Once you have decided you are ready for a dog, have done all your research about breeds, breeders, rescue centres, etc. – it’s time to talk about how much it will cost you to have a dog. It’s not to spoil the fun, but a dog can have a lifespan of up to 16+ years, and you want to be prepared so you can enjoy life together!
You will need to pay the breeder or the rescue organisation, which will probably be the largest chunk of your upfront cost (e.g. up to £9,000 for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel). If you want a specific breed and can’t it afford it right away, it’s better to save up or search for a breed specific rescue. Do not, and I can’t stress this enough, DO NOT buy a dog from the internet or pet shop! If you get a dog from a breeder, you should be able to visit the breeder (and th
e mother of your puppies) to see how they live; and you should be able to visit the pups at least once (to choose your puppy). The breeder might visit your place to see if you are a suitable dog owner and ask you lots of questions (Don’t think of it as a visit to control you, but imagine it would be your puppies: you would like to know they will be well cared for and go to a good home.), and if you adopt from a rescue organisation in the UK, there will also be conversations/an interview and a home visit. Your puppy will come with all papers (vaccinations, microchip and usually one month’s insurance). The breeder should allow you to bring a blanket for your puppy for the last couple of weeks he/she is with his/her Mom and siblings so that their scent will transfer onto it and minimise separation anxiety when you bring you puppy home. Some breeders like to stay in contact with you to see how the puppies are doing while growing up. If you don’t get to see all that from a breeder, walk away! Preferably before you have seen any puppies. If you are still doubtful about why I am so harsh on this, watch the BBC Scotland documentary The Dog Factory. It might leave you with an ashen taste in your mouth, though.
Now you know, so don’t do that. But back to business: Things you will need to bring you doggy home, you will need the dog (obviously!) and
- a collar, leash and a dog ID. For UK, you will have to have your full address (plus post code) on it, phone number is optional (Why? Isn’t it more likely that people will phone you rather than drive by and to drop your dog off… Well, who said this was logical!) You probably will need several sets as your dog grows, so don’t go for the really expensive right away.
- a crate (or travel bag) to protect the dog in the car and/or to give it a safe place to rest at home – unless you have a rescue dog who has (anxiety) issues with crates, but this is another story. There are lots of crates on the market, you will need to find the one that suits your needs best, and if you want something fancy for your dog at home you could get a built-in crate/dog house like one of these.
- Tip for saving: check starter-kit options in online shops (like zooplus or petplanet, sometimes pedigree has offers, just put puppy starter kit and uk, if you are from here, in google.)
You will also need:
- A doggie bed, if you opt out of the crate food – always feed first what the dog got at the breeders’ or rescue centre and only slowly change
- food and water bowls
- poo bags, lots – go for scented ones if you can’t stand the smell
- blankets, lots and soft ones – make sure they wash well)
- treats (make sure you have suitable ones for the age of you pup)
- toys (lots, they chew… but you will find out which ones last longer) – some companies offer puppy sets
- for some countries: a dog licence or pay the doggy tax (and attach this ID tag to your dog’s collar, too)
You might need after a while:
- an insurance, this is something to speak about with the breeder, rescue centre and/or your vet especially if money is an issue. Don’t skip it, you will need it at some point! But you should have a month of free insurance and some time to compare prices when you first bring your pup home.
- Tip: regular check-ups, vaccinations and generally vet bills up to a certain level are not covered – put some money on a savings account for this, some websites also recommend to set up a special credit card just for this. Some vets offer year plans which include a number of visits plus vaccinations for the non-insurance covered things.
- puppy class (some vets offer socialising classes, if you can’t afford it)
- grooming aids or a good groomer
- doggie day care, and/or boarding if you go to work or on holiday without your dog
- seat covers for your sofa/bed/car etc.
- scotchguard fabric protection spray
- coat for your dog in the winter if you have a short-haired pup (and shoes if it snows a lot against the salt on the streets)
- a saftety light like this or this or a leuchtie
- long (non-retractable) leash for walks in the woods
- dummies (especially if you have a retriever, that’s what they do, they retrieve) and no, you don’t need to train your dog to become a gun dog, you can just have fun hiding the dummy yourself and make the dog work
- a good coat, shoes and boots for yourself (it gets cold and muddy in the winter)
- carpet cleaner or borrow a carpet washer (at least once a year, scotchguard also has a product for it…)
- a destroyed-by-my-dog fund
Find the list on Micro’s page under dog_budget. I hope that gives you an idea and please let me know in the comments if I forgot something and show us pictures of your new puppies!