Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: How much does it cost to raise a dog?

From page A6 | January 03, 2014 |

Money matters. Even the closest of human-canine bonds are impacted by an empty bank account, an unpaid mortgage or a lost job. So the decision to bring a dog into your life isn’t just emotional; it’s also financial.

That said, entire lives surely have been wasted on the interminable attempt to plan for everything. Unhand the unlikely, and focus on the plausible. If your job is secure, don’t run your life from an assumption of imminent unemployment. If you have a year’s worth of liquid savings, don’t live like you’re broke. And if both of these conditions apply to you and you want a dog and have the time, get one.

How much should you expect your new dog to cost?

There’s the one-time fixed cost for the purchase of the pooch. Where your dog comes from will determine how much you spend. Shelters and rescue groups generally charge adoption fees of approximately $100 to $250. These fees help defray the costs of caring for the animals and preparing them to live in new homes — or in a home for the first time. Adoption fees also serve to ensure that people are serious about adding four paws to their family.

Independent breeders typically charge more — often thousands of dollars more. People who go this route tend to have a reason for doing so — they want a dog to perform an exact task, do a specific job, display a particular trait, exert a predictable degree of energy or look a certain way. Price rises with demand when supply remains short.

After the initial investment, there are the recurring expenses of food, supplies, grooming and veterinary care. And then there are services such as boarding, dog walking and dog sitting that are optional for some and mandatory for others, depending on your lifestyle.

Lifetime ownership costs for a small dog who lives the average lifetime of 15 years are estimated at about $15,000. This amount is higher for large dogs, mostly because of the increased food consumption.

This annual estimate doesn’t include emergencies — surgeries for sustained trauma such as an animal attack or getting hit by a car or underlying disease that surfaces later in life.

It also doesn’t include training.

Anyone who reads this column knows I don’t consider training optional. Some version of dog training is essential to fully realize your dog’s potential as a dog and the potential of your relationship as members of different species. Training bridges the communication gap. It also serves as a preventive measure against those pricey emergencies mentioned earlier, as well as lawsuits and fines.

If you’ve been thinking, dreaming, breathing dog for months, if you’ve done your homework and know what you want and what you’re capable of, and if these numbers don’t scare you, then you’ve done all you can. You’re ready. He’s waiting. Go get your dog, and prepare to be amazed.


Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at, and visit him at Send your questions to or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.

Copyright 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc.



Matthew Margolis



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