Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog breed in America. They’re friendly, social, and curious demeanor make them one of the best choices for families.
But Labs, like any other dog breed, require a significant financial investment. Before deciding to get a dog, you should consider your financial situation, since you’ll be committing to your Lab for over 10 years.
People are often surprised at how much it can cost to raise a Lab. In addition to any breeder or adoption fees, you’ll have to spend hundreds of dollars per year on food and vet bills. Over the course of your Lab’s life, these costs can run well over $10,000.
Here, we’ll break down the main costs you can expect while raising your Lab. Keep in mind that costs will vary widely depending on where you live.
Before you bring your Lab home, there are a few upfront costs that you’ll have to pay. The first is the adoption or breeder fee, which can vary widely depending on where you get your Lab.
Breeder fees vary significantly, and often depend on the type of Lab that you want to get. Labs are the most popular dog breed in America, so they tend to cost a bit less than designer breeds.
In general, you can expect to pay around $1,500 for a Lab from a reputable breeder. Be suspicious of any prices that are significantly lower than this, as this could be a sign that the breeder is running a puppy mill.
If you adopt a Labrador from a shelter, you can save money on fees. However, even dogs from shelters can come with over $500 in adoption fees.
Once you’ve found the perfect Lab, you’ll have to make sure that your house is prepared. Here are some of the major costs that you should be prepared for:
You’ll need to make sure your Lab’s health is in good hands. The first vet visit can be a bit expensive, as your dog will likely need a round of vaccinations, as well as flea and heartworm medication.
They will also need to be spayed or neutered, although your vet may wait a while to perform the procedure.
In total, you can expect to pay around $500 in vet bills in the first year after bringing your Lab home.
Labs love to play around, especially when they’re young. They also like to chew, so make sure they have plenty of toys around the house to prevent them from gnawing on your shoes and furniture. You should budget around $50 to $100 for toys in the first year.
Crate and Bedding
You plan on spending over $100 on a crate and bedding for your Lab puppy. The cost of a crate varies depending on the type, but make sure you choose one that’s the right size for your puppy.
If you give your Lab too much space in their crate, they may use all of that extra room to go to the bathroom.
Food and treats
Labs are medium to large sized dogs that need a lot of food, especially when they’re growing. Food expenses vary depending on the brand of food that you choose, but you can expect to spend around $500 per year, and possibly more when your Lab is a puppy.
You should also invest in some quality treats for your Lab. This will make it much easier to potty and crate train them. A year of treats will cost around $100.
Training costs will depend on whether you choose to enroll your Lab in classes or hire a private trainer. Because of this, you can spend anywhere between a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand.
If you want to save some money, enroll your dog in a short group obedience class. These only cost around $50, and will teach your dog basic commands. You can then practice more advanced training at home.
In addition, you’ll have a number of miscellaneous expenses. You’ll have to buy grooming tools, including a brush, clippers, and shampoo. You should also invest in some odor and stain removers, especially while potty training your puppy.
In total, these items will cost you around $200, although expenses will vary widely depending on the types of products you buy.
All told, you can expect to pay around $2500 the first year after you get your Lab, excluding any adoption or breeder fees.
Once you’re set up with all of the basics, you’ll still have to spend a decent amount of money each year on your Lab. Here are some of the recurring costs that you should be prepared for:
Food and Treats
As your Lab grows up, they won’t need quite as much food as they did as a puppy. Still, you can expect to spend around $500 per year on food throughout their life.
And you’ll also need to constantly resupply them with treats, which can add around $100 per year.
Vet costs tend to be a bit higher in your Lab’s first year of life. Moving forward, you can still expect to pay around $100 per year on vet visits, not including any medication that your dog needs.
Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medication
Most flea and tick medications need to be given annually, as do many heartworm medications. These can cost over $200 per year.
You’ll likely have to pay for boarding every now and again, at a rate of at least $30 per day.
Toys and Bedding
You’ll need to replace your Lab’s toys and bedding once and awhile. How often will depend on how much they chew their toys, as well as how often they have accidents on their bedding.
You can expect to spend around $100 per year on bedding and toys for your Lab.
There are a few additional costs that you should be prepared for with a Lab. Here are a few:
If you don’t have anyone to look after your dog when you’re out of town, you’ll likely have to board your dog.
Boarding expenses vary depending on where you live, but you should expect to spend around $30 per day.
Not all dog owners choose to use a professional grooming service. But if you do, you can expect to pay from around $50 to $100 per session.
Fencing and Puppy Proofing Your Yard
If you don’t already have any fences in your yard, you may need to close off at least part of it so that your dog has enough room to run around.
You can also consider investing in an electric fence. This tends to be a bit cheaper than running actual fencing, although it depends on the size of the yard.
In addition to all of the costs discussed so far, you’ll need to be prepared for a range of unforeseen expenses. With dogs, the biggest unexpected costs are usually related to medical issues.
Labs are healthy, happy dogs. But even the luckiest dog will still have some unforeseen medical issues, especially as they age.
An emergency visit to the vet can often cost around $200, although vet costs vary widely depending on where you live.
If your dog needs any additional testing or procedures, costs can run well above $1,000. In the event of a serious health condition, such as cancer, prices for treatment can run into the thousands.
No one wants to imagine their dog getting sick. But it can happen to any Lab, especially as they start to get old.
To protect yourself from financial shocks, you should consider buying pet insurance. This will help cover at least part of the costs in the event of an emergency.
Before getting pet insurance, speak to your vet about their policy. Not all vets will work with insurance companies, so make sure yours does before you buy a policy for your dog.
In addition to all of the money you’ll have to spend on your Lab, you also need to factor in the time commitment. Labs are lovable creatures that will always show you affection. But they require a lot of work, especially when they’re puppies.
You’ll have to spend hours per day caring for and playing with your Lab. Although Labs make this work pretty easy most of the time, it’s still a significant daily time commitment. If you don’t think you can give them the time they need, a Lab may not be right for you.
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