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How Much Does A Labrador Retriever Puppy Cost?

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How much does a puppy cost?

I asked this question 12 years ago before bringing home my first puppy, Linus from the Carson Animal Shelter.

The simple, but not very accurate answer at that time was $37.

Linus’ adoption fee was $37 and that included his first set of vaccinations, microchipping, and a couple of dog toys.

You might be thinking that $37 that’s not bad for the cost of a puppy.

Even back then I knew $37 would not be the last bit of money I’d be investing in my puppy.

How much does a Labrador Retriever puppy cost?
How much does a Labrador Retriever puppy cost?

Quick Recommendation: If you’re interested in getting a puppy we recommend reading Puppies for Dummies before bringing home your little bundle of joy. If you’re already enjoying the trials and tribulations of a new puppy then all the better to get a good book and learn to work with your lil’ pup!

So let’s take a closer look at the “real” cost of a puppy more specifically let’s answer the question: How much does a Labrador Retriever puppy cost?

Our current situation: We are looking for a Labrador Retriever puppy we can raise as a service dog. We are going to use some of the numbers we know from research and experience raising and training Labrador Retrievers to find an overall total lifetime cost of owning a puppy.

First-Year Cost of a Lab Puppy

Your initial adoption fee will vary greatly depending on where you decide to get your puppy.

  • Shelter: $37 – We checked the Carson Animal Shelter website and the adoption fee is still the same $37.
  • Rescue: $400 – We fostered litters of puppies for Cuddly Canines and their adoption fee for a puppy is $350-$400.
  • Breeder: $1,500 – We called over a dozen reputable breeders and $1,500 was actually on the lower end for purchasing one of their puppies.

If you’re looking for an 8-week-old purebred Labrador Retriever puppy then you’ll have some difficulty finding one in the shelters or rescues. However, it’s not impossible as we’ve seen purebred puppies on rescue websites from time to time.

Our next puppy will likely be purchased from a breeder so we’ll use the corresponding cost listed above. Also, remember the Labrador Retriever we are using in this example is a large breed dog.

If the puppy you decide to bring home is a smaller breed dog then some of these expenses will likely be less.

First-Year Costs

The good news is there are several expensive one-time costs you must pay during the first year.

The bad news is there are several expensive one-time costs you must pay during the first year.

Did he just repeat himself? YUP!

Puppy$1,500This number will obviously vary quite a bit as you can see in our above section.
Spay/Neuter$300This was our approximate cost for Adelle and Archer.  You can find lower costs at spay/neuter clinics.
Vet Visits$220We make 4 visits to the vet during the early months for routine vaccinations.
Vaccinations$100Consult your vet on a vaccination schedule.  You can definitely lower this cost by going to a low-cost clinic.
Flea Meds$120Required for our guide and service dog pups
Heartworm$120Required for our guide and service dog pups
License$27Make sure and get the puppy license early or you might get hit with a larger fee for a non-spay/neutered pet
Dog Toys$50We like to shop at Chewy for low-priced dog toys like the Calmeroos Puppy Toy.
Training$650We signed up Archer for Training For Life.  We recommend you take at least 1 puppy kindergarten and 1 basic obedience class. Your cost will likely be lower if you don’t sign up for a Training for Life program.
Treats$100Treat training can get expensive
Dog Chews$100Nylabones, Beef Collagen Sticks, and Deer Antlers are important so your pup learns to chew these things and not your favorite shoes.
Food$600Our puppies eat Wellness Core Puppy Food.
Other Accessories$200Crate, Stain & Odor Remover, Bitter Apple Spray, Dog Bed, Dog Blanket, Bowl, Collar, Leash, Tags, Shampoo, Brush, Toothbrush,  etc.

QUICK RECOMMENDATION: If you plan on getting a puppy we highly recommend two products:

  1. You’ll need an enzymatic cleaner for pee and poop accidents and we recommend Rocco & Roxie Stain and Odor Remover.
  2. Every puppy we’ve had nibbles, bites, and chews so it’s important to invest in Bitter Apple Spray to help deter mouthy behaviors.

