Any dog lover will tell you that pet parenthood is a serious financial commitment. Between vet visits, squeaky toys, and doggy snacks, your favorite four-legged moocher can get real expensive, real quick.
At some point in your canine search, you’re bound to wonder: how much do Golden Retrievers really cost? Can I afford a Golden of my own?
Keep reading to find out the true price of a Golden Retriever!
How much do Golden Retrievers cost?
The price of a Golden Retriever is more complex than you might think. To bring a Golden Retriever puppy home, you’ll spend anywhere from $500-3000.
But what determines how much you’ll pay? On which end of the cost spectrum will you land?
The truth is that it comes down to several factors, including:
- Your pup’s pedigree. Dogs bred for show or that come from top-tier bloodlines are more expensive than puppies bred for companionship.
- Your pup’s age. Puppies are generally priced higher than adult dogs.
- Your pup’s health. Dogs with medical conditions are sometimes more affordable upfront, though their vet bills can quickly pile up.
- What comes with your pup. If Fido is part of a package deal that includes vaccines and vet care, registration paperwork, or even starter supplies, expect at least some of that to be rolled into what you pay.
While you may be tempted to go with the lowest price you can find, less expensive today doesn’t mean less expensive tomorrow.
You might save money by purchasing an unvaccinated puppy or one without any papers or health documentation. In the not-too-distant future, however, you’ll have to foot the bill for all of those things yourself.
More importantly, buying a puppy as-is with no health guarantees is a risky move, both financially and emotionally. Spare yourself the heartache and cost of getting attached to an unhealthy pup.
Carefully weigh the prices you’re offered with the quality you receive.
Should you buy a puppy or an older dog?
If you think Golden Retriever puppies and adults cost the same, think again.
Younger Goldens almost always come with a heftier initial price. This tends to be the case whether you adopt or go through a breeder.
In addition to being cheaper upfront, older Golden Retrievers tend to cost less than puppies over their lifetime.
Your Golden Retriever puppy’s first year with you will cost somewhere between $2100-3000. An adult Golden, on the other hand, will run you $1500-2500 over the same time period.
Why the difference? Puppies require obedience classes, frequent vet visits, and a seemingly endless stream of puppy pads and teething toys. With older Golden Retrievers, much of that simply isn’t a concern.
Price aside, there are other pros and cons to consider.
Adult dogs not only save you money upfront, they don’t always require as much in the way of basic obedience and housetraining. Any bad habits they do have, however, could be deeply ingrained and much harder to train out.
Conversely, you can mold a puppy’s behavior to suit your family and lifestyle. You’ll just need to pay extra for the privilege. If you go with a Golden Retriever puppy, use these tips to help guide your decision:
Are large dogs more expensive than small ones?
While you choose between a fledgling Golden pup or a sophisticated adult Golden, you should also think about the size of your ideal canine–and the size of your budget.
The general rule of thumb is that the bigger the dog, the higher the price tag.
For starters, larger dogs eat more than smaller ones. In turn, you’ll pay more for dog food and treats.
Additionally, certain medical costs take your dog’s size into account. Heartworm and flea/tick prevention are priced based on your dog’s weight. The bill for your pooch’s spay or neuter surgery will also factor in Fido’s heft or lack thereof.
For reference, Golden Retrievers usually weigh 55-75 pounds (25-34 kg). A 60-pound Golden likely won’t cost much more than a 55-pound Golden.
A Golden Retriever closer to the 75-pound end could, however, cost several hundred (or even several thousand) dollars more over their lifespan.
Either way, the average lifetime cost of Golden Retriever tends to be in the ballpark of $14,500-15,800.
If you’re particularly cost-conscious, find a breeder with smaller dams and sires for the best chance at a lighter-weight, less expensive Golden.
How much do Golden Retrievers cost from a breeder?
To make a knowledgeable puppy purchase, we need to understand two things: how breeders set their prices and how to spot an unethical breeder.
A handful of variables influence how much a breeder charges:
- Litter size: Golden Retriever litters are usually 5-10 puppies. Pups from smaller litters generally cost more than pups with several siblings.
- Show quality: Expect to pay a pretty penny for a Golden Retriever pup with champion show dog parents. On the flip side, minute details about a Golden’s conformation and appearance can disqualify them from showing. You might get a deal for pups destined for backyard fetch and couch snuggles.
- Special features: If a breeder’s pups have a distinguishing characteristic–a specific coat color, for instance, or a blocky head–their prices will reflect it.
Your jaw may hit the floor when you see what some breeders charge for their puppies. But remember that responsible breeding isn’t cheap. One litter of puppies can cost a Golden Retriever breeder anywhere from $8,000-24,000!
