The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Dog

by Carla Simpson | 5 min read November 18th, 2020


Dogs are our best friends and show us unconditional love and companionship. However, being a dog owner is a 10 year plus commitment so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re ready to welcome a new member to your family!

We partnered with our friends at the ISPCA to create this useful guide to help you make the right decisions for you and your potential new best friend.

1. Preparation Is Key

So, you’ve decided take the plunge and bring a wet nose, waggly-tailed dog into your life. Before you get your new best friend you first need to ask yourself “Do I have what it takes to be a responsible dog owner?” You need to carefully consider whether you’ll be able to meet all of your dog’s needs throughout their lifetime.

The ISPCA always encourages you to consider adopting a rescue dog or puppy from a reputable animal rescue organisation. Rescue organisations have lots of dogs of all shapes and sizes, breeds and ages in need of a loving home. Remember to do your homework if you do decide to purchase a dog or puppy so that you avoid any pitfalls.  

Even if you are an experienced dog owner or first time owner the below questions need to be asked:

Should I get a dog poster

If you’ve answered yes to all of those questions, it could be the right time for you to become a dog owner. Skip down to find out how much owning a dog will cost.

If you’ve answered no to one or more of these questions now might not be the best time for you to own a dog. You’ll need make some changes that will turn your answers from no’s to yes’s. You are showing you will be a responsible owner by waiting.

If you would like to get hands on experience of what life would be like with a furry friend, why not pet sit for a friend or volunteer at one of the ISPCA’s rescue centres. You’ll learn lots about how to care for a dog and get to meet many different types of dogs all looking for a new and loving home.

Get in touch:

You can also check out the ISPCA’s list of member societies here, who are often looking for volunteers and have rescue dogs and puppies looking for new loving homes. 

How Much Does Owning a Dog Cost?

It can cost as much as €2,500 per year to responsibly care for your dog.

Some costs vary depending on the size and breed of your pooch.

Price list

The next step is to carefully consider which dog will suit you best.

2. Which Dog Suits You Best?

All dogs have their own unique personalities and some breeds are well known for certain characteristics. Like a child, a dog or puppy’s temperament is down to their genetic makeup, their early life experience, they are a product of their environment. You need to take into account your lifestyle and what breed of dog would fit in with it. Almost like a missing puzzle piece!

Things to consider poster

Did you know?
 All dogs are capable of becoming overweight but Labradors are particularly prone to it. Just like all mammals obesity is linked to major health issues and premature death. Labs need vigorous exercise daily and the correct food portions. When you understand the health risks and decide upon the breed that will best suit your lifestyle the next step is to decide on where to get your dog!

3. Where To Get Your Dog?

You should first look at your closest ISPCA rescue centre or other reputable animal welfare or rescue organisations. Adoption should be your first option as there are always different breeds of dogs and lots of puppies in need of a loving home.

Please do make sure to give yourself plenty of time to find the right dog for you, your family and your lifestyle.

Animal welfare quote

The ISPCA and the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group are working with all key stakeholders, as not all adverts are compliant with Animal Welfare legislation.  Puppies may have come from a puppy farm or large scale commercial dog breeder where welfare standards may not be met. All adverts for dogs (or any pet animal) must comply with the Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations 2019 and all adverts must contain the following information:

  • The registration number of the advertiser (if applicable)
  • The age and country of origin of the animal
  • For dogs, the microchip number
  • If the dog is being advertised by a rescue organisation they must include their Registered Charity Number (RCN) issued by the Charities Regulator

If any of the above information is not provided please report the advert to the online platform.

4. Meeting Your Puppy 

Have you:

  • Visited the puppy’s home? Never meet anywhere that is not the puppy’s home.
  • Met the Mother dog and seen her interact with her pups and checked that they’re happy and healthy? If the Mom seems overly anxious, nervous or ill at ease, all might not be as it seems.
  • Ensured the puppy looks healthy - Clean ears, eyes and coat?
  • Asked lots of questions and enquired about the mother’s health history?

 If you are concerned about a breeder or online advert you can report them to the ISPCA if there are signs of obvious neglect or cruelty.

If you bought a puppy online that has fallen ill soon after purchase or that has behavioural issues, please report to the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group -

4. Caring For Your Dog

Bringing your new friend home is an exciting time. Be sure to read up on how to provide the best care that you can. See our infographic below for some tips on caring for your dog. 

Dog tips poster

6. Insuring Your Dog

  • As you know by now, owning a dog can be expensive between food, treats, grooming, etc. Vet bills can also drive up the cost of owning a pet. Pet owners spend, on average, between €100-€249 on typical vet bills and €2,600 on their most expensive vet bills.
  • Procedures are much more expensive than the average vet bill, and are often unanticipated:
  • Pacemaker Insertion: €4,300
  • Cataract Surgery: €1300 - €1500 per eye
  • Spinal Surgery: €1600 - €3,000
  • Hip replacement: €3,000 to €4,000 per hip
  •  Cruciate surgery: €1,500 - €2,300 per leg
  • MRI Scans: €1500.00 - €2,200 per scan depending on how many parts of the body are scanned
  • CT scans: €600 - €900 per scan depending on how many parts of the body are scanned
  •  Radiotherapy for brain tumours (done in UK as there is no facility in ROI): €5,000 - €6,000
  • Chronic medical cases also cost a lot per year such as skin allergies, diabetes, arthritis, and kidney disease. These require regular prescription medicines throughout the year and frequent vet visits for check ups, blood tests, IV drips, X-rays etc.

  • Some dog owners may see insurance as an additional expense and choose not to get pet insurance. However, by not having pet insurance you are leaving yourself open to hugely expensive and unexpected veterinary bills.

  • With pet insurance from Allianz, pet owners can have some peace of mind knowing that if their pet becomes ill or injured we will be there to assist.

  • Find out more about our pet insurance here.
  • Getting a dog is the start of a beautiful and long friendship. There’s no friendship like the one between you and your dog.

  • Don’t forget, if you need any information on how to care for your dog go to or speak to your vet or animal behaviourist.

  • Most of the ISPCA’s income comes from kind donations and gifts in wills. It is only through the generosity of their supporters that they're able to continue their vital work, helping Ireland’s most vulnerable animals. To find out more, get involved or volunteer, or kindly donate, please visit
  • This guidance is for general information purposes only. Allianz accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses that may arise from any reliance upon the information contained in this guidance.
Angela Hickey
Allianz in-house vet and qualified psychotherapist.