If you have kids older than 5, then you’ve probably had the joy of a little asking for the dreaded P word … a puppy.

Our eldest small person G-man has been raising the question. And while me and the hubster both grew up with dogs in the house, we’re a little weary about getting a pet right now. For a number of reasons one of which is financial.

So here are some financial items the hubs and I have been discussing before bringing home a furry friend of the canine variety.

The Purchase Cost

It might not seem like a big deal but dogs are expensive. And that includes the purchase price, which from a reputable breeder would be from well into the hundreds up to even the thousands.

For the record, the dog we are in love with costs $2700 (!!!!!) – a gorgeous chocolate brown, sheep hair labradoodle. I mean look at that face!

I know, I know, my mind is telling me, no, but my heart is telling me yes!

Anyway, I digress…. sure we could probably find one for cheaper but it’s a scary world out there.

I love a good deal as much as anyone, but this is not one of those things I wouldn’t go (too?) cheap on, and neither should you.

You might be tempted to cut costs and get a ‘purebred’ for half price on craigslist but some ‘breeders’ don’t care much about the health of their dogs and only see dollar signs when a pooch is pregnant.

These folks breed dogs in puppy mills (and yes it’s as awful as it sounds). If you buy a puppy mill dog then you could be in for serious (and expensive surprises) in the shape of medical issues that have been exasperated by excessive inbreeding. Think:

  • Cleft pallet
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, etc.)
  • Endocrine disorders (diabetes, hyperthyroidism)
  • Blood disorders (anemia, Von Willebrand disease)
  • Deafness
  • Eye problems (cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, etc.)

None of which are cheap or even easy to treat.

Now an alternative (an arguably better) option to a purebred dog, is a shelter dog. But even shelter dogs can take a bite out of your wallet with some going anywhere from nothing to $250.

That’s much better than $2700 for sure, but bottom line, unless you get a dog from a friend, you’re likely going to be shelly out a couple hundred to thousand for a new canine friend.

Maintenance Costs for Fido

The first few years of having a dog are likely to be the worst. Because even with a shelter dog, you should still need to pay for flea and tick medication, grooming, first and annual check-ups, toys, leash/collar/tags, food, and pet rent (if you’re a renter), etc. And count in spade and neutering if you bought your friend from a breeder.

The Finance Geek, wrote an incredibly thorough article on the cost of owning a dog and broke down the figures by the first month and annual fees. They found the first month of owning a dog can be anywhere from $220 to $3000 depending on if you have a rescue or purebred dog.

And each year after that can be as much as $1500.

Not as much as a kid, but still a commitment. I mean really, if you aren’t going to take excellent care of your dog then why bother getting one? am I right?

So factor in a budget change of an extra $100 per month.

Home Preparation costs

I don’t live in an apartment but if I did, then I would have to prepare to fork over some dough on a one-time pet registration (usually $200) and maybe even a monthly pet fee (around $50) to add this new family member.

Apartments and Landlords know that dogs cause damage and extra wear and tear on the apartment carpets and floors and so they (rightly) need to be compensated.

And that’s assuming I would even be allowed to have the dog. Some apartments have breed and weight restrictions for animals that live on the home.

Now I own my own home, but while we’re talking about breeds, I still have to be careful of what breed we choose to buy. Some insurance companies don’t cover the costs of incidents involving large dogs known for aggressive behavior – like Chow-Chows, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Pitbulls, Doberman Pincher’s, Great Danes and others.

This means if someone is bitten by your dog at your home, then you would be responsible if the victim sues you.

It also means I have to make a phone call out to my homeowner’s insurance company to find out what breeds aren’t covered by my insurance, and also ensure that my rates don’t increase because I’m a greater risk with a dog.

I also can’t forget to factor home renovations I need to complete for a new pet. My house has a backyard but no fence so I’d need to add a fence (real or invisible) to our property for the dog’s safety – and my sanity to send him outside on his own to do his business when it’s cold or I am lazy.

So I can expect to tack on another $2000 to $5000. And another project… joy.

Emergency Pet Expenses

Just as I have an emergency fund for when the unexpected happens, I’ll need an emergency fund to cover unexpected pet issues. For example, when the dog decides to eat the brownies off the table, or my youngest decided to share his grapes with the doggy.

Both of these would require an emergency room visit and $200 + emergency vet visits can get annoying real fast. So an additional line item would need to be created in the budget to manage this little pow-wow.

I could probably avoid some of this with pet insurance – my home insurance has a discount for that, but I’m still not certain if this is more of a ripoff than anything else. I don’t know … if you have pet insurance, tell me what you think or what’s been your experience with it in the comments.

Vacation Costs

We don’t travel out of town a lot, and when we do it’s usually to friends and family who wouldn’t mind us bringing a dog. But if we had to leave our pooch at home for a trip, then we’d need a dog sitter or a pet hotel to keep an eye on him (or her). At an average of $25 – 45 bucks a day that can add up pretty fast for a 6-day vacation.

Conclusion

Like I said before … dogs cost money. And I don’t know if we’re ready for the extra expense when we have other goals we’re trying to meet.

Maybe getting a dog is meant to be an emotional decision and less of a financial one. Maybe factoring all the costs of a dog has taken all the fun and excitement out of it. And if we just went to a shelter and met a pooch the decision would be easier.

Either way, I would love to hear from you.

If you’re thinking of a dog, what are the factors that have caused you to not pulled the trigger yet? And if you do have a furry baby, are these costs overrated and not as bad as I think it’ll be?

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