The most obvious cost associated with a Doberman is the cost of acquiring one. If you are like us, you will head to a Doberman rescue or animal shelter to adopt. Adoption fees vary widely, depending on the organization you adopt from, the geographic location you adopt from, and the age and health of your Doberman.
We adopted our Dobermans when they were both around 3 years old and their adoption fees were $500.00 each, even though Kai had two major surgeries just prior to adopting him (our rescue did not pass on any of those costs to us). They were both in the rescue for just a few weeks and Kai had applications from other people trying to rescue him. However, for less “desirable” dogs – like our old-in-age-but-young-in-heart miniature pinscher, Bruiser, who was 14 years old and had been in a shelter for 5 months – the adoption fee may be waived completely. The only cost for Bruiser was gas money to go and pick him up. (Also, we’ve had Bruiser for five years now; he is by far the happiest little dog in the world and is still as spry as a puppy, albeit going a little blind and deaf…just our plug for adopting seniors).
Buying a Doberman Puppy
If you prefer to get a puppy, you will have many options. You could get a puppy from a backyard breeder for as low as $200 (or even lower, depending on geographic location), or from a more reputable breeder for $1,500 or more. You could even look internationally if you are willing to pay shipping fees. With puppies, you will want to see a vaccination record and we don’t recommend bringing home a puppy until it has received all of its vaccines.
As with any purebred, you will want to consider the long term cost of health care for your Doberman. While some backyard breeders are responsible breeders, ensuring there is no inbreeding and registering their puppies with the American Kennel Club, many backyard breeders are not. The more inbreeding, the more health risks to your puppy. Thus, while you may only pay $200 up front, you’ll end up paying much more over the life of your dog in veterinary care to deal with all of the health issues that will inevitably crop up. Even if there is no inbreeding, Dobermans are prone to some neurological disorders (like wobblers’ disease), hip dysplasia, and some heart diseases.
Consider Health Care
If you live in the country, you can estimate spending about $500/year on routine care and food.
If you live in a city, you should probably estimate more like $1,000-$1,500 on routine care and food per dog.
Aside from catastrophic illnesses that can arise in purebreds (like Kai’s wobblers’ disease), you’ll need to factor in routine health care and nutrition. If you live in a major city, vet care will be more expensive than if you live in the country. As a comparison, a vet visit to my hometown vet in a small town in California is about $25.00; a vet visit to our vet in Washington DC is $80.00 (and they’re one of the cheaper vet clinics in the area).
Two more small points of consideration:
First, while it’s certainly possible to buy cheaper dog food, the quality is not good and can contribute to longer-term (and more expensive) health issues later in your dog’s life. If it works for your budget, we recommend investing in quality food. In DC, we fed our dogs Kirkland brand (the yellow, blue, or red bag) from Costco. Our dogs loved it, it never made them sick (unlike other brands like Iams or Blue Buffalo), and while it’s not the cheapest dog food, it also isn’t the most expensive.
Pet Insurance Cost
Second, we recommend purchasing pet insurance for your dog, especially if you live in a city. we spent almost $25,000 in vet bills for our boxer, Max, to have multiple surgeries for cancer in the Washington DC area. Insurance would have covered the vast majority of these costs. With this lesson learned the hard way, we bought pet insurance for all of the animals. Kai’s insurance paid for itself because he had a bad habit of eating corn cobs and ending up in the emergency room for treatment to help him pass them. Instead of paying several thousand dollars for each visit, we paid a $500.00 premium. Insurance will also cover accidents, like the time KC cut the pad of her foot wide open and had to have stitches.
When planning to purchase a Doberman, consider the cost of the dog, and average annual expenses so you can budget accordingly.