Budgeting

Dog Adoption and Ownership in Singapore – How Much Does it Cost?

dog adoption singapore

Eugenia Liew

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People think that just because I’m a cat lady, I don’t like dogs. In actuality, I love all furkids – including cuddly canines! Dogs are by far the most popular pet in Singapore, but having a furry best friend can be really expensive.

Aside from Lassie’s price tag – either at the pet shop or dog shelter – you’ll have to consider the costs of dog food, training, grooming, vet fees, and more. If you’re seriously considering getting a dog, you need to know that slobbery kisses and wagging tails aside, dogs are a huge financial commitment.

 

Getting a dog in Singapore: Pet shop or dog shelter?

As with most things in life, when it comes to getting a dog you can choose between the overpriced option made in a cruel, unethical manner or the so-called socially responsible version.

… Just kidding (but not really).

 

Dog adoption in Singapore

I’m a huge advocate of dog adoption in Singapore, mostly because it is the more humane option. But if you’re more a dollars and cents kind of person, adoption is a lot cheaper too – so you can save not just a life, but money too. A common misconception is that you can only find mongrels at dog shelters in Singapore. It is true that there are more Singapore Specials, there are purebred dogs too. If they don’t have your preferred breed at the moment, you can always check back. You should never rush to get a dog anyway.

Dog shelter / welfare group  Adoption fees Includes
SPCA (Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals Singapore) $180 – $250 Vaccination, sterilisation, deworming, microchipping, registration, licensing
Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) $230 – $350 Vaccination, sterilisation, microchipping, 1 health checkup
Save our Street Dogs (SOSD) $300 Vaccination, sterilisation, microchipping
Causes for Animals Singapore (CAS) $70 – $250 Vaccination, sterilisation, deworming, microchipping, flea and tick treatment
Voices for Animals (VFA) $250 Administration only. Vaccination and sterilisation compulsory, at additional cost

 

SPCA

Adopting a dog from SPCA is relatively inexpensive at $180. Exceptions are: Senior dogs (above 7.5 years old, pedigree or not) at $70 and pedigree breeds (under 7.5 years old, including crosses) at $250. The great thing is that the dog will come vaccinated, sterilised, dewormed, microchipped, registered and licensed, so you’ll save on most of the upfront costs detailed in the next section.

Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD)

ASD has more mongrels than purebred dogs for adoption. As with most shelters, to encourage adoption of local cross breeds, the adoption fees are cheaper than for pedigrees. It’s $230 for males and $250 for females, and $100 more for pedigrees. ASD’s adoption package includes vaccination, sterilisation, microchipping and 1 health checkup.

Save our Street Dogs (SOSD)

Like ASD, SOSD has mostly mongrels for adoption. Adoption is slightly more expensive at $300, but it also covers most of the initial costs (vaccination, sterilisation, and microchipping).

Causes for Animals (CAS)

You can adopt a puppy from CAS at $70 – $120, depending on what initial healthcare procedures the puppy has done. However, you will need to enrol your new furkid for puppy socialisation lessons ($140 for 4 one-hour sessions). For adult dogs above 6 months old, the adoption fee is $250.

Voices for Animals (VFA)

If you want a purebred dog, VFA is your best bet. The group rescues ex-breeding dogs from farms, which is why they have so many purebred dogs. Because these poor dogs were once in puppy mills, they’re mostly over 5 years old. Adoption is a flat $250 for all dogs, and you will need to pay for vaccination, sterilisation, deworming, registration and licensing on your own. It is the most expensive, but know this: VFA is a no-kill shelter, so the $250 you’re paying goes towards maintaining VFA’s operations and helping other dogs.

There are various other animal welfare groups with dogs up for adoption, so visit as many as you can and take your time to choose.

 

Buying a dog in Singapore

On the other hand, if you have your heart set on owning a dog that can rival Lassie on the big screen, be prepared to shell out at least $1,000 to as much as $8,000+ for designer breeds. In addition, you’ll also have to pay for your own vaccinations, microchipping and so on.

