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 aren’t in-depth, I’m not even sure if they’re 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 and how much she has cost up until now.
It’s worth every cent.
Many large breeds are suitable as guardian breeds which can be an important factor for some families.
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.
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.
The prices mentioned are what I paid currently or if I couldn’t find the original price or product, I used the closest one I could find.
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.
Still, buying your pup will cost $1,500 – $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: $1,500 – $3,000
Collars, Leashes & Harnesses
When you bring your puppy home, he’ll need a collar, harness, as well as a leash.
Generally speaking, you can get by with one leash and a couple of size-adjustable harnesses as well as one final well-fitting harness of high quality.
However, you’ll inevitably stock up on a couple of different styles and different harnesses for different purposes.
Oh, and you’ll probably want at least one backup harness once your pup is grown.
Why a harness? It’s generally safer for your pup in my opinion.
The prices are what I paid up until now with my 5y old Rottie.
You can get a lot of stuff cheaper or more expensive depending on taste and budget.
Now that my dog is older and I’m in a different situation, I’d probably upgrade a couple of things.
Here’s all the stuff she had as pup or stuff that simply broke:
- $50 2x Collars (puppy)
- $100 3x Harnesses (puppy)
- $20 Long Lead Rope (RIP)
- $30 Harness (starter, broke after 3y)
- $30 3x LED Collar for walking at night (RIP)
Stuff I’m still using:
- $120 2x Collars
- $100 Harness (quality for hiking)
- $20 Leash
- $20 Long lead Biothane (better)
- $60 Cooling vest
Total of: $550
Crate, Bowls, Care
Obviously, you’re going to need the basics like food bowls, a dog bed, as well as care products.
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, 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 bigger metal bowl until we realized that we needed an elevated food bowl for her when she was grown just to switch to a ceramic bowl as the metal caused these nasty bumps on our dog’s lips. Lastly, I built an elevated feeding station made purely of wood.
Stuff that broke or just isn’t needed anymore:
- $70 Crate
- $60 3x Car seat covers (RIP)
- $60 starter dog bed (RIP)
- $10 Travel bowl (RIP)
- $100 3x food bowls
- $20 2x polyester diapers (RIP)
Stuff I’m still using:
- $100 travel bed
- $300 Orthopedic dog bed
- $150 DIY Elevated food bowls (wood & ceramic)
- $15 Foldable bowl
- $50 Brush, flea comb, shampoo, etc.
- $30 Cooling Mat
- $70 2x organic cotton diapers
Total of: $1035
Toys (Balls, Frisbees, Brain Training, etc.)
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.
- $20 Bite Pillow
- $20 Rope Toy
- $10 Frisbee
- $10 Kong
- $20 Ball(s) (stress the plural in this case)
- $30 Puzzle Games
- $20 Snuffle Mat
- $40 Plush Toys
Quadruple that amount for your dog’s lifetime because you’re gonna lose stuff, some will be carried away by your canine’s playmates, and some is gonna be destroyed.
Total of: $680
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).
We went through a lot of different diet options with a back-and-forth between a high-quality kibble and a raw diet.
Even compared to properly made kibble, it’s super expensive to feed locally raised, ground-fed, grass-finished beef with a good variety.
My roughly 100-pound Rottweiler consumed 2.2 pounds/day and I pay around $4.5/pound which amounts to $300/month.
Add supplements like green lip mussels powder or various herbs/oils to these calculations.
A premium kibble costs me around $100/month in my area.
Total: $1,200-$3,600 per year
Other Yearly Costs – Tax, Insurance, Vet, Training Classes
We work from home, so there’s always somebody home with our Rottweiler but your work schedule might not allow that.
Costs for doggy daycare add up quickly. Check if you can bring your dog to work, that’s a great way to solve this too.
However, we still paid for play classes as a dog park is not a controlled environment for pups to meet other properly socialized dogs.
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.
30-day board and train can be as expensive as $2,000-$4000.
Learn how to raise a great companion, prevention is still the best option when it comes to behavioral issues.
Depending on where you live, you may have to pay a city tax for your dog. Insurance is also mandatory in some places.
Vet costs besides vaccinations and regular check-ups will vary wildly.
Minimize health risks like hip dysplasia with a reputable breeder, age-appropriate exercise, and a healthy diet.
Still, you’re either going to pay your dues when your dog is a senior or you’re getting pet insurance.
- Dog Walker/Daycare/Trainer: $0-$5,000 / year
- Tax: $100 / year
- Liability insurance: $60 / year
- Insurance: $240-$600 / year
- Socialization classes: $600 (only for the first year in my case)
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 (including a lot of European countries) want you to pay for several behavior tests if the breed is considered “dangerous” (Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Bullmastiff, Bullterrier, etc. depending on the area.) in order for your dog to be exempt from being leashed and muzzled at all times.
- General permission, 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
Below you’ll see what my pup has consumed up until now as well as yearly recurring costs.
Calculate with a lifespan of 10-15 years.
Your dog might live 8 or he might live 15 years. Hopefully, your dog will have a long, healthy life.
Enough beating around the bush. Let’s dive into the total sum of each category.
- Buying puppy: $1,500
- Collars, leashes, and harnesses: $550
- Equipment, bowls and wellness: $1035
- Toys (Balls, Frisbees, Kong, etc.): $680
- Socialization classes: $600
- Breed-specific cost in my country: $520
Costs that will occur every year:
- Diet: $1,200-$3,600 per year
- Tax: $100 per year
- Liability insurance: $60 per year
- Insurance: $240-$600 per year
On top of that, you can add training classes, board and train, dog walker, doggy daycare – whatever you need to live your daily life with your pup.
For veterinary costs, I’d set aside an emergency fund of at least $10,000.
You might get this down a little bit but it may also significantly increase.
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 having 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, the experience of owning a dog is different for everybody.
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.
- Homemade dog treats
- DIY dog toys
- Groom and cut your dog’s nails (saves you the vet visits)
- Buy food in bulk
- Research canine health (saves you $$$ at the vet when your dog’s a senior)
- Invest in good books or watch free Youtube channels (prevent the behaviorist from becoming necessary)
- 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.
The takeaway here is that food & vet will be the major expense over your dog’s lifetime.
Initially, the upfront investment may seem huge but it’s the ongoing maintenance that really increases the cost of owning a dog, especially a larger breed.
A vet emergency fund from day one is absolutely essential.
You can 100% get everything you need to get started for a couple of hundred dollars or even <$100 if you’re thrifting stuff and making smart buying decisions.
But please do not get a dog or any shiny stuff for the dog if it means draining the emergency fund.
On the other hand, some owners may opt to get 10 sets of harnesses and leashes, buy the $600 crate, and get 3 subscription boxes or whatever and that’s okay if you have the expendable income.
As long as your dog is healthy, gets exercised, and has access to veterinary care, you’re off to a good start.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!