The huge sums we spend on our dogs

If we so choose, we can spend fantastic amounts of money to acquire and display our canine friends.

By Karen Datko Feb 13, 2013 5:10PM

Banana Joe walks in the ring Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York (© Frank Franklin II/AP Photo)Banana Joe may be the top dog right now, but the tiny affenpinscher from the Netherlands, who won top honors at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday night, isn't a member of the most expensive breed. Not even close.


Not to say that showing Joe hasn't cost his owners more than they would probably care to admit -- likely topping six figures a year. (The same can't be said for the runner-up, an Old English sheepdog named Swagger who'd been to only three shows before he wowed the crowd at Madison Square Garden. Because of a rule change, non-champions were admitted for the first time since 1991, USA Today says.)


Owning a dog does not have to be expensive. For instance, you don't have to board your dog in a Palace Suite at Silicon Valley's fancy Pooch Hotel for $100 a night. The average dog-owning family (we're 46.3 million households strong!) spends $274 a year on boarding, $254 for food, $70 for treats, and $248 for routine vet care, among other expenses, the American Pet Products Association says. About $50 to $100 can get you a grateful rescue dog from the local pound.


But you can certainly spend a lot more on your dog if you're so inclined. Let's take a look at some of the more eye-popping costs associated with our canine friends.


If you show your dog

A successful career at the highest levels usually requires paying for training, grooming, advertising in a multitude of dog magazines, and other miscellaneous bills.


"Altogether, a top-notch campaign can easily cost more than $300,000 a year, and because it takes time to build momentum and a reputation, a typical campaign lasts for two or three years," a New York Times article said.


Added Fox Business after the 2011 Westminster best in show was picked:

"David Frei, director of communications for the Westminster Kennel Club, said preparing a dog to compete at the highest level would cost an owner upwards of six figures annually.


"The bulk of that price comes from enlisting a professional handler, Frei said."

Sure, the owner can double as handler. But unless you too are a professional, you probably won't get the same results.


Even a professional handler can't guarantee success. A breeder friend who gave me two Australian cattle dogs years ago had one of those dogs, Tank, live with a handler for six weeks (at the breeder's expense). At his first show, my normally supremely confident Tankie found his inner shy dog (unlike Banana Joe, who "was on the minute he walked in," the judge said) and happily returned home to stay.

An extraordinary purchase price

A red Tibetan mastiff named Hong Dong (which translates to Big Splash) sold for $1.5 million in 2011 when he was 11 months old and already weighing in at 180 pounds. The Chinese multimillionaire who bought him is likely making part of that back with stud fees of up to $100,000, LearnVest says.


This breed is very, very old. "In 2004, Chinese researchers found that the genetic line of the Tibetan mastiff had peeled away from the wolf 16,000 years before most common dog breeds," Mother Nature News says. says the purchase price of a Tibetan mastiff -- said to be the preferred breed of Genghis Khan -- normally runs between $2,200 and $7,000. The most expensive dog to purchase overall can be the German shepherd, which can fetch more than $24,000 if it's trained for special work.


For an affenpinscher, expect to pay more than $1,000 for an AKC-registered dog.


Highest medical costs

Petplan, a pet insurer, told Main Street that the breed with the highest medical costs is the American bulldog. "As large brachycephalic breeds they're prone to breathing and hip problems; one American bulldog insured by Petplan was treated for allergic skin disease, bloat and urinary tract infections, totaling $9,562 in reimbursed vet bills over four years."


Another pet insurer, Trupanion, also said the American bulldog had racked up more in claims than any other breed. "This dog breed is prone to cherry eye, brachycephalic syndrome, elongated soft palate, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and stenotic nares," says The average claim was $370.


The dog with the highest average claim was the Rottweiler, at $567.


Have you spent a large amount of money to acquire a dog? How much have you spent on vet bills? And if you show a dog, what are your annual costs?


More on MSN Money:


Feb 13, 2013 11:11PM
Anybody spending ONLY $254/YR for food is feeding their dogs CRAP food with NO nutritional value!!! My dogs eat Earthborn Holistic Grain Free at almost $50 for 28 lbs, which last only 2 weeks, and I'm getting ready to up them as they are Rotties and I need to worry about their joints and hips to Hill's J/D at almost $80 for 27 lbs. Don't like the prices, but I spend more than that for 2 humans, and will certainly do what's best for my "kids"!
Feb 13, 2013 6:57PM
I spent  a fortune on a golden doodle, until the vet took me aside and said "you know, he is just a dog. He is handling most of these issues fine on his own ( bloody paws from ice because he wouldn't wear booties, upset tummy from finding the occasional carrion bone)" He is six and doing great! Did you see that beautiful Spinoni Italiani at the Westminster show? 
Feb 13, 2013 7:54PM
When a pet dies in your can be really hard to love again, but we must. The Father will walk us through the pain until we can walk by ourselves.
Feb 14, 2013 7:31AM
Our dogs are fed a holistic, grain free diet, they have plain old leashes and collars, they are vetted regularly, and most of all they are loved. They don't need expensive toys, just some kongs and chewies, a safe yard, a warm house, good food, and love. It's a pretty easy recipe for happiness.

They give a lot more than they get, and no one can put a price on that.
Feb 13, 2013 7:46PM
approx 4k last year for three poodles
Feb 13, 2013 7:12PM
Gato, I had never seen a Spinone until you mentioned it. Thank you!
Feb 14, 2013 11:19AM
A lot of spending on dogs... considering mine have been eating my homework since 1st grade.
Feb 14, 2013 10:20AM
I thought this was an article on Congress!
Feb 14, 2013 1:50AM
During a trying time of poor cash-flow a few years ago (waiting for my 2nd house to sell after sinking a lot of money into renovations), my sister told me I needed a dog.  I asked her if I should also take a Caribbean Cruise (they board a few miles away from where I live in the Port of Baltimore)?  She said that would be stupid since it would cost several hundred dollars.  I asked her how much it would cost to pay the county animal shelter for a dog and its shots and license ($90, I think), feed it, get leashes, toys and do whatever worming, etc. I'd need for a year.   "Well," she said, "after your finances are back in order, get a dog."
I remember getting a neighbor's beagle's pup as a teenager, getting the shots and license cheap, and buying worm pills that you coaxed down the puppy's throat.  When the dog wore out, that was time to put it to sleep.  Today there are hip replacement surgeries, fatty tumor removals, etc. among the dogs in my extended family.  We've really crossed the line between a pet and an adopted child!

Feb 13, 2013 7:50PM

The veterinarians are ruthless money grubbers. I took our 15 year old poodle to the Vet to be put down. I had her in my arms and i forgot my wallet. I had to write a check. They denied me service and told me that they could not help me with a check. I had to take her out of the office and go get my wallet. I know that some will bounce the $80 dollar fee, but sometimes businesses have to show some compassion.


I truly feel vet Hospitals are ruthless and care only about the bottom line.



Feb 13, 2013 6:39PM
Desperate people filled with performance anxiety afraid of people rejection spending fortunes on dumb animals.  Really sad.  Caring for a child in need would cost less but then a child might not pant and wag its tail in sheer delight because you scratched its ears, rubbed its belly and fed it on time.
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