The Lifetime Cost of Dog Ownership

The cost of a dog is usually highest in the first year of its life, as puppies eat more and require more veterinary attention than adult dogs. The cost of a dog over its lifetime can vary greatly depending on the size and breed of the dog; obviously, dogs with chronic health conditions may cost much more than dogs who enjoy mostly good health throughout their lives. Before you get a dog, you should know how much you can expect to spend on its food and care over the course of its life.

Costs During the First Year of Life

Puppies cost more to take care of than adult dogs, simply because they eat more and require more veterinary care. Puppies need to be vaccinated several times, and they need more check ups than adult dogs, since you'll want to be assured that your puppy is developing normally.

Puppies should receive vaccinations against rabies, parainfluenza, parvovirus, canine distemper and canine hepatitis. Some vets recommend vaccinating against Bordetella, one of the primary infectious agents involved in canine kennel cough. All in all, puppies will need to vaccinated at least four times during the first year of life, and will also receive at least that many check ups.

Small to medium-sized dogs, because they eat less, cost between $700 to $1,300 during the first year of their lives. Large breeds, because they eat much more, can cost between $1,000 and $1,900 during the first year of life.

Small Breeds Cost More in the Long Term

Small and medium-sized breeds, or dogs who weight less than fifty pounds on average, tend to live much longer than larger breeds. Of course, the average life span of a dog can vary considerably. Dogs who consistently receive good nutrition, get plenty of exercise, have a lot of social contact with their families and with other dogs, and who receive proper veterinary care, including annual check ups and dental care, can live much longer than dogs who don't. And, of course, as dogs get older, you'll spend more money to meet their increasing medical needs.

A small to medium-sized dog can cost $500 to $900 per year, for an estimated lifetime cost of $7,000 to $13,000. Large breeds can cost between $700 and $900 per year, but because of their shorter average life spans, the estimated lifetime cost of caring for a large dog remains much lower, at around $6,000 to $8,000.

Unexpected Expenses Can Raise the Cost of Dog Ownership

These figures assume that your dog's life is relatively disease and accident free, and that he doesn't enjoy a great deal of luxury. Of course, many people choose to spend more money on toys and other products to make their dogs more comfortable. Luxury items can easily inflate the cost of caring for your dog throughout his lifetime.

Accidents, illnesses and injuries can also inflate the cost of caring for your dog. Just one accident or serious illness can double the lifetime cost of dog care. Also, since some breeds are prone to specific illnesses, consider that a generally heartier breed may be cheapest to care for in the long run.