How Much Does a Service Dog Cost? Expenses and Grants

Published June 14, 2022
man in wheelchair with service dog

Service dogs are a blessing for those with disabilities, but they do not come cheap. The cost of training a service dog is $20,000, on average. Some organizations that train service dogs charge no fees. Other organizations charge upwards of $50,000. If you're unable to afford training or adoption fees, there are other options available that may allow you to significantly reduce the cost of a service dog. Learn how much service dogs cost, and even how to get a free service dog -- if you qualify.

Average Costs For Your Service Dog

The cost of a service dog can vary widely depending on the breed, training, and experience of the dog. The average cost of a service dog ranges from $10,000 to $25,000. This isn't an exact figure, because there are a number of factors that go into the cost of a service animal.

The exact amount you pay will depend on several factors, including:

  • Your location. Service dogs are not regulated by any national agency, so their price may vary widely, depending on which state or even city in which you reside.
  • Your preferences. If you have certain requirements for your dog, such as a specific color or size, these will increase the price of the dog substantially.
  • The type of service dog you need. For example, a guide dog for the blind will typically be more expensive than one that assists with physical disability issues.
  • The breed. The most expensive dogs are usually German Shepherds or Labrador Retrievers because they are very intelligent and easy to train for many tasks. These dogs are also very adaptable and don't require as much specialized training as other breeds do.

Most people don't realize that there are many different types of service dogs, and that these animals can be trained to do many different things. For example, some dogs are trained to assist the visually impaired; others alert individuals with hearing impairments when someone knocks on the door or rings the phone.

Some dogs have been taught how to help people with a variety of disabilities, such as epilepsy and diabetes, or how to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dogs can also detect seizures before they occur and alert their owners through a series of cues. They may be trained to call for help, stay with their owners until the seizure stops, and in some cases, even perform CPR.

Finding a Way to Afford Your Helper

Not all organizations that train service dogs charge a fee. Some are nonprofit, while others are for-profit. Even among organizations that charge fees, there is considerable variation in what they charge and how often they require payments. Some organizations charge one-time fees, while others charge monthly or annual fees. Still, others may require both one-time and monthly payments, as well as an annual payment at the end of your dog's training period.

How to Get a Free Service Dog

It is not easy to find the money to purchase a service dog, especially if you have a disability and are unable to work. There are a number of programs that offer financial assistance for people who need service dogs to help cope with their disabilities and empowered lives. The following list includes some of these programs:

  • Service Dogs for America - This is a nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to people with disabilities at no cost. It also offers financial assistance for those who cannot afford to buy a service dog on their own.
  • Guide Dog Foundation - The Guide Dog Foundation is the oldest organization offering grants and scholarships to purchase guide dogs. It has provided assistance to more than 55,000 individuals over the course of its history. The organization's programs include grants for guide dog training, scholarships for guide dog owners, assistance with travel expenses, and other services.
  • Canine Companions for Independence - CCI is a nonprofit organization that provides trained assistance dogs at no cost to eligible clients with disabilities who reside in the United States or Puerto Rico. CCI also provides education and training on how best to serve people with disabilities through its National Training Center, located in Santa Clarita, California.
  • Veterans Administration - If you are eligible for VA benefits, you may be able to obtain a zero percent interest loan from the VA to help pay for your service dog.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Service dogs are still dogs, and they require all the regular care, attention, and investment any pet dog does. When you are considering purchasing a service dog, think about your lifestyle and the tasks that you will be using your dog for. If you live in an apartment and have no yard, then a large breed, such as a Labradoodle or Golden Retriever may not be the best choice for you. If you are looking at getting a dog from a breeder, ask them questions about how active the dogs are, and if they have any information on the dogs' parents.

If you tend to travel or visit friends and family frequently, then it is important that your service dog can travel well in vehicles and airplanes. It is also advisable to ensure that your future service dog gets along well with other animals and people before making a purchase. Canine behavior specialists can help you select the right breed for your lifestyle and needs.

Selecting the Right Breed

When selecting a dog, there are many factors to consider. First and foremost, you want to make sure that the breed of service dog you choose is suited for your lifestyle and needs. For example, if your home is on the smaller side, you may want to opt for a smaller breed, such as a Toy Poodle or Yorkshire Terrier, depending on what tasks they will need to perform.

If you have multiple pets at home already, including cats, it's important that your potential service dog isn't aggressive towards them. Likewise, if there are children in your family, especially younger ones who have not yet learned how to properly interact with animals, choosing the right service dog for your needs will help ensure that the entire family can work well together.

When deciding on which type of assistance is right for them and their budget, many people select breeds based solely upon appearance, rather than functionality or suitability to their lifestyle. However, this can lead some people down paths they never imagined taking. This may lead to wasting money and time, and it could also lead to a damaged bond with the dog. That's why discussing this huge step with a professional and a service dog training organization is highly recommended. Choose a service dog that is right for your lifestyle and needs the first time around.

Once you have decided what breed of dog you want, it is important to take into account all aspects of their personality before making any decisions regarding purchasing one. The ideal temperament for a service dog is one that is confident, calm, and quiet. Service dogs are trained to ignore distractions like loud noises and other people approaching them, so they can focus on their owner's needs.

A Good Investment

Service dogs can be expensive, but they are also life-changing for those in need. The cost of raising and training a service dog is an investment, but it's also one that will benefit you greatly in the long run. Service dogs are trained to be socially well-adjusted, which makes them invaluable companions for people with disabilities. If you have the financial resources to adopt a service dog, it will be one of the best investments you can make.

How Much Does a Service Dog Cost? Expenses and Grants