Cost of Owning a German Shepherd (2024): Purchase, Vet Bills, and More

The price of a German shepherd puppy from an accredited breeder can reach over $2,000, but where you get the dog and the dog’s characteristics affect the final cost.

Taylor Milam-Samuel
Taylor Milam-Samuel
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Taylor Mlam-Samuel is a personal finance writer and credentialed educator. When she’s not helping readers better save and spend money, she can be found teaching.

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Danny Smith
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As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

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Updated December 18, 2023

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German shepherd puppies from American Kennel Club (AKC)-accredited dog breeders cost around $2,500.[1] Adoption and nonaccredited breeders usually have lower prices, but you can still expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars.[2] After all, German shepherds are one of the most popular dogs in the United States.

These dogs are known for being loyal, protective, and agile. The breed has a history as a working dog but is usually a family pet today, though some German shepherds still work as military and police dogs.

How much does a German shepherd cost?

Costs for German shepherds vary depending on the dog’s age and health. Puppies from a good breeder are the most expensive German shepherds, usually costing around $2,500. You can adopt or rescue German shepherds for much less, but you can generally expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars.

This breed weighs up to 90 pounds and is best for active owners who can walk and train their dogs regularly. German shepherds generally live for up to 10 years, which is standard for large breeds.

Dogs, including this breed, are a long-term financial and lifestyle commitment, so it’s important to understand what ownership entails. Here’s what you can expect.

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German shepherd: Best for trainability

German shepherds have a long history as herding dogs that dates back to the 1800s. In the late 19th century, a breeder worked to develop the ideal German canine, which resulted in the German shepherd. Since then, these dogs have served on the police force and in active-duty combat zones.

The breed’s history makes it one of the top dogs for trainability. Whether you want to train your German shepherd to complete tricks, work as a show dog, help as a service dog, or protect your land, these dogs are quick learners and eager to please. At the same time, German shepherds are family dogs who enjoy quality time with the adults and children in their lives.

Comparing costs: German shepherd vs. other breeds

German shepherds cost a similar amount to golden retrievers, another popular dog breed. However, German shepherd prices are higher than those of similar breeds like Belgian Malinois and border collies.

The total cost for a specific breed varies. Puppies from AKC-accredited breeders cost the most, and senior rescue dogs tend to cost the least. The following average prices are for purebred puppies from breeders.

Dog BreedAverage Cost
German shepherd$2,500
Golden retriever 3$3,000
Labrador retriever 4$1,500
Belgian Malinois 5$1,500
Border collie 6$1,500

Factors influencing the price of a German shepherd

German shepherds can cost a few hundred or a few thousand dollars depending on where you get the dog from and the dog’s characteristics. The following factors affect how much you’ll pay.

Where you purchase from

Prospective dog owners have different options for where to purchase a dog, including animal shelters, pet stores, and German shepherd breeders. How you buy your German shepherd affects how much the dog costs. 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes breeders of merit who are the best in the field. These quality breeders adhere to strict purebred breeding requirements, puppy registration, and health screenings. Due to the accreditation, dogs from these breeders are the most expensive. 

On the other hand, adopting German shepherds from local shelters is usually the cheapest way to purchase a German shepherd, since the dog isn’t certified as a purebred. Adoption fees are typically a few hundred dollars.

Age and gender

A German shepherd puppy is usually more expensive than an adult dog since it has no known health issues. Younger dogs typically have a longer life expectancy than older dogs, which can also affect the cost. Older dogs, especially seniors, usually cost less since they may have health conditions and fewer years to live.

Gender can also affect the price of a German shepherd, but it’s rare. Some breeders prefer buying female dogs, but most trustworthy breeders price male and female dogs the same. Similarly, coat color doesn’t usually affect the price.

Costs of owning a German shepherd

Purchasing a German shepherd is only the first expense. Once you own a dog, you’ll face additional costs or basic needs like food, medical expenses, and grooming.

Here’s what you can expect to spend.

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    Vaccination and vet visits

    Routine veterinary care for dogs costs $242 per year, while the average cost of surgical expenses is $458. Dog owners can expect to spend about $700 per year on their pet’s health.[3]

    However, German shepherds often have unique health concerns that require additional treatment, which might cost you more. Common health issues include arthritis, hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy. Many purebred dogs have health concerns, so it’s not specific to German shepherds, but dog owners should prepare for the costs.

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    Food and supplies

    Pet owners spend between $201 to more than $7,000 per year on pet food, depending on the type of food they buy and the amount their dog eats. The wide range of costs highlights that some pet owners prioritize specialty food or a particular diet.[4]

    Even though German shepherds are large dogs, and food costs for the breed can add up, annual prices aren’t likely to reach $7,000 unless you purchase specialty food.

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    Grooming and maintenance

    German shepherds don’t have specific grooming requirements beyond regular brushing, bathing, and nail trimming. Some pet owners groom their German shepherds at home, while others pay for a professional service. This breed has relatively low maintenance grooming requirements, so each owner handles it differently.

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    Pet insurance

    Many pet owners opt for pet insurance, which costs an average of $640 per year for dogs. Pet insurance can help pay for emergency vet visits, blood tests, accidents, health testing, and annual wellness exams.[5]

    It’s a recurring monthly cost that can pay for itself depending on how much medical care your pet needs. The sooner you start coverage, the more effective it can be. If you wait for a health issue, it might be too late to establish coverage. It’s usually best to set up a policy within the first year of ownership if you plan to do so.

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German shepherd FAQs

Pet ownership is a significant commitment, especially for large dogs like German shepherds. Here’s a closer look at the breed and associated costs.

  • What is the average price of a German shepherd?

    Purebred German shepherd puppies from responsible breeders cost around $2,500. But you might have a lower or higher price depending on where you live.[1] If you rescue a German shepherd from the shelter, you can expect to pay significantly less. Most rescues charge a few hundred dollars to help cover operating expenses.

  • Why are German shepherds so expensive?

    German shepherds have a long history as working dogs that are easy to train, loyal, and intelligent. Those characteristics make the breed an attractive option for many pet owners. Even beyond that, German shepherds are high-quality pets and, in some cases, show-quality dogs.

  • Are German shepherds good pets?

    ​​Yes. German shepherds are good pets. This breed is typically loyal, loving, and eager to please their owners. However, German shepherds often require mental and physical stimulation, so they might not be the right fit for everyone — especially dog owners with small living spaces.

  • What’s included in the price when purchasing a German shepherd puppy from a breeder?

    When you purchase a German shepherd puppy from an AKC-accredited breeder, you’re paying for not only the dog but also best-in-class breeding practices and an AKC Dog Registration Application. The seller completes the application, and the buyer submits it to the AKC. Once the process is complete, you’ll receive an AKC Registration Certificate.

Sources

  1. ABC Yoga Club. "AKC REGISTERED GERMAN SHEPHERD PUPPIES FOR SALE."
  2. German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California. "Adoption Fees."
  3. III. "Facts + Statistics: Pet Ownership and Insurance."
  4. Tufts University - Clinical Nutrition Service. "Expensive eats? Comparing the costs of different types of dog food."
  5. North American Pet Health Insurance Association. "Section #3: Average Premiums."
Taylor Milam-Samuel
Taylor Milam-Samuel

Taylor Milam-Samuel is a writer and credentialed educator who is fascinated by how people earn, save, and spend their money. When she's not researching financial terms and conditions, she can be found in the classroom teaching.

Danny Smith
Edited byDanny Smith
Photo of an Insurify author
Danny Smith
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 4+ years in content creation and marketing

As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

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