Thinking about getting a puppy? Read this first!
Updated: Aug 6
Walking around the city, it appears that everyone has a puppy these days. Over quarantine, the number of puppies on my newsfeed has doubled! I have always loved animals and wanted a puppy of my own. I grew up with dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, turtles, and anything we could convince my mother to let us keep.
I believe animals are a wonderful addition to any household, and they can bring so much love and joy! But, before you put your name on a list to get a puppy, I wanted to highlight some of my experiences and the expenses I've encountered over the past 3 weeks of raising Rosie, our new little pup.
#1- Choosing a breed & breeder that is best for YOU!
Selecting a breed can be complicated. There are so many factors to consider:
What is the climate where you live? Do you live in a house with a yard or an apartment? If you live in an apartment, are you okay with picking up after your dog? Do you mind shedding? Do you have any children in the house? Do you have other pets already? Is it your first dog? Do you travel often? All of these questions should be considered before picking a dog.
I knew I wanted a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel because of their sweet and playful temperament, their size (they only get up to 17-20 pounds), and the breed can thrive in rather small places. We live in an apartment, so this type of dog was appropriate for us. It is important to note that most apartment communities require a pet deposit to be held for any incidentals. The average pet deposit is $500.
Anytime you select a purebred animal, that specific breed may be at higher risk for certain health conditions, such as heart problems or orthopedic complications. Before selecting your breed, read into the temperament of the animal, the potential health issues, and the adaptability of the breed. Some breeds can be as expensive as $2,500, or you can opt for adoption at the pound instead.
To reduce the risk of health issues, make sure you find a respected breeder. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a popular dog and very overbred. Look into different breeders and learn about their history and the history of the parents of your potential puppy. Breeders should not ask you to pay for the entire dog upfront (this is a red flag), but a small deposit is common.
For purposes of adding up the expenses of an animal, I will choose the average price of $1,000 for a golden retriever puppy.
#2- Before bringing home your pup, get the essentials!
The non-negotiable items you need for a puppy include a crate, puppy pet food, dog bowls, bones for teething, a collar, and a leash. Other things you may want to purchase include a dog bed, toys, puppy shampoo, cleaning wipes, potty training pads, and pet stain removal.
Below, I added up the items I've purchased from Chewy.
#3- Find a vet you trust!
You will be spending almost every two weeks at the vet with a new puppy. Your new furry friend will need all types of vaccinations, mild flea treatments, and a heart worm medication plan. Our vet spaces out the puppy vet visits into 4-6 smaller treatments to reduce any adverse affects a puppy may experience. If you picked up your puppy as early as 8 weeks old, they should have had their first round of shots. In this instance, expect at least 5 treatments, priced roughly $175.
In addition, it is smart to account for vet visits that arise from accidents that may occur. Last week, our puppy was rough housing and hit her head while playing. We had to take her into the vet to make sure she had no head trauma. Fortunately, nothing was wrong, but the consultation was $75.
Puppies get into trouble all the time-- they eat things they shouldn’t, jump off surfaces too tall, or hurt themselves while playing. Be prepared to have a fund that is allocated to emergency vet visits.
Overall, I have budgeted $1,000 for vaccinations, and $200 for additional vet visits.
#4- Your puppy will most likely need to be “fixed”
Vets will recommend getting your puppy fixed around the six-month mark. This can cost anywhere from $55-$300. Make sure you follow the appropriate protocol after the surgery.
1. Keep your animal in a confined area for a day
2. Restrict their activity for at least days
3. Do not wash or clean the incision
4. Keep the incision dry for at least 7 days after surgery
5. Check your pet’s incision daily until it has healed
#5- Consider a dog trainer!
Investing upfront in dog training can change the quality of your life and your pets! The more control you have over your pet, the more freedom they have. A well-trained dog won’t run out into traffic, bite the neighbor, jump on strangers, or pull you along for their walk (we have all seen the dogs taking their owner for a walk).
I highly suggest getting a dog trainer to help you with learning simple obedience commands like sit, stay, heel, down, and place. The dog is not the only one who needs training, it is you that needs to learn how to effectively communicate and discipline your pet. Our dog trainer has given us the tools to train Rosie at home. The most important aspect of training is consistency, so it is our job to uphold the training at home without the trainer.
Some of the best dog trainers charge top dollar for their services. Expect to pay anywhere between $200-$600 per week. If you want to send your dog off to boot-camp, that can cost anywhere between $500-$1,250 per week. For the purpose of this article, I will quote three weeks of at-home dog training for roughly $1,000.
If you plan on training at home, I suggest reading a dog training book before attempting to do so. We think we understand animals, but dogs respond to visual and verbal cues differently than humans. I grew up with 5 family dogs and had no idea the simple mistakes I was making until I read the Puppy Primer (available on Amazon). Avoid making simple mistakes by getting your hands on a training book.
#6- Stick to a schedule & hire a dog walker if you can’t be there.
You cannot leave a puppy in a crate longer than three hours at a time. Puppies can NOT hold it. Do not assume that your puppy can hold it during the day for 7-8 hours because they can hold it during the nighttime. At night, puppies' metabolisms slow down, which allows them to hold it for longer periods.
If you cannot take your puppy out every 3 hours during the day, hire someone who can! The average dog walker charges around $15-$20 per 20-minute walk or $20-$45 twice a day.
If you hired a dog walker for $15 a day, 5x a weeks, it would cost roughly $3,900 for the first year of the pups life.
#7- Expect the unexpected
The total cost of having a puppy for the first year equates to $8,257 if you live in an apartment, and $7,757 if you own a home. This does not account for any damages that might occur - i.e. carpet cleaning, restoring chewed up floorboards and molding, replacing stained furniture or bedding.
If you do not need a dog walker, the average cost comes to $3,857. If you do not want a dog trainer and would rather train the puppy yourself, the cost is roughly $2,857.
My price estimates do not include boarding your pup if you have travel plans. I have simply discussed some of the start-up costs associated with a new puppy.
My article was not to deter you from getting a furry friend, but to emphasize what a long-term commitment getting a puppy can be. We love our little Rosie girl, and we plan to keep you updated on our journey as we learn more.
Hope this helps!