Dog (Price) Tag: $230K

One man's dog cost more than a house
By Julia Lane, July 2011, Updated February 2015
german shepherd dog foster breed rescue help shelter adoption fee

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.

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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?

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Julia Lane owns Spot On K9 Sports, a training facility in the Chicago area, and offers online dog-sport coaching. She is the author of several travel books, and her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers and elsewhere.