20 Most Expensive Dog Breeds That Are Worth Every Penny

People love showering their dogs with toys, clothes and fancy meal plans. Frankly, the doggy gift options just keep getting better. Spending money on our pets is part of the deal when adopting, fostering or buying a dog. The thing is, the tab grows very quickly. Some dog breeds cost a lot more to care for than others. Everything from bedtime to bathtime and beyond can be more expensive depending on the breed. The most expensive dog breeds tend to be rare, purebred dogs who come from show-winning bloodlines. Expensive dog breeds also require more grooming, training and medical visits over the course of their lifetimes. If you’ve got your heart set on one of these breeds, start saving now.

Let’s define “expensive”

Some dog breeds are very expensive to purchase initially, while others cost more over the long term. For example, a French Bulldog is pretty pricey when you buy one from a certified breeder, but costs less on average than, say, a Bernese Mountain Dog after a decade or so. It’s hard to calculate the lifetime cost of a dog before you have it, because you can’t predict specific health issues or unexpected events. But, we can estimate.

Dog owners typically spend between $1,500 and $3,200 in the first year of pet ownership. From there, annual costs range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Depending on your income and coupon cutting skills, these numbers can fluctuate drastically.

Pet Budget does a great job of researching the costs of grooming sessions, supplies, vet bills and more to predict both the initial and lifetime costs of different breeds. Since all these things vary greatly in price—and we’d need a psychic to predict what happens with your pup—we focus primarily on initial costs in this list. The pups you’ll find here are the most expensive dog breeds when it comes to how much you’d pay for a puppy.

What makes a dog breed expensive?

More than anything, purebred status determines a dog’s cost. Not only are purebred dogs more predictable when it comes to behavior traits (a desirable pro), they tend to have more health issues over time (an expensive con). Plus, reputable breeders put a lot of effort into caring for puppies and their mothers while adhering to strict breeding regulations.

Purebred puppy costs often include fees already paid for microchips, registrations and vaccinations, not to mention the time breeders spend monitoring health and socializing new pups. Good breeders invest in expensive health tests to ensure there’s no inbreeding or genetic issues in their litters. You get what you pay for when you work with responsible, dedicated breeders who take care of these logistics for you.

Oh, you want a puppy from a prestigious show dog bloodline like Claire the Scottish Deerhound who recently won Best in Show? Expect to spend ten times more (and tens of thousands of dollars). Oh, you want to reserve a purebred puppy from a litter that hasn’t been born yet? Chances are you’ll spend 28 percent more than if you buy a purebred puppy between two and six months old.

Beyond purebred status, everything from a global pandemic to your geographic location can impact how much puppies cost. Some breeds are in high demand in specific areas of the country. Other dogs are priced based on coat color and markings unique to their breed.

Additional costs of different dog breeds

Without question, the biggest expenses over time for a dog will be vet bills. These could be unexpected (“My puppy ate a sock and needs surgery to remove it!”) or completely normal (“My senior dog needs a major dental cleaning.”) Embrace Pet Insurance says the five breeds with the highest vet bills, based on 2020 claims, were Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Flat-coated Retrievers, Bullmastiffs and Newfoundlands.

Karen Leslie from The Pet Fund, a nonprofit paying vet bills for those in need, tells NPR that 60 percent of their grants go to cancer treatments for pets. “The typical bill for cancer can go as high as $10,000,” Leslie says. The National Canine Cancer Foundation says in general, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds and Rottweilers are the breeds most prone to cancer.

No matter the dog breed, you’ll need to stock up on supplies when you first adopt or buy. Crates, leashes and everything in between will add up quickly. Luckily, these are first-time purchases you won’t have to make every year (unless your dog outgrows things or chews through them). Every few years your dog may need booster vaccinations or new medications if they develop illnesses or get colds. If you travel a lot, be prepared to spend money on pet sitters or boarding facilities. If you work a lot, paying a dog walker to get your dog enough exercise will add to your expenses.

Dogs…cost money! Starting a savings account for your future dog now, no matter what breed you end up with, is super smart.

