How Much is my Dog Worth?

Your dog may be worth all the money in the world to you, and you would NOT consider selling it. This is NOT written for you; it’s for people who intend to profit off the sale of their pet and are curious about what it is worth. It’s also for those who have found that their lifestyle can no longer include a pet and find themselves forced to sell.

From a Pet Store

If you got your dog from a pet store the value of the dog drops by half as soon as you walk out the door. Just like when you buy a new car that depreciates once you drive it off the lot, so too do puppies. The stores generally charge at least three times what they paid for the pup, but because they vaccinated them, and to make the math simple, the value of your pup is half what you paid for it. Every year beyond that, the value drops by half. So an $800 puppy is worth $400 as soon as you take it home, worth $200 on its first birthday, $100 on its second, and $50 on its third, and so on.

All of this is assuming you are taking care of it, making sure it is house trained, properly vaccinated, and so forth. In fact as soon as you fail the dog by neglecting care or vaccinations its value drops to $0.  The dog should also be attending regular obedience classes and be spayed or neutered before its first birthday. Although the dog might be cute, it is common knowledge among “dog people” that pets from pet stores are not breeding, or show, quality, and are generally poor examples of the breed.

West Highland Terrier Puppy.  Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

From a Legitimate Animal Shelter

If you got your dog as an adopted animal from an animal shelter, there is no price difference on the day of adoption. Shelters are non-profit, your dog is worth exactly what you paid for it on the day you got it. However, every year following, the price does drop by half. A dog you adopted for $200, is worth $100 a year later, and $50 the following year, and so forth. This is again assuming you are keeping up with the care and regular vaccinations. Sadly the reality is that people do not value older pets, they tend to what them young.

If you got your dog from an animal shelter, chances are your contract says that if you cannot keep the dog, for any reason, you must return it to them and cannot sell it to another party. 

From a Backyard Breeder

If you got your dog from a “back yard breeder” and is unregistered, you can apply the same math as with pet store pets, the price drops by half as soon as you leave the yard, and by half ever year after that. If the dog is registered and comes with papers the same math applies (unless you put value into it by attending shows), because papers are only proof of parentage, not quality. Back yard breeders really haven’t done anything to get the value into their pets. If you pay for a pup that has not been vaccinated or vet checked, then the value is immediately dropped to zero, until you get this done. People should never pay for a pet that has not been vaccinated, health checked, or come with some sort of guarantee.

Yorkshire Terrier at a dog show.  Photo from Wikimedia Commons. 

From a Reputable Breeder

If you got your dog from a Reputable breeder, one who has taken the parents to dog shows to prove their worth as breeding animals, the pup retains its value much better. Your dog will have registration papers to prove it came from quality parents. The value of your dog drops by half at age one year, and continues to drop by half every year after, unless you take the dog to shows to prove it has maintained or improved its value. Purebred dogs who are quality animals can easily increase their worth by attending dog shows and getting championship titles.

How to Increase Value

But what if your dog is not a purebred quality animal, is there any way of increasing his or her value? YES! There are a few ways of helping your dog maintain its worth. The first is by breed selection. Some breeds are more in demand in some areas. In cities it is usually smaller, non-shedding dogs that are getting higher prices. A really good way of improving your dogs value is with training. It is not enough for your dog to know “Sit” and “Stay” your dog should be able to do much more. Even mixed breed dogs can excel in obedience classes or agility. If your dog is a hunting or herding breed, training it, and competing with it at shows will make it a more valuable dog.

Keeping your dog fully vaccinated will make it a more desirable dog if you are ever forced to sell it, as will spaying or neutering. Unless your dog is a purebred dog who has been attending shows to prove its worth as a breeding animal, there is no reason not to spay or neuter it. People who are looking for a new dog will see an unfixed one as more of a problem, and a bigger financial commitment.

Nobody purchases a dog with the intention of selling it in a few years time, but people need to be aware that just because they paid a high price does not mean the pup is worth that much.

A very overweight, probably older, Beagle, Photo from Wikimedia Commons. 

