There’s no doubt that dogs are the best. But adopting a pup isn’t an easy decision, or one you should make lightly.
Dogs are affectionate, playful, loyal, and—depending on your pooch—overflowing with oodles of personality (and that little face!). But bringing a furry friend into your home is the beginning of a lifelong commitment and, depending on your lifestyle and budget, it might not be the easiest fit.
We’ll take you through some of the finer points of dog ownership, so you can decide if the wonderful world of canine companionship is right for you.
Here’s some of what we’ll be covering:
How much does it cost to own a dog?
Cat’s out of the bag: caring for a dog is expensive, even compared to their feline counterparts. While there’s no exact number on the cost of owning a dog, you can expect to spend anywhere between $750–$1,750 every year on your dog’s health, happiness, and Milkbones.
Let’s break down a few of the costs, shall we?
- Adoption/breeder fees. A sweet pup is priceless, but the cost for taking your new best friend home can range anywhere from $50–$4,000. Shelter pups will come with the lowest fees, while purebred dogs from a reputable breeder will be on the higher end.
- Vaccinations. You can get the full scoop on dog vaccinations here. But whether your new dog is a puppy or fully-grown, you’ll pay between $75–$270 every year to keep them up-to-date.
- Spay/neuter. Explore a full breakdown of the cost of spaying/neutering your dog here. You’ll have to pay anywhere between $500–$1,000 to ensure you don’t have an accidental litter of puppies on your hands. Because it’s a more invasive procedure, spaying tends to cost more than neutering.
- Microchip. In case your pup wanders off, a microchip will make it easier for you to be reunited. Expect to pay $45-$150 for the chip and its implantation, and to get your dog registered on a pet recovery database.
- Food. Depending on your dog’s needs, size, and tastes, you’ll pay anywhere between $240–$720 a year for dog food. A survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association found that dog owners spent an average of $287 on dog food in 2020.
When it comes to veterinary costs, an easy way to save (and avoid being bankrupted by major procedures for your fur fam) is by taking out an insurance for dogs policy. With Lemonade pet health insurance, you pay a monthly premium, after which your insurer would pay up to 90% of the costs for eligible treatments.
If you have a dog who is 2-year-old or younger, our Preventative package for puppies and kittens includes spaying/neutering, microchipping, and three annual vaccines.
It’s worth noting that as your dog ages, they will require more veterinary care and treatments, which is why it pays to take out a pet insurance policy on your dog as early as possible.
Getting your older pup covered with pet insurance can still keep them covered for a whole range of veterinary care, but if you get your young and healthy puppy a Lemonade policy right away, conditions they develop after their policy’s waiting periods are over will be covered.
Which breed of dog is right for you?
Read this article for an in-depth look at choosing the right dog for your lifestyle. But since we know your time is precious (especially in dog years), here’s the TL;DR.
When thinking about the right kind of dog for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you live in a city or rural area? If you live in the city, a dog that isn’t bothered by noise and is friendly with lots of strangers is ideal. (Also keep in mind that neighbors in an apartment building might not appreciate a breed known for loud barking.) If you live in a more rural area, a dog that craves the outdoors can really thrive.
- What’s the climate like where you live? Some dogs love the heat, while others can’t wait to frolic through the snow.
- How much space do you have? Size does matter when it comes to doggos. If you have a tiny studio apartment, you’ll probably want a smaller or less active dog. If you have a fenced-in suburban estate, that opens you up to some bigger, sportier breeds.
- Do you have kids and/or other pets? Some breeds of dogs fare better with tiny tots and animal siblings, while others like to reign sovereign over their domain.
- Do you or anyone else in your household have allergies? There are some breeds, like poodle/poodle-mixes, that are hypoallergenic.
- What personality are you looking for? Lap dog? Guard dog? Workout buddy? Different pups come with their own perks, quirks, and energy levels.
- How much are you willing to spend on your dog’s upkeep? Some dogs require frequent trips to the groomer, while other dogs might suffer from breed-specific health conditions.
On the subject of health: while pure-bred dogs are definitely adorable, they tend to by nature have some more health problems than mixed breed dogs (aka mutts) who are just as lovable. You also may want to consider your dog breed’s typical life expectancy; the longer it is, the fewer health problems they’re likely to have.
Should I adopt a puppy or an adult dog?
There’s no denying the cute-factor of a puppy. Those big eyes, oversized paws, and floppy skin have the power to melt even the coldest of hearts.
But taking care of a puppy can be like taking care of a fluffy, barking, walking infant. Welcoming an adult dog into your home could be a lower maintenance way to complete your family, not to mention a meaningful opportunity to give a grown-up pup a second chance at life.
Everyone’s situation is different. But here are some things you might want to keep in mind.
If you’re considering a puppy…
- You have the power to set good habits right away
- Puppies will probably have a shorter period of adjustment to their new home
- Less likely to suffer from behavioral problems or display unpredictable behavior
- Your home will be full of impossibly cute silliness
- Puppies can’t spend much time alone and require tons of hands-on attention
- You will have to crate, potty, and leash train them yourself (or call on a dog trainer for an assist)
- You’re bound to have lots of clean-up, some destruction to your stuff, and at least a handful of sleepless nights
If you’re considering an adult dog…
- Depending on the dog, you might not need to do much training
- You’ll already know their full-grown size, as well as their medical and behavioral issues
- They won’t require as much attention, and can spend more time solo
- A dog coming from abuse and neglect will need lots of time to adjust and training (and probably should be in a home without little kids)
- If you adopt a dog with pre-existing health conditions, you likely won’t get pet insurance coverage for those treatments
- It might take more time for the dog to fully come out of their shell, in some cases, up to a year
- Having an older dog means you might be saying goodbye to them sooner than you’re comfortable with
At the end of the day, no matter the age, each dog is unique. If you’re looking for a dog through a reputable breeder or animal shelter, the dog-loving professionals should help you find the right match among their adoptable dogs (and if they don’t take the time to get to know you and your lifestyle before you adopt, chances are, they don’t have dogs’ best interests in mind.)
TIP: Volunteering with a shelter or fostering could be one way to get to know a dog before taking the leap to adoption. If all goes well, it might end up as a ‘foster fail’—the term for when a temporary pet ends up becoming a forever friend.
Before we go…
Adopting a dog is a big commitment. As we get back into the swing of our “new normal,” it’s important to really consider how feasible it is to bring a new pooch into your life.
- Maybe you’re working remotely now, but will that be the case forever? Does your office have a dog-friendly policy?
- How many hours a day will your new pup be left alone at a time?
- Can you afford a dog walker to make sure your pup gets their energy out in a healthy way (instead of tearing up your clothes and furniture)?
And hey, once you’re officially a pet parent, consider purchasing a pet insurance policy, to help take the bite out of vet bills. Applying with Lemonade is fast, easy—and even fun.