German Shepherd owners will agree with the saying, “buying a dog is not a big deal – the real deal is the cost to own it!” As a proud owner of a German Shepherd, I can certainly relate to that, and potential new owners often ask me, “how much does it cost to own a German Shepherd?”
The cost of owning a German Shepherd can be around $85 per month once you have paid for your pup (the average initial buying cost is $2000). Therefore, the lifetime cost of owning a German Shepherd over 10 years can be up to $12,230, for both the cost of the puppy plus all food and care expenses.
Buying your puppy is only the first of many ongoing costs of owning your GSD. The buying and caring costs make up the lifetime total cost of ownership.
To help you compute your figures for owning a German Shepherd, this article breaks down not only the buying cost but all other care expenses that bringing home a GSD will put on your tab, such as food, vet care, and grooming.
I’ll do this by giving you real examples of costs for different care items and the real costs that others, including myself, have incurred when caring for German Shepherds. I’ll also include a few examples of UK prices for my UK readers.
Finally, I’ll give you 5 tips on how to reduce the cost of owning your German Shepherd.
Let’s dive straight in and find out the reality of how much it costs to own a German Shepherd!
German Shepherd Price
The cost of German Shepherd puppies has increased considerably since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Prices rose due to the demand for puppies. I contacted 17 breeders and obtained the latest prices. This is what I found:
A German Shepherd puppy costs an average of $2000. This figure is based on a random sample of breeders. GSD puppies range in price from $800 to $5,000. However, I used the lowest price in the spectrum to get the average. Puppies with the highest prices are from a top lineage or show quality.
You’ll read varied versions of the price of a German Shepherd from different websites and blogs. Consider the difference between these five:
- germanshepherdscentral.net – $1,000-$2,000
- germanshepherd101.com – $300-$900 (puppy); $6,000-$7,000 (adult)
- total-german-shepherd.com – $1,200-$1,500
- emborapets.com – $500-$3,000 ($300 to $600 adopting)
- anythinggermanshepherd.com – $1,500 to $5,000 (show quality); $500 to $2,000 (pet quality); up to $1,000 (adoption)
Doing a real-time search from both breeder and ad sites will also reveal variations in the cost of German Shepherds depending on different factors. Here I show you the difference that 5 of these factors can make in German Shepherd prices.
Buying From a Registered Breeder vs. a Search Site Ad
Without disqualifying German Shepherd listings on a search site, you are certainly better off buying your dog from a breeder who is registered with a national kennel club when compared to one who makes a single listing for a German Shepherd puppy on a search site – which could be most likely to have been bred in their backyard.
From a price perspective, you’re likely to pay a lot less with someone who makes a single listing on a search site than with a registered ethical breeder. For example, you’ll pay $2,000 for a purpose-bred GSD from Diamond Peak German Shepherds, an AKC Breeder of Merit, while you can pay at little as $130 for a dog listed on PuppyFind.com.
Buying a Pet Quality GSD vs. Buying a GSD With Champion Bloodlines
You’ll be surprised at the difference in prices between pet quality and champion bloodline German Shepherds.
To give you an example, the Vom Berk Haus German Shepherds in Corvallis, OR. lists German Shepherds bred for family companions for prices between $4,800 and $9,500, while protection dogs are listed for a price between $18,000 and $85,000!
These dogs are bred from imported world-champion German Shepherds. Prices are correct at the time of publishing; however, these could change when puppies are purchased.
A different breeder, Haus Morrisson German Shepherds in Ijamsville, MD., is also selling German Shepherds bred for family pets and protection, yet only asks between $2,000 and $2,500.
Buying a GSD Puppy From the US vs. the UK
You are likely to pay a little more for a German Shepherd in the US than you would in the UK. A search through some breeder sites in the UK revealed that GSDs would sell for a price between £1,000 ($1,250) and £3,500 ($4,325), while prices on breeder sites in the US ranged between $1,500 and $4,500 but averaging around $2,000, (exempting the highly-priced champion bloodlines).
This means a $250 difference between the lowest-priced GSD in the UK and the US and a $175 difference between the highest-priced German Shepherds in the two countries.
