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Comparing the Initial Cost of Small vs. Large Dogs

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Are small dogs less expensive to live with than large dogs? While it’s easy to guess that the cost of food will be more for a large dog than a smaller dog, what about the start-up costs when that dog first arrives at your home?

The ASPCA has issued some good guidelines on dog costs, estimating the costs during a time when you’ll have spay/neuter costs, training classes, purchasing a crate, etc. Their estimates are:

  • Small dog $470
  • Medium dog $565
  • Large dog $560

Why, you ask (as did we), would it be cheaper to make purchases for a large dog than a medium dog? They allow $60 for a carrier bag for a medium-sized dog but no carrier bag for a large dog.

The cost of what you really need to start off your new puppy or dog varies by your plans for life with your dog (do you plan to travel with your dog? where will he sleep?), your shopping skills, and your willingness to shop for used items and great bargains. Here’s our list of your dog’s “starter kit,” items you need when you bring that new dog home:

  • Collars or harness. We recommend a collar for everyday wear that contains your dog tag and a separate collar (or harness) for the walk. We use a quick release collar for everyday wear and we bought the cheapest we could find when the dogs were in their chewing phase and literally chewed the collars off each other. (Cost: $3-5 each) For walking, we use Martingale collars, ones that tighten if the dog tries to back out but can’t tighten and choke your dog like a slip collar. (Cost: $6-12)
  • Dog tag. Our Walmart has a tag making machine and can include four lines of personalization; a tag costs $4-5.
  • Leash. We recommend purchasing a good leash that you’ll be happy with for a long time. Along with a leash that’s comfortable in your hands, you want one that’s secure for you to hold (we like a loop we can put a hand through then wrap for a good hold, NOT a retractable leash with a plastic grip.) We purchased leather leashes for about $15 each; they’re comfortable and strong, even with our 70-pound dog on the other end.
  • Dog Bed. You can easily make your own dog bed using discarded clothing and linens around the house (see our Dog Supplies section for ideas). Cost: free; $15-30 for inexpensive purchased bed.
  • Dog house. If your dog will be spending much time outdoors, you’ll need to supply a good dog house that will provide protection from the elements. Search Freecycle and Craigslist and you might find one for free; if purchased, expect to spend anywhere from $30-$80, depending on size (and more if you get fancy).
  • Crate. Crate training can help speed housetraining of young dogs and provide your dog with his own special, safe place within your home. Again, you can find crates on Freecycle and Craigslist as well as thrift shops if you keep looking; if new, expect to spend $30-$130, depending on size.
  • Bowls. You’ll need a bowl for food and a bowl for water (and we recommend two for each so you can wash them more frequently). We’ve purchased all of ours at thrift shops for $1-$2 each.
  • Toys. Our dogs absolutely love toys and have many (OK, we admit: too many) toys that we’ve picked up for as little as 25 cents at garage sales and thrift stores.
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About Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter is the founder and co-publisher of LT Media Group LLC. Along with her husband, John Bigley, she edits DogTipper.com, CatTipper.com, and has authored over 30 books on pets and travel.