The unfortunate truth is that many pet shops and dog farms are unscrupulous and have unethical breeding practices. Save for pedigree dogs with show lineage, it’s almost impossible to trace the puppy’s family tree to find out if they’re from reputable breeders. Not only is unethical breeding inhumane, it also usually translates to a slew of costly health problems for your dog.

Purebred dogs are known to have more breed-related health conditions than mongrels, which are generally quite hardy dogs. For instance, pugs are bred to have super cute flat faces, but this trait makes them especially susceptible to respiratory and eye problems. Golden retrievers may look tough, but they’re prone to hip and elbow dysplasia and other bone conditions. The list goes on, but you get the drift.

Oh, and I don’t ever recommend searching for dogs (or any other pet, for that matter) on marketplaces like Carousell and Gumtree. You’ll find many people putting their pets for adoption, but if you see a $2,000 purebred puppy for ‘adoption’, it probably wasn’t an accident. Backyard breeding – the practice of breeding pet dogs for sale – is illegal in Singapore!

 

Costs of seeing the vet in Singapore

When you bring Rover or Fido home, the first place you’ll have to take him is neither Sentosa nor the Botanic Gardens but the vet’s office. Basic consultation can cost from $20 to over $60 per visit, but this excludes medication and other procedures.

As mentioned, most adoption packages include the initial procedures of vaccination, sterilisation, and microchipping, but if you have to fork out for it on your own, here are the average charges:

Procedure Average cost
Vaccination $25 – $50
Deworming $50 – $100

Recommended every 3 months  

Sterilisation $150 – $400

Usually costs more for female dogs

Microchipping $50 – $80
Licensing* $15 – $90 per year

Differs for puppies, sterilised and non-sterilised dogs

* Compulsory according to the AVA, although many pet owners in Singapore don’t get their dogs licensed. If you get found out you’ll be fined, so beware.

There are some recurring costs you’ll have to take note of. These include vaccinations (every 1 – 3 years), deworming (recommended every 3 months), licensing (every year) and regular health checkups (recommended every year).

Cost of dog food in Singapore

The vet fees are pretty overwhelming, huh? Wait till you see the price of dog food in Singapore. Choosing premium diets and brands can set you back hundreds per month. And remember, the bigger your dog, the more it eats. When it comes to food, small dogs are definitely cheaper to own.

There are several types of diets for dogs:

Type of dog food Description Price range
Dry kibble Dry dog “biscuit” type of food

Widely available at supermarkets and pet shops

$ – $$
Wet canned food Dog meals in individual cans

Usually meat, grains, and gravy

Widely available at supermarkets and pet shops

$$ – $$$
Freeze-dried raw Pure meat diet

Freeze-dried for convenience

Available at pet shops only

$$$
Home-cooked Home-cooked diet with customisable proportions of meats, grains, etc

Usually lacks essential vitamins and nutrients that are supplemented in commercial dog food

Varies

In general, kibble is the cheapest kind of dog food in Singapore. You can find super cheap brands at supermarkets (like Pedigree, Purina, Cesar), but at under $10 per pack, these are like the McDonald’s of the canine world – junk food. They’re mostly flavouring and grains, which aren’t the healthiest for your furkid. If you shop at pet stores like Pet Lovers Centre – the biggest chain in Singapore – there are high-end kibble brands like Wellness and Addiction that sell for around $200 for the largest pack (10kg and up). These are typically grain-free, are supplemented with essential vitamins and nutrients, and claim to provide a balanced diet. Kibble is great for maintaining your dog’s dental health too.

The next most common type of dog food is wet canned food. Wet food keeps your dog more hydrated, and usually contains more meat than kibble. They are sold in individual cans, costing around $2.50 – $4+ per can (around 400g). That’s an average 1 serving for big dogs, and 2 for small to medium breeds. If you feed your dog 1 – 2 cans a day, that’s about $75 – $240 per month. You can find $0.80 wet food pouches at Fairprice, but again, these brands are not nutritionally ideal. Feeding a wet food-exclusive diet is not recommended, as you will miss out on the dental benefits of kibble. As such, most people give a mixed diet of kibbles and canned food so that it’s relatively healthy and affordable.

