Interested in adopting a dog? You are not alone. As people learn about the horrors of puppy mills, dog adoptions are becoming the preferred method of getting a dog. This is good news to the more than 127,000 dogs currently looking for a home on Petfinder.com. But even as more people choose to adopt, they often don’t know the cost to adopt a dog prior to starting the process. With this in mind we decided to sort through the adoption posts on petfinder.com to answer the question ‘What does it cost to adopt a dog?’
How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Dog?
The cost to adopt a dog varies based on a few factors. The age, geographic location, interest in the dog and the organization type can all have an effect on the cost. The cost to adopt a puppy ranged from $61 and $1,750 with typical costs falling between $200 and $500. The cost to adopt an adult dog ranged from $50 to $1,200 with typical costs falling between $100 and $350. Across the board puppies fetched a higher price than adult dogs. Senior dogs and special needs dogs were at the lower end of costs.
Meet Malcolm. Malcolm is a 2 month old Labrador Retriever mix located in Wakefield, RI. Malcolm’s adoption fee is $585
How Do These Factors Affect The Cost?
The age of the dog has a big impact on the cost to adopt that dog. Puppies have always been in high demand and many people are willing to pay a higher price to get one. People often believe that it is easier to train and bond with a dog if you get them as a puppy. What they might overlook is that you need to know how to train a puppy in order to bond with them. At the very least they need to have the time to take them to a training class. The lack of experience and time often results in older puppies or young dogs being surrendered to shelters due to behavioral problems. This brings me to the other reason puppies are more expensive to adopt. There are fewer puppies available to adopt compared to older dogs.
These Golden Retriever puppies are in Bath, Ohio for $500 each.
Where the dog is located can also have an effect on the adoption fees. Locations with a higher cost of living tend to have higher adoption costs. This is partially due to the higher cost for medical care, dog food, and housing. Another contributing factor is that populations in high cost areas tend to have more disposable income to spend on the dog they want.
Meet Harry. Harry is a purebred Golden Retriever located in Westchester County, NY. He is estimated to be between 1 to 2 years old. Harry’s adoption fee is $1,200.
The same is true for locations with a lower cost of living. These areas will generally have lower adoption costs due to the lower cost of care and have less people willing to pay a premium for a dog. However there are exceptions to this. It has become a common practice to transport dogs from lower cost areas in the south to higher cost areas in the north. In these cases the adoption costs may also reflect the cost of transport.
Meet Ross. Ross is a Golden Retriever and Rottweiler mix in Rogers, Arkansas. At the time of writing he was being held by the City of Rogers – Animal Services. Ross’s adoption fee is just $61.
Although most government run shelters and some rescues charge a flat fee based on age others will base the adoption cost on the anticipated demand for a particular dog. Dogs with high demand tend to be purebred or mixed breed “designer” dogs. The justification for charging a higher cost is that the extra fees will help pay for the medical expenses of another dog in need or the general expenses for less adoptable dogs. In at least one dog adoption post we came across it was stated that the reason for the higher cost was to prevent someone from reselling the dog at a higher price.
Pur is a 5 month old Aussiedoodle in Elk Grove, CA. Her adoption fee is $1,000
Non-designer mixed-bred dogs tend to have lower adoption fees.
Earl Grey is believed to be a Labrador Retriever and White Shepherd Mix in Berea, Kentucky. He is up to date on his vaccinations and is neutered. His adoption fee is $200
If you have read some of my other posts on adoption you know that we once adopted a purebred Golden Retriever from a local shelter. I can’t remember the exact cost to adopt him but it was fairly low. The low cost was contributed to a couple of things. First we adopted him about 20 years ago and secondly he came from a city shelter. You can still adopt dogs from local government shelters but you may be competing with local rescue groups. This is because rescue groups may take these dogs in before anyone else has a chance to adopt them. Before you get upset about this let me tell you why rescue groups are doing us all a favor.
Shelly appears to be a goldendoodle puppy, but the ad states they do not know what her breeding is. She was being held at the Fort Wayne Animal Control in Fort Wayne, In. Her adoption cost is $125.
Every time a rescue group takes a dog from a shelter they are opening up space for another dog. Unlike rescue groups, government run shelters have a limited amount of space to work with. No space means a dog is put down. Rescue groups on the other hand will hold on to a dog until they find them a home.
As more people chose to adopt rather than buy the demand for rescue dogs has increased. This allows rescue groups to be selective when finding homes for their dogs. Having gone through the process already we provide you with the tips and tricks you need to get a rescue dog in Rescue Dogs: Tips on How to Get One
Rescue groups serve another purpose. They will often vet the dogs before putting them up for adoption. Since rescue groups use foster homes to house their dogs, the host gets a chance to see what the dog is really like to live with. Medical and behavioral issues are generally taken care of by the rescue before becoming available for adoption.
