The Labrador Retriever is America’s favorite dog breed and has been for an impressive three decades. So when it comes to choosing a pet, many families turn to the trusted Lab to join their family fold. But there is more to owning a pup than just cute wet noses and cuddles. The role of being a doggo owner comes with a lot of responsibility.
Part of that responsibility is being the bank of mom or dad. Dogs are expensive creatures to care for. Some don’t require anything over the basic maintenance (which is still a lot over their lifetime.) But some needs lots more care and financial responsibility, through no fault of their own.
Let’s review the basic average costs that all Lab moms and dads can expect to face. We also explore some of the additional expenses that Labs may bring to the table, such as additional training or unexpected medical costs. If math isn’t your thing, don’t worry! We’ve calculated everything and laid it out in simple terms.
As you go through this guide, you’ll learn that every dog and family circumstance is different. As a result, we cannot give you an exact price. Here we have calculated the minimum price that a Lab will cost throughout their lifetime. But as you probably already know by now, life has a funny habit of throwing unexpected things our way. So, throughout this guide, we’ll mention other costs that you might need to consider.
Here are the primary average costs at a glance:
|Average Cost Of Labrador Retriever|
|Initial Puppy Price & Puppy Supplies||$2,105|
The first thing you’ll need to pay for right away is the cost of the Labrador puppy himself. You’ll also need all the things that puppies require to settle into their new home, which we’ll get into in more detail later. In the first year, you’ll also add an average yearly cost figure to your budget. This means that the average first-year outlay will be $3,753.
But, after the first year, you should expect to pay an average of $1,648. The average annual cost includes food, treats, toys, insurance, yearly health check-ups, and vaccinations, etc. This figure does not include training, dog walking, grooming, or unexpected medical costs.
The expected life span of a Labrador Retriever is 10 to 12 years. As a result, we calculate the basic average cost of owning a Labrador Retriever across an 11-year average life span to be $20,233. And that’s probably a lot more than people think. So, let’s dive into the figures behind these lifetime costs.
What is the Price of a Labrador Retriever Puppy?
The price of a Labrador puppy varies. So again, it isn’t easy to provide you with an exact figure. But from looking at various breeder websites and sources online, the average fee for buying a Labrador Retriever puppy from a reputable breeder costs between $800 and $1,200. Some pups cost less than this, but some championship bloodline pups can cost $3,000 or more.
Factors Affecting the Price
Why exactly does the price of a puppy change? Well, it depends on a lot of factors. So, we’ve put together the main reasons behind the puppy pricing science.
You might think it’s a good idea to tighten the wallet strings and search for the cheapest Labrador. But that’s not always a smart idea. Usually, the cheaper the pup, the less experience and care has gone into it. This could translate to an under socialized, neglected, or unwell puppy. More often than not, these pups will cost much more in the long run.
Irresponsible breeders and puppy mills would rather make a profit than care for litters, so it’s best to avoid cheap puppies. Many people don’t know that pet stores often source from puppy mills to maximize their profits. Stick to responsible breeders who do everything they can to promote the health of their Labrador puppies. Be prepared to do your own research to find a responsible breeder.
A great place to start your search is with the AKC’s Labrador Retriever breeder registry. Look for a breeder who only births one (or two) breeds and wants to meet you in person. They’ll socialize their puppies with their family and other humans. And they’ll also screen for genetic diseases that affect the Lab, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, eye concerns, and exercise-induced collapse. Quality breeders need to recoup their costs, but it’s worth paying for it in the long run.
Some reputable breeders breed award-winning dogs from champion bloodlines. For families wanting to be in with a chance of buying the next award-winning pup to work the AKC show ring, they’ll often need to buy a puppy from these breeders. There are more stringent tests and protocols involved here, and again, these costs need to be covered by you. These are the pups that will cost the most and reach prices of several thousand dollars.
If you are just looking for a family pet and have no intention of showing your puppy in the ring, you don’t need to buy a pup from an award-winning bloodline. Being a show ring champion has no bearing on their character or ability to be the best dog.
Location & Time Of Year
That ol’ saying, ‘location, location, location,’ plays a big part in the price of your pup too. If the breeder you select lives in a high-cost area, they’ll have to charge more to cover their expenses. Equally, if the breeder has a lot of demand or customers on the books, they can charge more.
It can be worth traveling further to save on costs but bear in mind the extra time and travel expenses you’ll incur. Additionally, most families want to enjoy the puppy stage when it is warm or when children are out of school for the summer. Therefore, demand for puppies tends to be lower in winter months, making prices slightly lower.
Most families will welcome a puppy into their home soon around eight weeks. But sometimes, not all puppies get adopted right away. And generally, the older the puppy, the lower the cost. Families are willing to pay a little extra to enjoy those early puppy weeks. And breeders will reduce the price of older puppies to make room for future litters.
Costs for a Labrador Retriever
All dogs are different, and sadly we don’t have a fortune-telling crystal ball. And, since it isn’t likely that your Labrador will bring in any income, it’ll be you that has to come up with the money to cover their costs.
Below we have listed the average costs of owning a dog. These are the basic expenses that all dogs need, so view this as a minimum. This doesn’t include additional medical care, life-saving operations, or emergency boarding, for example. And it excludes the above and beyond costs such as doggy outfits, holiday photoshoots, or creating a room in the home just for your Lab. Let’s take a look.
Unfortunately, the initial puppy price does not include all of the supplies that he needs. You’ll need to get that stuff before you welcome him home. Below we have listed all of the things you’ll need to buy – you can use it as a puppy shopping list. But remember that a lot of these costs will be ongoing lifetime costs too. If you have previously owned dogs, assuming that it’ll fit and another pup isn’t using it, many items can be reused to save yourself some money.