The 10 Naughtiest Dog Breeds

most expensive dog breeds portuguese water dog

1. Portuguese Water Dog

Height: 17-23 inches
Weight: 35-60 pounds
Personality: Smart, athletic
Activity Level: High
Grooming Requirements: Regular grooming
Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,200
Lifetime Cost: $22,000+

This breed is pretty rare in the U.S. (they only arrived in the 1970s) and are hypoallergenic, which makes them very popular. Grooming can also get expensive if you opt for the traditional Portuguese Water Dog look (shortly trimmed tail and hindquarters). Their athleticism also means tons of outdoor activity time. Doggy daycare is a must if you own a Portuguese Water Dog and go to the office every day.

most expensive dog breeds chow chow
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2. Chow Chow

Height: 17-20 inches
Weight: 45-70 pounds
Personality: Serious, loyal
Activity Level: Moderate
Grooming Requirements: Regular brushing
Life Expectancy: 8-12 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,250
Average Lifetime Cost: $21,000

Say hello to one of the fluffiest breeds in town. The Chow Chow is a Chinese breed that requires frequent brushing (and many brushes) to ensure a healthy coat. While dignified and reserved with strangers, they stick by their humans through thick and thin. Training sessions or puppy classes early on will help Chow Chows adapt well to new situations.

most expensive dog breeds afghan hound

3. Afghan Hound

Height: 25-27 inches
Weight: 50-60 pounds
Personality: Independent, proud
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Grooming Requirements: Daily brushing
Life Expectancy: 12-18 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,250
Average Lifetime Cost: $27,000

Known for being cat-like and independent, Afghan Hounds are stunning canines with long, flowing coats. Though hypoallergenic, these dogs require daily brushing to keep their coats tangle-free. Afghan Hounds are sighthounds that began as hunters in the Middle East thousands of years ago. Perhaps this is why they hold their heads so high (and cost so much).

most expensive dog breeds brussels griffon
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4. Brussels Griffon

Height: 7-10 inches
Weight: 8-10 pounds
Personality: Sensitive, loyal
Activity Level: Moderate
Grooming Requirements: Regular grooming and hand-stripping
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,300
Average Lifetime Cost: $17,000

With a face like this, who cares what they cost! Brussels Griffons are known for their big personalities and charming expressions. Native to Belgium, they make excellent companion pets and will bond quickly to their favorite person. Don’t plan on leaving a Brussels Griffon home alone for long stretches (they’ll act out!).

most expensive dog breeds saluki
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5. Saluki

Height: 20-28 inches
Weight: 40-65 pounds
Personality: Gentle, independent
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Grooming Requirements: Regular Brushing
Life Expectancy: 10-17 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,400
Average Lifetime Cost: $24,000

Salukis are used to being ogled for their mystical beauty. They’ve been admired since 7000 B.C.! Native to the Middle East and Asia, Salukis were the preferred pet of royalty. Today, they make even-tempered pets. Don’t be fooled though. Salukis love to run and need plenty of outdoor time. As with other sighthounds, these dogs can develop bloat if they eat too quickly or exercise right after mealtime.

most expensive dog breeds leonberger

6. Leonberger

Height: 25-32 inches
Weight: 90-170 pounds
Personality: Intelligent, goofy
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Grooming Requirements: Daily brushing, weekly grooming
Life Expectancy: 7-10 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,400
Average Lifetime Cost: $25,000

The Leonberger Club of America highly recommends puppy training classes for young Leos so they can socialize and absorb commands early. These large, bear-like dogs love their families and need lots of living space. A yard is ideal. The best way to bond with your Leonberger? Grooming! Brush their thick coats daily to avoid mats.

most expensive dog breeds greater swiss mountain dog
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7. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Height: 23-29 inches
Weight: 85-140 pounds
Personality: Affectionate, social
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Grooming Requirements: Minimal
Life Expectancy: 8-11 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $22,000