Other Facts

Similarly you may find your dog is worth a negative amount. If you are forced to surrender it to an animal shelter they generally ask for a relinquishment fee. This fee helps them support and care for your pet until it can be adopted. Shelters will often understand if a person is short of funding, and will usually take the pets without the relinquishment fee, but if everyone refused to pay this, then the prices of adoptions would need to be raised, as such, fewer adoptions would occur.

It is better to surrender a young unwanted pet to the animal shelter, or SPCA, rather than offering it “Free To Good Home” in the newspaper.  Studies have shown that only a fraction of these “free” pets get good homes. In some countries, like the USA, it is legal to take free pets and sell them to research labs. In fact once you have given the pet away, you no longer have any say in its care. If you are going to give a pet away for free, you MUST be willing to check the new owners out, and be willing to refuse them if you feel it is not a suitable home.

Remember you love your dog, you know your dog, but a person who is looking to buy a dog, doesn’t. Price your dog to sell, and be willing to check the new home out to make sure it really is a “good” home. Additionally know that, just because you paid $800 for a dog two years ago, does not mean the dog is worth that now. There are far more adult dogs looking for homes than there are people looking for adult dogs.

Related Doggy Reading

Information on Becoming a Dog Breeder

What is a Back Yard Breeder?

A Warning about Teacup Puppies

Selection and Purchase of a Dog or Pup

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  1. Darla Smith

    On December 30, 2008 at 10:39 am

    A very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Will Gray

    On December 30, 2008 at 10:55 am

    To me, putting a price on a dog is like putting a price on a human being. My dog is a mixed breed Golden Retriever/Akita that cost nothing 12 years ago and she is priceless.

  3. Glynis Smy

    On December 30, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    One grey Cairn Terrier for sale, smelly breath and rear end, 11yrs old, sleeps, eats and barks
    One white Cyprus Poodle Cross, blind in one eye and nervous
    One black ? collie thingy, scared of noises,likes small, tiny dark places to quiver in
    one black and white ex hunter, docked tail, barks, sniffs your crotch while you are not looking, pinches fruit off the trees and will pin you up against a wall if you take his blankety away.
    will throw in free cat.
    See B I can’t even give them away!!
    Seriously, this was a good article, the cost of a pure breed dog is high, it must be awful to invest in a show dog to find it has lost its value overnight.

  4. papaleng

    On December 30, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    this is a very useful article since I’m planning to breed some dogs. Thanks a lot..

  5. Clay Hurtubise

    On December 30, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Ahh, but my family isn’t for sale!
    Good article,
    Thanks,
    Clay

  6. nobert soloria bermosa

    On December 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    nice tips,i’ll remember these,thanks and happy new year

  7. Ruby Hawk

    On December 30, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Very good information for anyone buying or selling a dog.

  8. AC Hamilton III

    On December 30, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    True, so true, and anything worth saying is worth repeating. This is worth repeating. Excellent.

  9. Brenda Nelson

    On December 30, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    My pets are priceless too, I dont want people getting the wrong idea, I wrote this for those people who ask “I bought a pup 3 years ago for $800, and now need to sell it, what is my dog worth?”
    Show dogs ONLY go up in value if you continue to show them- otherwise the only value is one as companions to us.

    Pets are family – not for making profit.

  10. nutuba

    On December 30, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Excellent points and great pictures! Nicely done.

  11. eddiego65

    On January 2, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Very informative piece.

  12. goodselfme

    On January 3, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Skies the limit on my pets. No one could come close.

  13. PR Mace

    On January 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Good tips. My dogs and bird are priceless.

  14. Renita

    On January 8, 2009 at 12:07 am

    I have 3 dogs, yorkie, dorkie, and cairn terrier. I find them to be priceless. Who ever says animals don’t have feelings, apparently don’t have them. Great article. Keep going!!!

  15. brandon

    On June 3, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I have 4 dogs, a beagle, a mini dachshund, beagle/maybe a beagle mix,and a mix.i don’t know what kind of mix.maybe you can help me. post a comment to let me know.

