The Sobering Lifetime Cost of a Large Breed Dog

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We all know the articles featuring how much your puppy should cost and some sites even tell you about lifetime dog ownership costs – mostly for small/medium breeds. For those of you wondering if there are any differences with large/giant breeds, the short answer is yes.

Whether you plan on getting a Rottweiler, Cane Corso, Bullmastiff, Presa Canario or any other large/giant breed (a big part of which are guardian breeds), you have to plan for a higher financial burden, ranging from more expensive vet visits to wear and tear of your dog’s accessories, not to mention the extra money you’ll spend on food (depending on your dog’s diet and weight).

Keep in mind that a large breed dog will easily grow up to weigh 100 – 150 pounds and questions like “Should I feed my dog raw?” will entail serious financial implications.

Below is a comprehensive list of what I spent on my Rottweiler girl (beware of the difference between males and females especially when it comes to these breeds and their diet since males can weigh up to 40 pounds more).

How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Dog?

Buying your puppy (or adult rescue) is just a tiny fraction of what a large breed dog will cost you over his lifetime. Still, buying your pup will cost $2,000 – $3,000 if you want a health-checked, purebred family dog. Stay away from backyard breeders or puppy mills. Obviously, an adult rescue will be less of a financial burden but it’ll still come in at $100 – $400.

Total cost for buying a Puppy: $2,000 – $3,000

Collars, Leashes & Harnesses

When you bring your puppy home, he’ll need a collar and/or harness, as well as a leash, of course. Generally speaking, you can get by with one leash and only three size-adjustable collars (two when your dog’s still growing and one perfectly fitting final collar when he’s fully grown).

However, we went through three additional harnesses for various activities. With a harness, it’s easier to restrain your puppy and it’s safer for training with a long lead (another extra).

Because you want to wash one of the collars or switch things up, you might need two (or more) collars for your adult dog. The same goes for leashes since we wanted a softer leash for when she was a puppy and two different, stronger leashes for her as an adult dog.

Total of: $270

Equipment, Bowls & Grooming

Obviously, you’re going to need the basics like food bowls, a dog bed and a brush, shampoo and so on. You might also want to think about a crate (or several crates for various growth stages, although you could just restrict part of a large crate). Read more on the wonders of crate training here.

Now, if you’re going to take your dog with you in the car, you need something to transport him in. You can go the traditional route with a safe transport box or you transport him as we do it with our Rottweiler which is on the backseat with a seat cover for dogs.

Always plan for renewing things after some time (although it didn’t happen through the paws of our Rottie, our car seat cover was torn, dog beds get destroyed especially when your dog struggles with separation anxiety).

Also, you probably didn’t include miscellaneous stuff in your calculations like a cooling mat for your dog (summers can get hot, especially for a 100+ pound dog).

In terms of bowls, we wish we knew some things beforehand. For example, we had an anti-slip puppy bowl which was great but didn’t last long as it was too small. Then we got a normal, bigger metal bowl until we realized that we needed an elevated food bowl for her when she was grown (I’d recommend this for every larger dog breed).

Total of: $340

Toys (Balls, Frisbees, Flirt Pole, Kong etc.)

Rottweiler holding a toy with mouth
Image by TheDigitalWay

Of course, you want to provide your dog with stuff to play (check out my article about boredom busters if you wanna know more about this) as well as to exercise your dog mentally. This can also help you bond with your dog since playing is a crucial element, especially for puppies.

Be prepared for some heavy wear and tear in this category. Our Rottweiler isn’t destructive at all but when she chews, she chews. And that means sacrificing several toys ranging from stuffed animal toys torn inside out, over to ripped rope toys as well as crushed balls.

Total of: $150

Kibble & Raw Diet

This is where costs will vary depending on your dog’s exact weight, activity level, overall health and, most importantly, what you feed your dog (kibble vs. wet dog food vs. raw).

I’m calculating with a fully grown female Rottweiler weighing roughly 100 pounds and a raw diet. We went through a lot of different diet options ranging from high-quality kibble to raw with minced meat and then a 50/50 mix with another very high-quality kibble until we arrived at our current purely raw diet that’s meat-based.

