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The 15 Cheapest Dog Breeds for Budget-Conscious Pet Lovers

The cheapest dog breeds happen to be some of the cutest pups around. Which will you bring home?

Close-Up Of Dalmatian Sticking Out Tongue At Home
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The price of puppy love

The most expensive dogs can fetch thousands of dollars, a major bummer for anyone whose wallet is looking a little lean. If that sounds like you, we’ve got some good news: Not all purebred dogs are pricey. The sweet pups on our list will generally cost you less from a breeder, and you can save even more by adopting from shelters or breed-specific programs such as the National Greyhound Adoption Program. That’s why we’ve crowned them the cheapest dog breeds around.

Of course, the actual cost of owning a dog—an estimated $8,000 to $11,500 annually—goes beyond the initial purchase. There are the inevitable expenses of food, vet care, chew toys, and possibly grooming, training, daycare, pet sitting, and dog walking. What is the cheapest dog? Well, costs vary, but there are some points to consider: Big dogs have big appetites, so they cost a lot to feed. Long-haired dogs might need to be groomed more often. And certain breeds are predisposed to health conditions that up the necessity (and cost) of vet care.

The pooches that made our list are considered the cheapest dog breeds around because their monthly expenses are lower. The low-maintenance dog breeds that made the cut include everything from toy dog breeds to medium dog breeds. But let’s get one thing clear: “Cheap” merely defines the price tag. These popular dog breeds are hardly stingy with their love and affection.

chihuahua Standing Atop Wooden Fence
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1. Chihuahua

These tiny dogs measure only six to nine inches tall and weigh between three and six pounds, but that means they (and other small pups) are among the longest-living dog breeds, often living up to 16 years. Nearly two decades of snuggles and companionship sounds wonderful—and pricey. But the Chihuahua is actually one of the cheapest dog breeds you can buy.

These pint-size pooches are overall healthy, which means you won’t be paying high veterinarian fees for years to come. And they don’t require a ton of trips to the groomer. You can choose the no-fuss short-hair variety, but even the fluffier long-haired Chihuahua only requires weekly brushing to keep its diva status in check. Need another reason to take this breed home? Chihuahuas are known for their high energy levels and watchfulness, dutifully alerting their owners when something or someone captures their attention.

Portrait of a male Manchester Terrier on a green carpet
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2. Manchester terrier

In the 19th century, this teensy pup was bred for the sport of rat killing and rabbit coursing. While the Manchester terrier maintains its hunter instincts and may still chase small animals, it’s basically just curious. The breed is famous for being gentle and über-affectionate with family, but timid with strangers.

With its smooth and sleek coat, you won’t shell out money for grooming, and its small size means you don’t have to buy gigantic bags of dog food. But you might want to pocket that savings for future veterinary care. Manchester terriers are often affected by juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy, a potentially deadly heart disease. Genetic testing is available to determine if your dog has it or is a carrier.

Beagle lying on the outdoor lounge
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3. Beagle

These perpetually cheerful and affordable pups come in two different sizes: One variety stands just under 13 inches and weighs in at 20 pounds. The other is between 13 and 15 inches tall and up to 30 pounds. Beagles were bred to hunt in packs and therefore prefer to hang out with other pets and people rather than to be left alone. They’re all about having fun and are exceptional playmates for the kiddos.

Like most short-haired dogs, beagles are low-budget when it comes to grooming costs. They get by with a weekly brushing and occasional bath. But you’ll want to check those velvety, floppy ears often and learn to clean them when necessary.

German Wirehaired Pointer
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4. German wirehaired pointer

If you love the outdoors and are looking for a dog that can adapt to various weather conditions, the German wirehaired pointer could be your new hiking buddy. This breed craves daily vigorous exercise, and its coat is weather resistant and virtually water repellent, making it not only an inexpensive pet but also a workout partner that won’t balk at bad weather.

As far as grooming goes, the cheapest dog breeds often just need a good brushing a couple of times a week. That’s the case for German wirehaired pointers, though you’ll need to give yours an occasional bath too. You probably won’t need to fork over cash for dog trainers, as this is one of the smartest dog breeds and remarkably eager to learn. That’s a good thing because a 70-pound unruly dog would be hard to handle.