Freeze-dried dog food is the most expensive of the lot, and mostly because the process of freeze-drying is costly. Freeze-drying preserves all the nutrients and benefits of raw meat, without the bloody mess (and potential bacteria). Most commercial freeze-dried diets are supplemented with vitamins and nutrients for a balanced diet too. One of the most popular brands is K9 Natural, which costs over $70 for a 500g bag. If you mix it with canned food or kibble and feed it daily, it’ll probably last you only about a month or so.

Lastly, you can choose to home-cook your dog’s meals. It takes a lot of effort to research the nutritional needs of your dog, so it is not recommended. Do note that if you’re home-cooking, you’ll need to supplement the vitamins and nutrients that cooked food cannot provide.

 

Other costs of owning a dog in Singapore

The above are just the bare necessities in order to keep your pooch up and running. But what’s the fun in having a pet if you can’t dye its fur pink and dress it up like a princess, right? Just kidding, but seriously, there are numerous additional activities you might want your pet to participate in that will cost you quite a bit, like:

Dog training

Training your new best friend is less about high-fives and more about ensuring good recall and obedience. Party tricks will impress your Instagram followers, but having Fido run back to you at times of emergency is more important. Basic dog obedience courses cost an average of $600 – $1,000+. There are usually options for the more affordable group lessons, and more exclusive 1-to-1 sessions.

Dog grooming

In the Singapore heat and humidity, you should bathe your dog once every 1 to 2 weeks. Because this is more often than other countries with colder, drier climates, you should use a gentler, soap-free dog shampoo ($15 – $25 per 500ml bottle) that’s easier on your dog’s skin. You also need to have your dog’s fur and nails trimmed and anal glands expressed.

If you don’t know how to do this on your own and need a professional (most new dog owners do), basic grooming will cost around $40 to $70 for small dogs and $90 to $200 for big dogs. Basic grooming usually includes bathing, conditioning, and brushing, nail clipping and filing, ear cleaning and grooming, clearing of anal glands, and fur trimming around the paws, legs, and belly. Full grooming typically costs 10% to 20% more to include fur styling.

Dog boarding

If you’re going overseas and have family and friends who can help dog-sit, great! But if not, you may need to have your furry buddy checked into a dog hotel. Dog hotels can cost from $30 to $70+ per night, depending on whether you choose a general area or private room. Popular dog boarding hotels include Dear Mutt, Sunny Heights, and the Wagington. If you don’t mind letting a stranger into your home you can consider hiring dog-sitters through PawShake – you can also search for doggy daycares and dog walkers on the platform.

Dog cafes

You wouldn’t like to be cooped up at home all day, would you? It would be great to bring Fido out for some fresh air every now and then! Aside from free places like dog parks and beaches, there are many dog-friendly cafes in Singapore like Happenstance, Sunray Cafe, Casa Verde, Canopy Dining and Bar, and Ah B Cafe. They’re mostly in the cafe-restaurant range, so prices are usually upwards of $15 per pax.

Miscellaneous dog accessories

Don’t forget the other dog accessories you’ll need:

  • Food bowls ($10 and $30+)
  • Water fountains ($50 – $100+)
  • Dog bed ($30 – $100+)
  • Collar ($1 – $25)
  • Harness ($7 – $30)
  • Leash ($5 – $25)
  • Dog toys ($3 – $40+)

 

Where to shop for dog stuff in Singapore

There are several pet shops in Singapore, the biggest chain being Pet Lovers Centre (PLC). PLC is available at most shopping malls and is probably the most convenient if you need to do an urgent pet food run. However, their prices are also higher than many other pet shops, especially the neighbourhood ones.

Serangoon North is known for having a row of neighbourhood pet shops, and many owners go there to stock up on cheap supplies. Another affordable pet store is PolyPet at Sunset Way – prices are 10% to 30% cheaper than at PLC, and you can check their online catalogue here.

 

Are you still planning to welcome a furry addition to the family? Let us know in the comments!

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Eugenia Liew

I’m a 90s millennial who’s starting to realise that #adulting is more expensive than it seems on Instagram. When I’m not writing for MoneySmart, I’m usually playing with drain-dwelling stray cats or shopping at Sephora.