Annual Cost of a Lab Puppy

The first year has many one-time costs, but there are many recurring costs associated with a puppy.  Here’s a list of recurring costs you can expect:

Vet Visits$55We usually have an annual visit to the vet for a routine checkup.
Vaccinations$50Consult your vet on a vaccination schedule.
Flea Meds$120Required for our guide and service dog pups
Heartworm$120Required for our guide and service dog pups
License$27The license fee is much less if you spay/neuter your puppy.
Dog Toys$50We like to shop on Amazon for low-priced dog toys.
Treats$100Treat training can get expensive
Dog Chews$100Nylabones, Beef Collagen Sticks, and Deer Antlers are important so your pup learns to chew these things and not your favorite shoes.
Food$600Our puppies eat Wellness Core Puppy Food.
Other Accessories$50Not as much spent as the first year, but we usually buy new collars, shampoo, blankets, beds, etc.

MORE INFORMATION: Two of the most common service dog breeds are Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Have you ever wondered how much a service dog costs?

Total Lifetime Cost of a Lab Puppy

The average lifespan of a dog varies depending on many different factors.

Our first family dog, a Golden Retriever lived until she was 10 years old.

Our second family dog who was rescued from the animal shelter, a border collie mix lived until he was approximately 20 years old.  Let’s use the average life expectancy of a Labrador Retriever for this exercise: 12.6 years

  • First Year Cost: $4,087
  • Annual Cost: $1,272 x 12 years = $15,264


Archer was the first Labrador Retriever we bought.
Archer was the first Labrador Retriever we bought.

Additional Costs

There are several costs we are lucky enough to avoid, but many of you will have to endure.  Consider these costs as well:

  • Doggy Daycare: $35 a day – cost from a facility we take training classes from
  • Grooming: $30 – $90 per session – per Google
  • Vitamins/Supplements: $100 a year – our older dogs actually started taking supplements
  • Fence: $1,500 – to contain your puppy.

Unforeseen Puppy Costs

We’ve hit a few unforeseen costs with our puppies, but lucky for us they haven’t been ginormous.  Here are a few we’ve had:

  • Linus had a nasty-looking hot spot a few years back.  Extra vet visit ~$200
  • Stetson had skin allergies that plagued him for several years.  Half a dozen vet visits, various medications ~$1,000
  • Derby had chronic ear infections.  4 additional vet visits + meds ~$400
  • Dublin eats a batch of chocolate cookies.  Emergency vet visit ~$200
  • Dublin swallowed one of his plush toys. Emergency vet visit ~$200

We’ve been very lucky and avoided the major unforeseen puppy costs.  Some of our friends haven’t been as lucky:

As you can see on top of the lifetime cost you may also have the added unforeseen costs that could end up in the thousands of dollars.

It’s a good idea to save up some extra money just in case your best pal requires an unforeseen surgery or visit to the vet’s office.

We haven’t looked into pet insurance, but if you think you will have trouble paying a big, unforeseen cost then you might consider and look into getting pet insurance for your puppy.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay lucky. A few months back Linus was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. We spent a good chunk of the next 10 days at the emergency vet. After an over $6,000 vet bill and deteriorating health, they told us he’d have to spend a week in the hospital for an additional $12,000 $15,000. Linus was not improving and every day he got worse so we made the extremely difficult decision to put him to sleep.

Unforeseen Puppy Costs Part Deux

Okay, I had to bring this one up too.  There’s a good chance your puppy will destroy some things you love.  Yep, time for one final list:

  • Linus ate five $100 bills.  He didn’t just eat them he shredded them into little pieces.
  • Linus chewed up a cell phone.
  • Our friend’s dog chewed all the chairs around the dining table.  They looked like they had termites.
  • Our friend’s dog chewed the post for the patio cover.

Those are just a few things our puppies have chewed to bits.  Beware, there are a few things you may need to replace after you bring home your puppy.

The Most Important Cost…Your Time, Love, and Affection

Just like the band, Nelson said…”I can’t live without your love and affection…”  If only we could add “time” to that quote it would be complete.

Your puppy needs your time, love, and affection.  Trust me…give your puppy these three things and he’ll return it to you in spades.

After seeing all the expenses associated with getting a Labrador Retriever puppy do you think you can fit a new pup into your budget?

The above list is very close to the amount of money I’ve spent over the lifetime of my puppies (my oldest puppies are now 10 and 12 years old).

Tell us about your puppy (especially if you have a Labrador Retriever).

Are we missing anything from this list?  How much do you spend on your puppy?  Have you hit any unforeseen costs?

Tell us about it in the comment section below.

QUICK RECOMMENDATIONS: We already mentioned it, but if you plan on getting a puppy make sure you do your research and invest in a good book like Puppies for Dummies which will give you a solid foundation on how to raise and train your new Labrador Retriever puppy.