Dalmatian Dog Sitting On Purple Flowers
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5. Dalmatian

Did you know Dalmatians are born entirely white? They get their trademark spots when they’re about two weeks old. Another interesting fact: The Dalmatian was built for running. As one of the fastest dog breeds, it can sprint at upwards of 37 miles per hour. They’re not running away from humans though. They are “Velcro” dogs and thrive on human companionship, though with their rambunctious energy level, they may not be suitable for families with younger children.

As far as health, they tend to be prone to urine stones, but the condition is managed by feeding them low-purine dog food. Their short and glossy coat doesn’t require clippings (hello, money savings), but they do shed a lot, so frequent brushing is a must to keep the fur from flying.

border collie outside
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6. Border collie

One of the most intelligent and adorable black-and-white dog breeds, these pooches were known as sheepdogs until 1915, when the breed standard was established and dubbed the border collie. The name refers to the breed’s origin on farms that sat on the border of England and Scotland. Full of energy, agility, and stamina, the breed’s herding skills are quite remarkable; some border collies can control sheep simply by  staring at the animals. This low-cost, medium-sized breed is hardy and healthy, with loads of energy and a sharp mind; be prepared to offer your pup plenty of stimulation in the way of puzzle toys, frequent long walks, and plenty of room to run.

Schipperke looks aside
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7. Schipperke

When word got around in the mid-1800s that Queen Marie Henriette of Belgium had a cute black dog breed, everyone wanted one of their own. After all, who can resist an adorable dog that looks like a black fox? Schipperkes’ confident and curious nature implores them to explore, so it’s essential to nail down basic obedience commands, such as “come,” early on to keep them in your sights. Yet even with their independent streaks and mischievous stunts, they are over-the-top affectionate with their full-grown humans.

Historically, they were vermin hunters, so they have a high prey drive toward small animals (or small humans who tease or play rough with them), so birds, hamsters, and reptiles may not be good roommates. What lands them among the cheapest dog breeds? They’re small, so they eat less food; their coat only needs weekly brushing, not frequent trips to the groomers; and they’re generally healthy.

cute pug portrait
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8. Pug

It’s cuteness overload with this flat-faced dog. Though we would pay top dollar for those smushed faces and adorable wrinkles, pugs are an affordable dog breed. In fact, the pug motto is “multum in parvo,” meaning a lot in a little. They were once bred and owned as prized possessions of Chinese emperors, passing the day entertaining their humans with feisty and comedic antics and reserving time for their other role: cuddly lap dogs.

While they can be a little stubborn and headstrong at times, pugs generally love to please their owners and are easy to care for. Still, those sweet little wrinkles need regular cleaning and drying to prevent skin infections, but you don’t need to pay a groomer to do this task. Before you buy, know that pugs, like other flat-faced dogs, can experience breathing problems and don’t do as well in hot and humid climates.

Pembroke Welsh corgi puppy resting in Grass
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9. Pembroke Welsh corgi

Queen Elizabeth‘s affinity for corgis is easy to understand. They’re a charming, super affectionate, and calm dog breed. The palace corgis may have an easy time of it, but their ancestors worked hard herding cattle for farmers in South Wales (despite their adorable short legs). The Pembroke Welsh corgi is quick on its feet and a fast thinker; if it’s not in the field working, it’ll need daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep its heart happy.

Typically a healthy breed, some corgis can pack on extra pounds. Overweight dogs are at a higher risk for developing diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, arthritis, and other health issues, so make sure yours gets the right food and plenty of exercise. It’ll save you money on vet bills. No fancy fur cuts are needed, but daily brushing is essential because corgis shed a fair amount.

Red dog breed Dachshund sitting on the floor next to his toy
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10. Dachshund

Instantly recognizable and perennially topping the popular dog breed list, this charming long-nosed dog breed comes in two sizes: The miniature weighs 11 pounds or less, and the standard tops out at around 35 pounds. They can sport smooth, wiry, or long-haired coats. The smooth coat is “wash and wear,” while wirehaired and long-haired coats are easy to maintain with regular brushing and occasional eyebrow and beard trims.

