Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: What price love, literally?

From page A4 | February 15, 2013 | 4 Comments

Over the years, I’ve asked the question “What price love?” many times and usually in a context in which the “price” paid is physical safety and emotional and psychological well-being. The threat of injury to loved ones, the stress of living in fear, the potential for lawsuits, loss of homeowners insurance and loss of the home itself are all “prices” some people pay because they cannot admit that their dog needs more help than they are equipped to give.

Not this time.

This time I’m talking actual dollars and cents. How much does it cost to bring a dog into your life?

I shared a story of a couple whose puppy suffered a serious medical trauma. Unbeknownst to them, the pup was napping behind the wheel of the husband’s van, which was parked in the driveway. When the man backed up, he ran over the pup. Multiple surgeries and two years’ worth of intensive time and therapy later, the dog was a happy, leaping, bounding furry miracle of modern medicine. But the costs were enormous.

This is an extreme example, but the reality is: Stuff happens. Be prepared.

The annual cost of caring for a dog varies according to size, breed and the individual dog. Smaller dogs eat less, so your food costs will be lower. Purebred dogs are known to have more health problems because of their narrower gene pool, which means you could end up spending more on medication and veterinary visits than you would with a Heinz 57. And you’re going to pay more to board a Newfoundland than you would to board a Yorkie.

Most canine professionals estimate the average annual costs of raising a dog to be:

• about $800 for a toy breed;
• about $1,200 for a small to medium-sized dog;
• about $1,500 for a large dog.

Multiply the appropriate number by 12 to 16 years (small dogs typically live longer than large dogs), and you have a good idea of what it will cost to share your life with a dog.

These averages include the real and enduring costs of food, recurring medical, toys and treats, licensing, grooming, health insurance and miscellaneous supplies such as food and water bowls, leashes, collars, crates and bedding, which do not necessarily require replacement annually.

Your dog’s first year will likely exceed the annual average, as this year brings the one-time initial costs of the adoption or the purchase price of the dog, plus the spay or neuter procedure, initial shots, microchipping, ID tags and training.

A few of these expenses can be eliminated with some good old-fashioned DIY. Bathe your dog at home, brush his coat and teeth regularly, and learn to clip his nails yourself, and you’ll save a pretty penny on grooming. Socialize your dog properly from an early age, and teach him good manners, and you’ll find he’s welcome at the homes of friends and family when you need to leave town. This could save you money on boarding and doggie day care costs.

Finally, health insurance is optional. There are pros and cons to buying health insurance for your dog. Do some research and discuss it with your vet to determine whether this is a necessary expense for you and your dog.

The good news: no college!

Keep these costs in mind when considering whether to get a dog and what kind. Most people bond with their dogs instantly, so you want to be sure you’re able to fully commit from day one. The difference between involved and committed is seen in the ham and eggs breakfast: The chicken was involved. The pig was committed.


Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is the co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and the 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 or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.

Matthew Margolis


Discussion | 4 comments

  • DB SmithMarch 13, 2013 - 8:34 pm

    Colonel, I hope Mr. Fred is faring well with his treatment.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • James E.March 13, 2013 - 9:41 pm

    DB, Mr. Fred took about 10 days to recover from his surgery. Had his staple stitches out yesterday and began his chemo -- so far no throwing up. One pill every 72 hours. I'm surprised the pills are so toxic. Have to wear medical gloves when touching them. We are encouraged that Mr. Fred is gaining weight and has a spring to his step. When I look at him I think that his return from the edge is worth every penny for his medical treatments. We are hoping for two more years with him.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Phil VeerkampMarch 13, 2013 - 10:04 pm

    sounds rrrruuuufffff . . .

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • francescaduchamp@att.netMarch 13, 2013 - 10:32 pm so glad your furry friend is doing so well

    Reply | Report abusive comment


Herard over the back fence: Try fishing at Wakamatsu

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

Downtown group coordinates painting, awnings

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

No quick fix for California’s highways

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

More mountain lion sightings reported

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

Supervisor Nutting trial begins

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 8 Comments | Gallery

Sanford murder case to jury

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Gearing tax questions to correct office saves time

By Treasurer-Tax Collector | From Page: A3



My turn: More than a buzzword

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Building restored

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

Outstanding dog

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



Altshuler framing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

National Day of Prayer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

‘Parents, be afraid’ letter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Ukranian situation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments


By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 3 Comments



Outside with Charlie: Transitioning

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A6

Pitching the ‘Root’ cause of Trojans’ victory

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Pedal power at the forefront next month

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Sports Scene: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

Roundup: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7



4-H’ers star at showcase

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

At a glance: Look for fireballs

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Authors to share their stories

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Church to host human trafficking conference

By Pollock Pines | From Page: B3

Grow For It! Flower of Easter

By Barbara Schuchart | From Page: B5



Crime Log: April 1-3

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Weather stats 4-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 4/7-11/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2



Bobby Lloyd Bridges

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Harry Frank Harper

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Marion “Wayne” Griswold

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8