This difference can be explained by the fact that German Shepherds are more popular in the US. As such, prices can be lower because they are readily available, yet they can also be higher because the breed is highly valued.
Buying a Puppy vs. Adopting a Mature Dog
In most cases, mature dogs will tend to cost less, whether you are adopting or buying. For example, Austerlitz German Shepherd Dogs, an AKC breeder of merit, prices adult dogs for $500-$1,000 while puppies are sold for $2,500.
Buying price differences between adult German Shepherds and puppies are often informed by thinking that it is easier to train a puppy than a grown dog. This can be true, especially if the dog has picked up bad habits; however, with a lot of patience and discipline, it’s never too late to train a German Shepherd, as I explain in this post.
Nonetheless, you will also find breeders such as Shield Kennels with older German Shepherds that list for a higher price than a puppy.
Buying From a Hobby-Breeder vs. a Professional Breeder
My search revealed that you would pay more for a German Shepherd if the breeder has professional knowledge and/or qualifications. Small hobby breeders will, instead, hand over your German Shepherd for lower prices.
For example, the Vom Eisenraben German Shepherds hobby-breeders sell their dogs for $1,800-$2,500. At the same time, you have to part with $6,500 for a 14-week-old trained puppy at North Mountain Kennels, where the breeder has various degrees in canine behavior.
As indicated earlier, the buying price is only a part of the total cost of owning a German Shepherd. Still, if you are ready to make a purchase, you can find much more information in my article, How Much is a German Shepherd? 21 Examples!
I also have a full buyer’s guide on buying a German Shepherd, which includes helpful advice on choosing and finding an ethical and reputable breeder.
For my estimations on the cost of buying a German Shepherd, I’ll take the average cost of $2,000. The rest of the article focuses on the care costs, which constitute the larger part of the German Shepherd ownership cost.
Owning a German Shepherd: Calculating the Care Costs
Once you bring your gorgeous German Shepherd home, you’ll have several aspects of care to pay for throughout your pet’s life. So, exactly how much does it cost to own a German Shepherd for a year and its lifetime?
I’ll give you an idea of the cost of the main elements of care for a German Shepherd.
Feeding your German Shepherd with high-quality food is extremely important if you want to ensure healthy growth and longevity and keep illnesses at bay.
To give you an idea of how much it will cost you to feed a German Shepherd for a year and life, I’ll take the example of these three products that you can buy on Amazon:
- Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food
- Milk-Bone Original Dog Treats
Assuming you bring home your puppy at the recommended age of 8 weeks (2 months), this table shows you how much you’ll spend feeding your puppy with Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food for the recommended first 12 months. I’ll assume that your puppy is maintaining an average weight from the feeding guide.
|Age of GSD Puppy||Recommended|
in cups (1 cup = 8oz/85gm)
|Total amount in a month||Total cost in a month (buying 30lb/13.6kg bags @ $74.69)|
|Month 2||3+1/8 (266g)||7.98kg||$44|
|Month 3||4 (340g)||10.2kg||$56|
|Month 4-5||4+3/8 (372g)||2 x 11.2kg||$123|
|Month 6-9||5+1/2 (468g)||4 x 14kg||$308|
|Month 10-11||5 (425g)||2 x 12.8kg||$141|
|Month 12-13||4+1/2 (383g)||2 x 11.5kg||$126|
The total amount spent on food in the first 12 months = $798.
After the first 12 months, if you switch to the Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food, this is approximately how much you’ll spend for a German Shepherd with average weight (around 75lb) and with average activity.
|Recommended daily amount in cups (1 cup = 8oz/85gm)||4+1/4(361g)|
|Total amount in a month||10.8kg|
|Total cost in a month (buying 30lb/13.6kg bags @ $74.69)||$59|
|Total amount in a year||$708 ($6,372 for 9 years)|
So, the total amount you’ll spend on food for your German Shepherd in a year (after the first 12 months) is $708.
At the start of this article, I indicated that I would give my real costs, so here goes. I feed my German Shepherd a high-quality brand of cold-pressed dog food, Guru Pet Food’s Surf & Turf, which costs £54 ($66) for a 14kg bag (30.8 lbs). However, my dog is large-sized at 40kg (88 lbs) and consumes around one bag per month, making the annual cost for her food £648 ($792).
