Can You Afford a Mastiff?
If you are considering bringing a Mastiff into your home, your first question is likely, “How much does a Mastiff cost?” You may be enamored by the size and allure of this giant guardian, but can you afford to raise and care for an English Mastiff for 8+ years?
As the second post in our series on the Mastiff, that is the question I seek to answer for you today.
With real-world data and hard numbers, I will share with you exactly how much an English Mastiff costs per year.
In this post (and video) you will learn:
- The prices of English Mastiff puppies according to breeders and owners,
- The cost of veterinary care for a typical adult Mastiff (and an atypical one),
- How much it costs to feed a Mastiff,
- Whether size makes a difference when it comes to the miscellaneous costs of Mastiff ownership, and
- 5 tips on how to save money if you have a Mastiff
And if you learn nothing else from this post, I will share with you at the end the single MOST important thing you need to do if you are considering bringing a Mastiff into your family.
**This post contains affiliate links from which I may receive a small compensation. There is NO ADDED COST to you should you use these links.
English Mastiff Price – Real World Market Research Data
In order to provide you the most up-to-date data on Mastiff price, I surveyed the Big Dog Mom Community of Mastiff breeders and owners.
According to 55 Mastiff owners and 34 Mastiff breeders, the purchase price of a Mastiff is dependent on whether you are wanting a show prospect puppy or a pet.
Keep in mind, I am not including in this analysis the cost of a Mastiff if you go through a rescue.
The topic of Mastiff rescue was addressed in Mastiff 101: What is An English Mastiff [And Why It Matters], so these data are exclusive to the purchase price from a reputable, preservation dog breeder.
As you can see from the charts, the average price for a show prospect Mastiff puppy is $3,000. While the average price for a Mastiff puppy sold on a limited registration (a pet) is $2,250.
This is according to Mastiff breeders.
The average Mastiff price is slightly lower according to dog owners at $2,070. Purchase prices ranged from $500 to $4,000.
Keep in mind that most breeders will require a deposit to hold your puppy, but usually this deposit will be subtracted from the total price when the final payment is made at the time of pick up.
According to the Mastiff breeders in my survey, 37% require a non-refundable deposit to hold a puppy, while 63% said their deposits are refundable. This means that if, for some reason, you decide against getting one of their puppies, the deposit will be returned.
Deposit amounts ranged from $250 to $500 with the average right around $400.
As a personal aside, I feel compelled to address the ethics behind non-refundable deposits.
While I certainly understand breeders who feel they must require permanent “skin in the game” for their puppies, I see no valid reason to make these deposits non-refundable.
There are a myriad of reasons a family might back out of getting a puppy, or a particular puppy, and the last thing any of us wants or needs is a puppy placed in a family not ready for the responsibility, moving forward purely out of obligation and a desire to not have “wasted” $500.
If the deposit is refundable, everyone wins. The puppy is placed in a better home and the unfit or unprepared buyer moves on.
No harm, no foul.
Most great dog breeders I know prioritize the health and welfare of their puppies over any potential profit they might make in deposits.
All of this said, I am not a breeder, so perhaps there is an element of this discussion I am missing. Please let me know in the comments if you do require non-refundable deposits for your puppies and why.
Let’s move on.
Veterinary Healthcare Costs for a Mastiff
Despite how many times I’m asked how much my Mastiffs eat or poop, the one question I’m never asked is, “What is the cost of veterinary care for a Mastiff?”
Veterinary medicine isn’t sexy, but it is expensive.
Healthcare expenses for a Mastiff, even a healthy one, dwarf that of most other breeds of dog.
To give you some concrete numbers for this category, I pulled every veterinary invoice I saved from the last five years with Junior and Sulley. While I know I shredded a few in the last five years, this data will provide a conservative estimate of the overall cost of healthcare for a Mastiff.
A few things to keep in mind:
- These numbers do not include everything. I was unable to find a few invoices of major procedures so I’m providing estimates for those where indicated.
- I do NOT have pet insurance. More on that in a minute.
- Both Junior and Sulley were purchased from fantastic reputable preservation Mastiff breeders. I spent the better part of two years researching and waiting for both of them and have zero regrets about buying them. That said, you will see the harsh reality of Mastiff ownership.
- The data shared here are for two of the last five years. I am including just 2019 and 2020 to coincide with the data I’m sharing for food costs. I am hoping this will make calculating the annual cost for food and healthcare easier for you.