You can take 1/2 to 2/3 of my cost if you’re feeding high-quality kibble or wet food and 1/3 if you’re feeding low-quality kibble (which I definitely would not recommend!).

However, you can also push the cost of feeding raw up to twice of what I currently pay if meat’s just not available in your region or if it’s just super expensive to feed ground-fed, grass-finished beef.

You could also go a bit cheaper if you feed mainly poultry (which I wouldn’t recommend either) and limit the options of organ meat etc. All in all, my cost is probably somewhere in the middle.

I currently feed my roughly 100-pound Rottweiler 2.5 pounds/day and pay around $2/pound which amounts to $150/month. I included supplements like green lip mussels powder or various herbs/oils in these calculations, although I never go overboard with these.

Total of: $1,800/year

Other Yearly Costs – Tax, Insurance, Vet, Training Classes

Depending on where you live, you may have to pay a city tax for your dog. Insurance is also mandatory in some places (in Germany it’s definitely mandatory for some of the large breeds considered as “dangerous”).

Vet visits – besides your puppy getting his vaccination shots – really shouldn’t be necessary, but sometimes they just are and need to be planned for. Minimize health risks like hip dysplasia with a reputable breeder. Still, I just calculated a going rate for pet health insurance.

If you don’t encounter training issues, puppy class will suffice but if not, you need to pay for the consultation with a behaviorist which can be expensive quite fast. Learn how to be a great leader and train your dog yourself before problems occur. 30-day board and train can be as expensive as $2,000 – $4000.

If your adult dog has to go to doggy daycare, costs will add up quite fast too. We work from home, so there’s always somebody home with our Rottweiler but your work schedule might not allow that (check if you can bring your dog to work, that’s a great way to solve this too). However, we still pay for play classes which you could leave out if your dog regularly meets other dogs in your area, at the dog park or if he’s in doggy daycare).

  • Tax: $70
  • Insurance: $120
  • Vet: $500 (will highly vary)
  • Socialization classes: $260 (maybe only for the first year)
  • (Dog Walker/Doggy Daycare: $5,000)

Total of: $950 – $1,450/year

Bonus: Legal Regulations to Own a “Listenhund” in Germany

This cost may not occur for many dog owners, especially in the USA. But some countries (and that includes a lot of European countries) want you to pay for several behavior tests of your dog if the breed is considered “dangerous” (Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Bullmastiff, Bullterrier along with various other breeds.) in order for your dog to be exempt from being leashed and muzzled at all times.

  • General permission, temporary & final muzzle exemption: $130
  • Certificate of good conduct: $40
  • Dog personality test: $250
  • Competence examination test: $100

Total of: $520

Lifetime Cost of a Large Breed Dog

Enough beating around the bush. What’s the total sum, all-in? To calculate that, I just took the first three categories of toys, equipment, and collars/leashes and doubled it (you will renew this stuff sometime during your dog’s lifetime). That plus the yearly costs for around 12 years (breeds like the Rottweiler can definitely age beyond the 8-10 years mentioned in the breed standard):

  • Buying your Puppy: $2,000
  • Collars, Leashes, and Harnesses: $540 (including one renewal)
  • Equipment, bowls and wellness: $680 (including one renewal)
  • Toys (Balls, Frisbees, Kong, etc.): $300 (including one renewal)
  • Raw Diet: $21,600 ($12,000-$16,000 for kibble)
  • Tax: $840
  • Insurance: $1,440
  • Vet: $6,000 (potentially as little as $1,000)
  • Socialization/Training Classes: $3,120 (potentially as little as $250 if you only take puppy classes; more if you need a behaviorist)
  • + (Dog Walker/Doggy Daycare)

So, all-in you’re looking at $36,500 for a 100-pound female Rottweiler. You might get this down a little bit but it may also significantly increase.

If you’re getting a male with 140+ pounds, be ready to pay more than $10,000 on top for his raw diet. Of course, the increase is smaller if you feed a high-quality kibble but it’s still financially palpable.

If you already know you’ll need a fenced-in yard or you’ll regularly need doggy daycare/dog walkers, be ready to put tens of thousand on top of this calculation over your dog’s lifetime.

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In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

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