Clearly, you can buy less expensive food. However, that is a personal choice, but remember that it will be of less quality. My girl has been fed on this food since she was 8 weeks old and still thrives on it today. You can find out more about this food in my review here.
If I assume that you will use a pack of Milk-Bone Original Dog Treats (10lb/4.5kg) every three months, you’ll need four packets each year, which account for 4 x $12.99 ($52).
Remember that expert advice says your dog’s treats should account for no more than 10% (in calories) of your dog’s daily diet.
Of course, you can also feed healthy homemade food to your German Shepherd, and that brings down the overall ownership cost by several times.
Supposing your average-sized German Shepherd lives for ten years. The total amount you’ll spend on food and treats for your pet’s entire life will be approximately $7,690. This is without counting the times you opt to give your pet a treat of human food, but that would also save on your dog’s dry food, which balances the costs.
Despite its short double coat, the German Shepherd is a heavy-shedding breed. Nonetheless, the coat is easy to maintain, but daily brushing is recommended. In fall and spring, when shedding increases, you will also need to de-shed twice per week to control the amount of shedding. Otherwise, they can itch a lot.
Grooming costs will include accessories for brushing and clipping nails and shampoo for the occasional bath. So, if I choose the best products for grooming, this is how much you’ll spend, leaving out any visits to a professional groomer, which, according to the AKC, can cost up to $1,400 per year (products available on Amazon):
- Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool for Dogs
- TropiClean Shampoos for Pets (shed control)
- Boshel Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmer
Total = $66
German Shepherds are generally healthy dogs. But they can be susceptible to certain conditions. If that happens, you’ll spend more on vet care and treatment for your dog. For example, according to Canine Journal, if your dog suffers hip dysplasia in the later years, treatment may cost you up to $4,500.
Pet insurance will save you from paying so much in one go and is, therefore, good for budgeting and peace of mind.
Let’s, however, presume that your dog stays healthy. What are the basic vet care costs that you will have to pay? Here are the estimates:
- Core vaccinations – $75-$100
- Rabies vaccination – $15-$20
- Vet visits – $100-$300
- Flea and tick prevention – $100-$200
- Heartworm prevention – $180
- Pet insurance (accident and illnesses) $60 per month ($720 per year)
If I go by the higher rates, these basic costs will require you to pay $1,520. One-off spay or neuter charges can cost anything from $60 – $800.
Obedience Training Classes
Obedience classes are important for your dog and are definitely worth it. They will teach basic commands and promote socialization skills.
Obedience classes usually run for 4-8 weeks/sessions. According to homeguide.com, you’ll pay $30-$50 per class on average. But, if you opt for private classes, expect to pay between $45 and $120 per session.
Choosing a 6-class package will cost you between $200 to $600 – while opting for obedience school will cost you between $500 to $1,250 per week, which means around $7,500 for six weeks.
If I go for the middle range, I’ll take the 6-class package for $600.
Beddings and Other Training and Feeding Accessories
Bringing home your German Shepherd will also require purchasing bedding, other training, feeding, and travel accessories. Let’s make my estimates by creating a shopping list for the essentials. As usual, I’ll consider the best quality for our German Shepherd:
- Large leather dog collar – $20
- Leather dog leash – $26
- Walk Your Dog With Love No-Pull Harness – $30
- Neater Feeder dog bowls – $45
- Lixit water bottles for a crate – $10
- Dog Crate XL – $80
- Furhaven Pet Dog Bed – $68
- Selection of KONG dog toys – $75
Tip! When choosing a dog crate for a GSD, you need a size 48-inch. Find out why in this article, German Shepherd Crate Size: What Size Crate for a GSD?
You will need to replace most of these accessories at some point in your German Shepherd’s lifetime, but I’ll consider it a standard purchase. You will also need variety with your GSDs toys, but I opt for a standard set here.
So, for bedding and other training and feeding accessories, you’ll spend approximately $354.