Because ethical breeding requires such a massive financial investment, be wary of anyone charging bottom dollar for their Golden Retrievers. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
You might’ve known that already, though. So what other red flags can you look for to weed out shady breeders?
How to find a reputable breeder…and avoid puppy mills
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, puppy mills are breeding operations that subject their dogs to dangerous conditions. These dogs are often overbred, malnourished, and neglected.
This probably goes without saying, but puppies from these facilities are at greater risk for health issues. Furthermore, purchasing from puppy mills keeps them in business. It’s a lose-lose, for dogs and the humans who love them.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be an expert to spot an unethical breeder. Here’s what to do and why it matters:
- Ask questions, especially about your pup’s health.
The best breeders begin new litters’ medical care long before they’re born. As such, breeders should have proof of genetic testing and vet-certified health screenings for their stock and their pups.
If a breeder isn’t forthcoming with crucial information, there’s a reason. Don’t stick around trying to figure out what it is, either. You’re better off hedging your bets and finding a more transparent breeder.
- Meet the breeder, your pup, and your pup’s parents.
Visiting in-person lets you scope out the facility. Internet research is great, but it won’t tell you if your pup sleeps on a clean, warm blanket in the breeder’s guest room–or in an outdoor kennel, open to the elements.
You also need to see how the breeder and their family interact with their Golden Retrievers.
Breeders should have visibly strong bonds with their adult dogs. They’re responsible for your pup’s early socialization, after all. If they seem uncomfortable or hesitant around their stock, something’s amiss.
A breeder who sounds wishy-washy or who isn’t available within a week or so could be stalling for time. A reputable breeder’s facility should be so well-kept that it’s always ready for potential dog owners to visit, particularly when they have available puppies.
Safety first, though! Bring a friend or two, and don’t be afraid to reschedule to avoid going alone.
Pro tip: scour the breeder’s website and social media profiles before you go. If their web presence is misleading, proceed with caution.
- Get references.
When it comes to finding the right breeder, be prepared to research like it’s 11:00pm and you’ve got a term paper due at midnight. And this time, you’re investigating breeders’ character.
Established breeders with airtight reputations will be well-connected in the local pet community. Check Google and Yelp for objective customer reviews.
Ask the breeder to provide contact information for professional references. By the time it’s all said and done, you hopefully will have spoken with their vet, groomer, and trainer, to name a few.
What does it cost to rescue a Golden Retriever?
Adopting your Golden Retriever is an easy way to cut costs. Going through a shelter, you could spend anywhere from $50-550. Even on the high end, a rescue Golden is only a fraction of the typical breeder’s price.
Rescuing your pup comes with other benefits, as well.
Adopted dogs have often already been altered and had their first round of vaccines, saving you the hassle of handling that yourself. Some are microchipped, too!
You’ll also have the option of bringing home a puppy, adult, or senior Golden.
Canine adoption may not be for every owner, though.
Adoption centers rarely have a dog’s complete medical and behavioral history. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that a rescue Golden is a purebred Golden. You could have a Golden Retriever-Labrador mix on your hands and not even know it!
This might be great news for the pack leader who likes surprises or wants a designer dog without the designer price. But if your heart is set on a purebred, a breeder may give you more peace of mind.
Expense #1: Vet Bills
Your Golden Retriever’s medical care will undoubtedly be their largest ongoing expense.
For Golden Retrievers within the average weight range, you’ll likely pay $30-60 for six months’ worth of heartworm preventative. Both oral and topical flea and tick prevention can cost anywhere from $60-$120 for six doses.
Routine vet visits are priced differently depending on the practice. Call around for quotes and estimates, but most will be in the ballpark of $100-250.
Just to cover the basics, you’re looking at $280-680 in yearly medical costs. Depending on your Golden’s needs, this amount could be much higher.
While Golden Retrievers tend to be healthy, they’re predisposed to a few serious conditions.
Perhaps most concerning, however, is the Golden’s susceptibility to cancer. Osteosarcoma, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell tumors are all possibilities.
If the worst happens and your Golden Retriever is diagnosed with one of these conditions, you don’t want to add the shock of an exorbitant vet bill to the mix. Here are average treatment costs for common Golden health issues:
- Cancer treatment: $8000-15000
- Hip or elbow dysplasia: $1500-6000
- Eye conditions (like entropion or cataracts): $300-5000
- Skin conditions (such as ichthyosis): $50-3000
These numbers make you feel a little clammy? Don’t worry, you can keep your Golden happy and healthy without going broke.
Minimize long-term costs by purchasing a vaccinated pup with health guarantees. As your Golden Retriever grows, get them in for a full physical 1-2 times a year. Early detection is key to prolonging your dog’s life and avoiding costly, lengthy treatments.
