How Much Does Registering a Dog Cost?

Written by: Staff

Registering a dog is the process of obtaining papers for pet owners which serve as documentation that they are the rightful owner of the dog.   Failing to license your dog can hinder your chances of getting it back if you were to lose it.  In most cities, it’s the law, and if you were caught without a license, then you could be paying fines that could be much more than the initial registration fees.

The price comes down to where you live since most local cities require that dog owners register with the local government.

Angie by blumenbiene, on Flickr
Angie” (CC BY 2.0) by blumenbiene

How much does registering a dog cost?

On average, registering a dog can cost anywhere from $9 to $50 depending on your geographical location; however, most cities, from what we saw with our research, are within the $10 to $20 range as long as the dog is spayed/neutered.  We went ahead and researched some of the most popular counties/cities and listed the prices for registering a dog below.

CityRegistration Fees (per year)
Calhoun County, MI$18 (sexed) or $8 (unsexed)
Chesapeake, VA$4 (spayed/neutered) or $10 (non-spayed/neutered)
Clackamas County, OR$24 (spayed/neutered) or $41 (non-spayed/neutered)
Colorado Springs, CO$15 (spayed/neutered) or $30 (non-spayed/neutered)
Lincoln, NE$21 (spayed/neutered) or $52 (non-spayed/neutered)
Louisville, KY$10 (spayed/neutered) or $60 (non-spayed/neutered)
Manchester, NH$7 (altered) or $10 (unaltered)
Miami-Dade County, FL$27 (sterilized) or $55 (not sterilized)
Minneapolis, MN$25 (spayed/neutered) or $75 (non-spayed/neutered)
Nassau County, NY$10 (altered) or $18 (unaltered)
Orange County, California- $27 (altered) or $100 (unaltered)
- Discounts are available for Lake Forest residents and those who are older than 65 years old.
Pima County, AZ$17 (altered) or $62 (unaltered)
Riverside, California$16 (altered) or $100 (unaltered)
San Bernardino, CA$24 (altered) or $96 (unaltered)
Winnebago County, IL$25 (altered) or $40 (unaltered)
York County, PA$6.50 (altered) or $8.50 (unaltered)

Registering a dog overview

When licensed, your dog will receive a small tag that needs to be worn around its collar.  That way, if your dog were to get lost, you would have a much better chance of finding your dog if it ended up at a local pound or shelter because of the identification number that’s on the tag.

To get your dog licensed, simply head to your local county licensing department.  To find your local licensing department, simply search for something along the lines of “your city + dog registration” to see where you have to go.  Worst case scenario, you can always call your local government office to get more information.  In some cities, your animal can also be registered at approved shelters, vet offices and the Humane Society.

What are the extra costs?

This license needs to be renewed at least once per year depending on the state law that governs it.  Most of the time, these fees can be renewed by having a credit card on file.

Local city boards may charge more for a dog that is un-neutered or un-spayed.  For example, in Sacramento, an unaltered dog will cost $50 per year, while an altered dog would cost $15 per year.

Failing to register your dog, as explained above, could lead to hefty fines if your local government were to find out about it.  These fines, according to Cesar’s Way, could be up to $250.  In addition to this, some cities consider owning a dog without a license a class IV misdemeanor.

Before you’re able to get your dog licensed, you will not be able to do it until you have proven your dog is up to date with its vaccination.   If your dog isn’t up to date, then you will need to factor in these vaccinations at the local vet’s office.

If you were to move from one city to another, then you would have to re-license your dog once again.

Late fees may apply if you don’t meet the city’s deadlines.  Sometimes, a city may require you renew by a certain period.

Tips to know:

Check with your local city as some cities are going to have restrictions on how many dogs you can register.  On average, most cities may only allow up to three dogs per household.

Before a registration is administered, a health record may be needed.  If your animal is not up to date with its shots, consider getting this done before registration.

How can I save money?

If you would just like to have your dog registered, you can visit the nearest local registering office provided by the government rather than have your dog registered through a private organization as they tend to be more expensive due to the exclusivity of the membership.

Local cities can offer discounts to those that are over a certain age or meet certain income requirements.

In some cities, service dogs can be registered for free.

Some states offer a “lifetime” license, which allows you to pay a one-time fee, and oftentimes, this could save you quite a bit of money if you were to go this route.  Some counties may even allow you to pay two, three or four years at a time, helping you save close to 30 percent or more.

Those who breed may be able to apply for a “kennel license,” a license that allows you to apply a license to a certain amount of animals each year.

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