- These expenses do NOT include prescription medications.
Ok, let’s dive in.
Veterinary Expenses for 2019 and 2020
Veterinary costs for Junior in 2019 came in just under $3,000 and $280 for Sulley. In 2020, Junior’s veterinary expenses fell to a little over $1,000 while Sulley’s increased to $569.
I noted on the graph below that both dogs underwent more than one major procedure in the last five years.
So while you might look at the expenses for Sulley, who is a very healthy Mastiff overall, and think he is super cheap, keep in mind that his neuter in 2016 cost 4 times as much as a normal neuter because he was born cryptorchid (retained testicle).
Also not included for Sulley was his tooth extraction this year that cost $755.
Additionally, Junior was diagnosed with Wobbler Syndrome in 2018. Initial visits to the vet for unexplained neck pain resulted in an MRI at the local Veterinary Neurological Center. This was the most expensive procedure we’ve encountered to date at $3,323 for the visit (MRI + Xrays + Exam).
Also in 2018, Junior tested positive for Valley Fever, an endemic fungal infection in Arizona. The medications for treating Valley Fever, fluconazole and itraconazole, are obscenely expensive.
Thankfully, I used some of the tips I shared in How to Save Money on Pet Medications for Big Dogs  and was able to get his meds down to about $150/month for about 6 months.
And finally, in 2020, after what presented like an acute knee injury while out playing, Junior was diagnosed with bi-lateral hip dysplasia. This cost $545 for the Xrays and exam.
So, why do I share all of this?
Because if you are considering buying a Mastiff, you need to know. The health and welfare of your Mastiff is your financial responsibility – from the moment you pick up your puppy until he takes his last breath as a senior dog.
If you feel like any of this would cause major financial hardship on you or your family, you are NOT ready to bring a Mastiff home.
That said, here are a few caveats to the data I just shared.
First, some of our expenses were related to our location in Arizona. Both Valley Fever and the thorn in Junior’s toe were more or less caused by the nature of our geography.
Secondly, we lived in Scottsdale where prices are unnecessarily high for the service you get. That is not to say I didn’t like my vet(s) there, but I do feel for most things we were overcharged. My advice is to shop around and be willing to drive to a great vet who can help you keep veterinary expenses down.
And lastly, some might see these expenses and immediately point the blame at Junior’s and Sulley’s breeders (or me for that matter).
God blessed me with these two boys for a reason. With all of their faults and quirks, they fit right in here with their imperfect Big Dog Mom.
Dog Food Costs – How Much Does It Cost to Feed a Mastiff?
One look at the giant Mastiff and the first question in most people’s mind is, “How much do you feed that dog?”
People automatically assume the bigger the dog, the more they eat.
As I explained in detail in my Life Update video, we switched Sulley and Junior from a raw diet to kibble for the year 2020. With the covid-pocalypse and moving cross country, kibble was just easier on my sanity.
However, in 2019 we fed a raw diet exclusively.
Here we go…
In 2019, the cost for feeding a raw diet to two adult Mastiffs was $1,931.57.
Therefore, the average annual cost to feed one Mastiff a raw diet is $965.79.
Commercial dog food costs in the year 2020 for two adult Mastiffs were approximately $1,680.
Cut that in half and you get the average annual cost of feeding a Mastiff a commercial dog food is $840.
Miscellaneous Costs of Mastiff Ownership
Beyond dog food and healthcare, you will want to factor in all of the other items you will need as a dog owner.
As I began to list out all of the other costs associated with being a Mastiff owner, it occurred to me one more way I can illustrate how much a Mastiff costs to raise and care for.
I asked myself, “If I were choosing between a Mastiff and French Bulldog, how much MORE would I be spending on the products needed for the giant dog?”
How Much More Do Giant Breed Dogs Cost Versus Small Dogs?
In the graph below you will see a list of a few essential items I use every day with my dogs.
I looked up each of these items on Amazon and other retailers and recorded the price for a SMALL version of the product and for an XLARGE size of the same product from the same retailer. I then calculated the percentage increase.
Don’t let the math scare you.
Percent increase simply reflects the added cost for purchasing products for a Mastiff versus a small breed dog.
For just the items I looked at, you can expect to spend 82% more for the giant breed XL size.
