How Much Does it Cost to Have a Hunting Dog?

Estimating the Lifetime Cost of Owning a Hunting Dog

I remember the moment I laid eyes on my new puppy. There was something about her that told me she was trouble. She exuded confidence and fearlessness, making it clear that she was in charge. It was love at first sight. Little did I know, the cost of owning a hunting dog goes beyond the initial purchase price. In addition to the usual expenses of owning a dog, hunting dogs come with an extra layer of uncertainty due to their adventurous nature in the field. Let’s break down the cost of owning a hunting dog over its lifetime.

Buying a Hunting Dog: The Puppy Deposit and Purchase

To begin with, the price of a hunting dog puppy can vary greatly depending on the breed, pedigree, and breeder. Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1000 to $2000 for a puppy. Before the litter is born, breeders may ask for a deposit of a few hundred dollars to secure a spot for you. This ensures their confidence in finding the best homes for the puppies.

It’s important to note that the purchase price of the puppy is just the tip of the iceberg. Breeders invest a significant amount of time, money, and care into breeding a litter. From taking care of the mother’s health to meeting the requirements for breeding qualifications, breeding dogs is not a lucrative endeavor. The upfront cost may also include registration fees and membership in kennel clubs or associations.

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For this example, let’s assume our hunting dog, named Cash, was purchased as a puppy for the average price.

Total cost: $1500

Cost of Feeding a Hunting Dog: Performance Nutrition for the Athlete

Hunting dogs are athletes, and they require proper nutrition and enough calories to fuel their active lifestyle. While there are various options for dog food, let’s consider a brand name dry food with high protein content. These typically cost between $40 and $60 for a 30-pound bag. Since Cash is a large and active dog, he consumes approximately one bag of food per month.

Total cost: $7200

Health Costs of Hunting Dogs: Routine and Preventative Healthcare

Keeping a bird dog in excellent shape requires regular preventative healthcare, including physical exams and vaccinations. Puppies need multiple visits in the first few months to complete their vaccine series. It’s also important to stay up-to-date with vaccines and address any health concerns as they arise.

If you plan to travel with your bird dog, you should be aware of any specific requirements for entering different states or countries, as certain areas have region-specific health risks. Including regular flea, tick, and parasite prevention in your medical care plan is essential, though prices may vary depending on your specific needs.

As dogs age, they require more frequent medical care. Planning ahead for increased health expenses is crucial to ensure a long and healthy hunting career. While insurance plans may cover routine care, it’s worth researching to determine if it’s a viable option for you.

Cash’s annual healthcare expenses for routine visits and preventative care are $500 for the first eight years and $1000 for the last four.

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Total cost: $16,700

Surprise Costs of Emergency Veterinary Care

Accidents and injuries can happen to even the most careful hunting dogs. Puppies, in particular, are prone to chewing on things they shouldn’t or encountering hazardous objects in their environment. Emergency veterinary care can be expensive, with surgeries costing thousands of dollars and simpler procedures still adding up to hundreds of dollars. Having insurance that covers emergencies can help alleviate the financial burden.

Let’s assume Cash has one major incident in his lifetime that requires hospitalization and three minor emergencies requiring sutures, antibiotics, and similar care.

Total cost: $22,900

Costs of Training and Outfitting a Hunting Dog

In this category, you have more control over the expenses, but they can’t be avoided entirely. Your bird dog will need basic essentials like a crate, and the cost will depend on your preferences and budget. Gadgets and electronics can quickly add up, but it’s possible to find more affordable options without sacrificing quality.

Training your dog is another cost to consider. You can choose between hiring a professional trainer or taking the DIY route. DIY training still involves purchasing equipment, birds for training, and potentially paying for access to training grounds. Additionally, it requires a significant investment of time and effort. For Cash, his owners opted for a professional trainer for six weeks of basic training and continued to work with him during the off-season.

Total cost: $25,000


When I first calculated the total cost of owning a hunting dog, I was taken aback by the $25,000 figure. But as I look at my beloved dogs and the joy they bring to my life, I can’t help but smile. Over twelve years of companionship, the cost averages out to $173 per month or the price of a daily venti mocha Frappuccino. The bond between a hunter and their dog is priceless, and it’s worth every penny.

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