Should you get a dog while you’re in college? First, carefully consider the pros and cons; especially the financial aspects. Did you know that the average lifetime cost of owning a dog ranges between $27,000 to $43,000, according to the breed and size of the dog and based on the average lifespan of 10 to 12 years? Let’s break it down:
GETTING THE DOG
The least expensive way to procure a pooch is to go to the local animal shelter. For about $50, you can take home an animal that has been checked by a vet, spayed or neutered and probably microchipped. If you opt for buying a purebred, you could spend a fortune. For instance, a purebred Labrador retriever costs as much as $1,000.
EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING
Collars, leashes, bowls and toys can cost hundreds over time. And if you opt to crate train—always a good idea—you can expect to pay between $30 and $70, depending on the size of your dog. A good trainer, training class or “boot camp” run from $125 to thousands of dollars.
You can expect to pay between $55 and $235 a year for dog food; not to mention treats.
The average cost for routine vet care for your dog is $235, but again, it depends on the size of the dog. However, dogs can get injured or sick, and can even develop chronic conditions (kneecap dislocation, cancers, diabetes) that require surgery or lifelong treatment and can drain your pocketbook.
GROOMING AND BOARDING
If you get a long-haired dog, you might end up having to spend hundreds of dollars over time to get her groomed and bathed. If you travel somewhere and can’t take your dog along, there’s a couple of hundred spent for boarding.
PUPPY OR ADULT DOG?
Say you’ve decided that despite the cost, you want a canine companion. Next question: should you get a puppy or an adult dog? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
- Best time to socialize in order to raise a well-adjusted adult dog.
- Because cute.
- Housetraining takes at least a month or two, depending on how consistent you are in the training process.
- Puppies chew, and it is always the owner’s fault for not keeping the remote, or shoe, or whatever, out of the puppy’s reach. (Another excellent reason to crate train your puppy; he can’t get into trouble if he’s contained.)
- Puppies like to nip with their tiny, needle-sharp teeth; natural behavior with their canine litter mates that takes time to extinguish.
- Basically, an adult dog is housetrained/very easy to housetrain.
- Adult dogs don’t, as a rule, chew or nip.
- You know what size dog you’re getting!
- Not as cute as puppies.
- The dog’s history may contain some trauma that you are unaware of that can develop into problem behaviors.
If you decide that getting a dog is something you can handle, go for it! You’ll have the best friend money can buy.