Labrador Retriever Costs (Buying, Feeding and Maintaining)

Labrador Retrievers are understandably one of the most popular breeds of dog around the world, let alone in the United States. And for good reason! Labradors make fantastic family pets, and they are notoriously great with kids. Labradors are also highly affectionate, energetic dogs. 

labrador retriever costs

However, you may be wondering how much a Labrador Retriever actually costs. 

The cost of your Labrador Retriever will depend upon several factors. Buying your Labrador puppy could cost anything between $500 and $1,000.

You’ll also have to factor in additional costs such as buying all the equipment they need, paying for vet bills, buying their food, and investing in puppy training. Over the course of 10 years, a Labrador Retriever will cost you anywhere between $10,000 and $12,000.

While you may be thinking about that original price tag when you purchase your puppy, there are so many more factors to consider when it comes to working out the true cost of what your Labrador puppy will cost you.

Price Tag Of A Labrador Puppy

So why do Labrador puppies differ in cost? This is down to several different factors. One of the most important factors will be down to the breeder that you choose to buy your labrador puppy from. This is a decision that will require a lot of thought and research.

The typical price of a labrador puppy should be between $500 to $1,000.

If you’re after a specific bloodline or pedigree, this can push up the price of your puppy. Especially if you want to use them with any American Kennel Club events. In these cases, you could end up paying somewhere closer to $2,000.

The prices we’ve mentioned above are for Labrador puppies. You don’t have to get a Labrador puppy if you don’t want to, however, this tends to be the preference for most people.

You can look for an older dog that has been trained for certain things such as dock jumping or hunting. These Labradors are typically referred to as starter dogs and could cost you anywhere between $2,500 and $4,500.

Puppy Mills And Backyard Breeders

Choosing the right breeder will be essential when it comes to finding your Labrador retriever puppy. If you’re concerned about buying the cheapest Labrador puppy that you can find, then chances are you may end up supporting a puppy mill or a backyard breeder.

It’s best to avoid both of these. Puppy mills and backyard breeders only care about making a profit from their dogs, so will cut corners when it comes to caring for them.

In order to save money, these breeders will do things like miss essential vaccinations. Chances are these dogs could have a bunch of health and behavior issues. These people don’t actually care about the welfare of their animals.

Rescues Or Adoption

However, it is possible to pay under $500 for a Labrador from a reputable source. If you’re willing to adopt an adult Labrador, you might be able to find one at your local rescue shelter. These dogs are often referred to as rescues as they can sometimes be scheduled for euthanization if they aren’t adopted.

Adopting a Labrador can cost anywhere between $200 to $400.

It’s important to weigh up the decision of adopting a Labrador seriously. You should be aware that you won’t know the dog’s history, and you likely won’t know if it’s a pedigree Labrador.

If you already have some experience with dogs and aren’t all that bothered by whether you have a pedigree Labrador or not, then you’ve got nothing to lose by adopting. Not only will it help you to save money, but you will also be helping to save a dog that’s been abandoned.

Cost Of Feeding A Labrador

As with any dog, you will also need to factor in how much it will cost to feed your Labrador. When your labrador starts to grow up, they will need to eat more and more food.

So it’s important to work out what your budget will be in terms of feeding your dog as much as they need throughout the day.

Remember that Labradors are large, very active animals. They also don’t know when they’re full (it’s genetic to Labradors) and will keep eating whatever you put in front of them. So it’s best to try and work out how much food your dog needs before you give them their bowl.

The right amount of food for your dog will differ depending on their age, gender, how active they are, and their daily schedule.

The general rule of thumb for an adult Labrador is around 3 cups of dry dog food per day.

You should be able to get 30 pounds of dry dog food for around $35. Typically, this sized dry dog food bag will give you around 120 cups, which should be enough to last your Labrador for around 40 days. That means each cup the daily food cost would be under $1.00.

So it’s best to budget around $30 a month for dry dog food. This cost will also depend on the brand of dog food that you opt for.

Some higher-end brands charge as much as $75 for a bag of dog food. However, you don’t have to spend this much to give your dog the nutrition they need. As long as your chosen dog food gives your Labrador a fully balanced diet, that’s all that matters.

Here’s a useful video packed with tips on how to buy the most nutritious dry dog food for your Labrador that may not expensive.

And don’t forget to factor in the cost of treats for your Labrador! One of the best things about Labradors is how easy they are to train. Treats will be a necessary part of this if you want to train your dog. Try these homemade treat options and you may save some money.

They also shouldn’t cost you all that much – we’d suggest budgeting around $10 a month for treats.

Cost Of Your Labrador In The Home

So now you’ve got your labrador puppy, and you’ve taken them home with you. What will your new dog cost you now that they’re home?

