Christmas puppy

That New Christmas Puppy Will Cost You

As a child, I spent year after year asking Santa for a puppy for Christmas.  To my disappointment, no puppy ever appeared under the tree.  I did, however, eventually get my long-desired pooch through a deal I made with my mother when I was in high school.  The deal: I’d be allowed to get a dog after successfully graduating with a college degree.  My mom agreed to these terms, believing all the while that I would lose interest or have a change of heart.  Joke’s on you mom!  Anyone who knows me knows I’m unrelentingly stubborn.  And this was no different.  So, many years later, my Christmas puppy finally arrived.

Even though I didn’t receive my puppy on Christmas morning, I still think of her as my Christmas puppy because her birthday falls on Christmas Eve.  All this to say, she’s really my inspiration for this article.

Christmas puppy

Today, my dog is my best friend and I cherish my memories of her as a goofy puppy, including the time she befriended an ant!

Now, some of you reading this may be looking to purchase or adopt a puppy in time for the holidays!  I’m talking one your significant other or children will find waiting under the tree, wrapped with a giant bow.  As PERFECT a gift you may think a Christmas puppy is, there’s a lot that goes into owning a dog.

Before you get that puppy, here’s a few financial considerations:

Adopt or Purchase?

First things first.  Will you adopt from a local shelter or purchase your Christmas puppy from a breeder?  A number of factors may go into this decision, including: 1) the breed, 2) desired age, and 3) accessibility and credibility of breeders or the local animal shelter. 

1) Dog Breed

Many people (myself included) seek out a certain breed of dog based on breed profiles.  Here’s a list of the most common dog breeds you can find in animal shelters, according to Chewy.  If you’re hoping to adopt and you’re interested in one of the dog breeds on this list, then that’s great!  Hopefully you’ll have no trouble finding your Christmas puppy through an animal shelter. 

However, certain breeds may be hard to find.  And if you have allergies and need a hypoallergenic dog, you may have limited options if you choose to adopt your Christmas puppy through an animal shelter.  I recommend conducting your own research if you’re restricted by breed to see which option makes sense for you.

2) Desired Age

Another factor that goes into the adopt vs. purchase debate is the desired age of the dog you want.  If you want a puppy, you may decide to purchase from a breeder.  Animal shelters may also have puppies available, although there is generally a larger supply of older dogs to choose from.

While older dogs are typically viewed less favorably, there are lots of benefits to choosing an older dog.  Older dogs are often more mellow than puppies, which might mean less destruction and more cuddles.  Moreover, older dogs might already be potty-trained and know several commands, saving you the effort (and possibly money) involved in training a new puppy.

3) Accessibility and Credibility

One additional consideration is accessibility and credibility.  For accessibility, are there a large supply of dogs available in your area or will you have to travel far and wide to find a specific breeder?  Although many breeders offer transportation services, this also runs up the cost and is often a stress-inducing experience for the dog.  I’d advise you meet your furry best friend before bringing him or her home; if you’re unwilling to travel to get to a breeder, you may decide it’s best to adopt a dog at your local animal shelter.

Additionally, if you choose to purchase your Christmas puppy through a breeder, ensure you are using a reputable breeder by doing your research and asking for recommendations.  Poor breeding practices can cause health or temperament problems in dogs that may not be apparent when they’re puppies (Humane Society).

Based on the above considerations, hopefully you have a better idea whether adopting or purchasing a dog is best for you.  You may also decide to consider the cost of adopting vs. purchasing.  According to USA Today, the cost to purchase or adopt a dog, on average, ranges from $100 – $2,500 as follows:
    – Adopt from a shelter: $100 – $500
    – Purchase from a breeder: $500 – $2,500+

Please keep in mind this is simply the cost to obtain the dog.  There’s lots more costs associated with being a great pet parent. 

Gear and Food

Once I knew I was getting a dog, it was time to prep for our newest family member!

Any guesses to how much I spent before bringing home my puppy?  My initial order of supplies included a crate and mat, collar and leash, shampoo, a harness, potty pads, a pooper scooper, poop bags, a hairbrush, a few toys, and a play pen.  Grand total: $180!  And this was back in 2018.  Factor in inflation over the last few years and you might need to spend closer to $200 – $250 for the same supplies in today’s dollars.

Christmas puppy

In addition to those staples, you need to purchase dog food, or make it yourself if you’re a real overachiever.  When I first got my dog, I purchased her food in bulk from Costco.  But, like me, she’s a picky eater!  And it didn’t take her long to turn her nose up. 

