How much does it cost to have a dog - a working breed?
The cost of owning a 2-6 months old puppy.
You made your list, you checked it twice. Let's start charging. This is going to be a long one, but you want to know the truth, right? Okay then...
I'm certain you've heard before that you must have a crate. My rottie spends very little time in a crate, but when she was a wee-bit puppy, it was a safe way to transport her in a car, it's where she slept at night, which reminded her "to hold" until we went out to potty, it's where she hid when she got tired and needed a break, it's where she stayed when we took a shower, or did laundry. We did not have to purchase the said crate, as my sister's German Shepherd outgrew her puppy crate, and didn't mind passing it along. However, by 4 months, she outgrew her baby-crate, and needed another one. We purchased a giant plastic monstrosity that cost $100. It should last her a lifetime.
Colars and Leashes $70-$150
You will end up needing at least 3-4 leashes varying between 4-30 ft. Seeing that you want to own a working dog, you will need a variety of lengths to work on different skills. If you decide to take up drafting or tracking, you will also need to figure in specialty harnesses. The leashes we bought averaged about $10-15 a piece. We actually ended up replacing the first leash rather quickly, because she chewed a rip in it. Altogether, we spent about $100 on leashes and 3 colars (Rottweilers grow so fast, that we started out with a tiny pink sparkly thing, and within two months upgraded to two new snapped colars that she wouldn't outgrow very soon).
You must have toys. Working breeds are intelligent dogs, and they will get bored. Either you entertain them, or they will fill in the gap. Puppies, especially, have a need to chew on something, and if you would like to teach them not to chew on things that are important to you, you have to come up with an alternative. A variety of toys with different textures will keep your pup busy: ropes, kongs, stuffed toys, etc. You cannot expect 3-5 toys to occupy and entertain an intelligent dog. This means a planned monthly expense, which is higher when you are just starting out. It has nothing to do with spoiling your dog, and has much more to do with keeping a pup busy.
Our cost ended up being $200 within the first month of getting our pup, and about $50-$100 for the next two months to replace the toys she outgrew or destroyed (we removed any stuffing from the ripped toys, so that the pup doesn't swallow it).
We purchased 4 different beds in the first few months of Ella's life with us. The first one was sized for her puppy crate, and within two months became useless to a Rottweiler pup that doubled her size. Two more beds were acquired shortly after: one went in our bedroom, where Ella sleeps to this day, and another one went in the kitchen, where we spend quite a bit of time. We also purchased a bed to line her large crate, when the baby one was replaced. Each bed cost us on average $40, if you multiply it times four, you will figure that we spent about $160 on bedding alone.
Treats $30-$50 a month
Assuming you didn't get your working breed puppy for nothing, and you are planning to give her a proper job to do, and have every intention to train your pup, you will learn in your very first class that it is important to train with treats that your dog loves. That's an expense. Additionally, purchasing marrow bones, bully sticks and raw marrow bones will cost you a pretty penny (stay away from raw hide, since it breaks into sharp pieces, gets swallowed up, and sets up your furry loved one for an expensive vet visit). We found a store with exceptionally good prices, and are counting our blessings, because Ella can go through 4 bully sticks in one week.
Daycare $300 a month
I refuse to keep my sweet active Rottweiler girl in a crate for 8 hours a day. This means we have to make sure our budget includes $20 per day cost for daycare.
Vet's Visits $1,000
Oh boy. Vaccinations alone will run you $200-300. Let's start to add monthly Heartguard and Ticks&Fleas prevention medicine. Then your puppy will get an upset stomach, throw up, and you have an emergency visit bright and early in the morning. Once you add up the visit cost plus the diet food, plus the stool sample test, you will pay another $100. A month later, two suspicious sores will show up on her paws, and you will pay another $60 for the visit and a cream to put on her nubbins. Not much longer after, $300 will cover the cost of spaying, and if you dare to keep track, you will realize that in the first few months of owning your pup you spent over $1000 in vet cots alone, and nothing is even wrong with your dog! Getting the picture? I'll keep going.
Classes ($100-$300 per month)
A working breed dog must work. You must work with your dog. Formal training is an absolute must, there is no question about it. That proverb about one ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure? Even more true when it comes to powerful, intelligent dogs. Our rottie has been signed up for her first class before she came home with us at 8 weeks. In the first four months of living with us, Ella completed Puppy STAR program, three rounds of obedience, and started going to beginner's agility. She thrives in classes, and the classes provide focus for us with something new always to work on at home.
What you should take away from this article is a simple fact - you must be in a stable financial situation to provide a quality of life for your pup. If you are set on getting a working breed, don't underestimate the costs, or your puppy will end up being the one paying for your mistakes.