Project Puppy: care and expense

Bringing home a dog is a lifetime commitment, the first of which can be the most expensive money- and time-wise.

Veterinary expenses

In an ideal world, a puppy would require veterinary visits for only the most routine vaccinations and checkups. Unfortunately, some dogs tend to be more prone to health issues. If you are considering a purebred dog, be sure to carefully research breed specific health concerns such as joint, heart, eye, skin, and breathing issues.

A client of mine welcomed a beautiful, wrinkly English Bulldog pup into her family with all of the high hopes one would expect from a new puppy parent. Unfortunately, within the first six months she had to make upwards of twenty visits to the veterinary and to veterinary specialists as the pup developed severe skin and breathing issues.

While she adores her dog and is committed to providing all the care he needs, she says that she might have chosen differently had she known that the breed tends to suffer from these issues more so than many others. While a dog of any breed or mix may someday require extensive veterinary treatment (which you should be prepared to provide), some types of dogs have the odds against them in regards to long-term health issues.


Providing a dog with a high quality diet is one of the fundamental responsibilities in regards to their overall well being. The difference in cost for a medium versus large sized dog is probably not vast. But, the cost of feeding a 5-pound dog versus a 120-pound dog surely is. Head to your local pet store and make a calculation of what a monthly supply of food will be for the size of dog you are considering and be sure you can comfortably budget for this for the next 15 years.


For years I shared my life with Gordon Setters. I really enjoyed the time spent grooming them and was proud when people would comment on their beautiful, flowing black and tan coats. But, not everyone is prepared to commit the time for at home grooming or the expense of hiring a professional groomer to maintain a coat like this. Grooming is an essential part of helping to maintain any dog’s overall well-being, but some require a much more diligent commitment. So, be sure you choose a dog whose grooming requirements you can meet.

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Andrea Arden is an animal behavior counselor, rescuer, author, speaker, and a resident pet expert on the Today Show. For more information, check out her website,