Taking care of a dog can cost you thousands of dollars a year just for basic vaccines, food, and supplies. But what if that was just the tip of the iceberg? What if getting the dog in the first place would already set you back a small fortune?
Depending on the type of dog you're after, you could be paying over $10,000 just to get started. Here's a breakdown of the 10 most expensive dog breeds in the world and what makes them so special, according to a dog breeder (and former American Kennel Club employee) and a number of sources around the country. Keep in mind that prices might vary depending on where you live and what kind of lineage the dog you're buying has.
10 Saluki (approximately $2,500)
The Saluki (also known as the Royal Dog of Egypt) have been companions to men since the time of the pharaohs. This was also the breed of choice for merchants traveling China's Silk Road and for ancient hunters going after hares and gazelles. For all intents and purposes, they are one of the oldest domesticated breeds of dogs that still exist today in their pure form.
Salukis are long, tall, slim dogs that somewhat resemble a long-haired greyhound. Males can reach up to 28 inches at the withers and weight up to 60 pounds. Because they are aloof and independent, Salukis might not be a good choice for first-time owners. Plus, they need lots of exercise, so be prepared to head out and move if you get one.
9 Pharaoh Hound (up to $6,500)
Despite its impressive name, the Pharaoh Hound is not an Egyptian dog breed. The national dog of Malta, the Pharaoh Hound has a lot going for him, starting with its very royal look, its athletic disposition, and its high intelligence. Plus, the Pharaoh Hound has something that makes him unique: their noses and ears can blush when they're extremely happy or excited.
Pharaoh Hounds have very short, reddish coats and paw-pads, whiskers and noses that match that tone. While they can reach a weight of up to 55 lbs., many are smaller and slimmer. Females can be as short as 21 inches high, while males can reach a height of up to 25 inches. Stubborn and independent, these dogs can be a challenge to train, but they do well in competition obedience if you manage to crack their tough exterior.
8 Tibetan Mastiff (up to $7,000)
The Tibetan Mastiff is another ancient breed and one of the largest dogs in the world. Original to Nepal and China, the Tibetan Mastiff can reach up to 160 pounds and be as tall as 33 inches. In ancient times, it was used to protect flocks and homes from leopards and wolves.
Thinking about getting one? Add the expense of obedience training as well, as Tibetan Mastiffs can be stubborn and strong-willed.
Although Tibetan Mastiffs are bred in the United States, puppies that come from purebred parents born and raised in Nepal can fetch much higher prices. In 2013, a rare red Tibetan Mastiff sold in China for a whopping $1.9 million.
7 Lowchen ($3,000 and up)
The Lowchen (which means “little lion” in German) are not particularly odd looking dogs. In fact, they look similar to Maltese and other popular toy breeds, although they grow slightly larger – up to 14 inches tall and 18 lbs. weight in the case of males.
Despite their not-so-unusual appearance, purebred Lowchen are difficult to find, with only a few hundred new puppies being registered at official kennel clubs around the world every year. Originally a companion to royalty in medieval France and Germany, Lowchen are playful, friendly dogs who love the company of people. They are companion dogs rather than work-oriented dogs, and they are their happiest around their humans, including children.
Lowchen’s officially accepted grooming style is known as a “lion cut.” Simply put, it consists of shaving the back section of the body, including the legs, part of the tail, and the hips. The rest of the body retains the full length of the hair.
6 Akita (approximately $4,500)
Of all the dog breeds in this list, the Akita is probably the best known -- mainly thanks to Hollywood and movies like Hachiko: A Dog’s Tale. Originally from northern Japan, the Akita breed is actually split into two strains: the Japanese Akita (or Akita Inu) and the American Akita (also known as simply Akita). Both strains can reach high prices for a puppy, but purebred Japanese Akitas often sell for higher amounts, especially outside of Japan.
Akita’s have a look, coat, and temperament similar to other Spitz breeds (which include the Siberian Husky). They are heavy dogs well adapted to cold temperatures, with a massive head and thick double coats. The Japanese Akita is slightly smaller than the American strain, but both share similar temperamental characteristics, including being highly territorial, reserved with strangers, and very protective of its human family.
