How Much A German Shepherd Costs To Buy And Own

Choosing to bring a new pet into your home is a big decision and the fact that your researching the costs of buying and raising a German Shepherd puppy shows you are taking the decision seriously. To many great pets end up in shelters and pounds not because their owners got sick of them, but because they didn’t do enough research beforehand and simply couldn’t afford to keep their pet. We have taken the time to breakdown the cost of a normal household puppy as well as a look into how much a German Shepherd will cost you per year.

A Quick Summary: Each of these topics and more are expanded upon below.

  1. To buy a German Shepherd puppy that is around 8 weeks old you can expect to pay around $1200 - $1500 for a puppy. This varies slightly from location to location (for the sake of this article I am assuming you are based in the United States however a lot of the information holds true in other countries) as well as from breeder to breeder. This price assumes the puppy has come from a reputable breeder, that the puppy is up to date on vaccinations, it has a health certificate as do both of its parents, it is microchipped and properly registered.
  2. You can expect to pay more for a puppy than a mature dog (unless the dog has been specifically trained) as most people want that “puppy experience” and a willing to pay a premium to get it.
  3. There are a number of German Shepherds in shelters that would love a caring home and come a lot cheaper than buying from a breeder. However you are unlikely to find a purebred puppy.
  4. Different colored German Shepherds can attract different prices.
  5. Working or show dog lines can be far more expensive than dogs suitable as household pets.
  6. It is far more expensive in the long run to look after your German Shepherd than the upfront cost of buying one.

Why Does A German Shepherd Puppy Cost So Much?

A German Shepherd breeder has a lot of overhead and devout countless ours of their time nurturing and raising their puppies in a happy, healthy way. It’s not as easy as chucking a male and female in the same room and a few months later selling $20’000 worth of puppies. Here is a breakdown of the costs associated with a litter of German Shepherd puppies.


Full Health Screening

Stud Fee

Whelping Supplies 

Veterinary Bills 

Food For The mother

Puppy Registrations

Approximate Cost






$25 per puppy

That brings the cost of the litter up to nearly $3000. On top of this breeders have to attend and display their dogs at shows which can costs thousands per year as well as going through sacrificing sleep whenever a new litter is born (hourly checkups are not uncommon for the first few days after birth). A reputable German Shepherd breeder doesn’t do it to make money, they do it because they love the breed and have devoted their lives to ensuring their puppies are happy, healthy and in the best possible shape when they leave home.

The Costs Of Owning A German Shepherd per year:

German Shepherds are a big breed of dog that are expensive to properly look after and care for as they grow. Remember a German Shepherd is for life so if you are not prepared to look after them for 10+ years then they are not the pet for you. When you first buy a German Shepherd there are high initial costs including the cost of the dog itself, a crate, dog bed, leash and collar, high quality puppy food, grooming brushes and much more. Most people however don’t realize how much a German Shepherd continues to cost in the following years. If you include an annual veterinary checkup ($100), heartworm prevention medication ($240), high quality dog food ($1000), license fees ($25) and a few toys then this adds up to nearly $1500 per year. An unexpected illness or injury that requires an emergency trip to the veterinarian can also easily add thousands of dollars to the cost of owning a German Shepherd.

The Cost Of Adopting From A Shelter

The cost of adopting a German Shepherd from a shelter is far lower than buying a puppy from a breeder. German Shepherds are a large energetic breed and a lot of the time people don’t realize the time, energy, and cost required to keep a German Shepherd properly exercised and healthy. A dog with too much energy often results in chewing, digging, barking or over excitement which can be too much for some people to handle. Their cute puppy quickly grows into something they don’t know how to handle properly and ends up at the pound. I would be willing to bet that if you checked several pounds in your area you would find a young German Shepherd who is desperate for a home provided the new owners can give it the exercise and mental stimulation it needs for such an energetic and smart breed of dog. I can tell you from personal experience over the last 10 years I have only taken dogs from the pound (not always a German Shepherd but a majority of the time) and have welcomed into my home some of the most lovely and caring dogs I have ever met in my life. I strongly recommend you look into this option if you are looking for a dog.

The cost to adopt a German Shepherd from a shelter depends on a number of different factors. The  price generally ranges from $50 - $500 and there are a number of factors that go into the price. The following are common services done by the local pound and the more they do the more that they need to charge to cover the cost.

1.       Veterinary Check: As far as I know this is done by all rescue centers. A veterinary looks over the dog and makes sure they are in a clean bill of health.
Microchipping: A microchip with owner identification information is inserted into the dog to make finding the owner easier.
De-sexed: Most rescue centers de-sex their dogs to reduce the number of accidental pregnancies and home breeding.
Vaccinations: The dogs are brought up to date with necessary vaccinations if they haven’t been done in the past.
Flea and tick medication: Many stray dogs come in with a variety of skin conditions so flea and tick medication is used to make the dogs as healthy as possible.
Food supplies: It’s not good for a dog’s stomach to quickly change diets. Often a rescue center will provide a few days worth of food so you can ween your dog onto its new diet.
Training: Some dogs show aggression towards people or other dogs when they are brought in. Before re-homing they train the dog to better react in situations where they might react aggressively.

