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How Much Does A Guide Dog Cost?

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Most people’s jaws drop to the floor when they hear how much a guide dog costs.

Question: “How much does a guide dog cost?”

Answer: “$40,000 – $60,000″

Wowsers!  That’s a huge range and hella expensive!

How much does a Guide Dog cost?
How much does a Guide Dog cost?

So lets break this down a little further and see if we can dig into what and why it costs so much for a guide dog.

First, lets take a look at some of the guide dog schools in the United States and see if we can get a better idea of what it costs to train a guide dog.

How Much Does A Guide Dog Cost?

  • Guide Dogs of America: $48,000

    The cost to put one guide dog team – as our guide dog recipients and their guide dogs are known – into service is $48,000. That cost include the breeding, raising, and training of the dog, instruction for the guide dog user, and instruction for the guide dog team. – GDA

  • Guide Dogs of the Desert$40,000 (cost of a team sponsor)

    Team Sponsor – $40,000 The ultimate sponsorship, which includes Puppy, Guide Dog, and Student Sponsor benefits, covers all expenses for both the guide dog and the student, including equipment. Receive a certificate and photo of the student/guide dog team, and invitation to attend Graduation Luncheon, with special recognition given at Graduation Ceremony. – GDD

  • Guiding Eyes for the Blind: $50,000

    Nothing … and $50,000. We always provide our dogs free of charge to people who can benefit from their partnership. This includes training, transportation to and from the school, room and board during the training program, and a lifetime of follow-up services. We estimate the cost to breed, raise, train, and match a Guiding Eyes dog with a person with vision loss to be approximately $50,000. Guiding Eyes receives no government funding and operates solely from public support. – GEB

  • Guide Dog Foundation: Over $50,000

    It costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog; however, all of the Foundations’ services are provided at no charge to the individual. – GDF

  • Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation$45,000 (cost for the Pup to Partner sponsor)

    Pup to Partner: Sponsor a puppy throughout his or her journey to Fidelco Guide Dog with one of the many ways available to fund the $45,000 it costs us to breed, train, and place one of our highest quality German Shepherd Guide Dogs. – Fidelco

Initial Costs For A Guide Dog Team

Our little puppy in training someday hopes to be a Guide Dog.
Our little puppy in training someday hopes to be a Guide Dog.

You can see from some of the above snippets the initial costs that go into a guide dog team.  A few of those costs include:

  • Breeding
  • Raising
  • Training
  • Instruction to the guide dog user
  • Instruction for the guide dog team
  • Equipment
  • Transportation to and from the school
  • Room and board during training
  • Follow up services

I’m sure if you sat down with the accounting department at one of these guide dog schools they’d have a myriad of other expenses related to a guide dog team.

Cost Of Ongoing Care Of A Guide Dog

Most of these schools offer guide dogs to individuals at no charge!

However, there are ongoing expenses that guide dog users are usually expected to endure after their initial match with their guide dog:

“At Southeastern Guide Dogs, we offer our services at no charge. This includes your dog, training, equipment and follow up service for the life of your team. We ask that our students be responsible for their own transportation to and from our campus, located in Palmetto, FL. We require that our graduates be financially capable of caring for and maintaining a healthy and active guide dog team, which we estimate to cost $900-$1200, annually.” – Southeastern Guide Dogs

Ongoing puppy costs can be expensive. Especially considering vet bills and lifetime cost.
Ongoing puppy costs can be expensive. Especially considering vet bills and lifetime cost.

$900-$1,200 annually is similar to the range you’d spend on a pet dog.

Here’s a list of some of my recurring expenses with my dogs:

  • Dog food/treats – we feed our dogs Wellness Core Grain Free Dog Food
  • Vet Checkups
  • Vaccinations
  • Licensing (in our city it’s free to license a guide dog)
  • Dog Toys – there are so many toys on the market, but one of our favorite durable dog toys is the Nylabone Dura Chew – just don’t let your dog drop it on your foot…ouch!
  • Other dog products:
    • Collar
    • Leash
    • Harness
    • Brush
    • Crate
    • Dog Bowls
    • Dog Bed
    • Check out our new puppy checklist for a comprehensive list of dog products you’ll need for a new pup.
  • Grooming including bathing, nail trimming, brushing, etc.
  • Flea/Tick Medication
  • Heartworm medication

Those are some of the expenses off the top of my head.

I’m sure there are a few others.

Please chime in with a comment if you think of something I’m missing so I can add it to the list.

We put together a more detailed list of our estimates for a lifetime cost of a Labrador Retriever puppy which included some annual costs based on experiences with our Lab puppy, Archer.

Total Cost For A Guide Dog

What is the total cost for a Guide Dog?
What is the total cost for a Guide Dog?

Okay, folks let’s tally up an upper-end total cost for a guide dog:

  • Initial cost for Guide Dog = $50,000
  • Ongoing cost = $1,200 a year
  • Estimated working span = 8 years
  • Total cost for a guide dog = $59,600

That total number does not include costs during retirement years and also no major medical expenses.

MORE INFORMATION: Guide Dogs learn tasks to help the blind and visually impaired. There are many other types of dogs that aid individuals with disabilities. Have you ever wondered how much it costs to train other types of service dogs?

This may be more than you ever wanted to know about how much a guide dogs costs, what expenses are associated with a guide dog team, and how much ongoing costs are for a guide dog, but for an analytical nerd like me it’s interesting to see the details.

I’m happy to say that as a volunteer puppy raiser I get to be a small part in the process of keeping costs down so guide dog schools can help more blind and visually impaired individuals regain their independence.

So what about you guys?

Does just under $60K for a guide dog sound like a lot of money?

Future guide dog puppy
I want to be a guide dog!

As a puppy raiser for 10+ years, I can tell you that selective breeding, and constant and specialized training for a puppy from birth until 2 1/2 years old can be an expensive proposition.

$40K-60K falls well inside my expectations for the cost of a guide dog team.

I hope that answers today’s question: “How much does a guide dog cost?”

If you have any other questions (or answers) about the cost of a guide dog leave us a comment in the section below.

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

UPDATE: Over the past 5+ years we’ve been trying to do our part to raise, train, and place service dogs with individuals in need at no charge. Check out our post on how to sponsor a service dog to learn more about how you can help with our mission.

Related Articles:

How much does a Guide Dog cost? Answer: It’s not cheap and it will vary by organization. We’ve been raising Guide Dog puppies for over 12 years now and most people’s jaws drop to the floor when they find out the total cost of a Guide Dog. #guidedog #assitancedog #guidedogcost #guidedogpuppy #guidedogintraining #puppyintraining
How much does a Guide Dog Cost? Answer: They’re not cheap…

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  1. Hello my name is Toni Guillory and Id be interested in helping donate money to help train seeing eye dogs. I am an animal lover myself,and I was interested in helping donate to any organizations helping train animals.

  2. Thank you David for visiting our site and for letting us know the estimated cost of a Leader Dog. All the best to you!

  3. As a graduate and ambassador for Leader Dogs for the Blind, the latest estimates to trainer a Leader Dog and handler is $40,000. The benefit to the Blind/Visually Impaired Handler is priceless.

  4. Are you talking about a leader dog for the blind? I believe that would be the same as a guide dog for the blind.

  5. What is the cost of preparing a leader dog? The entire process until recipient receives the puppy dog that is already trained.

  6. Raising and training a guide dog is not cheap. Thank you to everyone who donates time, resources, money, etc to help these organizations and the dogs who are changing people’s lives!

  7. Wow! I never really thought about the cost of raising a guide dog, just the cost (or lack there of) of the person receiving the dog. So interesting!

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