How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Dog?

Why pet owners are switching to online vet care with Dutch

  • Prescriptions delivered free to you

  • Fast access to Licensed Vets over video

  • Unlimited video visits and follow-ups

Adopting a dog is a big responsibility. Not only do you have to worry about the continuous expenses that come with dog ownership, but there’s also the initial upfront cost of adopting a dog from a shelter. Adoption fees range depending on the type of dog, shelter, and location. Of course, it’s completely up to the shelter how much they’ll charge for you to adopt a dog, but it can cost anywhere from $50 to $500.1

If you’re wondering, “how much does it usually cost to adopt a dog?” there are many factors to consider. While adopting a dog is a good decision for anyone willing to dedicate time and energy to providing a happy, stable home for a pet, not all individuals can afford to. Adoption fees vary from shelter to shelter and dog to dog, and there are many considerations to take before you bring home a shelter pup, especially when it comes to your finances.

Being a pet parent means spending more money per month on expenses for your pet after the initial adoption fee. The more prepared you are for how much you can expect to spend on a dog, the more stable your future should be together. Never rush into adopting a dog; you must ensure you can dedicate yourself to them completely, including spending the money to ensure their health and wellness. This article will discuss how much it costs to adopt a dog, including recurring expenses, to prepare you for the financial responsibilities of pet ownership.

The average cost to adopt a dog ranges from $50-500, excluding additional and ongoing fees

Costs To Consider When Adopting A Dog

Being a pet parent comes with many responsibilities, especially financial responsibilities. Since dogs require proper care, you must ensure you can afford to bring one home and care for them for the rest of their lives. If you’re not financially stable, now may not be the right time to adopt a dog. Remember, dogs at shelters have already been through a lot. They may have had multiple homes before the shelter, and some may have health or behavioral problems. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to provide a dog with a stable home environment. So, how much does it typically cost to adopt a dog? Costs you can expect when adopting a dog include:

Factors that influence adoption fees

Adoption Fees

As we’ve mentioned, dog adoption fees vary from shelter to shelter, and it’s up to a shelter’s discretion how much they charge to adopt a dog. However, these adoption fees help the shelter and the other dogs within the shelter that are waiting for their forever homes. Other factors can affect the adoption fee, including:

  • Location: Areas with high costs of living will likely have higher adoption fees.
  • Medical expenses: Most shelters take care of your dog’s initial medical expenses, including vaccination, deworming, microchipping, and spaying and neutering. The more medical attention a dog needs, the higher their adoption fee will be.
  • Age of dog: Puppies are usually more expensive because they have more medical expenses due to initial vaccinations. They’re also in higher demand. If you’re wondering, “How much does it cost to adopt a senior dog?” you can expect relatively low fees.
  • Time of year: Shelters may offer reduced adoption fees towards the end of the year.

While the adoption fee helps shelters earn more money, allowing them to take in more pets or provide the current dogs with better care, they also cover tons of expenses for pet parents, including:

  • Wellness exams
  • Vaccinations
  • Heartworm testing and prevention
  • Flea and tick treatment
  • Deworming
  • Microchipping

The items included in the adoption fee vary, but you can find out more information about a shelter’s fees by giving them a call or doing research online.

Veterinary Costs & Vaccinations

The pet adoption fee covers your dog’s initial medical treatments. However, pet parents should expect to pay other veterinary costs and vaccinations throughout their dog’s lifetime. Vaccines and wellness exams are inexpensive, and you only have to do them yearly. However, many dogs have to go to the vet more than that because they may have health conditions. For example, a dog with diabetes may need to visit the vet more frequently for testing and evaluation.

Of course, other things can send you and your dog to the vet, including accidents like jumping and hurting themselves, skin conditions, ear infections, allergies, and more.

Depending on your shelter dog’s behavior, you may also want to visit a vet behaviorist specializing in dog behavior, including anxiety and reactivity. Shelter dogs may have had many homes or been forced to live in poor conditions that have caused them to develop behavioral problems over time. Luckily, most dogs need a loving home and time with a pet parent who loves them. However, other dogs might experience issues that require a vet behaviorist to help you learn how to take better care of your dog based on their needs.

Unfortunately, you may be unable to predict the health problems your dog could have. Therefore, it’s best to research different breeds available at the shelter to prepare yourself for potential health problems.