Akitas are almost feline-like in their behavior, cleaning themselves fastidiously after eating. They often clean up their mates too – and you, if you happen to be in the way and in need of some grooming.
5 Samoyed ($4,000-$10,000)
The Samoyed were originally bred by the nomadic Samoyedic tribe, which lives in Siberia and are historically reindeer herders. The Samoyed dog was bred not only to help with the herding, but also as sled-pulling animals – much like Siberian Huskies and other similar breeds originating from colder climates.
While technically not that large (males reach up to 66 lbs.), the Samoyed are tough, strong and competitive. Their herding traits (which are some of the best among dogs) might be lost on city folks, but their friendly predisposition and alert expression is sure to win hearts.
Keep in mind that a bored Samoyed is usually a digging Samoyed – meaning you’d better keep him busy if you don’t want a yard full of holes. And while they do bark at strangers, they are also too friendly to make good guard dogs, so indoor living makes more sense.
Fun fact: The hair of Samoyed dogs has hypoallergenic properties. In some areas of the world, shed hair is collected and used as an alternative to wool to knit gloves and scarves.
4 Peruvian Inca Orchid (up to $3,000)
The Peruvian Inca Orchid is perhaps one of the world's oddest-looking dogs. Completely hairless except for some random hairs on the feet and the top of the head, the Peruvian Inca Orchid usually has a skin color known as “elephant grey.” Variations such as copper or chocolate brown are also possible, and the legs are sometimes mottled or covered with spots.
There are three different sizes of Peruvian Inca Orchid, varying from a tiny nine pounds to a large 55 lbs.
While a hairless dog might seem like a great thing (goodbye expensive visits to the groomers), the naked skin actually needs lots of special care. Why? Because without hair to protect it, the skin is more prone to clogged pored, dryness, and sunburn. Plus, this is not a great breed choice for colder climates for obvious reasons, although you might get away with owning one if you’re willing to keep him indoors and invest on some well-insulated doggie coats.
3 Azawakh ($3,000 and up)
The Azawakh is one of very few African breeds available for purchase in the United States and Canada. Azawakhs were originally bred by a number of nomad tribes as both a guard dog and a hunting dog. Because this breed can reach speeds of up to 40 mph (faster than greyhounds), it was used primarily to hunt very fast animals such as hares and gazelles. Azawakhs are also very brave dogs and will chase off predators of any size to protect their pack, of which humans are usually considered a part.
The Azawakh is unusually lean and tall, reaching up to 29 inches to the shoulder. Their muscle composition and skin structure make it possible for their bones to show clearly, even in well-fed animals. Usually a brown or sandy color, the breed is quite active and needs lots of exercise and a loving owner in order to be truly happy.
2 Rottweiler (up to $6,000)
Rottweilers were originally bred as pulling dogs. In fact, until the 19th century, they were used primarily to pull carts to the market – especially butcher carts carrying heavy loads of meat. Hence their nickname "Rottweil butchers' dogs.” The breed was also used for herding and as a stock protection dog.
Strong, full of endurance, and highly intelligent, Rottweilers can reach weights of up to 132 lbs. They are fearless dogs that will protect their owners against anything and anybody. They are also very protective of their territory, so they need to be socialized from an early age to avoid dangerous behavior.
While Rottweilers have gained a reputation as violent and aggressive (mainly thanks to Hollywood and anecdotal evidence), the breed can be trained to become a great family pet. They are, however, very strong, so they need to be managed properly to avoid causing damage – even if it’s just by accident.
1 Czechoslovakian Vlcak (unknown $$)
The first thing you should know about the Czechoslovakian Vlcak is that getting one will probably require a flight to the Czech Republic. The breed is fairly unknown outside of its native land, where it has only existed since 1955. Also known as the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, the breed was created by mixing Carpathian wolves with purebred German Shepherds.
The result? A dog that looks very much like a wolf, with a lively, courageous, and very active personality. Just like wolves, this breed is very social and thrives in packs -- either in the form of human families or the companionship of other animals. Although it has a hunting instinct, early socialization can help the Czechoslovakian Vlcak learn to live alongside other animals, including small mammals that would normally be seen as prey.
Czechoslovakian Vlcaks are experts at body language communication and rarely bark.