What Does it Cost to Adopt a Dog?

Adopting a dog might cost you a pretty penny.
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Let's face it, dogs aren't cheap. Forget buying a cute puppy -- even adopting one will set you back at least a few hundred dollars. How many hundreds depends on a number of things: where you live, where you're adopting from, what dog you want and many, many other factors. Still interested? Then make sure you understand the expenses are beyond the initial fees and be ready to pay for puppy's care.

Adoption Fee

Your first expense before you bring Rover home will be the adoption fee. Trying to guess the amount of the adoption fee is a bit, well, impossible. And no, the fee doesn't change based on the level of cuteness or the breed -- or lack of it -- of the doggie you want. Adoption fees vary from city to city and depend on what the "adoption package" includes. Most shelters will sterilize and vaccinate Rover before you can take him home, but some shelters also microchip, test for heartworm and more. All this will affect the adoption fee. Fees can range from anywhere from as low as $25 to as high as $200 or more.

Special Adoption Fees

Some shelters have different prices depending on the age or the size of the dog. So in this case, choosing a young ball of fur or a cute lap dog will cost you. If you need an example, here it is: at the time of publication, the Michigan Humane Society will charge $275 for adult lap dogs -- those that weigh 20 pounds or less -- and cute fluffy dogs under four months of age. Want any other dog? It will cost you just $175 to take him home. This is just a clever way to nudge you toward adopting an older or bigger dog, rather than being blinded by the cuteness of the younger puppies.


Even before you head to the shelter to pick your new bouncy companion, you should stock up on supplies at the pet store. Sorry, the adopted puppy won't come with his own luggage full of necessities, so you should prepare for it. Aside from basic needs -- such as bowls, collars and ID tag, toys and a leash -- you'll also need pee pads, a crate if you plan on doing crate training, a dog bed and whatever else falls in the "oh-that's-so-cute" category when you're at the store. For all this, you will need $100 or more again, and that's before you even buy the puppy food.

Follow-Up Care

The younger the puppy, the more it will cost you to adopt him. You already learned that when you looked at the higher adoption fees, but here's some more. If you adopt a very young dog, chances are he's only had one or two rounds of vaccines, and he might need more. That could easily come up to $100 or more per vet visit. The good news? Adopting a doggie from a shelter will save you the cost of spaying or neutering, which can easily cost you up to $300, depending on Fido's size, sex and age.