The Labrador Retriever is a large-sized dog. At maturity, your pup is expected to weigh anywhere between 55 and 80 pounds. This usually means that the items you need will be large too. Large items are more expensive than those for a toy pup but not as expensive as XXL products.
There will be some items that you can buy off the bat, such as a crate with training dividers. But some items like harnesses and collars, you’ll need to buy to fit now, with plans to replace them when he grows bigger. For the things that will last longer, pick high quality items that are durable. They are more costly upfront but can save you money in the long run since you won’t need to replace them.
Here are the average supply costs:
|Food & Water Bowls||$15|
|Food (30lb bag)||$50|
|Puppy Training Pads (75-100)||$25|
|Stain & Odor Removal Spray||$10|
|Poop Bags (1 yr supply)||$55|
|First Aid Kit||$30|
|Toothbrush Kit & Brush||$10|
All of the initial costs above total to an average of $585. You might not want to buy top quality for a destructive puppy. But, you will need to puppy-proof your home, installing secure fences and puppy gates around the house. Or, knowing Labs, you’ll need locks on the food cupboards. So, you’ll need to add these extra costs on top.
Although the Labrador Retriever is not the largest dog in the canine kingdom, he is definitely one of the greediest pups around. When your puppy matures, the average Lab adult eats just under 30lbs of food a month. An average 30lb bag of food costs $50, so you’re looking at an average monthly food bill of $45. If you want to feed your Lab a higher quality kibble, which is always recommended, the monthly food bill will be around $60.
If your Lab is a working dog who needs more fuel or a large and muscular dog, he will probably need a little more. Equally, if you have a smaller canine, your monthly food bill will be less. All Labs are different, but they usually eat between two and three cups of food a day. Puppies and seniors eat a little less than adults, too. So throughout his lifetime, the food bill will also fluctuate. If you choose to feed raw, or you need to feed a specialized vet diet, the costs will be more too.
Although you need to control the amount your Lab puppy eats, you also need to remember the cost of treats. The average cost of monthly treats will be around $20. We have added this to the monthly food budget as your Lab will see it as a necessity.
Medical & Insurance
All Labrador Retriever puppies will require three vet visits for their physical puppy assessments and necessary vaccinations in the first year. This usually costs an average of $150 per visit. Another regular medical cost to consider is monthly heart worming and flea treatments, which cost an average of $10 per month. Many families also neuter or spay their pups (which are part of many puppy contracts). This can cost anywhere between $150 to $450.
Most dogs will face a health condition requiring treatment at some point. Thankfully, the Lab is a relatively healthy breed. The Lab is susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia problems, costing $500 to $13,000 to treat. Although we haven’t included these additional medical costs into the final total, you might need to consider them.
If you aren’t financially able to cover these costs outright, you should consider buying a pet health insurance policy. The average monthly cost of pet insurance is between $20 and $100, depending on your location, dog’s age, any preexisting conditions, and several other factors. The average price for a Lab pet insurance plan today is around $45. Be sure to read the small print to ensure that the plan you choose is right for you and your pup. And remember that as your Lab ages and vet costs rise, the higher the insurance premium will be.
|Ongoing Yearly Costs||Average Cost|
|Basic Medical Care||$203|
Additional Costs to Consider
Because of life’s unexpected events, there will undoubtedly be additional costs to consider. And because of some families’ lifestyles, they will need these extra services regularly. These extra expenses can add up quickly and need to be considered. Here are just a few of the optional costs that you need to think about.
Generally speaking, Labradors are obedient, intelligent, and eager to please. This means that most Labs don’t require professional training. Even if you are a first-time dog owner, you can usually do it yourself with a little research and dedication. However, many owners like to spend a little extra on puppy training classes as it’s a great bonding experience for both pup and owner.
If your Lab puppy is particularly naughty, though, you might need to enroll him in a few classes. The average cost of a basic puppy training program is around $100 for a five-week group course. If you want one-on-one lessons or to work on particular problematic behaviors, the cost will be higher. Some courses can cost thousands of dollars. Because professional training isn’t necessary for most Labs, we didn’t include this cost in our total calculations.
The Labrador is an energetic dog breed that needs at least one hour of exercise every day. Some families are home all day, so they should not worry about these costs. But some families cannot commit to this every day, so the need a dog walker. The average dog walker costs around $20 for a 30-minute group walk. Some families prefer to spend a little extra and wear their pup out completely. In this case, doggy daycare usually costs an average of $25-30 a day.
Thankfully, Labradors have short-ish hair that doesn’t require professional grooming compared to other dog breeds, and you can manage it at home. However, if you want to show your Lab in the ring, or you fancy pampering him once in a while, then a professional groomer can fit the bill. The average cost of a grooming session for a relatively simple cut is around $50.
Some families like to travel without their pups, so they will add boarding costs to their holiday fund. On average, dog boarders charge between $25 and $85 per night. Or, if you like to travel with your pup, most dog-friendly places charge a little extra for your four-legged family member.
The cost of owning a Labrador is likely to be just above the average cost of dog ownership because of his slightly larger than average size. And as you can see from our pricing guide, costs vary hugely, making it difficult to predict accurately. We have focused on the cost of the Labrador Retriever in particular, and, by our calculations, the lifetime cost of owning a Lab that lives to eleven years old is $20,233, at a minimum.
Remember, this does not include any illness, injury, medical procedures, training, or other additional costs associated with spoiling your pup. Owning a dog is expensive and you should consider this carefully before committing to one. But if you are in a financial position to care for a Lab properly, know that you cannot put a price on the love Fido will shower you with for years to come!