Dogs are fun, but also expensive and impact your required wealth for F.I.R.E. Is the K9 experience worth it?
The K9 Experience
Dogs have a special place in the CF Household. Mrs. CF grew up with dogs, and so did Mr. CF in the later stages of living at home with his parents. In the mean time Team CF has had dog(s) for several years (our own and many fosters), but unfortunately had to give up our beloved family member when emigrating back to the Netherlands. This ended up being one of the hardest decisions regarding our return to Europe. But the decision was the right thing to do, when primarily keeping the welfare of our dog in mind. She was an older dog and various experts we spoke all recommended against a 10-12 hour transit time and associated stress.
Now that we have purchased our own home and are planning to be in one location for a bit more than just one year, the dog ownership came back into the picture again. But because we moved, we have no idea of the costs of dog ownership in the Netherlands (those of you who do, please drop us a line!). Furthermore, we gave all our dog related materials away to the new owner of our previous K9 (both for comfort for the dog as well as to reduce the amount of stuff we had to transport to Europe), so we are starting from scratch.
So what are we looking for? Well, we fell in love with the greyhound breed because these dogs conform to our “wish-list”, which is as follows:
- Large breed (~25-30kg and up)
- Laid back (the dog need to match our own lifestyle)
- Low maintenance (we don’t mind the occasion grooming/dog wash)
- Limited to no shedding (preferably short-haired, see the low maintenance note above)
- Healthy (greyhounds are generally a very healthy breed)
Initial expenses will be about (based on some internet searches):
- The dog: ~€200 (we will be adopting)
- Dog beds (two, one for each floor of the house): ~€40 each (will need the Large/XL sized beds). But we may be able to get this for free, as we have an old mantras that can be made into two dog beds
- Leash, collar and muzzle: €30 (but is often free with adoption)
- Brush: €10
- Food/drink bowls: € 20 (these need to be raised, but for that we will built something ourselves for that)
- Nail clippers: €10
Total costs: ~€300 (without freebies, may vary depending on adoption fees). Not included is castration/sterilization (€150-200) and/or chipping (€90), as these are assumed to have been completed at the shelter/by the adoption agency. It is important to ask what has been done before completing the adoption, obviously.
Ongoing (yearly) expenses are about:
- Dog food: ~€400 (based on a 30 kg dog @ 300g/day, with ~€3,5/kg high quality dry dog food)
- Snacks: ~€240 (based on 30 bags @ €8 each, the selected meat sticks are also great to keep the dogs teeth and gums healthy)
- Dog Tax: ~€75 (Second dog is ~€90, this can be much more expensive depending on where you live)
- Yearly vet check, vaccinations and de-worming: ~€250 (this is a rough estimate)
- Toys: €10-20 (these usually get destroyed on a yearly basis)
- Dog insurance: €300 (optional, but in our experience with the breed can be very useful, they can be very clumsy….)
Total yearly costs: ~€1.000 and with insurance: ~€1.300. Costs can obviously be a lot higher if there is any form of medical attention required.
And now the FI view on this of course!
The initial costs are manageable and will be assumed as a temporary reduction in saving rate (the lost opportunity costs are minimal at around €20) , but the yearly expenses are a different game. Based on the 4% rule, and the option with insurance to protect your wealth, you would need an additional €32.500 to maintain one dog! Double that if you take two. That makes for a very expensive K9 companion (i.e. we would have to work half a year beyond our planned date to be able to afford one dog or a whole year for two). That being said, the plus is that you always have a friendly face and warm welcome waiting for you behind the front door.
But wait, did you guys not note earlier that a small lightweight fun sports car was about €37.750? So, you guys are saying that a large dog is only marginally cheaper than a small sports car? And with two dog, you can beter get a sports car? If you look at the impact on FI, guess we do!
Ok, guess you did not see this one coming. But what about the environmental impact of your K9? After watching the “Cowspiracy” a while back, it got us thinking. Our hypothetical dog would eat about 300 grams of dry dog food per day, about 1/3 of that is animal product (the rest is filler/corn/wheat, which your dog would not normally eat….but this is a whole other discussion).
So let’s assume our hypothetical dog consumes 100g of cow meat per day (we are assuming high quality dog food here). In order to produces this amount of meat, on a yearly basis, it would need/produce (based on the “Facts” in the above documentary):
- ~750m3 of clean water (wow, that is 15-18 times our yearly water use…)
- ~1100-2500m2 of farm land (based on 61% usable meat from a 450kg cow)
- ~800-1000kg equivalent of CO2 (this equates to 8.000-10.000 km with our car, and we only drive about that much per year at the moment)
Maybe we should get a gold fish instead….