Dogs are beloved pets all over the world and firm favourites among pet owners in Australia. There are plenty of positives to owning a dog, including being more active and decreasing stress. However, the biggest cons are the price of buying or adopting a dog and the ongoing cost of their care.
Before you make the final decision to own a pet, no matter where you are, you should carefully consider whether you can afford them. This guide will tell you the average cost of a dog in Australia for both the initial outlay and the recurring costs.
How Much Does a Dog Cost in Australia?
Before you get into the cost of all the responsibilities facing you as a new pet owner, you have to get past the initial outlay for your newest pet.
In general, adoptions are cheaper than going to a breeder. Rescues and shelters can charge up to $500, depending on the animal, their age, and whether they had to be spayed or neutered or get updated vaccinations. You might also find someone giving away puppies for free.
A breeder is much more expensive. They can charge anywhere between $500 and $5,000, if not more, in some cases. This changes depending on the breed of dog and how in demand the breeder’s services are. The fee typically also covers an in-depth health history of the parents and the puppy, age-appropriate vaccinations, and pedigree certificates.
It’s not just the upfront costs of owning a dog that you should bear in mind, though. You must also consider the ongoing cost of food, veterinary visits, and other essentials, like collars, microchipping, toys, and even registering your dog with your city council.
The average dog owner in Australia spends about $3,200 per dog over a year.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Remember that there are many more costs than just the initial outlay, food, and basic supplies to take into account. Most are ongoing throughout your dog’s lifetime.
Sometimes, you have to leave your dog at home for a few days. Boarding them at a kennel is often your only choice to make sure your dog is taken care of. Kennels can be expensive, especially for long trips.
Even if you don’t mind hiring a professional groomer for your dog’s grooming needs, it’s always useful to have a few brushes on hand. You’ll need at least one good brush that’s suitable for your dog’s fur, along with nail clippers and a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste.
Veterinary costs cover everything from routine check-ups to unexpected illnesses and accidents. While pet insurance can help offset some of the more expensive emergency surgeries, you still have to budget for a policy that covers you and your dog.
If you’re new to dog ownership or just need help correcting unwanted behaviours, hiring a dog trainer is sometimes the best choice. The rates change depending on how intensive the training is. Even if you train your dog yourself, you need to consider the cost of training treats and supplies.
What Are the Benefits of Owning a Dog?
The cost of a pet is a big turn-off for many people. But while there are a few downsides other than the cost — like needing the energy to keep up with a dog — most dog owners agree that the positives far outweigh the cons.
Dogs have a unique ability to encourage more activity. Taking them for daily walks and visiting dog parks for games of fetch are great ways to get exercise in the summer. Dogs can also keep you more active during the quiet, slow months in winter. While it can be tempting to stay warm inside, bundling up and enjoying the outdoors with your dog can be the perfect way to end a long week.
There aren’t just physical benefits either. A study in 2016 by Harvard Medical School found that the unconditional love and loyalty shown by a dog can help reduce loneliness and stress in some people.
How to Choose a Dog
Many people are scared away from owning a dog due to the upfront costs of purchasing one from a breeder and then the ongoing costs of care. Here are a few tips to help you decide if a dog suits your household.
When you decide to get a dog, it can be easy to latch onto the first ones that you can think of. Not all breeds suit all families and homes, though. You need to choose a dog that fits with your lifestyle. If you don’t have much free time and enjoy lazy days at home, a dog that’s low maintenance and low energy will be ideal.
Size is also something to consider. The larger a dog is, the more food that they’ll eat and the more that you’ll spend on stockpiling kibble.
Sometimes, the biggest factor to take into account when it comes to getting a dog is how much space you have available. Small dogs take up much less space than a large breed, but many have a great deal of energy that will need to be burned off. A house with a yard might be the best choice for energetic breeds — big or small — rather than a small apartment.
Should You Go to a Rescue or Breeder?
While the recurring costs of dog ownership are more or less the same with pedigree, designer, or mixed breeds, the initial cost can vary. Often, it’s much better to visit a shelter or rescue than it is to purchase from a breeder. Not only are the dogs in shelters more affordable, but they’re also the ones in greater need of loving homes.
A rescue will also usually spay or neuter the animals that come in through their doors, saving you the expense later.
The downside of rescues and shelters, however, is that you might not find the pedigree or designer breed that you’ve got your heart set on. You can still find a forever friend that will be just as loving as a pedigree or designer breed, but you won’t be able to join pedigree show circuits. If you want a show dog, you’ll need pedigree papers from a reputable breeder.
In the end, the choice between a rescue and a breeder depends on your budget, preferences, and whether you want a show dog or a family pet.
The upfront cost of a dog in Australia can vary between $0 and $5,000, depending on whether you visit a rescue or a breeder. There are also ongoing costs that you need to consider during your dog’s lifetime. These include accessories, food, veterinary care, pet insurance, grooming supplies, and training.
Although dogs can be an expensive responsibility, they can encourage you to be more active and make an otherwise empty home welcoming. Before you decide to get a dog, though, you should make sure you can afford the ongoing costs.
Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock