Explore Pet Insurance

If you’re considering welcoming a pooch into the family, the initial cost of your furry friend is just one of the expenses you’ll need to consider.

While dogs are a lot of fun and great for companionship, security, and teaching children about responsibility, they do require ongoing care – which can add up over time. But just how much does a dog really cost?

We’ve crunched the numbers.

How much does it cost to buy a dog?

In 2022, the average reported price for dogs was $1,793, according to a report by Animal Medicines Australia.1 This cost can vary depending on the breed and age of the dog, plus whether you buy it from a breeder or adopt it from a shelter or rescue centre.

If you’re looking to purchase a purebred or designer dog, chances are it will be more expensive than a mixed-breed dog or a dog available for adoption.

Here’s a breakdown of how much Australians have forked out for their canine from 2020 to 2022:

Year Average cost of dogOwners who obtained their dog for free (%)
2020$930 – $1,43312% – 22%
Source: Animal Medicines Australia: Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people.

Of course, this is just the upfront cost of welcoming a dog into your home. It doesn’t include other things essential for your hound’s health and wellbeing, such as food, toys, vet bills, and other expenses.

Puppy and kid

How much does a puppy cost in their first year?

It could cost between $3,000 and $6,000 to care for your dog in the first year alone, according to MoneySmart.2 You’ll quickly find that expenses don’t stop after you’ve picked up your new puppy, however.

On the contrary, pet ownership is usually more expensive in the first year (up to double the annual cost of subsequent years) because you’ll likely have to fork out for prescribed costs like council registration fees, adoption fees (if applicable), microchipping, initial vaccinations, and de-sexing.

Thankfully, these are one-off expenses, and you can always purchase routine care cover through pet insurance to help cover a portion. You’ll probably also have to buy essential items to get your new pet started on the right paw, such as a collar, dog bed, and lead.

The cost of owning a dog over time

Pet owners spend an average of $3,218 on their dog each year, which is essentially the price of keeping your pooch fed, healthy, and happy.3 According to Animal Medicines Australia, this is what households are spending annually to look after their dog (which may include multiple per household), sorted by category:

Item(s) Average cost(s)
Dog food$2,024
Vet visits/services (including vaccination costs)$631
Healthcare products (including alternative products)$428
Accessories and other dog products$349
Grooming services$196
Training classes/behaviour therapy$166
Pet insurance$152
Kennel/boarding fees$104
Transport costs$70
Source: Animal Medicines Australia: Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people.

Keep in mind these are average cost estimations and will vary based on your dog’s breed, healthcare and lifestyle needs, expected lifespan (10-13 years), and more.

How much will annual vaccinations, worming, and flea checks cost?

Annual vaccinations and vet check-ups generally cost about $90, while worming, flea, and heartworm treatments can set you back up to $120, according to the RSPCA.4 Whether you’re a new dog owner or have been a fur parent for some time, it’s recommended to visit a vet at least yearly to keep your pet up to date with their preventative treatments.

Some pet insurance policies may help cover the cost of vaccinations if you have routine care as an optional extra. This type of cover can also help pay for worming, dental care, and even behavioural training. Furthermore, pets adopted from rescue centres may have their first round of injections included with their adoption fee. Chat with your insurance provider about any exclusions to see what you may need to pay for yourself.

Do I need to register my dog, and how much does it cost?

You’ll need to register all dogs you own with your local council – which can cost anywhere between $30 and $190 per dog per year.5 Councils may lower the cost in some circumstances – such as if your pet is de-sexed or a service animal like a guide dog.

The exact cost varies between councils, and each council has its own rules about how you register and how regularly you need to renew your pet’s registration. Contact them directly for this information.

How much does it cost to de-sex a dog?

Unless you’re a registered breeder, de-sexing your puppy is the responsible thing to do as a dog owner. This cost varies between the size, gender, and age of the dog, but is generally between $115 and $500.6

One of the perks of adopting or rescuing a dog is that they’re typically already de-sexed and this cost is usually included when you first adopt your pet.

