The Cost of Pet Ownership: Dogs v Goats
Logo of Wild Haven Farm

Written by: George Sawyer

Published: 27 February 2024


So what’s the difference between the cost of caring for a dog vs. a goat? I’m always surprised when people express sticker shock at the cost of a well-raised, registered goat. Somehow because it’s a goat it should be cheap? I often hear comparisons to the $25 goats they can find on Facebook. I was curious, for my own enlightenment, to compare the average cost of dog ownership with what I know of the costs of goat ownership. My source for the average cost of dog ownership is an article on the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the costs posted on the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota. I thought we’d look at the big four costs and exclude things like kennels/fencing, pretty collars and leashes, and toys.

Adoption Fees

Let’s start with adoption fees. AKC says that the average purchase/adoption fee is $646 which seems a reasonable average and the Animal Humane Society has an adoption fee of $450. Our goats range from $250 to $500. So the initial cost is in the same ball park.


Food, of course is the big on-going expense. AKC gives the average annual dog food bill as $446. That can vary a lot depending on the quality and quantity of food you give your dog. For goats, the calculations are pretty simple. Plan on 4% of the goats body weight per day in hay. There will often be a big difference buying organic vs non-organic hay and most goat folks will choose non-organic. I calculated the cost of a 50 lbs goat on organic hay at around $106/year (about 14 bales/year at $8/bale)). Add a few dollars for a bag of good salt and some baking soda.


The AKC gives the average cost of spay/neuter at $160. Since does don’t need to be spayed, neutering (wethering) is the only consideration for the goats. The Animal Humane Society lists a reduced fee for neutering (based on income) starting at $150. Wethering is typically done at home for goat bucks but can be done by a vet. Unless you are a breeder, you will likely not be keeping intact bucks so wethering is a must.

Vet Bills

This, of course, can vary wildly for both dogs and goats. For dogs, breed differences can be a huge factor with some breeds having significant genetic weaknesses. At the very least, annual shots are required. Goats, also need to have occasional vet attention but this is usually only in emergencies or in the case of illnesses that go beyond the caretaker’s experience. In MN, goats normally only need one shot, the CDT, which is given 1-2x year and is easily administered at home without a vet. With proper habitat and food, goats are relatively maintenance free. The AKC cites the average annual vet bill for dogs at $423. I’m estimating here for goats but with a vial of CDT vaccine and needles and maybe an annual vet visit the bill might be around $q.


Taking the low numbers on the dog side and the high estimates on the goat side, keeping goats on a homestead is far less expensive than keeping a mid-size dog.

  • Goats and mid-size dogs have about the same life expectancy
  • Feed is significantly less expensive for goats
  • Goats have fewer routine vaccinations than dogs and typically require less veterinary care.
  • Goats are far less likely to attack visitors or bark all night. However, goats may eat a neighbor’s azaleas.

Given the relatively low total cost of ownership, a $300-500 investment in a quality, well-bred heritage goat compared to ~$450+ for a dog at the Humane Society is a pretty good deal.

You May Also Like…

Livestock Guardian Dog Grant – 2024

Livestock Guardian Dog Grant – 2024

Wild Haven Farm announces that we are opening applications for our Livestock Guardian Dog grant. We will be granting one pup to a farm for use as a working LGD.

Watermarks and Why We Use Them

Watermarks and Why We Use Them

We’ve been asked about the watermarks on our photos and videos so I thought I’d share why we do it. It protects our brand and helps reduce scams. We provide a few tips for how to stay safe buying livestock online.

What is a Backyard Flock?

What is a Backyard Flock?

News reports about avian flu seem to always point a negative finger at backyard flocks as the most frequent source. The layperson has a very different understanding of backyard flock than the USDA does.

Privacy Policy Cookie Policy Skip to content