Skip to Content

7 Weird Reasons Why Dogs Are So Expensive In America (2023)

Why Are Dogs Expensive

Taking good care of dogs requires a lot of time and…money.

But they can also cost a fortune from the start.

Well, especially if you’re living in America.

So what’s the reason for this?

Continue reading to find out:

  • 7 weird reasons why dogs are so expensive in America.
  • The intention behind high adoption fees of some rescue shelters.
  • 3 factors that may have affected the cost of vet services in the US.
  • And many more…

Why dogs are so expensive in America – 7 reasons

#1: Most US pet stores get dogs from ‘puppy mills’

The Human Society of the United States, a.k.a. HSUS, estimated that there are about 10,000 puppy mills in the US.

And the US Department of Agriculture only manages less than 3,000 of them.

Also, Missouri, for instance, is known as the ‘puppy mill capital’ of the US.

And based on a report

Can you believe that a breeder there sells 9,000 puppies a year?

Well, that’s a lot of dogs…and money.

But the more concerning issue here is that…

Most pet stores in the US get their dogs from those ‘puppy mills.’ And they choose those over experienced breeders.

Let’s take Florida as an example.

It’s one of the states with the most number of pet shops selling pups.

But sadly…

ASPCA found last 2021 that most dogs there came from ‘puppy mills.’ 

And one of them has more than 200 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

The dogs there were sick and in the jaws of death. Which is a horrible view for any fur parents.

Now, here’s the thing with ‘puppy mills‘…

They’re known for mistreating dogs.

They breed canines as many times as possible. Without taking care of their health.

And the mills only spend a small amount on the dogs. While they sell their puppies for high prices.

So, this might be one of the factors why dogs are so expensive in America. But only if you’re buying one from a store.

This is because adopting Fidos from rescue shelters will cost you from fewer bucks to none. 

Interesting fact: Toronto has a bylaw against buying from puppy mills. It says that pet stores in the area should only get dogs from:

  • Rescue groups.
  • Registered shelters.
  • Municipal animal shelters.

You might also be interested in: Adopting A Rescue Dog: The First 7 Days [Checklist]

#2: Vet care is expensive in the US

Vet Care Is Expensive In The US

A report shows that in the world, the US is the highest-paying country for vets. With an estimated $88,490 salary per year.

Well, vet services are indeed costly in America. And I’m sure you can attest to this if you’re from the US.

“But why’s that?” you might wonder.

We can’t exactly say the reason.

However, I’ve done some research and found a few factors that might have affected this.

Set charges for vet services

The one responsible for this is the American Veterinary Medical Association, a.k.a. AVMA.

It sets the acceptable range of prices. Then the vets will only charge within that scope.

So the cost won’t be any lower than what AVMA sets.


Tests and expensive equipment

Dogs can’t speak in words like us.

So to determine what’s hurting them, vets need to run a series of tests. 

And when I say tests, I mean many of them.

Plus, the equipment also costs a lot.

So all in all, it’ll surely result in an expensive bill.


Competitiveness and cost of vet school

Did you know that there are only about 30 vet schools in the US? While medical schools are around 140?

If that’s the case, 4 to 5 people fight for every open slot. So you can imagine how hard it is to get in.

Not only that, but on average, the tuition for vet schools is 2 to 10k more expensive yearly than med schools.

#3: It costs a lot to breed healthy pups

Breeding dogs, especially pure breeds and healthy ones, isn’t a walk in the park.

It takes so much time, effort, and real commitment.


First, the breeder will find a stud for their female. And this won’t be for free. 

Then they may pay over $3,000 for a pet C-section.

There are also vaccines, vet visits, vitamins, and registration fees. And these are for the dam and the whole litter.

So, given that the cost of vet services in the US is already expensive…

The overall price of a well-bred puppy in America will also be so high.

Trivia: According to a 2021 survey, people spent about $123.6 billion on pets in America.

#4: High demand, low supply

Remember the theory of supply and demand?

