- Buying the dog itself is just the beginning of the expenses pet owners face.
- Show dogs require a professional handler.
- Travel, grooming and promotion expenses add up quickly.
The Westminster Kennel Club dog show, which began breed judging on Feb. 11, has been the pinnacle for show dogs since it started in 1877. It’s the second longest-running sporting event in the United States, second only to the Kentucky Derby. But the cost to give your pooch the chance to be Best in Show is staggering.
See More: The Most Expensive Pets You Can Own
How Much You’ll Spend to Own a Westminster Show Dog: $250,000
It all starts with the dog. Last year’s winner was a Bichon Frisé. Purebred puppies of this breed cost around $3,000. If you want the most expensive dog breed that’s readily available in the U.S., a Löwchen will set you back about $10,000.
The entry fee for Westminster is $100. But show dog owners will spend a lot of money on other expenses. For one, most owners hire professional handlers to show their dogs. A handler will charge hundreds of dollars per day, although high-end handlers cost so much that they can make six figures a year. And you’ll need to go to multiple local and regional shows — each requiring their own entry fees — before you get to Westminster.
Then there are the costs of grooming and travel, as well as the ongoing maintenance costs associated with any dog, such as food and medical care.
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You might also need to “advertise” your dog, especially if it’s an uncommon breed, and “campaign” so the judges will take note of your dog. All in all, dog owners can spend up to $250,000 a year to show their dogs at Westminster and other dog shows.
A Cost Breakdown: Buying a Dog vs. Having a Kid
What You Can Buy for the Cost of Owning a Show Dog
If you think bankrolling a show dog isn’t the best use of a quarter million dollars, there are a lot of other things you could buy. For the same cost of owning a show dog, you could buy:
- A three-bedroom home in Birmingham, Ala., Des Moines, Iowa, Minneapolis, Minn., or many other places across the country.
- Four years of college. The cost to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst for an out-of-state student is $47,000, so you’d pay less to send your child there for four years than you would to show your dog at Westminster.
- A 2020 Lamborghini Huracán EVO.
And, if you don’t want the expense of showing your dog, you could buy 25 Löwchens, and you and your beautiful bundles of fluff could watch the Westminster Dog Show on TV instead.
Keep reading to see the most and least expensive cities to own a pet.
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