Regardless of which variety you choose, these iconic German dogs are famous for being bold, curious, tenacious, and a wee bit saucy. Nevertheless, they are devoted lap dogs, fun companions, and some of the cheapest dog breeds for their size. Due to their long backs, dachshunds are prone to disk problems, so a home with stairs wouldn’t be an ideal fit for this breed.

Italian Greyhound Near Books
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11. Greyhound

If you’re looking for a large dog breed that is low-maintenance and gentle, this could be the perfect low-cost breed for you, especially if you adopt a former racing greyhound. You might be surprised to learn that these lightning-fast sprinters are remarkably chill and notably graceful indoors, making them great dogs for apartment living. And at around 65 pounds and 30 inches tall, that’s a plus. They don’t require long exercise sessions. Still, it’s essential to let greyhounds stretch their legs and run a bit.

And if those qualities weren’t impressive enough, they’re also one of the dog breeds that don’t bark much. They have a low-maintenance coat and overall healthy bill of health. However, most deep-chested breeds like the greyhound are susceptible to bloat, an enlargement of the stomach, so pet parents should ask their vet about the symptoms and stay watchful.

American Foxhound in snow
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12. American foxhound

If you think the American foxhound looks a lot like a beagle, you’re right. This rare dog breed regularly confuses dog lovers. These good-natured pups are sweet-tempered and get along famously with children. They have a strong penchant for howling and baying, which your children may love to mimic along with them, but your neighbors probably won’t enjoy the daily concerts. For that reason, the American foxhound might prefer a zip code in the country.

Plus, they need a solid hour or two of exercise or they’ll get bored or depressed, then destructive. Oddly enough, once inside, they’re down to hang with the family—including other furry dog and cat siblings. Typically healthy with an easy-to-care-for coat, this hound is one of the least expensive dog breeds to own.

Dog breed English Setter
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13. English setter

At first glance, these irresistible floppy-eared dogs don’t seem low-budget. Their show-stopping long and silky coat looks pretty high maintenance. Amazingly, visits to the groomer aren’t necessary—unless you don’t brush your pup weekly. (Those flowy locks can get mangled and painful if you don’t stay on top of them.) That said, if you’re not keen on trimming the fur around the face and feet or bathing your dog at home, you’ll have to pay a groomer for that every six weeks or so.

English setters tend to be healthy, so they shouldn’t rack up vet bills. Pet parents should know they are eager eaters and can become overweight, leading to unnecessary and costly health issues. So monitor your pooch to keep it healthy. As far as companionship, this is an intensely loyal and devoted dog breed that will never leave your side.

Portrait of a cute black miniature pinscher dog snoozing on dining room chair
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14. Miniature pinscher

Are you smitten with dogs with pointy ears? This tiny pup may seem like a pint-size version of a Doberman pinscher, but the mini pinscher would quickly point out that it’s not a miniature Doberman. They are their own breed, thank you very much. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s talk about the perks of having one of the spunkiest and cheapest dog breeds.

This spirited extrovert is cocky, comedic, and always in motion. It is content to be indoors and has a keen interest in toys. They’re healthy, hardy dogs, and there’s no need to worry about grooming because they’re naturally clean and have a short coat. As with all dogs, nail trimming is necessary. Buy safe and comfortable dog clippers and start working with your dog at an early age so it can get used to the process.

Rat Terrier
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15. Rat terrier

President Theodore Roosevelt hunted with these dogs, but they’re better known for the work they did in the White House. Legend has it, these tenacious terriers got rid of the rat problem at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

You might not be looking for a rat exterminator, but you’ll find a low-budget furry friend with this breed. They are typically healthy, clever, and quick to pick up basic obedience and fun tricks, so no need to drop cash on obedience school. Plus, you’ll save money by brushing their fur at home. What you’ll love most about your pup is its desire to be a full-fledged family member. Rat terriers love children and have the enthusiasm and energy to match during playtime.


Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, Family Handyman and Taste of Home, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.