The cost will be high if there’s a high demand but low supply.

And this could also explain why certain dogs are so expensive in America.

I’m looking at you, French Bulldogs!


Okay. Let me share a cool fact with you.

Based on the 2021 survey of AKC, the 10 most popular dog breeds in the US are the following:

  1. Labrador Retrievers
  2. French Bulldogs
  3. Golden Retrievers
  4. German Shepherd dogs
  5. Poodles
  6. Bulldogs
  7. Beagles
  8. Rottweilers
  9. Pointers
  10. Dachshunds

So looking at it, you can see that French Bulldogs are the 2nd most wanted furry friend in America.

Great. They’re so adorable and friendly.

But did you know that French Bulldogs are expensive and hard to breed?

Yup. A female may only give birth to up to 4 puppies a litter.

Plus, they need frequent vet visits too. And this is because vets say they’re prone to many health issues (e.g., hip dysplasia, disk disease).

Because of these reasons, French Bulldogs are low in supply. But many people in the US are willing to pay for them at a high cost.

So, as a result, they’re going to be pricey.

And it’s not just French Bulldogs. There are also high demands for dog breeds like:

  • Rottweilers.
  • Tibetan Mastiffs.
  • English Bulldogs.

Rare and exotic dogs

Other similar examples of this are ‘teacup’ dogs. And also popular cross-breeds like Labradoodles.

These Fidos also cost a fortune (over $3,000) because they’re unusual. And that’s what makes them so appealing to the public.

Plus, they’re unbelievably cute.

Take a look at this tiny teacup Shih Tzu puppy:

But take note, since they’re ‘rare’ breeds…

Their pretty appearances have unbelievable consequences too.

For example, teacup dogs are so tiny and fragile. So PetMD says they’re at high risk of heart defects, blindness, and breathing issues.

#5: Pandemic

Based on a 2022 survey, 54% or 69 million households in the US have at least 1 dog.

And one of the factors that greatly contributed to this is the lockdown.

Are you also one of them?

So, what happened is since people started working from home…

Most of them felt lonely and needed a companion (an extra cute one). 

And they may have also thought they now have time for a pet. Since they’re going to be at home most of the time.

So, as a result, a study says:

There was a 6% increase in households with dogs in the US from 2020 to 2021.

Wow, that’s a boost.

Now, let’s talk about its outcome concerning the prices of dogs.

Okay. The cost of living in the US was already high before.

Then during the pandemic, the demand for puppies even skyrocketed. But there’s still a low supply of dogs.

So what happened?

The cost of Fidos also escalated. Most significantly for purebred pups.

#6: Overpricing

Next, this might not be the cause for every case…

But some people also take advantage of the high demand for dogs in the US.

They hopped into the ‘panic buying’ of puppies during the lockdown. 

And they may also be adding extra fees to certain breeds.

But sometimes, the reason for putting expensive price tags on dogs is simple:

People are willing to pay that much. Until that’s how the usual price for dogs came to be.

#7: To deter people with bad intentions

Lastly, you might have opted for adopting a rescue since it costs less…

But some shelters may also ask for higher fees.

“Why’s that?”

Usually, you can adopt a Fido at a shelter for free or for up to $25 only.

But let me remind you, the screening process might take ages. 

Plus, shelters will also ask you for specific requirements.

For instance, you need to give your vet’s details. And some will require you to have a permanent abode and an enclosed yard.

That’s to make sure that the dog you’ll adopt will be in a safe place.

However, aside from this, some rescue groups may also ask for a higher adoption fee.


That’s to ensure the dog will go into a financially stable household.

Rescues there had a rough start in life. So they only want to give them to someone trustworthy.

A person who’s not going to adopt the pooch for entertainment. Or worse, abuse or cruelty.

Note: The fee might also include a part of the dog’s food, shelter, and vet charges.

And that’s why it’s not only costly, but it’s also very hard to adopt a dog from a rescue.