How Much Does a Puppy Cost? Everything You Need to Budget for During Your Pup's First Year

man holding and kissing four husky puppies
man holding and kissing four husky puppies

davit85 / Adobe Stock


  1. On This Page

    • What Is the Average Cost of a Puppy?

    • 9 Expenses That Impact How Much a Puppy Costs

    • How Can I Save?

We can all agree that puppies are adorable and that they're a lot of work. But what many people don't realize is just how much a puppy costs. Because it's not only about the fee you pay to adopt a puppy or pick one up from a breeder. The first year of a dog's life includes extra veterinary care, training, and buying gear your new family member will need to feel right at home.

It's important to be ready for the added expenses that come with getting a new puppy so you can properly care for your furry pal. Plus, there are a few ways to keep more money in your wallet, especially if you plan ahead.

What Is the Average Cost of a Puppy?

Infographic showing first year, annual, and lifetime average costs of a dog
Infographic showing first year, annual, and lifetime average costs of a dog

Grace Canaan

The upfront costs of bringing home a dog range from $1,050 to $4,480, according to a report by "Puppies are generally more expensive since they require more vet visits than adult dogs do," says Nicole Ellis, CPDT-KA and member of the Dog People Panel. "They may also go through toys faster and have accidents that require cleaning and washing."

After the first year, you can expect the ongoing annual cost of having a dog to range from $480 to $3,470 per dog, states the report. The cost varies depending on a number of factors like your location and lifestyle and your pet's individual needs.

9 Expenses That Impact How Much a Puppy Costs

So now that you know a puppy costs more than bringing home an adult dog, where is the money going? It's difficult to give an exact answer, says Andrea Woroch, a personal finance expert for "There's a wide range of how much pet parents spend on puppies because the type and size of the pet dramatically impacts the cost of caring for it," she says. "For example, a large dog breed will eat more food and come with higher bills for grooming, vet care, and boarding compared to a small dog." But to get a general idea, here are the top expenses to consider for your budget:

1. Purchase or Adoption Fee

Most of the time, it's going to cost you something to get your new dog, whether you adopt your puppy from a shelter or buy one from a breeder. In both cases, the puppy has usually received basic veterinary care appropriate for their age. If your puppy is older, some shelters may have microchipped your pet and performed a spay or neuter procedure as well, say the experts at Adoption is almost always less expensive than buying a puppy from a breeder or at a store.

2. Health Checkups

Puppies need frequent vet visits to make sure their growth and wellness are on track. Puppies typically get regular health checkups at around eight, 12, and 16 weeks old. So depending on how young your pup is when you get him, you could be on the hook for several vet visits the first year. Other veterinary expenses include microchipping as well as flea, tick, and heartworm preventative medications.

3. Vaccinations

Vaccines boost your pet's immunity against common diseases, just like they do in children. Puppies get vaccines at six, eight, 10, 12, and 16 weeks old. Once puppies reach adult status, they usually just need an occasional booster shot here and there.

RELATED: First-Year Puppy Vaccination Schedule Chart to Follow

4. Spay/Neuter Surgery

Many pet parents opt to pay to spay female dogs and neuter male ones to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Urban clinics typically charge more for the surgery than do rural clinics. Your dog's size also affects the fee—the procedure is generally cheaper for smaller dogs.

5. Gear

Before your puppy comes home, you'll want to purchase a few items to be ready for your furball. Typical pet gear includes a bed or crate, toys, food and water bowls, a collar and leash, and poop bags and potty pads. The only thing that affects the price is whether you choose to stick to the basics or go all out on premium goods.

RELATED: Everything You'll Need When Bringing Home a New Puppy

6. Food

Quality puppy food is a must for growing dogs—it gives them the nutrients they need to stay healthy. There are seemingly endless options when it comes to dog food. Whatever the cost is, just make sure you specifically purchase puppy food and that it has the words "complete and balanced" on the package. That means the food provides all the nutrients necessary for puppies.

7. Grooming

How much grooming your puppy needs depends on the type of dog you have. Some breeds have high-maintenance hair (hello: Old English sheepdog) while others like beagles need minimal upkeep. Save money by grooming your dog at home with canine shampoo, a brush, and nail clippers, or splurge and get it professionally done.

8. Training

Dog training classes like puppy kindergarten help your pooch learn good manners like how to walk on a leash, sit, and stay. Taking group classes is less expensive than hiring a private dog trainer, and it also helps to socialize your puppy around other dogs and people from a young age.

9. Dog Walking, Sitting, or Boarding

Puppies have small bladders and need to frequently go potty. So if your puppy will be home alone for long stretches of time, you need someone to let your pup out. The American Kennel Club says that puppies less than 10 weeks old can only be left alone for an hour. The older a puppy gets, the longer they can wait it out. For example, a six-month-old puppy can be alone for up to six hours. If you don't have an amazing friend or family member who can stop by, hire a dog walker.

RELATED: How to Set a Daily Schedule for Your Puppy That Can Make Him Happier and Keep You Sane

Another often unplanned expense is what to do with pets when you go on vacation. If your puppy isn't tagging along, then factor in the cost to hire a pet sitter or to board your dog at a kennel.

How Can I Save on Costs When Adopting a New Puppy?

If you're looking to make the most of your puppy budget, there are a few ways to cut costs. Adopting a puppy from a shelter saves you a large chunk of change. Shelters and animal organizations frequently offer low-cost vaccinations and spay and neuter clinics, too. Pet insurance may also help offset first-year veterinary fees.

You can also go the do-it-yourself route to save more green. These days there are a lot of online resources that show you how to step-by-step groom or train your dog, says Ellis. For pet gear, check out dollar-type stores for pet beds, feeding bowls, poop bags, toys, and more.

Puppies are pure joy, but they aren't free. Knowing the costs of taking good care of a puppy is an essential part of becoming a pet parent.