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Dog (Price) Tag: $230K
One man's dog cost more than a house
german shepherd dog foster breed rescue help shelter adoption fee
My foster German Shepherd, Mischa, was adopted for $150 in 2002.

The most I paid for any of my dogs was $75. That was the shelter pull fee for my late Catahoula, Desoto, from the Louisiana SPCA in New Orleans. Needless to say, he was priceless.

As a breed rescue volunteer in the Chicago area, I have seen adoption fees range from $200–$350. This includes spay/neuter, vaccinations, one month of heartworm and flea/tick preventative, and basic obedience training in the foster home. Yet some prospective adopters protested what they perceived to be as an exhorbitant fee for a secondhand dog.

Some of my dog training clients purchased purebred and designer puppies from a chain pet store, paying upwards of $1,500. One of them paid for her Cocker Spaniel puppy in monthly installments.

Agility friends of mine have paid $1,200–$1,800 for the performance puppy of their dreams. They diligently researched pedigrees and breeders, and felt fortunate to get on a waiting list that could last one to two years.

Minnesota businessman John Johnson paid $230,000 for his three-year-old German Shepherd, Julia. Granted, this beautiful “executive protection dog” offers an exemplary pedigree and proven Schutzhund skills. She certainly sounds exceptional, but I would argue that my $75 Catahoula protected me just as well. 

How much did you pay for your dog?


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

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Submitted by JessicaR | July 12 2011 |

I paid $0 for my GSD/Chow mix, he found me at a local dog park and an owner never surfaced. I paid $300 for my rescued Xoloitzcuintle, $300 for my Pit Bull/Plott Hound mix even though her adoption fee was only $160 and $0 for my Lab/Dane mix because as a rescuer I don't pay a shelter pull fee. My senior foster GSP is available for a meer $150!

Each and every one of these dogs is precious and outstanding in their own way. Each is special needs and has taught me valuable lessons that no other dog would have been able to teach me.

PS - That $0 GSD/Chow mix is Schutzhund and protected me for many, many years before retiring to security guard status. In his younger days he could do anything that $230K dog can do.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 13 2011 |

Seamus was $125 and this included neutering and shots. It was the best $125 I have ever spent!

Submitted by Kellie | July 13 2011 |

Got one for free because as a shelter employee I get one free adoption. He is a gorgrous afghan hound border collie mix, DNA tested. Got the other, a minnie jack (min pin jack russell mix) that looks like a scruffy Chinese Crested with a mohawk, for $75 about 8 years ago from a different rescue group. Spent a couple hundred on my wonderful late Greyhound, a retired racer, and nada for my perfecf chow/lab mix who was my best pal throughout her life. TThere is a competiition every year called Extreme Mutt Makeover in which trainers get shelter dogs and turn them into model citizens. It is foolish to pay that sum for a GSD.

Submitted by crussell | July 13 2011 |

I paid $140 for my German Shepherd mix at a shelter and he's worth 10 times that. The cost included neutering, microchip, shots and I thought it was a bargain. There are so many wonderful dogs at shelters, some purebreds, that I could never bring myself to but a dog from a breeder.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 13 2011 |

I paid 250.00 to neuter my free to good home pit/ridgeback mix. I trained him and he was a great guard dog and would not allow anyone in our house unless invited, and was trained in commands only known to our family. He once came out of the car window when he knew I was threatened by someone. It is not about the breed, the cost of the dog, it is about the training and the relationship you have with your dog. How many dogs could have been saved from a shelter and turned into someones well trained loving pet for the cost of saying I have a 275,000.00 dog, at the end of the day..it is still a dog, only this one has 275,000 piece of paper someone handed this guy to say he was trained as an "executive watch dog". Wow, what a great new politically correct term in the training world...I must email this article to my partner now....

Submitted by BA | July 13 2011 |

I paid $80 for my German Shepherd/husky mix...best dog ever! She was protective, loving, sweet and most importantly she came from a shelter!!
I am a firm believer in rescuing dogs from shelters and my $40 black lab mix, my $95 Aussie Mix and $95 Basset hound would agree!!!

