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Your Money: The harsh realities of puppy love

Buying a pet - and never at Christmas - is a commitment in time and money


Paws for thought: It costs up to €2,500 a year to home a dog. Stock image

Paws for thought: It costs up to €2,500 a year to home a dog. Stock image

Paws for thought: It costs up to €2,500 a year to home a dog. Stock image

The good news is that 2018 didn't see the same spike in abandoned pups as previous years, but that's down to the 'Paws for Thought' campaign which Dogs Trust ran after Christmas last year, says the organisation's Ciara Byrne.

So far this year (just) 2,363 families surrendered dogs with 755 just after Christmas when families realise they can't cope, or got more than they bargained for. According to Department of the Environment figures, around 13,000 dogs are abandoned every year, with 1,800 put down.

"Not having enough time" was the most common reason given. To that end, they will suspend the rehoming of dogs from December 16 until January 5 to encourage families to think twice before asking Santa to bring a pet.

"Christmas is not a good time to get a new dog, as it's so busy and noisy. Santa is always happy to bring toy pets instead," the North Pole Spokeself told the Irish Independent.

It costs up to €2,500 a year to home a dog and it's a responsibility which lasts 10 or more years. Vet bills, food, grooming, insurance, kennelling and bedding means it's around the same price as your family holiday - if it came to it, would you give that up for your pet?

But once the hub-bub of the festive season is over, and you're making an informed decision, what are your responsibilities and costs (see panel) as a dog owner?

Rescue pet versus pedigree

A rescue pet from a reputable shelter will already be chipped, vaccinated and spay/neutered so it saves money compared to getting a pedigree pup. Some pure-breds have very specific needs and may suffer from in-bred medical conditions later in life, particularly pugs and some spaniel breeds.


A dog licence is a legal requirement, available from the Post Office, costing €20 a year, or €140 for life. It is illegal for a dog to change hands without being micro-chipped first, but an astonishing number of owners go to the trouble of chipping their dogs, but not entering their details on the State database (www.fido.ie) which means they can't be traced if lost. You will need vaccinations, parasite control, nutrition advice, and behaviour and training, all of which your vet can advise you on.


This is around €150 a year but may only last until the dog is eight. Just as pooch is getting expensive, you may find it's need are no longer covered, so check in advance.

What to look for?

According to Woofadviser.com, asking yourself key questions can avoid a lot of challenges later on. Some dogs grow far larger than their puppy size might indicate, so it's an even bigger commitment.

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l Size and Living Space: How much room will your adult dog need? Will it be okay outside in a kennel, or prefer indoors? If so, where will it sleep/eat?

l Exercise: Some big dogs, like greyhounds, need surprisingly little exercise, while small terrier types can be hugely energetic, so make sure you can provide the space, time, and energy levels to handle it.

l Care: Some long hair breeds need regular grooming. Are hairs on the sofa ok? Can you afford a professional groomer? Would you be better with a short-hair breed?

l Children: 'Playful' dogs can be jumpy and yappy, especially around children. Are your kids old enough to help with walking and caring for the pet? Do you have a constant flow of visitors? How will the dog cope?

l Work: If you work long hours, or travel frequently, it's really unfair leaving a dog alone, or constantly kennelling it. Consider a cat who is self-contained, or a goldfish instead.

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