Upfront essential costs before you get your puppy home

We’ll start by taking a look at the upfront essentials you will need to have bought before you get your puppy home. There are things that you will need to have in place beforehand, such as food bowls, a crate, collar, leash, puppy pads, as well as some basic chew toys.

Puppy Crate

You will need to ensure that you’ve bought your puppy a crate before you bring them home. A crate will be where your puppy spends their time when you’re not able to give him your proper attention.

This is also where your puppy will sleep on his first night away from his litter. There are two ways that you can tackle this necessary purchase. Here are our 5 top picks for the best crates for puppies and our best puppy toys to keep your Labrador busy in the crate.

Buy a quality crate

Of course, you can splash the cash on a high-quality crate that will last your dog for its whole lifetime. If you choose this option, the crate will be much too big for your puppy, and it could also make crate training virtually impossible. 

You can get around this issue by making a temporary divider that can keep your puppy in a smaller portion of the crate. Some crates are sold with dividers like this MidWest Homes dog crate.

This will also allow you to adjust the divider over time to give your Labrador puppy more room as they grow up, and until your dog gets the hang of crate training.

Buy a cheaper crate

The second approach is that you can buy a crate that fits the exact size of your puppy now. While this may seem cheaper at first glance, chances are you’ll end up having to pay more. This is because you’ll have to buy a second crate for your dog once they have outgrown the smaller crate.

If you’re going to try and find a cheaper crate, it’s best to take a look in Walmart or on Amazon. Because you’ll be spending more money on a second crate, you won’t want to buy the first one for more than around $25 or $30.

Even if you’re tempted by a fancier crate, your Labrador puppy won’t be in it for long!

A wire crate design is a good choice to opt for as it makes it even easier to clean up any accidents. Plus when it comes time to put your puppy to bed, all you need to do is throw a blanket over the crate to encourage them to sleep.

Once your dog has outgrown this kennel, you will need to buy a larger model.

Tips for using a crate for your puppy
Inside Fence

One of the best ways to house train your labrador puppy is to invest in an inside fence. This will help to keep your puppy contained in the early stages of potty training.

This Amazon Basics foldable pen will be perfect for your needs. Ordering your new inside fence online will make the process much easier for you, and can even help you to save money.

Puppy pads

To try and potty train your new labrador, you should keep your puppy in the fencing you’ve bought with some pads underneath.

It’s best not to give your puppy too much free reign of your home. This is one of the biggest mistakes that owners can make with new puppies, as they could then start to do their business in places other than the training pads.

Stock up on puppy pads! Your puppy will go through a lot whilst you are potty training them.

Ongoing Costs

Now that we’ve covered the majority of costs you will have to consider upfront, we’re going to cover a couple of additional costs that you will need to consider before you buy your Labrador puppy.

Here is a couple that you should ensure you’re aware of before you take on the responsibility of a new dog.

Vet Costs

It can be tricky trying to calculate the exact cost of your vet bills when it comes to a new Labrador puppy. This should be roughly around $150 per year for vaccination updates and checkups.

The fantastic thing about Labradors is that they are typically a much healthier breed than other pedigrees. So other than the costs we’ve mentioned above, you shouldn’t really have any other vet bills to consider until they get older.

There are some diseases to which Labradors can fall victim to. Just like any other dog, they can be prone to suffer from some things more than others.

Some of these diseases can even be very expensive to get diagnosed and to treat. Some of the most common health concerns for labradors are:

  • Bloat ($2,500 to $5,000)
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia (long term treatment over $7,000)
  • Liver issues ($5,000).

The above figures are rough ballpark estimates, but you can see how conditions like these would add up over time.

Depending on the severity of the issue, it can get incredibly expensive. There may come a point in time where you will have to ask yourself, “How much is too much money?” 

There is of course no easy answer to this question. It will be different for everyone. You should also factor your dog’s happiness into this and whether they’re able to live a comfortable life with the treatment you can afford. If you’re overly worried about potential health issues, you can of course opt for some pet insurance.

Dog Bed

You may not think your Labrador puppy requires a soft bed at the start of your journey together. However, as your dog starts to grow older and they gain weight, they will need a good quality orthopedic bed so that they can sleep comfortably.

You’ll typically have to spend somewhere between $25 and $40 for this. Again, you can look in Walmart or on Amazon to help you find the right bed for your dog’s needs.

Household items

You will want to make sure that you’ve got a couple of household necessities around the place to be ready for your new pup.

This won’t drive up the overall price of your Labrador too much, but it will be helpful to have them to hand. Here are a few suggestions for miscellaneous household items that you might not have considered.

  • Carpet cleaner: this can help you clean up any accidents
  • Baby gates: these can help to keep your Labrador puppy away from the stairs or out of any rooms you don’t want them wandering into
  • Dog food scoop: this will help you to measure out your puppy’s food more accurately
  • Paper towels: these are wonderfully versatile for cleaning up accidents
  • Food container: this can be a great place to store away your puppy’s food so they can’t rip into the bags.