Is it compulsory to microchip my dog, and how much does it cost?

You’re legally required to microchip your dog in all Australian states and territories, except in the Northern Territory where microchipping is a condition of registration in Darwin only. Of course, microchipping is recommended wherever you live, as it increases the chance of locating your pooch if they get lost or run away.

The average cost of getting your pet microchipped in Australia is around $45, according to the RSPCA.7 This microchipping cost can vary but is a one-time payment.

French bulldog at the vet

Like most insurance products, there are different levels of cover available. A basic accidental and illness policy may offer protection for certain ailments and injuries for a lower price or cover more specified illnesses and accidents (depending on your insurer and cover tiers). Alternatively, you may choose to insure your dog with a standard or comprehensive policy for more features and added peace of mind. Pet insurance prices vary based on which policy you take out and who you go with. Always remember to read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to know exactly what you are and aren’t covered for.

Read more about the types of pet insurance you can consider for your dog.

How much is pet insurance?

Pet insurance can cost roughly between $25 and $80 per month,8 although premiums may be more and will vary depending on factors like your pet’s age, breed, and health status, as well as your policy and insurer, to name a few. By comparison, vet bills and emergency medical procedures can tally up to the thousands, so the cost of pet insurance may not seem all that high. While a pet policy might not cover all these expenses, it can go a long way to ease the financial burden of some of these costs. It’s a no-brainer.

How can I reduce the cost of owning a dog?

Canines require a lot of attention and investment, but there are ways to reduce the costs involved in owning a dog and looking after them throughout their life.

Here are some ways you can keep costs down:

  • Adopt a pet. Adopting a rescue dog is generally more affordable than buying one from a pet store or breeder. Most shelters and rescue organisations include de-sexing, microchipping, and vaccines in the adoption cost and the fact you’re helping a dog find their forever home is just another bonus.
  • Find a pet that fits your lifestyle. If you work long hours and won’t get a chance to walk your dog regularly, a breed that requires lots of exercise and entertainment might not be right for you. Instead, do your research and find a dog that will work best for your lifestyle. Similarly, a smaller breed may save you on food costs and other expenses.
  • Insure your pet early. Get pet insurance early in your pet’s life and before they develop any health issues. That’s because most insurers treat diagnosed health problems as pre-existing conditions that may be covered for an extra premium, or even excluded from cover altogether.
  • Save where you can. For example, buy pet food in bulk, shop around for deals on accessories, groom your pooch yourself, skimp on doggie day care by getting someone you know to look after your dog, and perhaps watch some online training videos so you can do it yourself. You can look after your dog in many ways without forking the big bucks. Get creative!

Let us help you find insurance for your pet

Whether you’ve just purchased a puppy or want to protect your grown pooch’s health, we can help.

Our pet insurance comparison service compares a range of pet insurance policies online, in just one location. Within minutes, you can get an insurance quote for your dog and see what features different brands are offering on their policies.

Even if you already have pet insurance, there could be a more affordable option available. It pays to compare, so what are you waiting for?


1 Animal Medicines Australia – ‘Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people.’ Accessed March 2023.

2 Australian government Moneysmart – ‘Getting a pet – How much it costs to own a dog or cat.’ Accessed March 2023.

3 Animal Medicines Australia – ‘Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people.’ Accessed March 2023.

4 RSPCA NSW – ‘Learn about the responsibilities of being a pet owner.’ Accessed March 2023.

5 Australian government Moneysmart – ‘Getting a pet – How much it costs to own a dog or cat.’ Accessed March 2023.

6 Animal Medicines Australia – ‘Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people.’ Accessed 22/02/2023.

7 RSPCA South Australia – ‘The complete guide to microchipping your pet in South Australia – how, why and where.’ Accessed March 2023.

8 Obtained from completed quotes on our comparison service. The cheapest quote was for a young (< 1 year old) Ragdoll cat, desexed, in Brisbane. The dearest quote was for a young Labrador, desexed, in Brisbane, with the highest possible benefit percentage and highest annual limit and all options included (27 March 2023).

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