Set reminders on your phone, as well, so you never miss a dose of heartworm or flea and tick prevention.
Expense #2: Food
Golden Retrievers are big dogs with even bigger appetites. Most full-grown Goldens eat 2.5-4.5 cups of food per day, depending on their age, size, and activity level. Your vet can help you determine the right amount for your pooch.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that your adult Golden Retriever eats 3 cups of top-notch dog food every day. You’re looking at right around $55 a month in feeding costs.
Adding in another $10-20 to account for treats, and Fido’s food budget comes in at just under $80 per month, or $960 per year.
Your feeding expenses will change as your puppy grows. Your monthly food spending might be closer to the $50-70 range during your pup’s first year, for instance. A lot of this depends on your and your pooch’s preferences, though.
Our calculations assume a high-quality dry diet. Wet or raw foods are generally pricier. Some brands cost more than others, too. But a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean better value.
Determine what you can comfortably spend on dog food and treats, and work with your vet to figure out the best diet for your Golden. Then, head to the pet store and start checking ingredient labels.
Armed with this information, you can find a dog food brand that’s both affordable and nutritious.
Helpful hint: Opt for foods with fewer preservatives, and look for Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) labels on your pup’s food.
While the organization doesn’t regulate the pet food industry or perform any sort of quality control, they do set nutritional standards for dog food. Brands with the AAFCO seal of approval are more likely to give Fido a well-balanced diet.
Expense #3: Supplies
Pre-puppy shopping sprees are among the many joys of pet parenthood. They’re also among the most expensive.
For new dog owners or first-time large breed owners, you’ll have to stock up on supplies before you bring your Golden home. Must-haves include:
- Collars, harnesses, and leashes: $10-30+
- Dog tags: $5-10
- Food and water dishes: $5-25
- Crates: $20-80+
- Grooming brushes and tools: $10+
- Total: $50-155+
Of course, this list doesn’t include extras you may want, like dog bedding, training supplies, or stain remover for those puppy mishaps. If you plan to add these items to your arsenal, increase your budget accordingly.
Resist the urge to buy all of this at once, though. Golden Retrievers will just as happily eat out of stained tupperware as they will out of a $50 designer doggie bowl. Get the most important items first, then splurge when you can.
Along those lines, you can start off with 2-3 toys of different types while you figure out your pup’s preferences.
As you accumulate these canine treasures, keep a few tucked away out of your Golden’s reach. Every few weeks, rotate the toys. Your Golden’s toys will never lose their novelty, and you’ll save a boatload of cash in the process.
You can toss Fido a few hand-me-downs, too. Old shoes and washcloths can keep him busy for hours.
And if your Golden does that thing where they rip open a toy and shake so ferociously, cotton stuffing rains down upon your living room? Pick up discarded stuffed animals from thrift stores for $2-3. Remove any hard plastic, and let Fido have at it!
Expense #4: The Surprises
Sure, you’ve set aside funds for Fido’s new dog bed. But have you thought about your canine rainy day fund?
Picture this: you’re in the running for a big promotion at work…and final interviews are at a branch out of state. Suddenly, you’re scrambling to find an affordable boarding kennel.
Or maybe Spot’s a little more headstrong than you thought. Now you’re forking over $100+ for puppy kindergarten.
Every owner’s surprise expenses will vary. Some of the most common include:
- Travel expenses: sitters, overnight boarding, airline or hotel pet fees, travel to and from your pup’s breeder or veterinarian
- Unplanned medical care, due to accidents or neglect
- Training and socialization: playdates, obedience classes, private training
- Apartment fees: pet deposits or fees, monthly pet rent
Miscellaneous expenses like these can eat away at your bank account, so it’s best to be prepared for them well in advance.
Should you buy a Goldendoodle instead?
After learning about the true cost of owning a Golden Retriever, you might be wondering if a Golden Retriever-Poodle mix is a better investment for you.
Goldendoodles offer the same intelligence and cheerful demeanor as purebred Goldens. The key difference is that their Poodle genes give them a low-shedding coat.
You can find Goldendoodles for sale for $500-2400. F1 Goldendoodles (purebred Poodle + purebred Golden) usually cost less since they still shed somewhat.
F1b Goldendoodles (purebred Poodle + F1 Goldendoodle) cost more, as they shed far less. They also have curlier hair, giving them the distinctive Goldendoodle look.
You can’t put a price on a Golden Retriever’s love
But you can put a price on Golden Retriever ownership. Totaling initial costs and lifetime expenses, your Golden will set you back $14500-15800, more or less.
To get the most bang for your buck, prioritize your Golden’s health and wellbeing. The years you’ll spend together will be far more valuable than the money!
Looking for a Golden Retriever of your very own? Tell us about your search in the comments!