Adopting a dog means being ready with the necessary supplies to bring them home. When you finally get your new dog inside your home, you won’t want to leave them to run out and grab the necessary supplies because it can be scary for them in a new environment. Instead, you should be prepared with :

  • A crate
  • Food and treats
  • House training supplies
  • Training supplies
  • A collar and/or harness
  • Leashes
  • A dog bed
  • Toys

Ongoing pet care costs

Ongoing Costs

When adopting a dog, be prepared for ongoing costs to ensure their health and wellness. Other than being able to always provide your new pup with food, consider these ongoing costs that may seem small but eventually add up:

  • Food: Your dog must eat a balanced diet daily to stay strong and healthy, so find a food your dog likes to ensure they’re getting proper nutrition.
  • Vet costs: Depending on your dog’s health, you’ll have to visit your vet at least once per year for vaccinations and a wellness exam.
  • Pet care: If you ever travel, you will need someone to take care of your pet while you’re away. Many doggy daycare facilities offer overnight boarding, and providing them with quality care can be expensive.
  • Toys: Dogs love to play, but they may tear up or destroy their toys from time to time, which means replacing them regularly to give your dog something to do.
  • Treats: Treats are especially important for training your dog, especially during the first few months.
  • Medications: Depending on the age and health of your dog, they may require medications to ensure their health and happiness.

Is It Better To Buy Or Adopt A Dog?

There are pros and cons to adopting a dog versus buying one. For example, when you adopt a dog, you may not be able to find a specific breed you want. Getting a dog from a breeder means choosing the type of dog you want, which may make it easier to find a dog with the temperament you’re looking for. However, if you can let go of the need for a certain breed, there’s no reason not to adopt a dog from a shelter over buying one. Here are the benefits of adopting a dog.

  • Less expensive: We’ve already answered the question, “How much does it cost to adopt a shelter dog?” However, you may not know that adoption fees are much cheaper than buying a dog. In addition, adopting a dog from a shelter can save you money because breeders are fairly expensive.
  • Saving a life: Many dogs at shelters don’t get a second, third, or fourth chance. Because shelters can get filled up quickly, dogs who have been in some the longest may be euthanized. Of course, some shelters don’t practice this, but it’s still possible for older dogs or dogs that haven’t been adopted for years. Adopting a dog from a shelter prevents them from being euthanized, allowing you to keep a dog who needs a safe home.
  • Trained: Many shelter dogs are already house-trained because they’ve had other homes. As you may know, house training is one of the first things you teach a puppy, and many dogs who were given up have already learned this. Some shelters even train dogs with basic commands to ensure pet parents have an easier time training them at home and won’t bring them back out of frustration.

Of course, shelter dogs may have behavioral problems because of the environment they grew up in. For example, dogs from shelters may resource guard because other dogs tried to steal their bones and toys in the shelter. Meanwhile, other dogs may have anxiety and reactivity due to previous unhealthy home life. Of course, not all shelter dogs have these issues, but it’s something to be prepared for because it’s a possibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should a puppy cost?

The cost of a puppy varies. If you adopt a puppy from a shelter, you can expect to spend much less. However, if you get a dog from a breeder, it can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, especially for a purebred dog. According to pet adoption statistics, up to 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred, so you can find one for much cheaper in a shelter than you can from a breeder.

What is the least expensive breed?

Mixed breeds are typically the least expensive types of dogs because they don’t come with as many health problems as purebreds. Luckily, mixed breeds come in all sizes, colorings, and mixtures of breeds, so you can find a dog based on your needs easily. When looking for a dog, do your research. Dogs that need more frequent grooming will be more expensive over time. Meanwhile, those with predisposed health conditions may need ongoing medical care.

Am I ready to adopt a dog?

Only you can determine if you’re ready to adopt a dog. However, if you can provide a dog with a stable home, you’ll likely make a great pet parent as long as you have the financial means to care for your dog. Dogs also require time commitments, especially when you’re first training them, and they can’t be left alone for too long because they need frequent potty breaks. If you can provide a dog with a loving, stable home where they’ll get all their basic needs met, you’ll make a good pet parent.

Black child playing with adopted dog in the backyard

Final Notes

The cost to adopt a dog varies by shelter, location, and the dog itself. The best way to understand how much you’ll spend on adoption fees is to research the shelter or give them a call to find out. Many shelters have online websites listing their current dogs and the adoption fees. In addition, of course, be prepared for other ongoing expenses, such as vet costs, food, toys, treats, and training, all things a dog needs to be happy and healthy.

Being a pet parent is a big responsibility, and shelter dogs have already been through a lot. As a result, some may be prone to anxiety issues, including reactivity and resource guarding. Luckily, with behavioral training and medication, many shelter dogs live happy lives with their new parents. Dutch behaviorists can help anxious shelter dogs feel more comfortable in their new home. Whether your dog suffers from separation anxiety or is fearful of people, a Dutch vet behaviorist can work with you to manage your dog’s anxiety and improve their quality of life.


  1. “Adoption Fees.” Animal Humane Society,

Memberships to keep your pet healthier

billed $132 yearly
Limited time: Get $25 OFF a product order
billed monthly

All memberships include:

  • Fast access to licensed vets
  • Virtual care for up to 5 pets
  • Customized Rx treatment plans
  • Unlimited video calls & follow-ups
  • Guaranteed low prices on medication
  • Free shipping on every order

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $7/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.