How much does a Labrador Retriever puppy cost? You’re not going to like the answer…it depends. Oh and by the way, the initial expense of buying a puppy is a small amount compared to what you need to budget for a puppy for his lifetime. The answer: A Labrador puppy is not cheap. #labradorpuppycost #puppycost #costforapuppy #howmuchforapuppy #puppyexpenses #labpuppy
How much does a Labrador Retriever puppy cost? It might be more than you think.

Top Picks For Our Puppies

    We Like: Beef Collagen Sticks - All of our pups love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Collagen Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
    We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.

Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.

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  1. I think you have to plan for some unforeseen expenses with puppies. I’ve had several visits to the emergency vet most recently last night when Elsa chewed up and swallowed part of the wire from the battery charger for my camera. As soon as I research and find the right pet insurance I’ll add that to the recurring expenses on this list.

  2. Linus eating five $100 bills made me laugh. I know mine have done it as well. I don’t think ever $100 bills. Never thought about that being added to total cost of ownership, but you are definitely right.

  3. YES! YES! YES! I need to make sure I reiterate that throughout my blog. Time and love for your puppy are so important. I think people often forget (or don’t know) how time consuming it is to have a puppy. I decided not to get a puppy until I could spend my days and evenings at home with him. What did that mean? I didn’t get a puppy until I was in my 30’s when I was working and doing school from home. I was also staying home in the evening rather than hanging out with friends at bars and clubs. I put a lot of time and effort into raising my first dog, Linus and it made all the difference in the world. He was definitely my heart dog. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. I wanted to thank you for explaining some costs that are associated with getting a Labrador retriever. It’s good to know that above anything else, you need to give your time and love to the puppy. This seems important to do as soon as you get it, especially if it can help the puppy establish a trust with you.

  5. Was the cost of training included?

    Pet sitters, extra rental deposits, hotel and rental car fees?

    Compensation in case of a dog fight?

    Fine, when he wonders out the front door and you get busted for an off-leash dog?

    Summer and winter shoes?

  6. We have a litter of Golden Retriever puppies and they’ve been grabbing on to my pajama bottoms. Yep, I have a few tears in them and their dagger like puppy teeth to seem to shred all clothing.

  7. New jeans socks shirts jackets ….Puppy teeth shred jeans and any other clothing you may love!

  8. We’ve been lucky with our older dogs, but a few expenses are popping up. Stetson has a growth on his side that’s going to cost around $800 to remove. Archer chipped one of his teeth and I’m not sure if it’s going to require dental work. Wouldn’t it be great if the dogs were tax deductible. After all they are members of our family!

  9. What a great piece Colby. I think so many times people don’t put the thought into the long term care and expense of a dog. And as you pointed out, there are often times unexpected expenses that pop up and as they age, they sometimes require changes in diet, additions of supplements, injuries etc.

    At least with a child you can deduct them from your taxes. 🙂

  10. Great! Thanks Lindsay. I think I’m going to have to take a closer look at pet insurance some day soon.

  11. I’m not sure if you’ve written a blog post on pet insurance, but if you have can you leave a link here in the comment section. Pet insurance is one expense I haven’t really experienced.

  12. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be getting insurance for Remy this month or next. For the peace of mind if nothing else.

  13. I’ll have to add boarding fees, pet sitting fees, and pet deposits at hotels to the list. I have to say I probably don’t go on vacation nearly as much because I have to take care of the dogs. I’ve been lucky with my two seniors (knock on wood). Although Stetson does have a nice sized lump that we plan on removing soon. By the way, now that you’ve had to pay Ace’s senior vet bills are you or have you already gotten pet insurance for Remy?

  14. Yes, the Labs can be destructive with their chewing. I remember Dublin used to gnaw through all of his “durable” dog toys as well as de-stuff all the plush toys so he could remove the squeaker.

  15. What a great list. I’d say this pretty much sums it up! Other potential costs could be boarding fees when you travel or pet sitting fees, extra pet rent/deposits if you rent, extra pet fees if you stay at a hotel or vacation home with a pet.

    Also, count on a lot more vet bills once your dog is a senior. I’ve spent more on my senior dog’s vet bills in the last six months than the rest of his life combined. Not always the case but something to keep in mind. Getting old generally means more health concerns for all of us.

  16. Some of our dogs have been “strong” chewers…so our toy bill has been a bit high trying to find something that they wont destroy. Dog toys can be so expensive!

    Although dogs are expensive I can’t imagine my life without my furry four-legged relatives!

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