As you can see all of these things cost money as well as the time of trained professionals. In order to give their dogs the best possible chance at a happy rehoming they need to recoup their costs somehow so you can understand the pricetag of up to $500. Similar to breeders I would recommend using a reputable rescue center who do as much of the above list as possible. An extra $100 or $200 is worth it in the long run if your dog is better trained, more healthy and better with people.

Why You Should Not Buy From Household Breeders

Another question i get asked a lot whenever the price of a GSD puppy comes up is someone that has found a puppy on craigslist for $500. Why shouldn't I just buy one of those?

Puppies sold at this price come from home breeders, people who don’t normally breed GSD's but thought it was a good way to make some extra money.

The problem with these puppies is that they have not been bred to the same standard as from a reputable breeder. The parents (assuming they are both pureblood GSD's) have not had health checks, have not been cleared of common bone problems (hip dysplasia etc.), do not receive an optimal diet through pregnancy and while suckling the puppies and they do not have an expert eye looking for problems as they develop. All of these factors can contribute to a puppy that is more likely to show genetic or health defects later in life.

The cost of surgeries and unexpected trips to the veterinarian can add up very quickly. If by choosing a reputable breeder you avoid just one or 2 health conditions prevalent in poorly bred German Shepherds then in the long run you will save a lot of money. As we stated earlier the upfront cost of a GSG is little compared to the cost of owning and raising one for 10+ years. Pay the extra upfront and it will likely save you thousands down the line.

Show Dogs And Working Lines

If you are looking to buy a puppy that wise sired by show dogs and you wish to train and compete with your dog in the future than you can expect to pay a premium for your puppy. It is not uncommon for GSD's with great bloodlines and that show required traits as a puppy to sell for upwards of $15000. If you are looking at investing in something like this and want to make some money back in the future then it is essential that you train your dog to perform in competition. The best in class dogs can be used to charge stud fee's (if it is a male) or can produce puppies with desirable traits that people would pay a premium for. Unless you are an expert in GSD's I would strongly recommend against looking into this.

Working lines of German Shepherds are far more expensive than standard GSD's as well. Often reserved for police work, special forces in the army, and high end security work you would be looking to pay well over $10'000 for a dog. Several bloodlines of very successful working GSD's are not even for sale to the public. If you are looking for a trained guard dog rather than a puppy then expect to pay even more (upwards of $20'000).

Cost of GSD mixes

Like in most dogs a German Shepherd cross is worth a lot less than a purebred and there are sometimes benefits. Crossbreeds in general have fewer health issues than purebred dogs. There are a few designer mixes which include GSD's most notably crosses between huskies and Labradors. These crossbreeds can still cost similar prices to a purebred GSD.

Is A German Shepherd Right For Me?

Okay so you have looked at the upfront and annual costs of owning a German Shepherd, now it’s time to see if they are the right type of dog for you. Firstly, these dogs need regular grooming and playtime. You will need to groom your dog weekly, administer monthly heartworm treatments, exercise your dog daily, work on training daily, and spend time cuddling, petting, and playing. 

Another factor to remember is that you are getting a German Shepherd Dog for the right reasons. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. You should not just get a dog to be a guard. While German Shepherds are protective, they do need love and affection too. 
  2. You should not get a German Shepherd Dog just as a companion to your children. These are large and powerful dogs. They don’t necessarily work well as a playmate. They may be loving and gentle, but you are responsible for your dog, not your children. 
  3. You should not get a German Shepherd Dog if you are a weak leader. They are strong-minded dogs and they need a leader who is strong minded too. 
  4. You should not get a German Shepherd Dog if you aren’t willing to train your dog. German Shepherds do have strong heads and hunting instincts. Without proper training, they can be difficult. 
  5. You should not get a German Shepherd Dog if you don’t like dog hair. They will shed a lot and they blow their coat (we will talk about that later) which means dog hair everywhere. 
  6. Do not get a German Shepherd Dog if you don’t have much space. These big dogs do need room and they have a large bark that could annoy close neighbors. 

Bringing Home A Puppy Checklist

We have discussed everything you need to know about bringing home your new puppy, but the following checklist will make things much, much easier since you could literally mark things off from it when you prepare for your German Shepherd puppy, and when you bring it home too. 

 These supplies can add up in price, so you may wish to purchase some of them after you have the puppy, but this is a good, thorough list of everything you will need for dog ownership.

A Proper Sized Crate

Crate Bed

Urine Cleaners

Puppy Food (Quality)

ID Tag

Food and Water Bowls

Training Treats

Dog Shampoo

Slicker Brush

Matt Comb or Brush

Ear Cleaner

Puppy Pads 

Dog Bed

Collar or Harness


Puppy Specific Toys

Poo Bags

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