Can You Truly Afford To Own a Dog?

Via Jeff Bogart
on May 18, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

How much is that doggie in the window (arf, arf)
The one with the waggley tail. . .

Patti Page made that novelty song a hit back in the 1950s. But today, she might be wiser to ask:

How much are the actual costs of owning that doggie in the window?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my two Belgium sheepdogs, Carlos Santana and Sammie. However, most people don’t think about the actual cost of owning a pet, and they tend to make emotional decisions when choosing one. (People do that with investments, too, but that’s another blog.)

Reality is, though, that the cost of owning a 50-pound dog throughout its 14-year lifespan could add up to the price of a down payment on a house or even a college education. Doggone it!

In “The Cost of Owning a Dog,” an article on, the writer (a veterinarian), aims to educate potential dog owners about how pricey dogs can be. He gives low, medium and high costs associated with owning a mid-size dog. He starts with the initial purchase price and breaks down the costs year-to-year over a 14-year life span. Costs include visits to the vet, food, supplies, and boarding.

Total estimated costs for a 50-pound dog throughout its 14-year lifetime:

  • Low estimate: $4,242
  • Medium estimate: $12,468
  • High estimate: $38,905

I should mention that the writer lives in the Midwest. If you live in an expensive city like New York or Los Angeles, expect the costs to be even higher. Of course, most of us won’t end up spending $40,000, but some might spend even more. As your dog ages, it’s not uncommon for it to develop a hip problem, allergies or some other illness. This veterinarian wrote that he routinely saw clients who spent over $2,000 on a single veterinary incident.

Sure, having pet insurance can reduce your out-of-pocket costs, but you’ll pay up to $30 a month for it. And like human insurance, you’ll have deductibles and co-pays.

One thing, however, not factored into the cost analysis (most likely because you can’t place a value on it), is to me the single most important item on the ledger: your time. Plain and simple: dogs take a lot of time. Walking. Feeding. Cleaning up after. Home repairs. Training. And if you’re not willing to spend a significant portion of your free time with your dog, you may want to consider a goldfish instead. It’s just not fair to the dog.

Make no bones about it (I couldn’t resist), owning a dog can add up to big investment dollars. Before putting your finances at risk, make sure that you can truly afford a dog. And if you’re willing and able to commit your time and money to a dog, the dividends are substantial. Like Josh Billings said:  “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”


Editor: Lynn Hasselberger


About Jeff Bogart

Jeff Bogart is a Registered Investment Advisor who lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He has been practicing yoga for over eight years and has been helping people with their investment and planning issues for over 25 years. He recently decided to merge two of his passions, yoga and investing and created the website He and his Belgian sheepdog, Carlos Santana, participate in Therapy Dog programs, specifically, hospital and nursing home visits and children’s reading programs.


7 Responses to “Can You Truly Afford To Own a Dog?”

  1. shaydewey says:

    Posted to Culture Family and Work Facebook pages.

  2. Lisa Avebury says:

    This post totally misses the point. Sorry but if all you are concerned about is the high cost of owning a pedigreed dog then you shouldn't get one for sure. But, if you take the time to save a life at your local shelter you can get a mutt for as low as $60. bucks (thats in Los Angeles). And you will be getting the healthiest breed of all-Mixed-with none of the inbreeding that goes on with pedigrees. You failed to mention the money YOU will save in mindless consumerism, healthcare (yes, people who own pets-especially dogs-tend to be healthier mentally and physically), gym memberships (walk your dog, better yet run your dog) et et et. I don't see the point of this article????? Why are you trying to talk people OUT of inviting love into their life??? Yes, many times people make big decisions based on their heart-and many times those are the best decisions one gets to make. My heart told me to get my first dog and he was with me, thru thick and thin, for 16 years. He was healthy and in the end died peacefully of his own accord. Yes, DON'T pull a "paris hilton" and go to a pet store and buy a dog-but do rescue a dog and save a life. You'll end up being rescued in return!

  3. Jeff Bogart says:

    You make some excellent points that I agree with. But why are there so many homeless dogs? Often because people buy a dog they think that looks cool but have no idea of what the dogs needs are. For instance if a Border Collie is not exercised and mentally challenged it may literally chew up the home. I have been to benefits at our county kennel and have seen "lost" exotic breeds such as a Sharpie's, Dalmatians and a Vizla. One does not lose expensive purebred dogs! One refuses to find them.

    I think everyone shoulkd have a dog as long as they can care for them properly.

  4. Jeff Bogart says:

    A quick update; My wife and I took Carlos to the vet and discovered he doesn't make tears and has arthritis. That cost us about $500!!!

  5. […] When it comes to dogs though we usually take the military style approach to communication, or the approach of the drunk father who comes home and smacks or yells at the kids because they spilled the milk. […]

  6. blahblah says:

    Still cheaper than having a baby