Some of you might know that I got a German Shepherd puppy – Archie – a few months ago . He is about 5 months old now and is pretty much the center of attention in our house now 🙂
I have had dogs all my life and I used to compete actively in dog shows in the past . In any case, my social media posts have been a lot about Archie since he joined our family and that has been a catalyst for some friends to get their new fur babies .
At least twenty of my friends have bought pups recently as they find time to spend at home and it looks like most of them will be home for way more time than in the past . Another twenty or more have been asking me questions about this .
The benefits of having a dog are very clear to everyone . But the “costs” are generally unknown . So I am going to leave a short note here to point my friends to .
The price to buy a pup is usually where the $$ starts ringing alarm bells to people who are new to dogs . My cousin showed me the photo of what looks like a mixed breed litter and the asking price was 3000 pounds in UK . She had the good sense to not pay that . There is no way to pin point a right price – but the larger point here is that the initial price is a very small part of what you will probably spend over the life of the dog . In any case if you are curious – a puppy bred by an ethical breeder from parents who have been health screened and titled is usually in the few thousands of dollars , where as you can get one also from a pet store or a friend for perhaps a few hundred dollars . Of course you can rescue a dog from a shelter too .
Buying from an ethical breeder is about increasing your odds of getting a healthy pup with predictable temperament . Dogs are like us – there are no guarantees on how they will grow up irrespective of what their pedigree is . Also – most of the top breeders who sell pups for what might look like a huge price generally don’t make any profit overall . Some do but most don’t . I know several wealthy people who ruined their wealth because of their craze for dogs . It can easily become an addiction .
If you prefer to adopt – absolutely do that . There are plenty of great dogs in shelters who deserve a good home . Don’t get caught up in the battle of “breeder vs shelter” . You just do what you think is right . I generally buy from breeders and I donate time and money to shelters . I have friends who are breeders who are very active in rescue . If more people were responsible breeders who watched out for their pups throughout their life – there won’t be as many dogs in shelters to begin with . It’s a touchy topic with extreme views on both sides – which is why I said you do whatever you feel comfortable with .
One of the first debates when you get a dog is about dog food . That is a religious debate and in 40 years I haven’t found a solution that satisfies multiple people . I personally have been feeding proplan for the last twenty years and I am happy with it . Do your research knowing that there is very little agreement you will find amongst dog owners . Expensive kibble doesn’t mean it is better for the dog . My general view is that watching how an invidual dog is thriving is the best gauge and not just reading the label . If you have the time and money to spend on it – feeding raw food is generally considered the best option for a dog .
Then there is training and socialization . That takes a non trivial investment of time . For me it is the part I enjoy the most with my dogs . But even if you don’t enjoy it – do a little bit so that your dog behaves well and you are not worried every minute for the next decade or more . If you don’t have the time to spend with your dog – don’t get a dog . Go work in shelters , play with your friend’s dog or wherever else instead . A dog is not a toy . He doesn’t speak your language . If you don’t have the time to to give him quality mental stimulation – don’t get one !
All dogs will need veterinary care and that takes time, emotional drain and of course money . I have spent thousands of dollars on surgeries on some of my dogs . Even routine care like cleaning teeth , vaccinations and so on can cost money that will add up . There are insurance plans etc that you can take – but remember the dog a living being and you are taking full responsibility . A dog should not be a toy you toss away when it needs repairs .
Quick word on dog shows . I was hooked on showing for a long time and now I am not . I still compete from time to time – but it’s mostly to meet friends than actually winning . You will go through all kinds of emotions if you like to compete – because it is a ritual and culture that is unique and a wide variety of people are part of it . It can be very satisfying and if you want to do it , find a good mentor and take it slow . Again – it could get expensive if you want to do it seriously . Just to give you an idea – a lot of people use professional handlers to show their dogs . If that’s how you do it – it could take ten thousand dollars to make a dog a breed champion with American Kennel Club . If you do it yourself – you have to learn to train and groom your dog and it might take you longer to get that title . It will be more fun without a doubt – but those hotel bills and gas bills to go to shows all add up .
Last word – dogs only live for a relatively short time . It is harder than you think to let go – but when the time comes you have to let them go into their long sleep . You never replace the old dog with a new dog in your mind . A bit of you dies with each dog and a bit of you is born when you get a new dog . All I want to do is to make sure you understand the emotional drain could be significant when the time comes !
You need to weigh both the value and cost – tangible and not so tangible – BEFORE you get a dog . As much as I love to see my friends enjoying dogs, I am even more troubled seeing people who get a dog and then regret it and give them up to shelters etc . So please think through thoroughly before you get your dog .
Published by Vijay Vijayasankar
Son/Husband/Dad/Dog Lover/Engineer. Follow me on twitter @vijayasankarv. These blogs are all my personal views - and not in way related to my employer or past employers
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