5 Tips for How to Save Money if You Have a Mastiff
1. Buy Dog Food in Bulk
Buying dog food in bulk will definitely save you money, especially if you are feeding a raw diet as I shared in Raw Food Diet for Dogs | Starter Guide for Beginners [ LARGE DOGS].
Here’s a quick example to illustrate how much you can save on a raw diet by buying in bulk versus smaller pre-packaged quantities.
At my current co-op you can buy a 10-pound bag of coarse ground beef for $0.80/pound. However, if you want this in more conveniently sized 1-pound packages, the price is $1.10/pound. If I’m buying, say, 60 pounds of beef, buying it in the 10-pound bag would save me almost $20!
And when it comes to feeding commercial dog food, my advice still stands.
Anytime you see a sale on your dog food, try and buy more than one if you can. Not only does this help you prepare in case of emergencies, but you will be taking advantage of the lower prices today rather than waiting for the inflated ones tomorrow.
2. Invest in Quality Products
Investing in quality products is one of my top recommendations for new Mastiff owners.
While they don’t seek to destroy like some breeds, Mastiffs just do.
They are a walking, slobbering Pig Pen – one amble and plop away from total home annihilation… if you aren’t prepared.
Trust me when I tell you to invest in quality in the beginning.
No more crappy Costco dog beds. Invest in a Big Barker!
No more Petco dog toys. As cute as they are, they were NOT made for a Mastiff! Invest in a few West Paw toys which last forever and provide years of fun and exercise for your dog.
And lastly, for the love of all things holy, no more forcing your dog to leap in and out of your SUV. Invest in a Twistep (or a dog ramp). It’s better for your dog’s bones and joints and it will last forever!
3. DIY Dog Treats
I’m just going to shoot straight with you. Commercial dog treats are crap. Save your money and avoid them altogether.
Filled with additives and preservatives and a whole bunch of other stuff you’d rather not speak of let alone feed your dog, I have found nearly all commercial dog treats to be a total waste of money.
If I am going to buy dog treats, I prefer to either purchase quality air-dried raw food like Ziwi Peak, or Raw Paws Pet Food Treats, or subscribe to a company like Real Dog Box that sends us monthly air-dried treats and chews.
In addition, I love to make my own dog treats.
If you have an oven and/or a dehydrator, DIY dog treats are super simple and can be a huge cost savings!
Read Liver Treats for Dogs: A Homemade Recipe Your Dog Will Love to learn how you can make a delicious and nutritious dog treat on a budget.
4. DIY Dog Grooming
Professional dog grooming for a Mastiff can run up to $80-$100 or more per month, so my recommendation is to learn how to groom your own dog.
Mastiffs are a short-coated breed that are easily groomed at home with a little shampoo for a bath every couple months, and a weekly nail trim, ear cleaning, and tooth brushing.
The nail trims for many Mastiff owners are the most challenging, however, it can and SHOULD be done at home in my humble opinion.
If you are interested in learning more about how to accomplish force-free and fear-free nail trims at home with your Mastiff, check out my series on dog nails here.
Dog groomers provide an essential service for many dog breeds. Mastiffs just aren’t one of them.
5. Preventive Health
The old saying is true… An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Make preventive healthcare a priority for the health of your Mastiff and for your budget.
This includes routine wellness visits to your veterinarian, maintaining a proper weight, feeding a low sugar nutritious diet, prioritizing oral hygiene, etc.
While they may cost you money up front, they will increase the life expectancy of your Mastiff and save you money in unnecessary veterinary bills in the future.
If You Do Nothing Else, DO THIS!
If you are considering a Mastiff, get pet insurance!
Pet insurance is not just for those catastrophic events, like a knee injury, or unthinkable diagnoses, like cancer or Wobbler Syndrome, no Mastiff owner wants to hear.
Most pet insurance plans out there cover a wide array of veterinary costs, from routine preventive care and diagnostic testing to prescription drugs.
I can’t tell you how many times in the last 5 years I’ve wished I had pet insurance.
Too many to count. Sigh.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you get a FREE quote from both of these companies and select the one that is best for you.
VIDEO: How Much Do Mastiffs Cost? Can You Afford One? [ANNUAL DATA & SURVEY RESULTS]
Mastiff Series: To Be Continued…
Stay tuned for the next posts in our series on the Mastiff when we will address breed hygiene … or lack thereof. We will answer the questions, “Do Mastiffs really drool THAT bad?” and, “How much do Mastiffs shed?”
Until then, what questions do you have about how much an English Mastiff costs per year?