How Much does a Puppy Cost?

So, not including the emotional wear and tear of worrying about him ALL the time (seriously, it’s like he’s a five year old walking by himself to the first day of kindergarten through lava fields and across busy streets), and not counting the time we spend on him because he literally gets into everything (we pulled a 2 inch piece of broken glass out of his mouth three weeks ago) I’m trying to figure out exactly how much we have spent on this mongrel so far. 

Piles of things for a dog, treat ball, leash, accident clean up spray, tennis balls, brush, kong, nail clippers and dog bowls

The first shipment of puppy stuff…not off to a good start

I tallied it all up and, excluding time, energy, stress etc, he has cost us $1601.99 in slightly less than 3 months of living with us.

Books Before we Got him – $45.19

The books I read were invaluable for helping me prepare for the B-Man entering our lives. Invaluable because it gave me an outlet for the stress of welcoming a puppy into the house. All that reading made me feel like I was doing something to prepare. I felt like I had a handle on what to expect, how to deal, what kind of parent I wanted to be, and some good insights to the  psychology of a dog.  But, that being said, I think the classes we took at the Humane Society helped me learn how to train him WAY more than any book did. So after reading the books I’ve listed below, I would recommend reading the monk book (The Art of Raising a Puppy) and finding a reward based training class to take a dog to. 

The Monks of New Skete the art of raising a puppy

The Monks of New Skete The Art of Raising a Puppy

The Puppy $158 ($808 without help and without presents)

Bender and his siblings cost $600 for some people, but since we had an in with Brady’s owner (her mom was my dog so we took care of Brady for 9 weeks!) her owner sold her son to us for $400. And my parents bought him for us! So that fee was waived. It also cost a lot to get back to the East coast and bring him home. A golden retriever puppy from the Humane Society would have cost $300, a grown up golden would have been $200, of course that’s without traveling to pick the little guy up too, but I wanted a dog from a line I know and love.  The dogs I have known from this family are calm, friendly, smart, and healthy. So I thought it was worth it to know those things, but obviously I totally support adopting pets!!

Bender sitting on the porch steps at his 2nd home, Gail's house.

Bender at his 2nd home, Gail’s house.

Medical $476 ($568 w/out help)

Obviously he’s going to need to go to the vet, and a lot of people advised us to get pet insurance, but at $30 a month it seemed (and seems) like a rip off. We did decide that $10 a month was worth it for accident insurance. That’s like if he gets hit by a car, gets in a fight, or swallows an entire sock and needs surgery. It kind of seemed like that was the most worthwhile thing to have covered. Other than that we went with a plan from our humane society that is a serious deal. It basically covers everything for a puppy’s first year of care including getting fixed and microchipping. 

Things he wears $30.12

Collars are necessary…bow-ties etc.? maybe not so much. But come on. SO CUTE!!

Bender, a golden retriever puppy, wearing a dapper bowtiw

Bender’s looking very dapper in his bow tie.

Things he Eats $111.68

I did a lot of research on dog food. Mostly because I do marketing for some premium dog food companies. It came in handy! I learned that the first ingredient in any good dog food is going to be some kind of meat meal. Chicken meal, lamb meal, beef meal, etc. That means meat that has been dehydrated and ground up and used at the main ingredient in the food. If the first ingredient is just meat, like “chicken” “lamb” “beef” it means fresh meat. Fresh meat sounds great! But in reality it means most of that ingredient is just water. So even if “chicken” is the first ingredient in a food, it doesn’t mean that there is a lot of protein and nutrients from that chicken in the food because when it goes into the recipe it’s mostly water. So look for foods with meat meal, but watch out for by-product meal! That means all of the inedible parts of the animal ground up to be the main ingredient. Not good. Also in general you want to look for potatoes or rice in favor of corn or wheat. Foods with high quality ingredients are more expensive, but your dog will eat less of it because it’s so packed with protein and nutrition, also his stools (that means poops) will be more sturdy and easier to clean up. 

Eagle Pack large and giant breed puppy food

We feed him Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Puppy dry food (6 cups a day!)

Things he Chews $166.37

The best way to keep Bender from chewing our shoes, socks, etc. was to get good treats and toys. I refuse to buy him squeaker toys. I don’t want to listen to it so he doesn’t get to partake — when he visits Tom and Beth he gets to squeak all the toys he wants though! And Leo has brought a few over for him. Other than that, tennis balls are obviously great, in a surprising turn of events he LOVES felt toys (I’m going to start buying felt and making them) and recently a great purchase has been the toys you can fill with treats. When he was little he didn’t have enough motivation to keep chewing on them and get the treats out. He’s learned though, and is really into them. We use them to stop him from barking in the yard and to keep him happy when he’s in the crate.  

For treats we are using “high value treats” which means they are soft, fragrant, and delicious (aka horrible). Basically the main ingredients are protein packed without a lot of extra sugar, wheat, and bullshit that you find in things like milk bones. We’re cutting up pieces of Natural Balance logs into treat sized bits. Bender freaking loves them. He goes bonkers for them. So they have been great for training.  One day we will probably swap to milk bones, but for now while he’s growing so I like to be giving him stuff that’s really beneficial for him. 

