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The Cost of Puppy's First Year

New Pet Owners  •   Mary Shaughney  •   Dec 04, 2018


Adding a new four-legged family member can be an exciting adventure, but it’s not all fun and games. Ensuring you’re financially prepared before bringing home a new puppy can help make the first year of dog ownership considerably easier.

Estimated Expense of Dog Ownership

The American Pet Products Association estimates that $72.13 billion will be spent on pets in the United States by the end of 2018, with $29.88 billion on food and $18.26 billion on veterinary care. According to an article in “Money”, the lifetime costs of owning a dog are:

  • Small dogs with a life expectancy of 15 years: $15,051
  • Medium sized dogs with a life expectancy of 13 years: $15,782
  • Large dogs with a life expectancy of 10 years: $14,480

Excluding the initial cost of purchasing or adopting a dog, many estimates of the cost for the first year of dog ownership fall between $1,600 - $2,000.

Factors Affecting the Annual Cost

How much should you budget for the first year with your new pup? We’ve created a list of the main expenses that should be factored into your new puppy savings account!



Initial Cost:

Whether you’re purchasing your puppy from a breeder or looking to adopt through the AKC Rescue Network, the fee for your new puppy will play a role in the overall cost of your first year. Breeders work hard to produce healthy, breed-standard puppies that are exemplary in both physical traits and temperament. The cost of your new puppy takes a breeder’s time, resources and commitment into effect and can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.


Grooming can be necessary every few weeks at a professional groomer or an easy task that you can tackle on your own. Choosing a breed of dog that matches the level of grooming you’re willing to provide is essential to keep your budget in check and your dog looking his best. If you aren’t interested in handing over a hundred dollars a month for professional grooming, ensure you choose a breed that requires less grooming maintenance. In addition, teaching your dog to let you trim his nails can help cut down on extra grooming costs.

Dog Food:

The cost of dog food not only depends on the type and brand you choose to feed, but also on the size of your dog and how much you need to feed him! Depending on all these factors, the average cost of feeding your puppy can be between $150-$500 per year.


If you choose to enroll your puppy in a training class, you can expect to spend about $20-$40 a session. These classes can be a great way to socialize your puppy and teach him manners that he can use to behave as a good citizen in public and at home!


As your puppy gets older, you may choose to leave him at a boarding facility when you go out of town or enroll him in a doggie daycare class to keep him busy and happy during the day. The costs of these services change based on location, however you can expect to pay $20 or more per day at daycare and even more for a night in a boarding facility.


A fun expense associated with bringing home a new puppy is the shopping spree to purchase new puppy essentials! Crates or beds can cost between $20 to a few hundred depending on the style you choose. Treats and toys can quickly run up the cost of dog ownership; ensure you choose healthy treats and safe toys for your pup!

Veterinary Care:

It’s important to take your puppy for his first veterinary visit shortly after bringing him home. This first visit should start off the annual exams that occur throughout your dog’s life. Annual checkups - including vaccinations or titers, a physical exam and office fees -often run approximately $100-$300, but this range depends largely on the general cost of veterinary care in your area. You can save a few dollars on office fees by taking advantage of the AKC Veterinary Network Certificate Program that provides a complimentary veterinary office visit for dogs newly registered or listed with the AKC.


 Spaying/neutering a dog who is not kept for breeding can cost between $60 and $800 depending on several factors including veterinary costs in your area. There are spay/neuter clinics held throughout the United States that offer the service at discounted prices and may be an option available to you.

Preventative Medications:

Your veterinarian should recommend flea and tick preventatives as well as heartworm preventatives to keep your puppy feeling his best! Flea and tick preventatives can range from $100-$200 per year and heartworm preventatives are often close to $180 per year. Considering the cost of treating heartworms starts at $400 and the money used to treat a home and pet of flea infestation often starts well over that amount, preventative treatment is the least expensive option to keep your pet healthy. Some pet insurance plans reimburse for preventative care and can save you over $100 a year!

Pet Insurance:

Choosing to enroll your new puppy in pet insurance can save you money down the road. Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance and can reimburse for accidents, illnesses, preventative care and more! Once you’ve chosen to enroll your pup with a pet insurance policy, you can rest easy knowing that should an incident occur resulting in a large veterinary bill, you can choose the best treatment option for your dog without worrying over the cost. Dogs newly registered or listed with the AKC can take advantage of 30 days of accident and illness pet insurance coverage with their registration. This is a great way to try out pet insurance and discover the many benefits of enrolling your puppy!


Making the Leap

While it may seem like the first year of dog ownership is pricey, planning ahead and budgeting for your new puppy can allow you to focus your time on enjoying his adorable puppy antics. Choosing to pay for annual veterinary visits, preventative medications, and enrolling in pet insurance can help to protect you from unexpected veterinary bills that might empty your emergency pet savings account!

Plus, you can’t put a price on the memories you and your dog will create for the next decade or more!

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