By: Anoop Nain

If you’re thinking about getting a dog but you’re worried you can’t afford one, you might be considering adopting a dog instead of buying one from a breeder or store. Adoption makes fiscal sense, but how much can you save by adopting instead of buying? Let’s take a look…

Initial outlay costs

Whether you are purchasing a dog or adopting a dog there are costs involved. These costs may include purchasing price, admin fees, obedience training, accessories, local council registration, micro-chipping, de-sexing and more. As you can imagine, the most costs you need to cover the more expensive your dog will initially be.

From a breeder…

When purchasing a puppy from a breeder or pet store you are essentially starting from scratch and therefore likely to face more bills. Costs you can expect to pay include:

Purchase price: up to $3500

The price of purchasing from a breeder is typically influenced by the demand for that particular breed. Reputable breeders will charge fair and competitive prices, while backyard breeders will charge high prices to earn a profit. Reputable breeders know their breeds and can refer buyers to other satisfied customers. Backyard breeders will sell to whomever is willing to pay.

Medical costs: up to $1,000 in the first year and $500 thereafter

Initial vet expenses include microchipping, vaccinations, de-sexing, vet checkups and preventative medication for fleas, ticks and heartworm.

Accessories: up to $500

To ensure your dog doesn’t run away and can be easily identified you will need to invest in a collar, tag and leash. You’ll also need bowls for food and water, bedding, toys and a car restraint.

Puppy school: Up to $250

Puppy school is generally geared for puppies aged 8 – 16 weeks to help them get better acquainted with their world, other dogs and humans. Behaviours are easy to pick up while dogs are young and obedience training can help connect the dog and owner. Expect to pay up to $250 for a six-week group class or around $100 – $150 for a private obedience class.

Local council registration: up to $210

Registration fees with your local council will last a lifetime and will cost around $58 for an animal de-sexed by the relevant de-sexing age and $210 for an animal not de-sexed by the relevant de-sexing age. Cheaper registration is applicable for pensioners.

Pet insurance: approx $840 a year

The average comprehensive pet insurance policy costs $840 a year for dogs but what you pay will depend on the policy you want and the breed of your dog. Generally speaking it costs more to insure pups like French Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, Great Danes and Rottweilers and less to insure breeds such as Jack Russels, Cavoodles and Australian Shepherd’s. Before purchasing a puppy from a breeder, make sure to check out this puppy buyer questionnaire and the important questions you need to ask.

Initial cost for a new puppy from a breeder: up to $6,300

From a shelter

Adoption costs vary depending on the facility you receive the dog from and factors such as age, breed etc. You can expect some of the same first year costs associated with a puppy from a breeder but other costs will be factored into your adoption fee or avoided altogether.

Adoption fees: up to $500

Adoption fees generally help cover a small fraction of the cost of preparing an animal for a new home. At RSPCA Victoria, for example, each animal is desexed, microchipped, vaccinated, and given a health and behaviour check before being adopted out. This will cost you $400 for an adult dog and $440 for a puppy that’s under six months old. If you adopt a senior dog that’s ten years or older you will be exempt from an adoption fee.

Accessories: up to $500

When adopting a dog from a shelter you may receive some accessories included in your adoption fee such as a lead and collar. You may also receive a free bag of premium dog food to get you started on a healthy diet. You will, however, need to purchase other accessories such as dog bowls for food and water, bedding and a vehicle restraint.

Local council registration: up to $29

Registration fees with your local council are reduced when you adopt a dog from an animal shelter and will generally cost you around $29 for a lifetime registration.

Pet insurance: approx $840 a year

The average comprehensive pet insurance policy costs $840 a year for dogs but what you pay will depend on the policy you want and the breed of your dog. If you’ve adopted an older dog you may find your insurance premium is higher than the average.

Initial cost for adopting a dog from a shelter: up to $1,869 (if you adopt a puppy you may need to add the cost of puppy school to this and if you adopt an older dog you may face larger insurance costs.)

The savings

As you can see from the breakdown above, the initial costs of adopting a dog from a shelter can be significantly lower than the costs associated with buying from a breeder. If you adopt an older dog that doesn’t require obedience training you can save yourself up to $4,431! This saving can go towards ongoing costs which are estimated to be approximately $1,975 per year. This is broken up by food, vet care, health products, grooming and accessories.

Beyond the savings

The money you save when adopting a dog from a shelter is a big drawcard for adoption rather than buying. Beyond the savings though, there are many other reasons why adoption is the better option. If you’re thinking about adding a furry four-legged friend to your family here are some other things to think about…

You’re helping to break the cruel puppy factory cycle

As long as animals are purchased from pet shops and online, cruel puppy factories will continue to exist. Adopting from a rescue group or shelter is the simplest way to take a stand against puppy factory cruelty.

You’re offering a second chance

In 2017-18, RSPCA, Australia’s oldest, largest and most trusted animal welfare organisation, took 132,657 animals into their animal shelters and adoption centres, including 40,286 dogs. 25% of these dogs will never get adopted. The more people who adopt dogs the less dogs there are housed in shelters.

You’ll be matched with your soul mate

Most good animal shelters have an application process that helps to match you with the right furry friend. Think of a shelter as a matchmaker that can find you the right dog to match your lifestyle, living arrangements and family. The more information you provide the better they can match you with the perfect dog.

Your adoption fee goes back into helping more animals

Your adoption money doesn’t just go into the pockets of a single breeder or organisation – it is used to ensure more dogs are cared for, happy and healthy. Often animal shelter dogs are cared for in the homes of volunteers, allowing them to be properly assessed in the home environment. This can be really helpful if you already have a dog or children. When you adopt a dog it opens up a new spot for another dog in need to go to a volunteer.