Why do you want a dog? What will its life be like? Inside? Outside? What will it eat?
We share the costs of owning Kitto for the first year to help you think through the true cost of owning a dog. We’ve modelled the post after one of our favorite YouTube channels, Gone To The Snow Dogs. The link is to a video they made about the cost of owning one full size Siberian Husky.
Purchase or Adopt?
It’s not impossible to adopt an Alaskan Klee Kai, but they are not easy to find. The few that do show up in rescue situations get quickly snatched up by serious AKK fans. If you’re interested, start by joining the AKKAOA.org and getting involved in facebook groups.
Purchase is comparable to any other purebred dog you go to a real breeder for (not a pet store). You might need to travel by car or airplane depending upon where you live, and you’re likely to be on a waitlist for months for a puppy. (This IS the hardest part.)
Spay or Neuter?
Yes. Unless you’re a dedicated AKK breeder or the dog is destined for competition shows where it must be unaltered, no reputable breeder will sell you one without a spay or neuter contract. Even then, a large discouragement cost is added.
First Round Of Shots? Other New Puppy Vet Issues?
We agree with Gone To The Snow dogs here. The “start up” costs are around $500. This is not including food, toys, or anything else for the year.
What’s The Cost Of A Full Year? (GTTSD Year Two)
Assuming no ongoing illnesses, injuries etc., here are the GTTSD estimates:
Supplies – collars, leashes, dog bed, toys and so on – About $300/yr
Vet – $35 per office call (before treatment), $15 – $25 per shot, $25 monthly flea and heartworm preventative., $25 county license. Total, about $550 per year.
Food – Seven 44 lbs bags of food @ $65 each. Adding treats, vitamins etc, $650 per year.
Adding it all up: About $1,500 for one dog per year. Doesn’t include grooming, boarding, doggy day care, obedience classes, extra vet trips or emergencies.
Don’t forget to budget for aging. As dogs age, their health needs increase just like ours do. One of the Snow Dogs cost $1200 in vet bills just for 2011. We recommend trupanion.com for pet insurance and use them for Kitto.
Our Experience With Kitto
Kitto had normal puppy costs and was healthy. Our bills matched the estimates above.
Food costs match too. Kitto eats only a little at a time, but food is his ultimate motivation. We discovered a strong need to only feed him really good food because a large part of his diet comes from training rewards. He has access to food and water 24/7, but normally only makes a point of eating a meal once or twice a day depending on how much training we do. We rotate him through the Wellness Air Dried flavors which are tiny semi-soft bites, fantastic for training. Additionally, he gets tiny bits of dried chicken, Orijen, or one of the Merrick Backcountry flavors.
Does a tiny dog need to eat for the same cost as a big dog? Maybe not, so perhaps we could trim the budget here. On the other hand, eating right and exercise are great for a dog (us too). Feeding a variety of foods teaches Kitto to enjoy eating different things, which might be helpful if a brand we like changes its formula, or goes out of business, or scares us with a recall. Oh, and add the doggy park membership to this category.
We’ve heard that Alaskan Klee Kai can have delicate digestions. Kitto tolerates everything as long as it is introduced slowly. We keep a variety of food on hand and mix it up. Human food is kept to a minimum, and never when we are eating. This helps Kitto not to expect handouts and he isn’t a pest at the table.
Kitto is a tiny, healthy ball of energetic mischief. As part of his yearly checkup in May, he’ll also get a broad test baseline of his blood that we’ll be able to compare to in later years. All of this is routine, and not covered by his pet insurance.
As they say in Gone With The Snow Dogs, owning a dog is a big responsibility and it does have costs that you need to budget for. Is an adopted dog cheaper than a pure breed? Not really. The Gone With The Snow Dog huskies are family to their owners, just like Kitto is to us. The costs are the same after you bring the dog home.
They’re totally worth it.