as possible, to reduce euthenasia rates in the shelters.
What are the upfront costs of owning a dog?
When you buy a dog, there are a number of upfront costs aside from the initial purchase. However, some of these may not be necessary if you have adopted or rescued a dog.
Microchipping and de-sexing
In Australia, microchipping is a legal requirement (excluding the Northern Territory). This can cost anywhere between $60 to $80 and is a one-off cost. The purpose of microchipping your dog is for councils and veterinarians to easily identify who its owner is. If you adopt or rescue a dog, it may already be microchipped.
De-sexing your dog is not a legal requirement. However, many dog owners choose to de-sex their dog because it stops reproduction and can sometimes help lower aggression in pets. Along with this, de-sexing also reduces the cost of council registration. Because this is an operation, it can cost anywhere between $200 – $500 depending on the breed, gender, and size of your dog. If you have pet insurance, this may cover some of the costs of de-sexing. Importantly, if you adopt or rescue a dog, it may already be de-sexed.
When you first buy a dog, you’ll need to fork out a fair amount of money on accessories. Even if you do this cheaply, you can expect to pay up to $500. Some accessories that you will need include:
- Dog bed;
- Collar and leash;
- Food and water bowls;
- Winter coat (if you live somewhere cold);
Ongoing costs of having a dog
The costs of dog ownership don’t end when you bring your furry friend home. There are plenty of regular and ongoing expenses that come with owning a dog.
Vet visits and medical health
When you buy a dog, you need to consider any medical-related costs that may be necessary.
Dogs need vaccinations to live a healthy and happy life. Most of these are given annually during vet check-ups. These can cost $120 to $300 each year. They also need regular worming and flea treatments, to prevent illness. This can cost an additional $120 a year. In total, the RSPCA estimates regular check-ups and vaccinations to cost over $80 a year.
Pet insurance helps to lessen the cost of expensive veterinary bills. It can be beneficial if you have a dog breed that is known for developing certain health conditions. However, pet insurance may not be the best option for you. It’s important to consider your financial situation and what the insurance provider is offering before deciding to buy insurance. While it may be helpful in the long run, you may not be able to afford regular payments.
In recent years, pet insurance companies have seen a rise in claims about diabetes and osteoarthritis in their dogs. Along with improvements with treatments, the cost of pet insurance is rising significantly. Depending on your dog’s age, breed, and size, the price of insurance can vary. If you have a young, small dog, you can plan on paying anywhere upwards of $800 per year. If you have a larger, older dog, you may be paying over $1,110 per year.
Pet insurance can be beneficial if you can afford it. Some of the benefits include:
- Emergency, accident and illness cover;
- Treatment costs;
- Annual benefit limits;
- Extra benefits.
If you think pet insurance suits you, make sure to shop around before committing to a certain policy to see if you can save money. You should also carefully read the product disclosure statement before signing. Alternatively, you may need to consider financial services which can help you afford pet insurance.
In Australia, dogs must be registered with their local council. This registration costs a certain amount each year, depending on your dog’s breed, whether or not it’s de-sexed, and whether it’s considered a ‘dangerous’ breed. If it is considered ‘dangerous’, it will have a much higher registration fee than other dogs (upwards of $500). Failing to register your dog will result in a penalty notice of anywhere between $275 – $6,500. This again depends on whether the breed is considered ‘dangerous’.
Food and accessories
The cost of dog food and accessories will vary based on what breed you choose. Smaller dogs need much less food than bigger dogs, which means they will go through their food a lot slower. However, some small breeds are more likely to have digestive problems, which means they will need special food that may cost more. On top of this, replacing your dog’s accessories can easily add up to hundreds each year. Of course, this depends greatly on where you are buying your pet accessories from.
MoneySmart estimates pet food to cost around $370 each year, and anywhere from $50 a year on toys and accessories. This totals out to be over $500 each year on food and accessories alone.
Depending on your breed, you may need to pay for regular grooming. Breeds that typically shed will have a lower grooming cost than those breeds which don’t. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can save yourself money by grooming your dog at home. If you choose to pay for a grooming service, you can expect to pay $50 or more each time.
Depending on your lifestyle, you may need to consider the following additional costs:
||If you’re time poor or unable to walk your dog, you will need to pay for a dog walking service. Depending on your dog’s breed size, these walks may need to be more frequent than for a smaller or older dog.
||When you go away on holiday, you’ll need to find care for your dog. A popular choice are ‘dog sitters’, or kennels. Either option can cost up to $100 a night.
||When you first buy your puppy, you should consider getting it trained. Without proper training, your dog may become aggressive or antisocial towards other dogs. A popular way to train your puppy is taking them to ‘puppy school’ or hiring a private trainer. Both options can cost hundreds of dollars.
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Written by Katie Francis
Katie Francis is a Content Intern at Jacaranda Finance. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Business (Marketing)/Media & Communications at the Queensland University of Technology.