How much does it cost to adopt a dog?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to adopt a dog?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to adopt a dog?

$150 – $600 average adoption fee for a puppy
$50 – $450 average adoption fee for an adult dog

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$150 – $600 average adoption fee for a puppy

$50 – $450 average adoption fee for an adult dog


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Kristen Cramer
Written by
Kristen Cramer
Edited by
Tamatha Hazen
Fact-checked by
Tara Farmer

Adoption fees for dogs

The cost to adopt a dog ranges from $150 to $600 for a puppy or $50 to $450 for an adult dog. Adoption fees depend on the dog's age, size, and breed, your location, and whether you adopt from an animal shelter, rescue group, or breeder.

Average cost to adopt a dog
Dog age Average adoption fee
Puppy $150 – $600
Adult dog $50 – $450
Senior dog (7+ years) $50 – $300

Get free estimates from vets near you.

What does the dog adoption fee include?

The adoption fee typically covers basic veterinary costs and initial vaccinations, but it may also include preventative treatments, a microchip, and spaying or neutering the dog. Most shelters and rescue groups include some or all of these items in the fee:

  • General wellness exam

  • Vaccinations, including canine distemper, parvovirus, infectious hepatitis, parainfluenza (delivered in a DHPP combo vaccine), Bordetella, and rabies

  • Heartworm test and heartworm prevention treatment

  • Flea and tick prevention treatment

  • Deworming treatment

  • Microchip with insertion

  • Spaying or neutering

  • Temporary collar and ID tag

What affects the adoption fee?

The cost to adopt a dog can vary significantly depending on these details:

  • Dog age: Adoption fees are almost always higher for puppies due to the demand. Older or senior dogs are often available for a much lower fee and may be more suitable for your family, depending on your lifestyle.

  • Dog breed: Some types of dogs are less common or in high demand, resulting in higher adoption fees. Purebred dogs typically come with higher fees than mixed-breed dogs.

  • Dog size: Small dogs are typically in higher demand because they take up less space in the home and come with lower expenses for food and preventative medicines. Large dogs wait in shelters for adoption nearly four times longer than small dogs.

  • Time at the shelter: Some shelters use a variable fee structure based on how long the dog has been in their care. Popular dogs are typically adopted quickly, while other dogs may spend many months in the shelter before finding their forever home. A lower fee provides an incentive for prospective pet parents to choose those hard-to-place dogs.

  • Special needs: Dogs with health issues, anxiety or other problems are often harder to place in good homes. Adoption fees are typically lower for these pets.

  • Your location: Adoption fees are often higher in larger cities due to higher veterinary costs.

  • Shelter or rescue group vs. breeder: Breeders sometimes offer dogs for adoption if the dog doesn't meet specific standards for competition. However, adopting a dog from an animal shelter usually costs less than adopting directly from a breeder.

Other new dog costs

The adoption fee is only one small part of the cost of owning a dog. You'll also need to budget for the upfront cost of supplies. Make sure you have these items before bringing your new dog home:

  • Collar and leash

  • Food and water bowls

  • Dog bed

  • Dog carrier or crate

  • Toys

  • Treats

  • Brush or comb

  • Poop bags and dispenser

  • House training pads, if adopting a puppy

If you rent an apartment or house, your landlord or property manager may require you to pay a one-time pet deposit or an additional monthly fee. Some shelters and rescue organizations require a letter from your landlord confirming you are allowed to have a pet of that breed and size.

Ongoing costs of owning a dog

Caring for your new furry family member involves ongoing expenses for food, treats, toys, vet visits, preventative flea, tick, and heartworm treatments, and professional services like grooming, pet sitting, or doggy daycare. The average cost of owning a dog ranges from $120 to $350 per month.

A happy Golden Retriever dog
A happy Golden Retriever dog

Dog adoption FAQs

Where can I adopt a dog?

You can adopt a dog from:

  • City and county animal shelters

  • Humane Society shelters

  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

  • Local rescue groups

  • Specific breed rescue groups

  • Reputable breeders

Many shelters and rescue groups post profiles of dogs available for adoption on PetFinder.

How long does it take to adopt a dog?

Some animal shelters allow you to bring your new dog home the same day you decide to adopt. However, many shelters and rescue groups have an application process that takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Many rescue groups require you to provide references. Some also require a visit from an adoption coordinator to confirm your home offers a safe, suitable environment for the dog. All members of your household—including other dogs—must be present for the home visit.

How old do you have to be to adopt a dog?

Get free estimates from vets near you.

Most animal shelters and rescue groups require adopters to be at least 18 years old.

Questions to ask before adopting a dog

Before making the decision to adopt a specific dog, it's important to spend time with them to ensure they're a good fit for your family. During your meet-and-greet with the dog, ask the staff at the shelter or rescue organization these important questions:

  • What does the adoption fee include?

  • Where did the dog come from?

  • How many homes has the dog already had?

  • What is the dog's health status?

  • Do you have any of the dog's previous medical records or vaccination history?

  • What have you learned about the dog's personality while they've been here?

  • Is the dog potty-trained?

  • Does the dog have any behavioral problems?

  • Does the dog get along well with children?

  • How well does the dog get along with other dogs or other pets?

  • How much activity and exercise will the dog require each day?

  • Has the dog already been spayed / neutered?

  • Do you recommend a specific type of dog food?


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