Ember was rescued from a kill shelter in Texas. She was brought to a foster in Virginia to hopefully be adopted. She is listed as a German Shepherd Puppy. Embers adoption fee is $325
When we adopted Charlie the only thing we knew about him was that he originally brought into the shelter as a stray and was returned by the previous adopter because he was “too big”. Now Charlie was a large dog but they would have known that before adopting him. What we found out about Charlie after bringing him home was that he liked to roam and that he had behavioral issues. As experienced dog owners we were able to work through the issues, but I understand why the other adopters chose to return him. Rescue groups are more vested in the process so they want to make sure a dog is not returned.
Meet Cash. Cash’s mom was abandoned and had her puppies under a barn. Cash and his siblings needed to be bottle fed by their foster mom. Cash is located in Nahunta, Ga. The adoption fees at this rescue ranges between $100 to $200.
What is included in the Adoption fee?
Adoption fees are often a bargain once you realize what is covered by the fee. What is covered can vary, but most cover:
- Medical check-up
- All required age appropriate shoots
- Heartworm testing, prevention and treatment when necessary
- Deworming for puppiesSpay or neuter
- Cost to board or foster the dog.
- This includes items like food, treats, pee pads, toys etc.
Brady is a Golden Retriever and Standard Poodle mix in Tampa, Fl. His is approximately 4 years old and was rescued from a local shelter. He needed to be shaved down due to the extensive matting and comes with free training. His adoption fee is $250.
Some places also include in their fees:
- Dog License
- Identification tags
- Flea and Tick Prevention
- Dental Checkup
- Training Classes
Dog Adoption – These days there are so many places where you can go to adopt a dog. Which one should you choose? We look at the pros and cons of each and touch on where you should not go for your dog adoption in Dog Adoption – Finding Your Perfect Pup
In addition to the cost of the adoption fee some rescue groups require that you pay a non-refundable application fee in order to have your application processed. This fee is used to pay for the processing of the application. Fees typically ranged between $10 and $25 per application.
Some rescue groups will ship the dog to you for an additional cost. The cost is based on the location of the rescue, length of the trip and how they are transported. The transportation costs we saw ranged from $50 to $500 for ground transportation. If the rescue routinely transports dogs to a certain area they may include the cost to the adoption fee rather than charge it separately.
This beautiful boy is Landon. His mom was a town stray in Reform, Alabama. He is offered for adoption in Connecticut but will reside in Alabama until he has found a home. Landon’s adoption fee is $499 which includes the cost of transportation to Connecticut.
Spay or Neuter Deposits
It is becoming more common for rescues to allow puppies to be adopted prior to having them spayed or neutered. But they still want all dogs to be fixed so rescues and shelters are now requiring a deposit at the time of adoption that is refundable once the dogs are fixed. The deposit request we saw ranged between $75 and $250 dollars.
What is a Benefactor Dog?
A benefactor dog is generally a purebred or designer dog that people are willing to pay a higher adoption fee to get. The idea behind benefactor dogs is that the high fees help support dogs that need medical attention or for the care of dogs that are harder to place. The adoption fees vary for benefactor dogs but are always higher than the standard fees for the rescue.
Dutch Lucky is a French Bulldog puppy in Indiana. His adoption fee is $1,750. It is noted in his profile that his adoption fee “will be used to cover veterinarian expenses of other dogs in need “
How We Determined the Typical Cost to Adopt a Dog
To find the typical cost to adopt a dog we took a sampling of the thousands of dogs that were available across the US on petfinder.com at the time of writing. Since rescue groups and shelters are free to charge what they want, the “typical” cost may change. In order to make the comparisons between the different regions, ages, health and organization type we concentrated on a few breed types. This included mixed breed dogs and the 5 most popular dog breeds; the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, French Bull Dog, Poodle and Poodle mix.
Beyond the Initial Cost to Adopt a Dog
So far we have focused on the cost to adopt a dog from a rescue. But the cost of dog ownership doesn’t end there. There are basic items you will need in order to take care of your new dog. Things like food bowls, food, collar, leash and toys to name a few. Annual visits to the veterinarian will be needed to ensure your pup is healthy and up to date with all their vaccines. Taking care of your pup will be an ongoing expense, so make sure you know what the costs are before you adopt and that you have the means to cover them.
If you are a new dog parent you may be wondering what you need to take care of a puppy. In What You Need for a New Puppy we go over the essential items you must get for any dog.
A Word About the Dogs
All the dogs shown in this post were available for adoption on petfinder.com at the time of writing. Most of them will hopefully be adopted by the time you read this, but there are many more just like these who are looking for a home. Please consider opening your heart and your home to one of them