There are many ways a dog can be expensive. From extensive training in the puppy stages to hereditary health issues that could drain your savings, discovering what breed makes the world’s most expensive dog is more complicated than just looking at the cost to bring them home. You might even discover that a dog loves to be spoiled to a degree that leaves your jaw on the floor when the credit card bill arrives (to be fair, the last one is on you, not the dog).
But when looking into what type of dog is the most expensive, there are some stereotypes that can lead to bigger hits on pet parents’ bank balance.
- large breed dogs average higher diagnostic and care bills
- poorly bred dogs from puppymill or backyard breeders often have hereditary health issues
- working dogs who require a lot of training to keep them stimulated
- hereditary issues that will inevitably require surgery
- large dogs with high grooming needs
Dr Corinne Wigfall, BVMBVS, BVMedSci, and veterinary spokesperson for SpiritDog Training, adds that training can be another cost that dog owners underestimate. “Training needs can sometimes extend beyond the basic puppy classes, especially if your dog is anxious or needs a lot of mental stimulation. Whilst group classes can be fun and affordable, one-to-one training with an experienced dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist can be expensive and take a long time to work,” she says.
While there is no way to predict how much a dog will cost you in their lifetime you can control how much you spend on your dog upfront, especially in the puppy stages. So if you have a large budget (and heart), here are the most expensive dogs on the market with the average costs of bringing home a puppy on the list.
French Bulldog ($2700—$5750)
Average cost: $2700—$5750
Known as the clown of the canine world, the French Bulldog has personality and humor in the bucket loads despite its small stature. They were originally bred in 19th century Britain by lacemakers as a ‘lap dog’ version of the larger English Bulldog. The compact hounds were then taken to France during the Industrial Revolution where they gained notoriety (hence the name) and later became popular with Americans.
French Bulldogs come with a hefty price tag (even more for tri-colored markings and anything up to $12,000 for the rare ‘fluffy’ variety). But they’re also prone to costly health problems, especially if badly or irresponsibly bred. As a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed, they often have breathing problems which need expensive surgery to fix (roughly $2,000 to $3,000) and can also commonly suffer from ear, skin and eye issues. Vet bills can easily mount over the course of a 10 to 12-year lifespan.
Tibetan Mastiff ($2200—$5000)
Average cost: $2200—$5000
Wondering what other dogs could cost $5,000? In steps the Tibetan Mastiff. Famous for being sold for $1.5 millionat one point in China, this ancient breed was once the mighty flock guardian of the Himalayas. And the breed retains the instinct to guard and protect to this day (sometimes too much so).
The rarity of these dogs makes them among the most expensive, and their large size means they’ll also cost plenty in the food department over an average life of 10 to 12 years. They also need regular brushing to maintain a healthy, fluffy coat, as well as lots of enrichment to give their highly intelligent brains enough stimulation.
Average cost: $1800—$4750
This medium-sized breed takes its name from the Samoyedic people of Siberia. Nomadic reindeer herders in the region bred these white dogs to pull sleds and help manage the herds.
Smiley Samoyeds are playful, friendly, alert, competitive, and strong, with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. They’re also a high-maintenance, strong-headed breed. You’re likely to spend plenty more keeping your dog well-groomed and entertained over the course of their lifetime. Both of these factors make them one of the most expensive dog breeds to own.
English Bulldog ($2000—$4600)
Average cost: $2000—$4600
Perhaps most famous for its association with UK prime minister Winston Churchill during the Second World War, this wrinkly-faced icon of England was originally bred in medieval times for the sport of bull baiting. But this expensive dog breed has evolved a lot since then—they’re now known for being wonderful, funny and friendly companions.
Like their smaller, ‘French’ counterparts, English Bulldogs are also prone to breathing difficulties due to their short snout. Cherry eye and skin problems are among the common health complaints among English Bulldogs too, so potential owners need to be clued up on the risks and carry out thorough checks to find a responsible breeder. If healthy, they have an average age range of eight to 10 years.
Irish Wolfhound ($2200—$4500)
Average cost: $2200—$4500
The history of these gentle giants lies in 15th century Ireland, where they were used to protect livestock from wolves. Today, they’re known as dignified dogs with a loyal and calm nature, making them wonderful family companions with the right care and training.
As the tallest of the breeds, their size means they’re an expensive dog to care for over an average six to eight year lifespan on top of a hefty price tag. Some of the health conditions Irish Wolfhounds can be prone to include heart and liver defects, as well as sight loss. And their commanding stature makes them best suited to larger homes with plenty of outdoor space for them to enjoy a good ol’ gallop.
Average cost: $1500—$4150
Descending from Roman times, the Rottweiler is thought to be one of the oldest surviving dog breeds. These large hounds are known for being gentle family protectors and have a nine to 10-year life expectancy. Early training and socialization are essential to channel their territorial instincts positively.
Like many purebred dogs, the Rottweiler is prone to conditions including heart problems and elbow or hip dysplasia. As a muscular and active expensive dog breed, they also need plenty of exercise, obedience training, and attention.