The Cost of Owning a German Shepherd: Some Breeder/Owner Voices
Hearing the voices of people who have bred or owned a German Shepherd can give a comparative view of my calculated cost of $12,230. I highlight five examples of the cost of owning a German Shepherd, as indicated by the rescues or owners. The examples from GSD owners are taken from discussion forums: reddit.com, quora.com, and German Shepherds.com.
User Mary Shelley on Quora has a large 3-year-old German Shepherd. According to her, these are the monthly expenses for her GSD:
- Food – $40
- Flea/tick and heartworm prevention meds – $35
- Vet visits – $25
- License – $3
- Park pass – $7.50
- Treats – $50
- Accident/Health Insurance – $60
- Training/sporting Classes – $150
- Miscellaneous expenses (new toys, lost ID tag, occasional dog walker, etc.) – $25
- Rent pet fee – $25
She also has non-monthly expenses that include:
- Hotel pet fee – $10-$60
- Breeds specialty show competition – $1,500 annually
The monthly expenses for her German Shepherd total up to $420.50. If you include the additional fees for hotel pet fees and the annual pay for breeds specialty show competition, her expenses amount to $6,600 a year and, therefore $66,000 if her German Shepherd lives for ten years. But this amount does not include the buying cost, which I do not know.
User “Smithsa1200” on Reddit indicates the following monthly expenses for his German Shepherd:
- Food – $60
- Insurance – $35
- Toys – $20-$40 (his dog must have certain types of toys)
These items total $135 a month and $1,620 per year. As usual, if his GSD lives for ten years, he will be spending $16,200 just for these items and without including the buying cost.
This rescue indicates that the cost of owning a German Shepherd will range between $1,200-$1,500 a year, which means $12,000-$15,000 if the GSD lives for ten years.
Here’s the rescue’s breakdown of expenses:
- Food, Supplement (Nupro), and Treats – $35 per month
- Accessories (collars, leashes, and tag) – $10.00-$20.00
- Vet visits, exams, and vaccines – $75-$85
- Spay/neuter – $285-$425
- Deworming – $20-$50
- Flea/tick prevention – $15-$35
- Heartworm control and treatment – $300-$600
- Hospitalization for illnesses – $400-$1,000
- Boarding – $20-$40
- Basic obedience classes – $50-$100
PDSA, in the UK, estimates that you will spend £5,700-£13,000 ($7,030-$16,050) for large dogs like the German Shepherd over their entire lifetime. They say this is the bare minimum and does not include any vet fees if your dog becomes ill, although they have included pet insurance.
Here’s their annual breakdown:
|Initial Costs (Vaccinations, monthly wormers, neutering, food and water bowls, bed, leash, collar and tag, toothbrush & toothpaste, and toys)||£425 ($525)|
|Ongoing care (Food, regular flea/worm treatments, annual health checks and booster vaccinations, insurance, toys, toothpaste, poo bags)||£80 ($95)|
User “WVGSD” on the GermanShepherds.com forum indicated these costs are what you should consider for the basics:
- Food – $50
- Vet visits – $100
- Toys, leashes, and collars – $100 initially
- Grooming accessories (brushes, combs, shampoo, nail clippers, etc. – $100 initially
- Flea/tick prevention – $20 per month
- Heartworm prevention – $20 per month
- Crate – $100
From these expenses, the monthly cost of owning a German Shepherd would be $190, adding up to $2,280 per year and $22,800 for the pet’s entire life. This is without adding the buying cost.
You will find plenty of other estimates for the cost of owning a German Shepherd dog in blogs and other forums. I mention Forbes estimated cost of owning a large dog such as the German Shepherd has often been considered extremely inflated.
According to this old 2011 article, you’ll spend around $1,570 a month for food, vet care, medical insurance, dental cleanings, training, and other feeding and training accessories. You also part with an additional $5,000 annually for walks if you live in the city – all that should see you spend about $83,000 over the lifespan of a big dog!
The variations in the reported costs will all depend on the many factors explained earlier. I sum up my estimations for the cost of owning a German Shepherd with a final comparison.
