cost of a puppy

The Cost of a Puppy – Our First Year

Everybody loves puppies. How can you not love a ball of fluff that is always happy to see you? Three months after we got married last summer, we decided to take the next step and buy a Mini Golden Retriever! #Basic. As much as we love our puppy Riley, and we would do it all over again, he has proven to be more expensive than we anticipated and today we lay out the cost of a puppy, including everything that has gone into having him for almost one year.

Puppy Purchase Price: $Varies

The purchase price of your puppy will vary significantly and depend on whether you buy through a breeder or adopt through a local humane society. My entire life I (Hannah) grew up adopting dogs through humane societies, and I absolutely love and support this option. However, this time around we wanted a very specific breed, so we found a local breeder to purchase Riley through. The cost of a puppy can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Vet Expenses: $1,249.54

We found a vet that was two blocks away from our apartment (Modern Love Veterinary) so we selected it based on convenience and it had great reviews. Below we list the breakdown of every vet visit and the cost of a puppy at each visit.

  • First Vet Visit (8 weeks old) – Total after taxes: $131
    • Puppy Exam: $65
    • Fecal Flotation: $36
      • Routine test to diagnose internal parasites or worms.
      • Recommend to get once per year.
    • Bordetella Vaccination Intranasal 1 Yr: $30
      • Protects your dog against Kennel cough, which can be contracted at puppy day care, grooming facilities or dog parks.
    • Heartgard: $Free puppy first dose
      • Prevents Heartworm disease.
      • Recommended to get once per month for life.
    • Nexgard: $Free puppy first dose
      • Prevents fleas/ticks.
      • Recommended to get once per month for life.
  • Second Vet Visit (12 weeks old) – Total after taxes: $69.78
    • Canine DHPP Vaccination: $32
      • Distemper virus — Attacks the lungs and affects the function of the brain and spinal cord; disease can be fatal
      • Hepatitis — Affects the liver and can cause loss of vision
      • Parainfluenza — Respiratory virus that causes coughing
      • Parvovirus — Attacks the lining of the intestinal tract and damages the heart of very young puppies; disease can be fatal
      • Recommended to get once per year.
    • Heartguard: $10.80
    • Nexgard: 26.98
  • Third Vet Visit (16 weeks old) – Total after taxes: $162.78
    • Puppy Exam: $65
    • Canine DHPP Vaccination 1 Year: $32
    • Rabies Canine 1-Year Vaccination: $28
    • Heartguard: $10.80
    • Nexguard: 26.98

After our third vet visit, we started discussing when he would be neutered, because our breeder required that he get neutered before he was seven months old. Modern Love Veterinary quoted us around $750, which we thought was really high. We started calling other vets and asking our friends and coworkers what they thought was a reasonable price to get a dog neutered.

We eventually decided to go with Banfield in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Banfield has locations all over, and was recommended to us by a friend in Minnesota and another friend in Chicago. We signed up for Banfield’s one year Optimum Wellness Plan, where we pay $49.95 per month and we get unlimited office visits, routine vaccinations, comprehensive physical exams, diagnostic testing, and product and service discounts. We thought this was reasonable, because it was significantly less than every appointment we had thus far at the previous vet.

  • Fourth Vet Visit (6.5 months old) – Total after taxes: $323.15
    • Banfield Recurring Monthly Wellness Plan fee (#1): $45.95
    • Banfield One Time Membership fee: $50.95
    • Microchip: $34.20
    • Neuter: $192.05

Next up, Riley got an ear infection, yay!

  • Fifth Vet Visit (7 Months Old) – Total after taxes: $45.58
    • Initial Ear Swab: $45.58
  • Sixth Vet Visit (7.5 Months old) – Total after taxes: $172.50
    • Ear Antibiotic Ointment: $44.72
    • Follow-Up Ear Swab: $45.58
    • Simparica Blue Single Dose: $18.89
      • New brand the new vet uses to protect against fleas and ticks (instead of Nexgard previously used). We took a few months off from this during the winter because we live in MN and fleas/ticks are rare in the winter months.
    • Tri-Heart Single Dose: $11.69
      • New brand new vet uses to protect against heartworm disease.
    • Banfield Recurring Monthly Wellness Plan fee (#2): $45.95
  • Seventh Vet Visit (8 months old) – Total after taxes: $60.95
    • Simparica Blue Single Dose: $18.89
    • Tri-Heart 6 Month Count: $37.79
      • Riley hit a stable weight so they were comfortable giving us six doses to us to administer to him once per month. A single dose cost $11.69, so as you can see it is cheaper to buy in bulk.
  • No vet visit. Banfield Recurring Monthly Wellness Plan fee (8.5 months old): $45.95
  • Eighth Vet Visit (9 months old) – Total after taxes: $100
    • Simparica 6 Month Count: $100
      • The vet was now comfortable giving us six doses to administer once per month. Single doses cost $18.89 so it is slightly cheaper to buy in bulk and more convenient to not have to go to the vet every month!
  • No vet visit. Banfield Recurring Monthly Wellness Plan fee (9.5 months old): $45.95
  • No vet visit. Banfield Recurring Monthly Wellness Plan fee (10.5 months old): $45.95
  • No vet visit. Banfield Recurring Monthly Wellness Plan fee (11.5 months old): $45.95

Most of these expenses have been routine and highly recommended for a puppy.

Accessory Expenses: $225.93

Dog accessories will vary significantly, but we list the main items we have below. We inherited a few of these items from our parents, but we list the retail purchase price for reference!

  • Single Door Dog Crate$39.99
    • We crate trained him, so when we leave, he likes to nap in his crate.
  • Dog bed $37.99
  • Balls$18.99
  • Kongs$21.99
    • We put a little bit of peanut butter in these and then put them in the freezer. When we leave Riley in his crate, we give him one to lick while we are gone and he loves it!
  • Flexi Leash$18.74
    • This is our favorite brand because you can also buy an attachable box ($10.95) that you can store poop bags or treats in for easy use while walking!
  • Collar$5.34
  • Harness$19.98
  • Poop bags$11.99 x 3 packs = $35.97
  • Brush$15.99

Food Expenses: $368.19

We tried a few different puppy foods and several different types of treats. Below we list our favorites that seem to go best with Riley’s stomach.

Miscellaneous Expenses: $550

Below are miscellaneous items that we incurred in the cost of a puppy that may or may not apply to you! In the interest of transparency, we wanted to list everything!

  • 1 Year Pet License$30
    • You will need to confirm with your city if this is a requirement.
  • Fine for not having a Pet License – $100
    • We did not know you had to license your pet in Minneapolis (the vet or breeder never told us this). Learn from us and look into it for your city!
  • DoggieLawn $30 per shipment x 12 shipments = $360
    • We ordered this 1-2 times per month to have grass on our apartment balcony that Riley could pee on in emergencies. This is expensive, but it was life saving for us during the first few puppy months when he peed so frequently and we don’t have a yard. We ordered this for about four months.
  • Professional Dog Grooming$60
    • We have only gotten him groomed one time. We usually give him a bath at home!
  • Boarding
    • If you need to board your dog when you go away, this typically starts at $30 per night and goes up from there. We are lucky and have always had our parents or friends able to take care of him for free!

Our Total Cost of a Puppy in Year One: $2,393.66

These prices are what we actually paid. The cost of a puppy will vary based on your location and your vet, so do your research! Want to start saving for a puppy today? Download our free Net Worth and Goals Tracker to add your puppy savings goal and be that much closer to getting that bundle of love!


Are you thinking about getting a pet? What are some of your hesitations? Do these costs surprise you or are they what you expected? Comment below and let us know!


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