  16. Brenda Nelson

    On June 4, 2009 at 9:42 am

    mutts are only worth the price of the vaccinations etc already done to them prior to a sale. If they are adults and have not been specially trained, they are not really worth much in terms of sale price.
    Although mutts make awesome pets, dogs who have not been to shows to earn titles are not worth a heck of a lot in the real world where there are so many dogs that over 2 million are killed yearly in the USA alone

  17. Lil Lexie$

    On July 4, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    dos are n ot mutts and their not worth a vaccsnation price my dog is worth $1,993 and so you think thats how much vaccsination is well you might want to check your self

  18. dede

    On July 8, 2009 at 11:34 am

    i have a 1 year old greman sherpard how much is he worth if i were to sell him

  19. Annonamiss

    On July 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I have a Jack Russell Terrier who is four years old! He is too much for us to keep so we want to sell him post a comment if you want to buy him plz!

    p.s.price can be negoshiable!

  20. ozzy

    On October 16, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    my yorkey is yorth 900,000,000

  21. ozzy

    On October 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    my bull dog is worth 900,900,900,900 so if you want him you better have money lots of money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. lee

    On January 4, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    how much is an american bull woth with papers?

  23. Brenda Nelson

    On January 5, 2010 at 11:15 am

    to lee

    Papers only prove parentage, not quality.

    Unless both parents have attended shows and earned championship titles it is only worth the cost of the vaccinations and deworming already done to it. If these havent been done it is worth nothing. Nobody should pay a cent for a dog that has not received basic vet care and some sort of professional indication of health

  24. leona

    On March 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    how much is a full blooded boxer dog worth? just wondering i aint ever gonna give him up he’s my son! but he has had a complicated life when he was eight weeks old he got attacked by a larger boxer and it almost killed him it costed me 3 gs to save him but he’s worth every penny to me!!!!!!! by the way his name is TURBO!!!!!

  25. Brenda Nelson

    On March 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    to leona

    as mentioned.. being full blooded means nothing.. the dog has to go to shows to prove its value by beating other dogs for championship titles.
    Glad you love him… he is worth the world to you, so do not sell him.

  26. R bailey

    On March 24, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    i’m sorry but i disagree with this article just because you are showing dogs does not mean they are worth more then my pure breed that is the same breed that you are showing i have a litter of pure beagles due the end of april the father is a well trained deer hunter the mother is our family pet and we could not put a price on her i’m sorry but if your dog is pure breed no matter what the age you will still be able to get at least what you paid think of all the vet bills that have accumilated over the years noone in there right mind will let them go for anything less

    peace everyone

  27. Brenda Nelson

    On March 25, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    to R bailey

    you can have a dog with genetic problems, bad teeth.. bad temperment, or a dog with excellent conformation, great teeth, fine temperment.. the dogs vaccinations will cost same.

    Showing a dog to the point it earns championship titles means the dog is superior to others of the breed.
    Having a purebred is nothing.. anyone can have a purebred.. a person can walk into a pet store and buy a purebred that came from a puppy mill, it can have bad legs, bad teeth, a heart defect, horrid conformation, but it can still be registered as a purebred as long as the parents are known.

    showing a dog only means they are worth more when it has proven itself… dogs who have not proven themself are not going to be the same value simply because there is no standard to compare them to other dogs to see which is better.
    Shows include conformation and sport trials.

    Also if a person spends lots of money on vet bills (such as fixing the dogs teeth etc) it does not increase the dogs value, as the dogs genetics have not changed.

    Of course every owner loves their dog and could not place a price on it.

  28. ALD

    On August 29, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Hello-
    I love your article- it is very helpful. But I am wondering how much my dog is worth. I have no intention of selling her, but I have to have a general idea for my 4H paperwork. She is a 2 year old Yellow Labrador Retriever Mix. We got her from a shelter last year for $75. She is up on vaccinations, very well trained, and does agility very well. She\’s been to 2 trials so far. She is in excellent health. What do you think?

    Thank you

    -AD

  29. Brenda Nelson

    On August 29, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    to ALD

    because your dog is up to date on the vacciantions and doing well in competitions I would double her purchase price to be her value.. since she isnt registered its not going to be more than that.

    Really of course I know she is worth far more than that to you – but for the 4H paper work I suggest saying $150 or ask your 4H leader what the others usually use as a guideline for what the dog is worth

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