This is a big breed with (as mentioned above) large vet bills. Similar to big breeds like their cousins the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Saint Bernard, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs can develop joint issues over time. The American Kennel Club also says severe spleen issues occur more often in this breed than in other breeds. Beyond that, get ready for a dog who can be stubborn, but at the end of the day just wants to play and frolic with its people.

most expensive dog breeds english bulldog

8. English Bulldog

Weight: 40-50 pounds
Personality: Protective, sweet
Activity Level: Low to Moderate
Grooming Requirements: Regular brushing and cleaning between folds
Life Expectancy: 8-10 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $16,000

One of the most recognizable faces in all of dogdom is the English Bulldog. Like other short-nosed breeds, Bulldogs shouldn’t be overexercised (they could have trouble breathing) or left out in the heat. As the Bulldog Club of America says, these pups should always be brought to a vet well-versed in bulldogs. The fact that this is a “highly specialized, man-made breed” could contribute to its high price.

most expensive dog breeds cavalier king charles spaniel

9. English Toy Spaniel

Height: 9-10 inches
Weight: 8-14 pounds
Personality: Sweet, playful
Activity Level: Moderate
Grooming Requirements: Regular brushing and trimming
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $14,000

Make sure to check your English Toy Spaniel’s ears often to ensure they are clean! Regular brushing and trimming is also necessary to keep their coat and skin healthy. Beyond that, these are relaxed, cheerful dogs who are excited just to be near you. English Toy Spaniels also have sensitive dispositions and pick up easily on their owners’ energies.

most expensive dog breeds giant schnauzer
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10. Giant Schnauzer

Average Height: 25.5 inches
Average Weight: 70 pounds
Personality: Friendly, obedient
Activity Level: Moderate
Grooming Requirements: Hand-stripping
Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $34,000

Over the course of a lifetime, Giant Schnauzers may be one of the more expensive dogs on our list. These are powerful dogs from Germany who are smart enough to learn many commands but just proud enough to take matters into their own hands if they feel it necessary. This is an example of a dog who may cost you more if you leave them home alone (they can become destructive if bored).

most expensive dog breeds minature bull terrier
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11. Miniature Bull Terrier

Height: 10-14 inches
Weight: 18-28 pounds
Personality: Spirited, goofy
Activity Level: Low to Moderate
Grooming Requirements: Minimal
Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $17,000

Miniature Bull Terriers are simply smaller versions of their Bull Terrier cousins. These dogs are known for plenty of antics and constantly wanting to play. Their muscular build and energy levels could lead to joint issues in puppyhood, so don’t overdo it on the exercise. Mini Bull Terriers also have territorial and protective streaks, so socialize them early to prevent aggression.

most expensive dog breeds nova scotia duck tolling retriever
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12. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Height: 17-21 inches
Weight: 35-50 pounds
Personality: Smart, affectionate
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Grooming Requirements: Minimal
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $22,000

Here’s one of the smallest retrievers with one of the longest names. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (or Troller) is an energetic, affectionate companion who loves big families and the outdoors. Bred to look like foxes to trick waterfowl, these dogs are eager to learn. While once relatively rare in the U.S., they were accepted into the AKC in 2003 and are becoming popular family pets.

most expensive dog breeds azawakh

13. Azawakh

Height: 23-29 inches
Weight: 33-55 pounds
Personality: Loyal, reserved
Activity Level: Moderate
Grooming Requirements: Minimal
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $20,000

Don’t worry, Azawakhs are supposed to look that skinny and bony! They are striking animals with a look unlike any other dog. The high price of an Azawakh often stems from its bloodline. They make terrific show dogs and are also very rare. Azawakhs hail from Western Africa where they hunt gazelle, running as long and as fast as they can.

most expensive dog breeds tibetan mastiff
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14. Tibetan Mastiff

Height: 24-26 inches
Weight: 70-150 pounds
Personality: Stubborn, mellow
Grooming Requirements: Minimal
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $32,000