St Bernard ($1000—$4000)
Average cost: $1000—$4000
The St Bernard’s big, soppy face lit up the silver screen in the 90s Beethoven film franchise. In an accurate portrayal of this giant breed of the Swiss Alps, the film’s namesake keeps his pet parents on their toes during puppyhood and grows into a gentle, calm family protector. Famous as ‘nanny dogs’ for children, they can fit seamlessly into family life with the right love and training.
They’ll cost plenty in the food department, and expect to give your fluffy St Bernard regular brushes unless you want big clumps of fur wafting through your home. Like with many large pure breeds, elbow and hip dysplasia can be a risk factor. They have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years.
Great Dane ($975—$4000)
Average cost: $975—$4000
Originally bred as hunters and later guard dogs, the Great Dane is now renowned for his gentle nature. These intelligent dogs love to play and spend time with their families—and can be a joy to train if you know what you’re doing.
Caring for a dog of this size can certainly chip away at your bank balance, and they’ll need plenty of home and yard space. But if you’ve got the time, room and resources, the Great Dane will make a loyal and loving pet. Recommended hereditary health screens include hip and elbow dysplasia, and eye problems. They have a life expectancy of seven to 10 years.
Black Russian Terrier ($2100—$3800)
Average cost: $2100—$3800
A rare and wondrous breed, the Russian Army developed the Black Russian Terrier after World War Two. It was bred to be a guard dog and combined a number of breeds including the Giant Schnauzer. These intended instincts remain, and the breed can be naturally aloof with strangers as a result. But they form close, protective bonds with their loved ones.
The breed’s large stature means care costs are at the higher end of the scale, and its thick double coat will need plenty of maintenance. But, thankfully, they don’t shed a huge amount. These are smart dogs, with an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, and need plenty of training and mental stimulation.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ($1600—$3750)
Average cost: $1600—$3750
Meet one of the most expensive small dog breeds: the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They were originally bred as companion dogs, famously beloved by Queen Victoria. Affectionate and adaptable, the Cavalier remains an adored and popular family pet to this day.
Health conditions they can be prone to include luxating patella (where the kneecaps slip out of place). And recommended screening includes a painful condition known as Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia, where fluid develops within the spinal cord near the brain. But a healthy Cavalier can live, on average, between 12 to 15 years.
Chow Chow ($875—$3325)
Average cost: $875—$3325
A majestic and noble guardian, it’s easy to see why the Chow Chow makes this list. But they can be one of the least expensive dog breeds among the 10 we’ve featured. At least, that is, to buy as a puppy.
This medium-sized hound is relatively low energy. But the time you will save in walkies will be needed for grooming. The breed, which has an average lifespan of eight to 12 years, will also need lots of early socialization and training to positively channel his protective instincts.
Why Upfront Health Checks are Important
Vet bills can be the most expensive element of dog ownership. So, you’ll want to ensure that you’re buying a happy and healthy puppy in the first place. While there is no 100% lifetime guarantee for puppies, most reputable breeders will carrying out the right checks before breeding a dog to minimize the risk of hereditary health problems.
Dr Ellen Russell, DVM, MPH, a veterinarian at the Malamute Mom, walks us through some of the checks to include. “One of the smartest checks you can do is to get health clearances from the breeder. Health clearances are reports from certified professionals that show the dog is free of certain genetic diseases, and ensure that the breed you’re considering isn’t prone to any hereditary illnesses. It’s also important to ask for proof of vaccinations, worming treatments, and a veterinarian checkup.”
Checking the puppy is being raised in a clean, safe and well-socialized environment is also important, says Dr Russell.
“An unreputable breeder may not provide proper medical care prior to sale, and may even take advantage of buyers by deceiving them into believing that they are purchasing a healthy pup,” she says. People who take home puppies from irresponsible breeders may encounter early health issues that require ER visits and could cost thousands up front.
An unreputable breeder could be running a puppy mill, where puppies are bred for profit and not health. Dr Russells says unchecked breeding “lead to serious health issues down the road”.
How to Handle Lifetime Expenses
The price of any puppy on this list can be a drop in the ocean compared to the lifetime cost of dog ownership. The average annual cost of caring for a healthy dog is between $610 to $3,555 per year, as shown by Rover’s 2023 Cost of Dog Parenthood report. And, it goes without saying, that dogs should not be status symbols. As well as providing for them financially, they’ll need plenty of money-can’t-buy love and attention, too.
Pet insurance helps to cover unexpected vet costs, but the price of dog ownership also extends well beyond vet bills. There’s food to consider, and the cost of feeding giant breeds such as Great Danes will be significantly more than, say, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Meanwhile, grooming costs for a Black Russian Terrier will be more than that for a French Bulldog. Other ongoing costs to consider include new toys, treats and bedding, as well as potential dog walking or boarding when you’re on holiday.
All dogs are wonderful, and the price tag they have doesn’t make them any more loving or special than one that doesn’t break the bank. But the dogs on this list will make brilliant companions if you have the deep pockets to match. Find out more about buying a dog in our Puppy HQ, and check out our reviews on pet insurance to ensure your canine companion is always covered for the unexpected.