Bringing a puppy into the family home is always exciting, but do you know the true cost of buying a puppy? The purchase of your puppy is only the beginning and how the costs add up may surprise you!  In fact one of Petsecure’s clients re-named her beloved pooch “CostaLotta” after a few visits to the vet!!

In the UK, research by the PDSA outlined in thisrevealed that 97% of dog owners underestimate the lifetime cost of their pet – most thought that their dog would cost less than 30% of the actual price.  Whilst this research has not been done in Australia yet, it would not be surprising if the results where the same, or similar.  Sadly, the result of this can mean that people have difficultly with affordability, which means cutting back on good quality food, vet’s visits and the like, and even more tragically, the dog ends up being surrendered in the pound.

But this is entirely avoidable, if you do your homework before making the decision to bring home a pet, which is a long term commitment.

The cost of dog ownership has a wide range, which is explained here by the dog clinic (yes it is American experience, but still very relevant for us Aussies).

There are ways to cut the cost of dog ownership as I have written about previously, but there are always the costs which are unavoidable, such as the initial purchase price of the puppy, and cost of food – which can skyrocket if you choose to take in a large dog!  The bottom line is that you have another mouth to feed, and that costs money.

 Cost of puppy (initial purchase)

 Depending on breed, the purchase price of a dog could range anywhere from $200 for a rescue pet, to $3000 for what is considered a ‘designer breed’ e.g. French bulldog. Breeds such as these are much sought after and breeders are able to charge a higher price for that reason. Dogs are often cheaper to initially purchase from an animal shelter.  If you are going to get a special breed make sure that you get it from a reputable, registered breeder.  Not only will you be helping to minimize the growth in puppy farms, but you are much more likely to get a dog which does not have (expensive) health issues.

Microchip costs

In most States of Australia, it is compulsory to microchip your dog (the Northern Territory is the only state which currently doesn’t require dogs to be microchipped). The average price for microchipping is $70, however, if you have purchased your puppy from an animal shelter or a reputable breeder, the microchipping would already have been done and therefore is included in the purchase price.  If you are purchasing a dog that has not been microchipped, this would be a warning sign that you are purchasing from a puppy farm or back breeder.


Each state of Australia, and each council within each state, has differing costs when it comes to dog registration. It is also usually much cheaper to register your dog if they are de-sexed, and even cheaper if you are the recipient of an eligible pension. Yearly registration is typically around $50 for a desexed dog, and about $200 for a dog who has not been desexed. According to Finder, desexing costs anywhere from $200-$500, depending on the age, sex, and size of the dog. If you get your puppy from a rescue organisation, the dog will generally already be desexed. If you’re lucky enough to live in New South Wales have a one-off lifetime registration fee of $57 for a desexed dog, $207 for a dog who is entire.

If your dog is considered a ‘dangerous’ or ‘menacing’ breed, the registration fees are much higher, anywhere from $350-$550.

Food over lifetime

The ideal amount to feed a healthy dog should be 2-3% of their body weight. Typically, the larger the breed of dog, and the more active they are, the more food is required, as they’ll be feeding from larger quantities and more often. This means that a 5kg dog would need 100-150g grams of food per day, a 20kg dog would need 400-600g per day, and a 40kg dog would need 800-1200g per day.

5kg Dog (3%)       20kg Dog (3%)   40kg Dog (3%)
Amount per year (g)54.75kg219kg438kg
Cost per year ($)$292-$365$1,168-$1,468$2,341-$2,926

If your dog requires, or if you choose to feed your dog a brand or type of food that is more expensive, the cost rises further. You can expect to pay anywhere from around $300 to $3000 a year in dog food costs, depending on the breed of dog (based on purchasing a 15kg bag of premium food for $80-100).


Necessary accessories such as a collar, leash, car restraint, kennel/dog bed, feeding bowls etc all add up. Usually the bigger the dog, the bigger the accessories required, which means they’re more expensive, so the cost of these items varies greatly. As an example, generally you’d be expecting to pay the following:

CollarLeashCar RestraintFoodFood/Water BowlsID Tag
$20 – $80$20 – $50$50+$100 – $300$15 – $60$20 – $50

 Vet work

The initial vet checkup and vaccinations can cost anywhere from $150-$250 (however, as previously mentioned, dogs adopted from an animal shelter generally have their vet work and vaccinations completed as part of the adoption process and are therefore included in the cost of purchase). Yearly veterinary visits and vaccinations will set you back around $120, and other medical costs including flea treatments and worming will set you back around $120 per year.

Pet insurance

Premiums are usually based on the breed and age of the dog. The average yearly cost of pet insurance comes in at around $390 for accident only cover for most breeds, and around $650 for accident and illness cover.  Cover can be more costly for particular breeds that have known health issues.  PetSecure has great affordable plans that have no excess charges and let you choose your own vet anywhere in Australia.

If you don’t take out pet insurance and your dog needs an operation, you could be forking out anywhere from $450 for a cataract removal, to over $2,000 for surgery to mend a broken limb. According to PetSecure, the highest claim in recent years for surgeries & treatments relating to broken limbs was $10,338. Pet insurance can cover up to 85% of these costs, up to a pre-determined limit.


If you choose to get your puppy professionally groomed, know that the larger the dog, the more expensive the grooming. For example, a full groom (which usually includes a full body cut, nails clipped, wash, blow-dry, ears and teeth clean) for a smaller breed dog can cost anywhere from $45. Most professional groomers will charge around $65 for a medium-sized dog, and anywhere upwards from $80 for a large dog.

Dogs should be groomed every four to six weeks.  Of course, you can also learn to groom your pet yourself to save yourself the money, but you will need to invest in some expensive equipment and a bit of training to be able to do a decent job!  Just check out what it takes to be a pet groomer!

Indicative first-year costs

DogMicrochipFoodRegistrationAccessoriesVetInsuranceGroom x 4

** The costs such as food, registration (with the exception of NSW), vet fees, insurance and grooming are recurring!

Time – and sleep!

One cost that puppy-parents may not always take into account is the amount of time spent, and sleep lost, caring for a new puppy. Much like a human baby, a puppy requires a lot of extra care, attention and guidance. People who have a puppy come into their care often spend upwards of 50-60 hours a month putting in extra attention to their fur-babies, whether it is for behavioural training, toilet training, or those mid-night wake-ups when your puppy cries when you’re asleep.   (Remember they are babies who are missing their Mummy).

These non-financial factors definitely impact largely on your life but it is all worth the effort  in the end when you have the joy of a new family member for many years to come.

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Liz Walden

Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure marketing for the past 10 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals

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