Summing It All Up: The Total German Shepherd Ownership Cost
With my main costs accounted for, I can now make my comprehensive cost for owning a German Shepherd.
|Obedience training classes||$600|
|Beddings and other training and feeding accessories||$354|
From my calculations, owning a German Shepherd will cost you approximately $12,230 for its entire lifespan, which is closer to Brightstar German Shepherd Dog Rescue’s $12,000 – $15,000 estimate, PDSA’s $16,050, and “Smithsa1200’s” $16,200.
Instead, my calculations are way below Mary Shelly’s $66,000 and “WVGSD’s” $58,800. Also, it is extremely below the Forbes $83,000 estimate! However, you might want to keep in mind that some German Shepherds are involved in competitions, and their training will mean high additional costs.
Costs will also be inflated if your dog gets sick with serious conditions, as in the case of the earlier mentioned hip dysplasia, or if you spend on daily dog walking services.
However, in all cases, keeping costs at a minimum is everyone’s wish, which is why some tips for reducing the cost of owning a GSD are essential.
5 Tips to Reduce the Cost of Owning a German Shepherd
When it comes to spending, every penny counts. As such, even my estimated amount of $12,230 is not small! I, therefore, give you some tips on reducing the cost of owning a German Shepherd before concluding the article.
1. Feed Your German Shepherd With Healthy Food
It’s important to feed your GSD with high-quality food. This not only promotes healthy growth but also supports your pet’s immune system.
It is recommended that you buy dog food formulated with the nutritional guidelines of the American Association of Feed Control Officials. Instead, creating your own kitchen recipes could ruin your dog’s health unless you seek professional help from a vet nutritionist.
Additionally, professionally formulated food given in the recommended amount will keep your pet from the dangers of obesity or malnutrition. All that saves you money in the long run.
2. Groom Your GSD at Home
German Shepherds do not need special grooming since they have a short double coat that is easy to manage, despite the heavy shedding.
You can save yourself the earlier mentioned $1,400 professional grooming costs by purchasing the proposed grooming tools and grooming your dog at home. Doing so will not only save you money but will also create extra time to bond with your dog.
You can take some German Shepherd grooming insights from my article on reducing German Shepherd shedding or take a class to learn a few grooming tips.
3. Opt for Dog Health Insurance
I indicated earlier that you would need up to $4,500 to treat your GSD if he developed hip dysplasia. This, together with all other vet costs of the year, could cause you a financial nightmare.
Opting for comprehensive dog health insurance can cost you a monthly amount that caters to everything. Besides, pet insurance has a vet reimbursement option, and you can choose a package that suits your needs.
4. Be Faithful to Your GSD’s Annual Checkups
A health condition caught on time is easier to heal than one in an advanced stage. For example, according to WebMD, even though cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs older than ten years, more than half of these cancers are curable if caught in time.
Adhering to your GSD’s annual checkups and any others recommended by your furry friend’s vet will keep him safe from having to suffer from conditions that are not diagnosed in time – prevention is always better than cure.
5. Take Your Puppy’s Vaccines From a Rescue Center
I’m not advocating for a culture of “freebies.” But, many rescue centers give dog vaccines for much lower costs and, sometimes, for free. This might come in handy, especially if you find your finances have changed.
Be sure that you are going for a lesser cost if you opt for it, as not every shelter is equal in this matter. For example, you’ll pay $15 for Rabies and Bordetella vaccines at Humane Rescue Alliance and $20 for each of the vaccines at Foothills Animal Shelter.
If you are in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, CA., you can also get your dog and puppy vaccines, flea prevention, and dewormer for free at Paw Fund.
Buying a German Shepherd Dog can be as cheap as $750 (less if you adopt) or as expensive as $75,000! This will depend on many factors. But whatever your GSD’s price, you need to bear in mind that that is the first of the many costs you will incur in your pet’s lifetime.
Your GSD’s food will cost you the most, among other care expenses. But you should not save on high-quality food since this is important for your pet’s healthy growth, immunity to fight diseases, and, therefore, longevity. Other costs like grooming require affordable amounts, and you can also opt to save by grooming your dog at home.
If you consider owning a German Shepherd, make sure you thoroughly check your finances to ensure you can give this great dog a happy and fun life. If you decide it may be too much, a cheaper option might be to adopt a miniature German Shepherd. Whatever you decide, good luck!
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