We were really interested in the recent article by Alexandra Cain in The Age that claimed that owning a medium sized dog would cost its owners over $100,000 over its lifetime. That's a lotta cash we thought - and we're pretty sure our two very well maintained pooches don't cost us that much so we thought we would run a comparison.

The dog in the article Nalu, is a golden retriever who started life in quite an expensive fashion. It's not clear whether he was purchased from a registered breeder (where he should have been vet checked), but he kicked off life with his new family with a double ectopic urethra which required major surgery, so that was $5k up front. And there is no doubt Nalu lives a privileged life with regular trips to the groomer/ doggy nail salon and $60 a week of dry food, so we give absolute credit to his owners for giving him a great life.

But it made us think, what do Izzy & Cooper really cost and how do they compare?

The Contestants

Izzy : a 5 year old NZ registered spayed female purebred Beagle. Collapsed a lung at 12 weeks requiring hospitalisation - cost $1500.

Cooper : a 3.5 year old AKC Registered desexed male purebred Great Dane. No major medical issues beyond some growing pains as a pup. Was imported to NZ (where we were living) from a registered breeder in Queensland - Cost $1500.

What they get...

Both dogs are fed premium dry food - Royal Canin Giant Breed for Cooper and Holistic Select gluten free fish based food for Izzy as she's allergic to meat based dry foods. We use training treats manufactured by our local pet store Zac's in Clifton Hill, and the dogs get a beef shinbone to chew on most weeks for their dental health & general enjoyment.

They are treated for worms, fleas and ticks etc (we use Revolution for dogs) every month and they have an annual vet visit for check-ups and vaccinations. They've both been trained to "leave" things they shouldn't eat at the park so (fingers crossed) their annual vet visits are all they need.

We travel a bit so they average about 40 nights a week of care/ sitting each year, which we arrange through PetHomeStay.com. Generally this costs us in the vicinity of $25-$40 per night for the both of them (we've used the higher number below). We use Aloveen Vet Shampoo and wash both dogs every 3-4 weeks, and we trim their nails ourselves.

We brought both dogs to Australia with us when we moved back so that cost around $3500 for Cooper and $1500 for Izzy.

The comparison...

Item
(Life Expectancy)
Nalu
(15yrs)
Izzy
(15 yrs)
Cooper
(10 yrs)
Purchase Cost
500
650
2000
Exceptional Puppy Vet Bills
5,500
1500
-
Food
46,800
8,750
14,400
Treats
6,240
3,900
2,600
Flea, Tick & Worm Treatments
5,850
3,200
4,800
Annual Vet Visits
12,750
1,500
1000
Care & Sitting
21,000
12,000
8,000
Grooming
9,000
-

Registration
-
750
500
Import/ Export Costs
-
1500
5,000
Accessories (Beds/ Blankets/ Coats etc)
?
2,250
1,500
Total Annual Cost
$107,640
$36,000
$39,800
Cost per week
$138
$46.15
$76.54


Now granted we have very healthy happy canines and as they get older they may need more frequent visits to the Vet, but still, both dogs come in well under half of the estimates put forward in the article. They are both specialty breeds with specific requirements (so not the cheapest of options). They have everything they need and more, and in fact we feel we are pretty indulgent with them, with new collars and coats and beds happening most years. They stay in real homes viaPetHomeStay.com when we're away and they get plenty of exercise, plenty of love, and a high quality, health-focused diet.

Owning a pet (or two in our case) is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Although it is not to be taken lightly (a pet is for life not for Christmas...), a dog can live a positively indulgent life for well less than the amount put forward in this article and we would hate to see anyone - single, couples or families - not enjoying the love of a pet due to fear of the costs put forward in articles like these.

How much do your pets cost? What are your thoughts on The Age article?