Cost of Owning a Labrador Retriever (2024): Purchase, Vet Bills, and More

The price of a labrador retriever puppy could range between $300 and $2,500, on average. Meanwhile, caring for a lab could cost as much as $1,500 to $3,000 per year.

Michelle Lambright Black
Michelle Lambright Black

Michelle Lambright Black is a credit expert, freelance writer, and founder of CreditWriter.com. She has over 20 years of experience writing and speaking about credit and money, and focuses on helping families and small business owners make smart, informed decisions about their credit, money, and financial products (including insurance). Michelle's work has appeared in publications such as Yahoo! Finance, Reader's Digest, Parents, FICO, Forbes, Bankrate, The Seattle Times, MarketWatch, BuySide from Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more. She's also a three-time finalist for the best personal finance freelancer award from the Plutus Foundation. When she isn't writing or speaking about credit and money, Michelle loves to travel with her family or read a good book. You can connect with Michelle on Instagram or Twitter

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Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
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Updated December 20, 2023

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Owning a labrador retriever is a sizable financial commitment. Adopting or buying a labrador from a breeder could cost $250 to $2,000. Then expect to spend nearly $3,000 in the first year of a labrador puppy’s life, and $1,500 to $3,000 per year thereafter, depending on the lab’s health.[1]

Labrador retrievers are the second most-popular dog breed in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).[2] Various factors affect your overall cost of pet ownership, such as your lab’s age, gender, where you get it from, and your location.

How much does a lab cost?

The average cost to purchase a labrador puppy typically runs somewhere between $250 and $2,000.[1] Your labrador dog price could vary based on details such as the breeder you work with and your location. However, if you adopt an older lab or a rescue puppy, there’s a good chance your adoption costs could be significantly lower — often between $100 and $450.

Labs are well known for their friendliness and high energy, which contributes to the breed’s popularity. The medium-to-large dog breed has an average lifespan of 11 to 13 years, weighs between 55 and 80 pounds, and typically gets along well with other dogs and young children.[3]

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Labrador retriever: Best for high activity levels

Labrador retrievers can be a good fit for families, couples, or single households. Due to their high energy levels, labrador dogs will probably be most content in homes where they’ll have plenty of opportunities to burn off energy and exercise with plenty of long walks.[3]

In general, labs are eager to please their owners. As a result, they have high trainability levels. The popular breed is also known for its playfulness and openness to strangers. However, labs don’t have the most protective nature. So if you want a vigilant watchdog, the labrador retriever breed shouldn’t be your first choice.[3]

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Comparing costs: Lab vs. other breeds

If you’re on the fence about purchasing a purebred lab puppy, it may be helpful to compare costs. Pet adoption costs can vary from one breed to another.

Below are the average price ranges you might encounter when you purchase the following dog breeds from a breeder.

Dog BreedAverage Cost
Labrador retriever$250–$2,000
Golden retriever$500–$3,000
English bulldog$1,500–$4,000
French bulldog$2,000–$8,000
Goldendoodle$1,000–$5,000
Keep in Mind

The costs above reflect average prices of purchasing purebred puppies from breeders. However, the adoption costs for a lab puppy or an older dog from a shelter or rescue program could be quite different — as low as $100 to $450. Mixed-breed dogs could also cost significantly less than a purebred lab puppy.

Factors influencing the price of a lab

Average labrador retriever costs can vary, and how much you pay also depends on many factors, some personal to you.

Below are details to consider when searching for a new lab puppy, and how those things might play a role in both your adoption costs and long-term care expenses for your new labrador.

Where you purchase from

The most expensive way to purchase a labrador retriever is to shop with a certified, trustworthy breeder. Yet, working with responsible labrador retriever breeders may also feature benefits that other forms of pet purchasing or adoption don’t.

When you buy a lab from a certified AKC breeder, your puppy may have traceable pedigrees. You may also have access to a breeder who can answer questions about your new pet’s family history, temperament, and more.[4]

On the other hand, adopting a lab from a shelter or rescue program has perks, too. First, you’re giving a second chance to an animal who needs a home. Adopting a labrador retriever puppy or older dog also tends to be much more affordable. The Animal Humane Society charges a standard adoption fee of $166 to $767 for dogs and puppies.[5]

Coat color

Labrador retrievers are short-haired dogs with coats that come in the following three colors:[3]

  • Black

  • Chocolate

  • Yellow

In general, the color of a lab’s coat has little effect on the cost of adoption.

Age and gender

As with any dog breed, adopting an older labrador retriever has the potential to save you a significant amount of money compared to purchasing a puppy from a breeder.

For example, the Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue’s adoption fees are $350 for dogs 6 years and younger. Labs older than 7 years, however, have an adoption fee of just $150.

Some breeders may also charge more for female labs due to their potential to breed. But this can vary since some breeders and pet adoption facilities may spay or neuter their labs before you adopt them.

