Most people’s jaw 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!
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
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:
- Instruction to the guide dog user
- Instruction for the guide dog team
- 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
$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
- Vet Checkups
- Licensing (in our city it’s free to license a guide dog)
- Dog toys
- Other dog products: collars, leashes, harnesses, brushes, etc.
- 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 estimate 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
Okay folks lets 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 cost during retirement years and also no major medical expenses.
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?
As a puppy raiser for 10+ years I can tell you that selective breeding, 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 todays 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.