As well as being the first line in a pretty catchy kids’ song, ‘how much is that doggy in the window?’ is a prudent question to ask when thinking about getting a canine companion.

People considering buying a puppy are being urged to consider the life-long cost and commitment.And it’s not just the upfront cost of getting a dog, it’s the ongoing financial commitment—potentially for 16 years or more—that also needs to be considered.

Recent research has found on average, a dog owner will spend $3200 every year on their furry friend.

Over a million additional dogs have been brought into Australian households since 2019. Demand for puppies has far outstripped supply since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, seeing prices soar to more than $10,000 for some desirable breeds.

On top of the purchase price, upfront costs include microchipping, de-sexing and vaccinations.

RSPCA WA Executive Manager Animal and Enforcement Operations, Hannah Dreaver, said choosing to adopt rather than shop isn’t as hard on the hip pocket.

‘Adoption is cheaper than buying from a registered breeder, but the adoption fee will still run into the hundreds, maybe even more, to cover the cost of microchipping, de-sexing, vaccinations and other health care your rescue puppy or dog will have received in the shelter,’ Hannah said.

‘You also still need to consider those yearly and unexpected costs which are the same whether you shop or adopt.

‘One of the great things about adoption, apart from giving a dog a second chance at life and forming an incredible bond with them because of it, is reputable shelters will be able to tell you about the dog’s health and behaviour so you’ll have a better idea of what costs you may be in for.’

Other upfront dog ownership costs include council registration, bedding, toys, accessories, and dog training classes.

Then there’s routine health costs like yearly vaccinations and worming, ongoing medical costs if your dog develops a condition such as arthritis or allergies, as well as vet costs for injuries and unplanned surgeries.

Good quality food and treats, pet insurance, grooming, and even kennelling, pet sitters or doggy day care are other costs to consider.

For this reason, Hannah says pets should never be given as a surprise gift.

‘The new owner has to have given a lot of thought about being ready to welcome a pet into their lives, including the upfront and ongoing costs, and their lifestyle and living situation and the kind of pet most suited to their family.’

Mabel and MontyOne person who knows the impact of dog ownership on her wallet all too well is RSPCA WA employee Lou Rowe who has spent more than $5600 at the vet alone on her two dogs, Mabel and Monty, in the past year.

‘They’re both 10 now so conditions like arthritis, which needs constant management and regular vet visits, are creeping in,’ Lou said.

‘The most I’ve ever spent in one go is $7000 when Mabel did her anterior cruciate ligament when she was four.

‘I’ve never been more grateful for pet insurance even though that’s another $2300 combined cost every year.

‘Overall, I would say we are out of pocket $8000 in total for both dogs each year, after pet insurance rebates.

‘The reality is we won’t being going overseas or even interstate for a holiday while that continues to be the case, but they are worth every cent and more and it’s a sacrifice my husband and I are happy to make to ensure they are healthy and happy.’

For those who do decide to buy a puppy instead of adopting, never buy from Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or similar, never buy from a pet shop and never buy sight unseen. Don’t agree to meet in a mutual location for a handover. Always meet your new puppy and its mum in the home where it’s being raised and never buy a puppy less than 8 weeks old.