Things to call Home $135 ($195 with gift)

We wanted to crate train him, it’s been great being able to put him in there when we leave. We won’t always, but it’s nice for now when he’s a puppy and we can’t 100% trust him in the house. And he loves being in his crate. As much as we feel ok leaving him there because we know he can’t get into anything or hurt himself, he also seems to feel safe and secure in there. Additionally his dog beds have been great. He loves them 80% of the time (the rest of the time he sleeps on cold tile).

Training Classes $200

These classes are amazing. They are way more informative than any of the books I read. It helps teach us how Bender is perceiving our actions. The main thing I love is that they tell us to wait for Bender to do what we want him to instead of telling him what we want him to do. That way he figures out how to anticipate what we want, without us continually commanding him. 

Other things he needs $274.63

Ok so I got tired of making categories for things he needs and just jumbled the rest into this section. I also included $100 for stuff I probably forgot to include below. 

Before we got Bender I asked a lot of my friends how much their dogs cost them. Everyone agreed that the first year was exponentially more expensive than the subsequent years, and that the main cost was food. That was helpful information. My mom replied  “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” that was decidedly unhelpful.

After compiling the info from my friends I came up with $800 the first year and less after that (this was a gross underestimation). I don’t think I spend exorbitant amounts of money on him. I’ve never spent more than $12 on a toy (and felt ripped off – thanks a lot Kong). For the most part I think I have only bought him things he needs (exclude the $5 bow-tie from that statement). I could have gotten him 1 regular bowl instead of two elevated bowls, but big dogs are prone to a fatal stomach condition that can be avoided by elevating their food. I got the cheapest giant crate I could find. All in all I think I was fairly frugal with my purchases for him. 

But still In total, in 3 months he has cost us: $1601.99 and if we had not had any help, he would have cost $2408.99. Of course that will taper off, even his food costs will go down when he isn’t eating 6 cups a day and he will need less and less new stuff as he gets old, but still it’s a pretty amazing number. 

How much does your dog cost you??

And for those of you who are wondering, here is a broken down list: 


Paperback Book – Good Owners, Great Dogs $15

Paperback Book – How to Raise a Puppy you can Live with 14.20

Kindle Book – The Art of Raising a Puppy (the Monk Book) 10.00

Kindle Book – 14 days to a well behaved dog $5.99

BENDER $158 ($808 without help and with presents)

He cost $400 (waived – he was a gift from my parents, thanks guys!! Best present ever!!)

Flight to New Jersey to pick him up: $50 (I had a voucher and miles, it was $300 w/out vouchers)

Cost to take a puppy as carry on on the flight: $75 on Southwest

Carrier for the plane: $30 

Pee pads for the airport (which he didn’t use) $3

MEDICAL $476 ($568 w/out help)

1st round of shots: $92 (Waived – gift from my parents)

Vet Puppy Package including 2 exams, parasite screening and all necessary vaccines, microchip & neuter: $310  at the Boulder Humane Society

Additional Vet Visit for cough: $66

Accident Insurance: $100/year

THINGS HE WEARS: $35.12 ($40.12 w/ gift)

1st Collar: $5 (waived – gift)

Name Tag: $8.12 at Petsmart

Harness for walks: $14 at Target

Training collar (that we’ve never used) $8 at Amazon

Bow tie: $5 at Target


Three 30lb bags Large Breed Puppy Food Eagle Pack: $111.68 on Amazon (with subscribe and save)

THINGS HE CHEWS: (bones, toys etc) $166.37

Himalayan cheese blocks $8.76 at Amazon

Treats (meat logs) 4lb $26.91 at Amazon

Raw hides and other chew toys: $22.67 at Ross

Kong, Chew Toy, Kong stuffers, $30 at Petsmart

5 Chew toys $20 at Target

1 felt chew toy, 1 cow ear $5 at Humane Society

3 Pig Ears $5 at Safeway

2 Kongs, 1 sm, 1 med $18 from Amazon

18 tennis balls $13.15 from Amazon PS did you know you can get these for free from tennis clubs?!

Chuck it $7 from Amazon

Treat puzzle ball $9.88 from Amazon

THINGS TO CALL HOME $135 ($195 with gift) 

Huge Dog Bed #1: $60 (gift, waived) from Costco

Dog Bed #2: $10 at Ross

Tall Elevated food bowls $55 from Amazon

Midwest Large Double Door Crate $70 from Amazon


Puppy classes at the Humane Society $200


1 Roll of Poop bags $2 at the Humane society

30 Rolls Poop Bags $30 on Amazon

50 qt Food bin $33.34 at Petsmart

6 clickers $8 from Amazon (1 from humane society)

Puppy Shampoo – $6 at Ross

24oz Bitter spray (this stuff is a lifesaver) $18.50

Brush $10

Nail clippers $9

PooperScooper $8.80

6ft leather leash $18

Odor removing spray for in-house accidents: $10.99

60ft line and two clips from HomeDepot (long leash for recall training) $20

Miscellaneous stuff I forgot: $100

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