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Costs of owning a lab

It’s also important to consider ongoing pet ownership expenses before you buy or adopt a new labrador retriever. The best way to make sure you can afford a new labrador retriever puppy is to tally up the costs below and make sure they’ll fit comfortably into your household budget.

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    Vaccination and vet visits

    You’ll need to take your lab to the vet on a regular basis, especially during its first year of life. Even if your breeder made sure to take care of your puppy’s initial shots, your puppy’s first veterinarian visit for vaccinations will likely take place shortly after you bring it home.

    Overall, labs tend to be a healthy dog breed. But they can face struggles with hip dysplasia, heart disorders, eye conditions, and hereditary myopathy.[3] Working with a responsible breeder who runs DNA tests for certain disorders and plans breedings accordingly may help you reduce the chances of certain health conditions. It’s important to become familiar with the symptoms of common health issues labs may face, including a life-threatening health problem called bloat.

    As a pet owner, you may pay anywhere between $100 and $300 per year for annual wellness exams and another $300 to $400 for any additional vet care visits.[6] This cost may include the price of puppy vaccinations, spaying or neutering, preventative treatment, and emergency medical expenses. Of course, some dog breeds have fewer health problems than others, and their vet care costs might be more affordable.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/101x101/88ac443824/dog-collar.svg

    Food and supplies

    Labrador retrievers typically eat $325 to $1,128 worth of food per year, depending on their size and age.[7] Costs can vary depending on the type of food you feed your pet. Some dog food brands are significantly more expensive than others.

    In addition to food, you should consider the cost of other pet-related supplies and factor those into your budget as well. Dog treats, leashes, bowls, crates, dog beds, and toys are a few examples of other items you may purchase for your canine companion.

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    Grooming and maintenance

    Because they’re short-haired dogs, labs don’t need some of the high-level grooming that other dog breeds require. But keep in mind that proper care is still important.

    Weekly brushing, dental care, and regular nail clipping will keep your lab feeling and looking great. You may also want to factor in the cost of preventative flea and tick treatments to protect your pet from unwanted pests.

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    Pet insurance

    Pet insurance is a healthcare policy for your pet that could pay up to 90% of covered vet bills. Depending on the type of policy you purchase, your pet might have coverage for emergency vet visits and accidents only, or you might have coverage for well visits, vaccinations, and preventative care as well.

    The average annual premium for accident and illness pet insurance is $640 for dogs. But many details can affect your premiums, including the type of coverage you purchase and the deductible you choose. If you’re considering buying pet insurance, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare your coverage options.

Labrador retriever FAQs

Learn about lowering your pet insurance costs, and check out these answers to common questions about labrador retrievers.

  • What is the average price of a lab?

    It could cost between $100 and $2,000 to adopt or purchase a lab. Details like whether you’re buying a lab puppy from a certified breeder, adopting an older lab, and other factors can affect the price you pay. For example, you’re likely to pay a much higher price for a new puppy from a reputable breeder versus an older dog you adopt at a shelter.

  • Are labs good pets?

    Yes. Labrador retrievers are a friendly breed. In fact, they were the most popular dog breed in the United States for 31 years straight, until the French bulldog took the No. 1 spot in 2022.[2]

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

    Contracts can vary based on seller preferences. But if you purchase your dog from a reputable breeder, the cost of a labrador puppy may include AKC registration, a microchip ID number, health guarantees against genetic defects, requirements for veterinary care, and mentoring clauses.

    It’s also worth noting that you could have responsibilities to fulfill as the dog owner as well, including requirements to compete the pet in dog shows if you want access to specific bloodlines.[8]

Sources

  1. Lemonade. "How Much Does It Cost to Own a Labrador Retriever?."
  2. American Kennel Club. "The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2022."
  3. American Kennel Club. "Labrador Retriever."
  4. American Kennel Club. "10 Reasons I’m Going to Buy a Purebred Dog."
  5. Animal Humane Society. "Adoption fees."
  6. Spot Pet Insurance. "How Much Does a Labrador Retriever Cost in 2023?."
  7. Wag!. "How Expensive Is It to Own A Labrador Retriever?."
  8. American Kennel Club. "What’s in Your Puppy Contract?."
Michelle Lambright Black
Michelle Lambright Black

Michelle Lambright Black is a credit expert, freelance writer, and founder of CreditWriter.com. She has over 20 years of experience writing and speaking about credit and money, and focuses on helping families and small business owners make smart, informed decisions about their credit, money, and financial products (including insurance). Michelle's work has appeared in publications such as Yahoo! Finance, Reader's Digest, Parents, FICO, Forbes, Bankrate, The Seattle Times, MarketWatch, BuySide from Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more. She's also a three-time finalist for the best personal finance freelancer award from the Plutus Foundation. When she isn't writing or speaking about credit and money, Michelle loves to travel with her family or read a good book. You can connect with Michelle on Instagram or Twitter

Courtney Mikulski
Edited byCourtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

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