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How Much Do Dogs Cost? What They’re Not Telling You

We all know the articles revolving around how much puppies cost or how much a dog costs for a month or during their lifetime. A majority of them don’t even provide details or are written by dog owners.

In this article, I’m going into specifics on how much a large breed dog like my Rottweiler will cost me over her lifetime.

It’s worth every cent.

Similar breeds include the Cane Corso, Bullmastiff, Presa Canario, St. Bernard, Great Dane and so on but also more common large breeds like the German Shepherd, the Bernese Mountain Dog, or even the Golden Retriever.

Large dog breeds are favorites around the world (comes in handy that a big part of them are guardian breeds).

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.

Small or medium dog owners: Your dog’s diet may be cheaper and toys will hold longer but make no mistake, owning a dog will be expensive.

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 Puppy?

Buying your puppy (or adult rescue) is just a tiny fraction of what a large breed dog will cost you over his lifetime.

Important notice: There is something I want to show you that will change the way you interact with your dog. Check it out here.

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. Don’t cheap out when it comes to this.

We all want to save money but if you’re struggling with that amount, what will you do when the vet knocks on your door?

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.

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 might want to wash one of the collars or switch things up, you’ll 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: $310

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 your dog like we do with our Rottweiler which is on the backseat with a seat cover for dogs.

Always plan for renewing things after some time, natural wear and tear of the car seat cover forces us to buy the third one soon.

Your dog’s struggling with separation anxiety? Say bye to that beautiful new bed.

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. 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).

Just to switch from the elevated metal bowl to another material (caused these nasty bumps on our dog’s lips).

Total of: $420

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.

Triple that amount for your dog’s lifetime because you’re gonna lose stuff, some will be carried away your canine’s playmates, and some is gonna be destroyed.

Total of: $510

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 pure raw diet.

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.

My raw diet cost is probably somewhere in the upper middle.

I currently feed my roughly 100-pound Rottweiler 2.5 pounds/day and pay around $3/pound which amounts to $220/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: $2,600/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.

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, you’re either going to pay your dues when your dog is a senior or you’re getting pet 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: $600 (will highly vary)
  • Socialization classes: $600 (only for the first year)
  • (Dog Walker/Doggy Daycare: $5,000)

Total of: $1,400 (first year, after that it’s less or far more if you need a doggy daycare)

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

Calculate with 10 years. Your dog might live 8 or he might live 15 years, so let’s go conservative. Hopefully, your dog will have a long, healthy life.

Enough beating around the bush. What’s the total sum, all-in?

  • Buying your Puppy: $2,000
  • Collars, Leashes, and Harnesses: $620 (including 1 renewal)
  • Equipment, bowls and wellness: $840 (including 1 renewal)
  • Toys (Balls, Frisbees, Kong, etc.): $510 (including 3 renewals)
  • Raw Diet: $26,000 ($13,000 for premium kibble)
  • Tax: $700
  • Insurance: $1,200
  • Vet: $6,000 (potentially as little as $1,000 or open end)
  • Socialization/Training Classes: $3,000 (potentially as little as $600 if you only take puppy classes; more if you need a behaviorist or long-term board and train)
  • + (Dog Walker/Doggy Daycare)

So, all-in my 100 pound Rottweiler will cost around $40,000 during her lifetime.

You might get this down a little bit but it may also significantly increase.

Getting a huge 140+ pounds dog that will be fed raw? Add another $10k. Need to bring him to doggy daycare regularly? Add tens of thousands. You get the gist.

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.

Feeding your tiny Cocker Spaniel, Chihuahua, Jack Russel, or whatever with good dry food and never have any health issues or destroyed toys? No need for a dog walker or a fancy fence? You can calculate with as little as $10k all in.

As you can see, owning a dog is expensive.

Smart Canines Save Money

To get the cost of ownership down, one or two of the following tips might help you save money with your dog.

Never skimp when it comes to your dog’s health or diet, of course. There are some things that aren’t really necessary though.

  1. Homemade dog treats
  2. DIY dog toys
  3. Groom and cut your dog’s nails (saves you the vet visits)
  4. Buy food in bulk
  5. Research canine health (saves you $$$ at the vet when your dog’s a senior)
  6. Invest in good books or watch free Youtube channels (prevent the behaviorist from becoming necessary)
  7. Replace the dog sitter with friends and family

Hope you have a better overview of how much it really costs monthly, annually and over the lifetime to own a dog.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

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About Danielle
I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.