In 2014, a Tibetan Mastiff sold for $2 million in China. So, yeah. They can be pricey. This is due in large part to their role as status symbols in Asia and their rarity. If you’re lucky enough to own a Tibetan Mastiff, get ready for a giant, calm, devoted dog who will protect its loved ones at all costs.

most expensive dog breeds xoloitzcuintli

15. Xoloitzcuintli

Height: 10-14 inches (toy), 14-18 inches (miniature), 18-23 inches (standard)
Weight: 10-15 pounds (toy), 15-30 pounds (miniature), 30-55 pounds (standard)
Personality: Calm, loyal
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Grooming Requirements: Sunscreen for hairless varieties
Life Expectancy: 12-18 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,750
Average Lifetime Cost: $25,000

Pronounced “show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee,” these unique and loving dogs come in hairless and short-coated varieties. Short-coated Xoloitzcuintlis are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Hairless pups may develop skin acne when they are young and require extra care. Always put sunscreen on them, too! Xoloitzcuintlis are native to Mexico, have been around for almost 3,000 years and are pretty chill around the house.

most expensive dog breeds pinscher

16. German Pinscher

Height: 17-20 inches
Weight: 25-45 pounds
Personality: Intelligent, playful
Activity Level: High
Grooming Requirements: Minimal
Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,800
Average Lifetime Cost: $21,000

These dogs are smarties and tend to be headstrong. Get ready to train them early! While excellent guard dogs, they don’t always get along with kiddos (unless they’re raised alongside them as puppies). The high price point could be because of their scarcity in the U.S., though there are breeders around the country focused on German Pinschers.

most expensive dog breeds french bulldog

17. French Bulldog

Height: 11-13 inches
Weight: 22-28 pounds
Personality: Affectionate, even-tempered
Activity Level: Low
Grooming Requirements: Minimal
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
Average Initial Cost: $2,800
Average Lifetime Cost: $16,000

French Bulldogs are pricey because their breeding process is labor-intensive and complicated. Female Frenchies must be artificially inseminated and go through a C-section to birth their puppies. Post-birth, mama and the litter require constant observation and care to ensure everyone stays healthy. The price of this adaptable, affectionate breed reflects all this work. It’s important to do lots of research when choosing a breeder!

most expensive dog breeds norfolk terrier
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18. Norfolk Terrier

Height: 9-10 inches
Weight: 11-12 pounds
Personality: Alert, adaptable
Activity Level: High
Grooming Requirements: Hand-stripping
Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
Average Initial Cost: $3,250
Average Lifetime Cost: $19,000

A small, feisty dog, the Norfolk Terrier is game for anything its family tosses at it. These terriers do require regular grooming; their wiry, double coat should be hand-stripped so new, healthy hair can grow in. Watch out for a high prey drive in these pups, due to their history as farm dogs who hunted foxes and small rodents.

most expensive dog breeds norwich terrier

19. Norwich Terrier

Height: 10 inches
Weight: 12 pounds
Personality: Affectionate, alert
Activity Level: Moderate
Grooming Requirements: Hand-stripping
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Average Initial Cost: $3,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $19,000

Norwich Terriers are English dogs with scrappy personalities. Known for being rascals, they are also incredibly affectionate. Like the Norfolk Terriers, these dogs need hand-stripping to keep their coats healthy. The AKC says Norwich Terriers are also prone to dental disease, so start brushing teeth early and often!

most expensive dog breeds neapolitan mastiff

20. Neapolitan Mastiff

Height: 24-31 inches
Weight: 110-150 pounds
Personality: Sweet, protective
Activity Level: Low
Grooming Requirements: Minimal
Life Expectancy: 9-10 years
Average Initial Cost: $3,500
Average Lifetime Cost: $21,000

These are ancient dogs from the times of the Roman Empire, so it kind of makes sense they are some of the most expensive. Neapolitan Mastiffs also require tons of training because they can be stubborn and very protective of their families. Investing in puppy classes early on is a must. And the size! These big dogs eat a lot and need space. Luckily, they don’t have many health issues or intense grooming requirements.

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Sarah Ashley

Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...
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