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How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Dog From a Shelter (2022 Price Guide)

Adopting a dog from a shelter can be a rewarding experience. Many dogs each year enter shelters for a variety of reasons, such as divorce, a move, or the owner simply changing their mind about keeping the dog.

Some future dog parents want purebreds, but you can find purebreds in shelters, too. Not to mention, the price will be much cheaper than buying from a breeder, and you’ll be saving the life of a dog that desperately needs a loving home. Join us in our research on how much it costs to adopt a dog from a shelter so that you can be on your way to adopting your new best friend.


The Importance of Adopting a Dog From a Shelter

As we’ve mentioned, dogs enter shelters each year in alarming numbers. It’s estimated that roughly 3.1 million dogs enter shelters yearly in the United States alone. The number of dogs euthanized each year would be significantly reduced if people adopted from shelters rather than buying from a breeder. Shelters become overcrowded, and they simply do not have the resources to keep all the dogs entered, which ultimately results in euthanasia.

Adopting a dog from a shelter eliminates certain costs because odds are the dog will already have all its vaccinations, and check-ups, be spayed/neutered, and already be somewhat housetrained, if not fully.

Keep in mind that some dogs may appear to be shy, but you have to remember that these dogs have been uprooted from their previous families and may be scared and confused. In other words, don’t be too quick to judge the dog’s personality.

popular dogs
Image Credit: Jayme Burrows, Shutterstock

How Much Does Adopting a Dog From a Shelter Cost?

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly how much it costs to adopt a dog from a shelter because it will depend on your particular region. Below, we have comprised a chart of different regions within the United States showing the different costs to hopefully give you a better idea. Keep in mind that the price may or may not be altered by the pet’s age or size; it depends on the shelter from which you are adopting from. In most cases, senior dogs are cheaper.

Orlando, Florida $55
San Francisco area $155 (puppies under 6 months), $135 (under 6 years of age), $85 (6 years and older)
Minnesota $129–$767 (puppies and dogs)
Texas $150 (under 6 months) $75 (6 months and up)
New York City $295 (over 1 year) $395 (puppy 4 months to 1 year) $450 (under 4 months)

What Is Included in Adoption Fees?

As you can see, fees vary widely depending on where you live and include a wide range of items and considerations, such as leashes, collars, microchips, veterinary care, spay/neuter, and food. Most send a bag of food home so the dog can continue to eat the food it’s used to in order to avoid tummy upset. An administrative fee may also be included for application processing. Some shelters may not provide leashes and collars, but that will usually reflect in the overall cost.

woman adopting a dog from shelter
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

Additional Costs to Anticipate

As we’ve stated, leashes, food, and collars are often sent home with your dog, but it depends on the shelter whether or not you will have these items when you take your new best friend home. Additional costs to anticipate are toys, treats, a crate, food and water bowls, poop bags, ear cleaner, dog shampoo, and dog brushes.

Treats are important to have around because you will need them for the training process. Treats will also help your new best friend to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. It may take a little time for your dog to transition, so be patient, as your new dog will adapt eventually.

How Often Should I Check My Shelter for a Dog?

Again, some people desire purebred dogs and dismiss the idea of adopting from a shelter because they don’t feel they will find what they are looking for. All types of dogs enter shelters nationwide on a daily basis, and purebreds are sometimes surrendered due to divorces, the death of the owner, a move, or a change of heart, for example.

You can check your local shelter daily if so inclined, as there is certainly no harm in continuously keeping an eye out. You also may end up finding your new best friend that is not the purebred you wanted but a loving dog in need all the same.

homeless dogs of different breeds in animal shelter
Image Credit: Evgeny Bakhchev, Shutterstock

What Can You Do For Your Local Animal Shelter?

Not everyone is in the position to adopt a dog, but there are many other ways you can help. Volunteering is always welcomed in animal shelters; just spending time with these dogs can make a significant impact on the overall well-being of a dog in a shelter and lift its spirits. Donations are always welcomed, too, whether it’s a monetary donation or donating old dog beds, blankets, food and water bowls, etc.

Fostering a pet is also an excellent way to help. In fostering a dog, you can help socialize the dog, free up space in the shelter, reduce the stress on the dog, and protect the dog from diseases that may spread within the shelter.



The number of dogs that enter shelters is disheartening, and if you’re thinking of adding a dog to your family, we encourage you to adopt. Many dogs need loving homes, and you can provide that to a dog in need. The cost is much cheaper than buying from a breeder, and the reward is off the charts. Remember that if you can’t adopt, there are many other ways you can help your local animal shelter.

Featured Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

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