Nowadays, I buy her the primo dog food from The Farmer’s Dog.  I pay approximately $110 per month.  Keep in mind, this is the cost for a small dog weighing 20 lbs.  A medium to large dog will require larger portions of food, which means you’ll need to spend more money, unless you choose to make your own dog food or choose lower-quality brands or ingredients.

Puppy Vaccination Shots

Once you have your Christmas puppy, first things first – you have to check if they’re healthy!  That means a stop at their favorite place…the vet.  Dogs need require annual vaccinations to protect them against common illnesses and severe diseases, but puppies require additional vaccines during their first year. 

According to the American Kennel Club, puppies need several core vaccines; administered in a series at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks old, costs for these initial core vaccines can average between $75 – $100. 

It’s worth noting that shelters often charges less for vaccines, and if you obtain your dog through the shelter, the dog would most likely already be vaccinated up through the age you received him or her (American Kennel Club).


Who doesn’t love a good spa day?!

dog bath brush

For some dog breeds, regular grooming is a MUST.  This is the case for my dog; she’s a mini poodle mix with very curly hair.  Without frequent trips to the groomers, her coat becomes matted.  This can lead to health problems.  Suffice to say, we take her to the groomers every 5 weeks.  The cost, including the tip, comes out to $70 per visit, or about $700 per year. 

Alternatively, you could try grooming your dog yourself to save some money.  But be forewarned it’s easier said than done!  Trust me.  I learned the hard way when I tried a nail grinder on my pup only to accidentally hit her quick.  She shrieked out in pain and almost fell off the counter.  10/10 would never try again!

Also, it’s worth noting that depending on the dog breed, you may not need to bring your dog to the groomers frequently or at all. 

Daycare and/or Dog-Sitting Needs

Another potential expense are the costs associated with daycare and/or dog-sitting. 

Initially, I brought my dog to daycare.  Although it was a great way to socialize her, I soon realized it was an overwhelming experience for her and there was a chance of her coming home sick or injured from rough play.  So, I switched and brought her over a dog-sitter’s house for the day, where she played with a smaller number of dogs.

In either case, services cost about $40 per day.  For a five-day work week, that’s a whopping $200 per week.  Or about $800 a month!

In the aftermath of COVID, myself or a family member is able to work remotely with her.  But if you have a job that requires you to be away from home for a long duration, you may need to factor in these costs when you decide to purchase a puppy for Christmas.  Similarly if you need to travel and don’t have anyone to watch your dog, plan to spend some serious cash to have your dog boarded.

Unexpected Medical Issues

Lastly, it’s important to plan for the unexpected.  So before committing to a Christmas puppy, you need to have sufficient funds set aside to properly care for your Christmas puppy in case of an unexpected health emergency.

Christmas puppy

My brother has probably had the worst luck with his puppies experiencing random medical issues out of anyone I’ve known.  Of his two dogs, one had an inverted colon and the other, early-onset hip dysplasia.  Both dogs required surgery.  The bill for the first surgery cost $6,000 and the bill for the second surgery – which hasn’t happened yet – is expected to be at least $2,000. 

Luckily, my brother purchased pet insurance, which meant he only paid a small amount out-of-pocket.  Based on data gathered by the 10 top pet insurers, pet insurance costs between $28 – $90 per month, on average (MarketWatch).  This comes out to an average of $336 – $1,080 per year. 

Still Interested in Purchasing a Christmas Puppy?

On the high-end of the range, a Christmas puppy might cost you close to $10,000 and on the low-end, a total of about $1,000.  Truth be told, you’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle of that range.  Based on a recent survey, most dog owners spend a total of $4,512 per year on their dogs (USA Today).  Make sure you can afford these costs before bringing home a puppy for Christmas!

So, what’s the verdict?  Is a Christmas puppy for you?  The point of this article is not dissuade you from purchasing a dog.  God knows I read plenty of those when I was looking at purchasing my own-dog and as a first-time dog owner, there were moments where I felt like I may not be fit to be a dog owner.  The point of this article is simply to get you thinking of all the different financial considerations that go into owning a dog.

a puppy for Christmas

If you’re having cold feet on purchasing that Christmas puppy, check out why stock makes a great gift this holiday season.

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Hi! I'm Mikaela, a blogger, CPA, soon-to-be bride, dog-mom, and self-proclaimed finance enthusiast. Join me on my journey to uncover some of the best financial practices and investment opportunities.

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