We don’t have any human kids, and we treat our dogs like our babies. If you find that weird or annoying, that’s cool. I’d probably think your human kids were annoying… So…
We have 2 dogs. One is a pure bred and 1 is a mix. Both are badass, but require quite a bit of our time and energy. Looking back, I’m not quite sure we should have get dogs back when we were in debt.
It seems pretty clear that dogs and debt do not go well together…
When completing our budget, we set aside more money for our dogs than we do for our own “fun money”. Crazy, right?
It’s not so crazy when you look at some of the costs attached to these fuzzy little balls of energy. Getting a dog is a huge financial commitment. Before jumping in, consider if getting a dog fits your debt free lifestyle plans.
The time and the money associated with this new endeavor. Do you have enough of both?
Before you bring that new fluff ball home, you should really consider if dogs and debt go together… Let’s see if this mixture is financially responsible!
Upfront Dog Fees
Unless a dog shows up on your door step, or you find them running down the highway, you’re going to have to go find your furever friend.
There are a few options, and the most common are breeders or the shelter/pound.
Both have their pros and cons. If you’re a breed snob (it’s ok), then a breeder is probably the way to go. You’re going to pay a lot more, but you’ll get all of the paperwork needed to make you feel good about dropping that cash.
We got our youngest dog from a breeder. He was the runt and the last of his litter to go. We paid a good chunk of cash for him ($800), and I don’t regret it at all.
Would I do it again? No, probably not. That money should have gone toward debt, not toward a huge financial responsibility… He’s adorable though and well, I love him!
Before you decide to buy from a breeder, some research is required. Are they reputable? The last thing you’ll want to do is fund a puppy mill.
The American Kennel Club has a great article on how to ensure you’re buying from a responsible breeder. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in going this route.
The type of dog you’re interested in will greatly determine the cost. Dogs like Rottweilers can go for around $4,000!! There are numerous breeds that go for upwards of $1,000 as well…
That’s a huge cost when you consider that a dog at the local pound can be adopted for less than $100… Maybe we can rationalize how getting a pound puppy is actually a smart debt pay off move? You’ll have your pupper and also $700 to throw at your debt! Win-Win!
I’m a huge advocate for adopting from a shelter. There are tons of dogs there just waiting for a good owner to come and scoop them up.
Our oldest dog is from the shelter, she’s a mix breed. I think Husky, German Shepard and something else. A-dor-able. If my memory serves me, we adopted her for under $100.
Dog Medical Bills
Once you bring home that adorable fluff ball, you’ll need to find a local vet to get your shots and spay/neutering completed.
Vets are insanely expensive and I don’t know if I’m a fan of the random shit they make you do each visit. Nevertheless, they are a necessity for a healthy dog.
You can actually lower your vet bills by giving most shots yourself. You can get the meds for pretty cheap at your local Co-op, or Tractor Supply Company (TSC).
Giving shots is easy and you don’t have to be a healthcare professional. If you can do it, it’ll save you a ton of money, and allow you to throw more cash at your debt snowball.
Spaying/neutering isn’t something they do at TSC (thank god). A qualified vet is the only option. The price will depend on the size of your dog, and if they have any underlying medical conditions.
For example: Bob (our youngest pup) had undescended testicles. This condition caused his neutering to be more like a spaying, and it cost extra.
Not much we could do, but we knew he had this condition when we got him. Little flat sac McGee…
The spaying of our large female dog (now 70lbs) cost a little over $250. This was only for the surgery and didn’t include any pre/post medications or shots.
Vet bills can continue on and on. If you’re dogs are going to go outside, you’ll need to have them wormed and given flea/tick medication.
We use the Seresto collars. They cost about $55 per dog and last 8 months. This will not prevent your dog from getting worms. You’ll need additional medication for that. Money, money, money…
Dogs Eat… A Lot
Consider how much a dog can eat before you decide on bringing home a Mastiff, Great Dane, or another large breed.
A full grown Mastiff can consume about 10-11 cups of food per meal, twice a day. If you can’t afford to buy a 30lb bag of QUALITY dog food per week, stay away from large breeds.
I say quality for a reason. Any dog food that has corn as one of the first ingredients is like feeding your kids fruity pebbles for all of their meals. It’s pretty much pure sugary garbage.
Think of the last time you ate a lot of corn… how’d that feel later on?
