Here's the real cost of owning a dog for the first year

Feb 6, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Most pet owners decide to get a dog on a whim after seeing that cute doggie in the window — myself included. After spending a few hundred dollars you don't have on pet gear, you may be asking yourself: Was getting a dog really worth it?

If you are ready and have the money to invest, getting a dog is definitely worth it. But for the sake of Fido, please, please do your homework before buying a new pet so that you don't find yourself in over your head.

Adorably irresistible puppies often cost money — and lots of it. According to experienced pet owners, here's what you can expect to spend the first time you get a dog.

Cost of the dog

Dogs

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When you walk by a pet store in the mall, just know that puppy in the window comes at an exorbitant price — up to a thousand dollars. Buying a specialty breed from a breeder could cost even more, roughly $2,900 for a Yorkshire Terrier puppy. Because of the cruelty and questionable ethics of puppy mills, most dog lovers urge new pet owners to adopt. Local Humane Societies advertise small breed adoption at $99 and large breed adoption at $65.

Your cost: $99 to adopt a small breed

Food

Dogs eating

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Growing puppies gotta eat! PetEducation.com estimates pet food costs at $125-$500 in the first year.

Your cost: $125 per year, on the low end

Medical emergencies

Puppy cast

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While we all hope for a healthy and happy pooch, accidents do happen. If your puppy gets into something that it shouldn't, or worse, gets injured, you could have a major medical bill on your hands. Dog owners of Reddit say that a pet-related medical emergency could easily cost $2,000. One commenter shares, "My dog tore up and ate something she shouldn't have, and the bill was $1,500. I was fortunate enough to have the money. She almost certainly would not have survived without the surgery."

Your cost: $1,500

Miscellaneous supplies

Puppies

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Oh, yeah, man's best friend is also going to need a bed, a leash and a collar with ID tags. All that gear could run you a cool $100. If your dog needs a crate, tack on an extra $35-$50 for a small to medium dog crate. Though not all breeds require grooming, an at-home grooming tool could cost you $15, with professional grooming estimated at $50 per month.

Your cost: $150, on the low end

Toys

Chihuahua

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Yes, you have to buy your new pet something to play with to keep it from chewing on your shoes when you're not at home. A Reddit pet owner recommends an affordable toy-buying approach: "Toys should be no more than $80 altogether. Don't give him the toys all together. Give it to [him] slowly and wait till he gets bored with one and keep rotating toys."

Your cost: $80

Spay or neuter

Dog bite

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Spaying or neutering your pup could cost anywhere from $250-$400 for a small breed, up to $550 for a large breed. Consider a monthly vet plan that may include spaying or neutering, or inquire about discount spay and neuter services when adopting from an animal shelter.

Your cost: $250

Training

Dog training

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If you've said "bad dog" so many times that you just can't take it anymore, it may be wise to consider a training class. Shop around for affordable classes before you sign up. One Reddit dog owner calls dog training "ridiculously expensive" and describes his experience: "I took my pup to a $200 6 week puppy course when he was young. Then I took him to a $20/day general obedience class. That wasn't working out, so I signed up for a $175/month program that is gym membership style, where they offer 10 classes a week and you can go to as many as you want."

Your cost: Starting at $175

Vaccinations

Cute puppy

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New puppy vaccines could add up to cost you well over $200 by 16 weeks old. Or you could use the helpful advice of another Reddit pet owner: Take advantage of your vet's monthly care plan. "Monthly Preventative Care Plan: $30 — I'm so glad I got this at my vet. Free visits, vaccines included in the plan, 2 decals, 4 dewormings and a spay/neuter procedure."

Your cost: $360 per year

New pet ownership grand total: $1,239-$2,739, depending on emergency medical expenses

How much a new dog really costs

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