Submitted by Dogcopper | July 13 2011 |

I have had several awesome dogs over the years. My best girl, (a cancer detection research dog) came to me as a stray during the funeral of my Police dog over 15 years ago. I have paid between $50-$300 for different adopted dogs, but this girl was priceless. She passed this year, but knowing how wonderful she was, I would paid every penny I had to have her in my life. I think that when a dog and a human bond, there is no price that can be placed.

Submitted by Dianne | July 13 2011 |

We've shared our home with 6 adopted dogs over the past 30 years. We currently care for 3 dogs, the most recent addition added 12 years ago, an adult Pit mix, adopted from a shelter for a fee of $70. He was already neutered and vetted. Our "costliest" dog was another adult, a cattle dog/border collie mix, adopted 15 years ago, for a donation of $100 to the rescue group. We agreed to be responsible for her spay procedure. And yes, the rescue group followed up with our vet to confirm her spay. Our dogs have been/are wonderful companions. Several have earned their Canine Good Citizen certificates (I only pursued the CGC cert with a few dogs, just for fun) and one was certified as a Therapy Dog. The "value" of all of our dogs? Absolutely priceless.

Submitted by Chris Plante | July 13 2011 |

I paid $75 for my dog. Her upfront cost was cheap but she made that up with "maintenance costs" over the years. ;)

Loved her to bits regardless.

Submitted by Kay S. | July 13 2011 |

I think the shelter fee for our Black Lab Mix was $75 which included a free spay at a local vet when she was old enough - 9 years ago they were still waited until puppies were six months old.
It's such a shame to see people paying exorbitant prices for "pure bred" dogs. So many come from horrible puppy mill situations and suffer all sorts of problems due to inbreeding. Even the best breeders are limited by the available gene pool. For some of the most popular breeds, the very best a breeder can do is akin to breeding 1st cousins. Read John Bradshow's "Dog Sense" (http://preview.tinyurl.com/6c2r47f) to learn more.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 14 2011 |

Not all dogs that come from breeders are from puppy mills. I have a pure bred dog from a reputable breeder and have his family tree 5 generations back and I can assure you, that he is not inbred. The breeder I got my dog from breeds one, maybe two litters a year, if that (the year after my dog was born, she didn't breed at all). Depends on whether she has interest as she breeds for health and temperament, not just to make $$.

Submitted by charlotte | July 13 2011 |

Depends.. I have 1 shepherd/ akita mix I adopted from the shelter for $85. I have a Pit Bull I got from rescue and I paid $25. And I have a working imported long haired German Shepherd that I paid 3,000 for as a puppy plus shipping. I love all my dogs equally and I am super involved with rescues, currently have 3 fosters in my house. I believe that I got my $ worth in my gsd puppy, the amount drive and working instincts.

Submitted by Monica | July 13 2011 |

I paid $1200 to a breeder for my first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and $400 for my second one who came from Cavalier Rescue USA. Both are exceptionally happy and healthy dogs. Some people will think it's absurd to pay $1200 for a pure-bred dog, but I would gladly pay whatever it costs to get a healthy dog. The best breeders out there spend a great deal of money keeping their breeding dogs in tip-top shape and they also spend a lot of money on testing for all the different issues that their breed can have.

I'm a Cavalier enthusiast and so I will continue to support my favorite breeder(s) by paying $1200 or more so that they can continue to breed the healthiest dogs possible OR I will get a lovely rescue from Cavalier Rescue USA.

Thanks for the article! I love BARK magazine.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 13 2011 |

I think this entire concept is really sad. Dogs do not "come" with a price tag. Humans put that price tag on them and they are often ridiculous and greedy requests. Dogs have no idea what money is or what their "worth" is in currency. A more "expensive" dog just equals a human trying to make money. This is one of the reasons why so many of these precious pups are rotting away in shelters. Boooo!