Toys for training

Your energetic little pup will need an outlet for all that playfulness. Training can be a fantastic way to get them to focus their energy.

So you will need to buy training toys to help them learn a trick or two. This will be especially useful if you want to teach your pup how to retrieve things.

Another great way to get your pup to use their energy is to invest in a couple of chew toys. These can help your Labrador to burn off some of that energy until you can take them for a walk. Labradors have a bad (but valid) reputation for destroying chew toys. Here’s a list of toys you can leave them alone with, especially when they are in their crate.

Dog staples

There are of course other staples you will need to buy when it comes to owning a Labrador puppy.

Treats will be a must-have, especially if you want to train your new dog. These treats should be soft and have a high nutritional value for your puppy. These should be used to motivate your pup during your training sessions.

A collar and leash will of course be important if you want to take your new Labrador puppy out for a walk. And don’t forget to buy the poop bags!

You should always have some of these to hand every time you take your Labrador puppy for a walk. You won’t want to get caught out!

Breakdown Of How Much A Labrador Puppy Will Cost

So now you have more of an overall idea as to what it will cost to own a Labrador puppy. Let’s recap over these costs to get a better idea of how much of a hit you’ll take to your bank account.

  • Cost of your labrador puppy – $500 to $1,000
  • Dog food for your labrador – $45 to $50 per month, costing around $5,400 to $6,000 over 10 years
  • Crate – $35 for a basic beginner crate, up to $499 for a full-sized high-quality crate
  • Basic household items including collar and a leash – $100
  • Equipment and training toys – $600
  • Veterinary costs – $150 per year, $1,500 over 10 years
  • Insurance – $10 to $15 per month, $1,200 to $1,800 over 10 years

So if we add up all these figures, we can estimate that a labrador should cost you somewhere in the region of around $9,800 to $11,500 over the course of 10 years.

The average lifespan of a Labrador is around 10 to 12 years, so this should be a fairly accurate estimate for your new dog. 

This is, of course, assuming that your Labrador won’t suffer from any unpredictable conditions such as hip dysplasia or unfortunate accidents which could rack up your vet bills.

Reasons You Should Still Get A Labrador Retriever

While we can easily predict how much a Labrador will cost your bank account, there is no way to measure how beneficial owning one will be to your mental health and physical wellbeing

In fact, there are several studies that show that owning animals, in general, is incredibly beneficial for you. Some of these include improving your health, as they can help you exercise with daily walks.

Owning a Labrador can also help to reduce feelings of anxiety, and give you a positive place to focus your attention. 

Pets such as Labradors have also been proven to reduce feelings of loneliness and depression. They can be a great source of comfort for the whole family, giving you loyal, loving companionship.

Labradors, just like all dogs, will come with a healing role in your family life. This makes it hard to measure their true worth as pets, as your new pup will be invaluable to you and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to know before buying a lab?

Labradors are naturally very energetic dogs, so they will need a fair amount of exercise. The benchmark is one hour of exercise each day for a Labrador in good health.

Labs are pretty much bottomless pits and will eat whatever you give them. So it’s important to only feed them as much food as they need to get a fully balanced diet. However, because Labradors are highly motivated by food, this also makes them incredibly easy to train.

How much does it cost to buy a lab?

The cost of a Labrador will vary depending on where you get them from, and how old they are. A Labrador puppy will typically cost you anywhere between $500 to $1,000 if you buy them from a reputable breeder.

If you’re after a starter dog that’s a little bit older but who comes with training for hunting or dock jumping, this could cost you anywhere between $2,500 to $4,500.

If you opt for an older Labrador from a shelter, this could cost you between $100 to $200.

In Summary

So yes, it’s true that a Labrador is going to cost you quite a bit of money. But so will any dog that you choose to invest in. Considering the benefits that a new Labrador will have on your mental and physical health, we’d say they are well worth the investment.

We Love Labrador Retrievers Just Like You Do

Outdoor Dog Fun loves Labradors as wonderful outdoor dogs. That’s why we’ve dedicated many topics about this breed on our blog.

Author - Melissa

Melissa is a dog mom to her Labrador Bella and German Shepherd Bear. Her dogs love swimming in Lake Michigan and nearby beaches. Bear is a big dog who loves to fetch. Melissa will sometimes throw a stick into the woods for Bear and he will come running back towards her with a huge fallen down tree branch! Bear also loves frisbee. Melissa is planning on taking both her dogs to agility camps to burn off some unrelenting energy! Even though they wrestle each other, both her dogs are extremely gentle and playful with her kids. Her four-year-old thinks both dogs are her personal pillows!

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