Can You Afford A Puppy?
See this little guy right here? This adorable puppy just oozing with cuteness, begging to come home with you, promising to be a life long pal….he is going to cost you $1,000
It’s hard to say no to something this cute and cuddly. Chances are you have stumbled across a cutie pie of your own and longed to bring him home. Who can blame you? Dogs make for a wonderful addition to the family and can bring owners a great deal of joy. But before you go and bring that 8 week old ball of fluff home, ask yourself, can you really afford a puppy?
Most likely you have done at least a little bit of research and have a rough idea of what owning a dog will cost you but chances are your estimates are pretty far off. Heck, even I am guilty of that! You may be thinking, you really only need to buy a couple of things and take a trip to the vet but have you really sat down and figured out how much all this will cost. I promise you, the amount may actually shock you. Although we have only had our puppy Jax for a little over a week, I can honestly say, if you are thinking about getting a puppy, you need to be able to afford an extra 1k up front. Yes, you read that right, an extra 1k!!!! I know, I know, you are probably thinking, Jamie, how on earth is a puppy going to cost me that much money. Let me break it down for you, using real numbers, and real costs that we have been given.
COST OF THE PUPPY
- First up is the price of the puppy itself. Unless you found someone who is giving away free puppies (which is rare these days) chances are you will have some type of cost associated with the actual puppy. Regardless if you choose a breeder (usually the most expensive…think $400-1k+), adoption/shelters (roughly $250-$400 in our area) or through a family who has puppies (usually there is a re-homing fee…we went this route and we paid $100) you will be paying money to take that little one home.
- Next up is food. That puppy needs to eat! This expense is really going to vary depending on the brand and formula you go with. I will be completely honest here, good quality dog food is something I didn’t have much knowledge about (growing up we always just bought whatever from the store… you know, the “normal” brands you find at your local grocery store) but since bringing puppy home I have been doing a bunch of research. Just like with human food, there are a million different choices and options and levels of pricing and quality vary. Finding a budget friendly high quality dog food can be a bit challenging but it is doable. Ask your vet to help steer you in the right direction. For us, we have chosen to go with Diamond Choice dog food, which is about $40 for a 47lb bag. One thing I have learned is that when looking for a dog food, find one where the first ingredient is an actual whole food/meat. (IE. chicken, beef, lamb NOT chicken byproduct, corn, or a grain)
- Toys & Treats….although not a necessity, your hands, furniture and cords will thank you. Especially if you are bringing home a young teething puppy. Those things CHEW! Having toys to give your puppy in place of your fingers or socks will help keep your puppy occupied and help ease any discomfort his teeth are causing him. Treats on the other hand, are great to have to reward your puppy for going potty outside as well as a great tool during the training process. We have easily spent $50 already on toys and treats and it has only been a week.
- Leash, collar, & harness. Your puppy is going to need to go on walks and trips to the vet and you need some way to keep your puppy safe. You are going to need some type of collar or harness (we went with both $20) and a leash (we purchased the retractable kind $25). Later on, as your puppy grows, you will probably need to buy a bigger collar or harness (additional expense). This is especially true if you have a large dog breed who grows fast like our puppy (German Shepard).
- If you choose to go the crate training route this adds an additional expense. For us owning a crate was imperative for multiple reasons. Not only did we want to crate train to help with house training but also as a safety measure. We also own 2 cats and having a small puppy running loose at night without us there to keep and eye and make sure things went smoothly did not sit well with us. Having a crate, allows us to make the kitties feel safe at night and also gives them a little puppy free time. We went with a larger crate ($80) so that our puppy can grow with it. I will say, Jax only spent the first 4 nights in his crate and after that he has slept in our bed. Not only does he sleep better (he doesn’t whine/whimper) but he sleeps through the night without needing to go out until the wee hours of the morning (5am) which allows this momma here, to sleep through the night as well. I am so not missing waking up once an hour to go potty in the cold snow lol We always knew he would sleep with us eventually, we just weren’t planning on it being so soon. That crate still gets plenty of use though as Jax LOVES to take his naps in it. He actually grabs a toy and puts himself to sleep in his crate all by himself. It is pretty cute actually.
- Dog Training Courses. I would HIGHLY recommend some type of puppy training classes. Not only will you get hands on help with teaching basic commands but it also helps your puppy to socialize which is extremely important for later in life when out and about. You don’t want your puppy to be scared of other dogs and at the same time you don’t want him to show signs of aggression either. Training can help ensure your puppy is well versed around others. Puppy training in our area involves 1 hour classes, once a week for 6 weeks ( $200-300)
- Misc Items… dental care, brush, id tag, food bowls, etc ($50)
TOTAL COSTS: $665
VET CARE COSTS
Now that we established some basic costs of your puppy, lets go over vet care. Every puppy needs to go to the vet shortly after coming home. Not only do puppies need de-wormed (all puppies are born with some type of worm/parasite which is passed through the mother to them) and their vaccinations but also just a thorough check up to ensure good health. The costs below are actual costs for our vet over the course of the next 4 months. (puppies go to the vet every 3-4 weeks until their vaccinations are complete and they are at the age to spay/neuter which is usually 4months)
Visit #1: ($120) exam, vaccines, parasite testing, heart worm/parasite prevention, flea prevention
Visit #2: ($124) exam, vaccines, parasite testing, heart worm/parasite prevention, flea prevention
Visit # 3: ($120) exam, vaccines, heart worm/parasite prevention, flea prevention
Visit #4 ($171) exam, rabies vaccines, pre-anesthetic blood work, 12 months of heart worm/intestinal parasite prevention, flea prevention
The 4th visit is also when your puppy will be neutered/spayed. This costs approx ($175-250) You can also choose to microchip your puppy during this time ($50)
Total Costs: $760-$835
TOTAL COST FOR THIS LITTLE CUTIE: $1425-$1500
Now, you might be wondering, with it all said and done, would we still get a puppy???
My answer is 100% absolutely, hands down, without a doubt, yes!
Puppies cost…a lot. But the joy that this little one has brought into our lives this past week and the fun we will have with him as he gets older and goes on adventures with us is priceless. If you have the extra cash to pay for all the expenses a puppy needs then I say go for it. It is a decision you will not regret. But if you saw those numbers and winced in pain a little or the thought of spending 1k+ on a puppy stings a bit, hold off. Getting a puppy isn’t a decision to be made lightly. They are a commitment and they cost money and will continue to cost money as they grow.
Puppies are also work and it isn’t like buying a pair of jeans from the store. You can’t just return them or get a new pair if the first one doesn’t work out. Once you bring that puppy home, you are in it for the long haul.
Lets be honest though…no way can you look at this thing and even think about wanting to take it back. Even with the long nights, the early mornings, and the excessive chewing…this little ball of energy right here (although frustrating at times) has been worth every penny. There are definitely ways to cut some of these costs and of course it depends on the area you live in, the type of puppy and so on but I wanted to share a general idea of what it could potentially cost to own a puppy and the expenses we are paying for our puppy in our area. We can talk budget saving tips & how to cut some of these costs in a different post. Until then I am off to enjoy this energetic ball of fluff.