Submitted by Laura | July 13 2011 |

Our first rescue, Summer our golden/border was 100.00, the second, Missy, shepherd/cattle dog 50.00 and Buddy, pit/mix was free, since he showed up as stray. All of them are priceless in our eyes and all make great alarm systems.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 13 2011 |

When I hear people say to adopt shelter dogs it saddens me because all dogs should be rescued whether they are mutts or pedigrees from shelters or puppy mills. I have rescued 2 Havanese from families who came from puppy mills and were selling them over the internet at less than half what they paid for them because they did not want them. So I paid a little more than I would have had to pay for a mutt/pedigree at a shelter. I also purchased another Havanese AKC from a breeder/puppy mill. All 3 of my Havanese came with issues just like if you would have bought a shelter dog with issues but we have worked them out and they are the love of our lives. I truly believe any dog that comes from a shelter or puppy mill needs to be rescued and can become your beautiful fur baby if given the love and attention. P.S. We have always had dogs over the past 42 years (mutts/pedigrees) and we loved them all.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 13 2011 |

$300 and it was the best money I could ever spend, my pup did come neutered and up to date on vaccines, and being a vet I could have probably done them cheaper myself but its worth it to support the shelters/rescues who take such good care for their pups!

Submitted by Luceelu | July 13 2011 |

I just paid $50 for a big goofy 9 month old lab (mostly) mix. His young family had fallen on hard times and they were devastated to have to give Harvey up. In the week I've had him he has already paid me back just in entertainment! My 2 other dogs (both rescues) agree. The most I paid for a dog was $75. I was fostering him for a rescue group and my beagle girl and I both fell in love with him.

Submitted by Deborah Harrison | July 13 2011 |

$3,000 and I was on a wait list for two years

Submitted by Anonymous | July 13 2011 |

Got my now-11 month old Dalmatian-Pit from the local kill shelter for $130. I imagine it was as high as it was because she was only 4 months then, but when I saw her online, I couldn't let the money get in the way -- she's my heart dog.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 14 2011 |

Sounds kind of strange but I got my puppy "on sale" from the shelter for $35 instead of the normal $70 - I think it was because I adopted in the Spring and they get overloaded then? Included shots/neuter/etc and he's the best ever!

Submitted by Anonymous | August 2 2011 |

As caretaker at an animal sanctuary, I have gotten most of our dogs for free; but I have paid for dogs to get them out of a bad situation -- $50 for a beagle whose owner said she would not hunt, and $30 and $25 for beagles at an auction. The $30 went for a dog whose new owner decided that she didn't have enough blue ticking when he saw her up close; and $25 for a beautiful beagle whom no one else bid on -- people laughed and said I could have had her for $5, but I loved her at first sight and wanted her off the auction block.

Submitted by Zoey | September 4 2011 |

Six years ago, we paid $2500 for a scottish Deerhound puppy from a breeder across the country and then all the other costs that go with it: vet to certify eligibility to fly, the kennel to fly him in, the transport to the airport, the cost of the flight and insurance for the pup. It became my only Christmas gift for the year but he is one of the best dogs we've ever owned.
Included in that is a Cocker Spaniel that we paid only vet fees for as he was tied to our front door. He was so pathetic looking that we couldn't tell the sex of him. Matted, filthy, a collar three times too small around his neck and buried into his skin. He's one grateful pup and a happier dog you could never find!
There is two more of them here too. One is a Greyhound now 12 years old that I pulled out of a kill box at a Conn. dog racing park. I didn't pay for her either. I got all the vet costs afterwards to return her to health. Then there is this Borzoi that has a crushed pelvis and fractured and dislocated hip that was going to be put down. Three years later she's still with us, presently on hospice care because I couldn't stand the thought of such a horrible hemi-pelvectomy type amputation and the post operative pain I would put her in. When we go for walks, she rides in a cart as her endurance is poor. I paid $150 for her through a rescue group, the best money I ever spent. She sings and roos all the time, she just needs a little more care than most dogs.

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