I could go on a tangent here about it being “just a dog” but I won’t. I’ll say this, don’t take on an animal if you can’t afford to feed it quality, grain-free food.
We have been buying 4Health dog food from TSC for a few years now. It’s grain-free and reasonably priced. 30lbs costs $37.99(ish) and we go through about 2 bags a month. This is for two active dogs weighing around 70lbs and 35lbs.
A large breed dog could cost $37.99 a week, or $1,975.48 a year (excluding taxes), just to feed. Yikes, do you think that money should go toward your debt? I know… debt isn’t nearly as cute, but… it’s a terrible burden to carry.
Research your target breed and get an idea as to how big they get… and how much they eat. Although, I’d love to have a 150lb+ dog, I don’t think I want to spend that kind of money…
Dogs Need Time and Money
Dogs require a lot of exercise. Without it, they become destructive. I’ve heard and seen horror stories of how dogs can completely destroy someone’s house.
The dog isn’t bad, or stupid. It’s full of energy!
We are extremely fortunate that we have a large farm, a doggie door, and about 1.5 acres covered with an in-ground fence. Our dogs come and go all day long. They run and play at will.
A dog is an investment of both your time, and your money. They aren’t something you can quit on after a few months, or something that will sit passive waiting for your schedule to clear up.
Before bringing home that cute puppy, remember that it’s going to get big and it’s going to want to play… A LOT!
The amount of exercise your dog needs will vary. Some dogs require less and others… much more. Typically a dog will need 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise per day!
That’s a huge time commitment.
Go Away and You’ll Pay
What are your plans for when you go away? Will you have someone come dog-sit, or will you board your dog in a kennel?
The time you’re away will cost you a lot of money. A good friend of mine pays for a dog walker when he and his wife are gone. I believe it costs about $60 a day. A 7 day vacation can cost over $400!!
Do you have the time, and the money for when you don’t have the time?
If not, then a dog isn’t right for you, at least not yet… and that’s fine! Waiting to bring a dog home until your debt free is a tough decision to make, but it’s probably the right one.
Recently a close family member gave away their dog. She was a beautiful dog, and no one paid any attention to her. She sat on the porch, just staring into the house because she wasn’t allowed in and cried for attention that she never received.
It was terribly sad to watch this dog, which cost over $1,000 because they just NEEDED that breed, just sit and cry for attention. When she got the chance to get into the house, she would wreck something because… well, she was big and excited to be around the people she loved.
This furthered her banishment. They would call her stupid and some other poor names. I’d explain that a dog was only as smart as its owner… the only smiles in the room were from my wife.
Nonetheless, your furever friend is going to want a lot more of your time than your money.
Holy shit, our dogs have so much stuff. Luckily, a lot of it has lasted years.
Bob’s favorite toy is some tattered dog looking thing. It was once full of stuffing and glorious. Bob has removed the stuffing and pretty much everything else that made resemble a dog.
This monstrosity of a toy is still his favorite.
Other items you may be purchasing are beds, crates, clothes (it’s a thing), fencing, doggie doors, treats, and the list goes on and on…
Sure, most of these things are optional, but are you going to half ass this thing? Remember, your buddy is going to depend on you 100% for his/her life enjoyment.
You. Are. It!
I realize that I’m passionate about my puppies. I care about them a lot, and they are part of our family.
Becoming a pet owner is a huge commitment. You can’t have a plan B once that dog comes home. They are yours and you’re theirs.
You’ve embarked on a glorious journey, filled with equal parts love and frustration. They will try your patience, and they will cost money.
Just as you wouldn’t cut corners on feeding your kids, you shouldn’t consider buying shit food for your pup.
Owning a dog is so freaking fun. They bring so much joy and silliness into your life.
I wish we could have 100 of them, but I know that I can’t properly care for more than 2 or 3… and for this reason we only have 2.
We’ve considered getting a 3rd dog for over a year. We haven’t done it yet, mainly because we just aren’t sure how it’ll work. Can we do it? Sure!! We have the money, I’m just worried about the time.
I hope you consider the big picture when taking on a dog. They are amazing little (or big) creatures.
I’m positive if you take the time to plan and consider both the financial and time commitments of a dog, you’ll enjoy the process a lot more if you’re debt free before you start this awesome journey!