Looking for a Westminster-worthy pet companion? You could get a Tibetan Mastiff, some of which have sold for over $1 million in China. But these pricey and rare dogs aren't the ones your neighbors might buy. They could, however, buy a Lowchen for up to $3,000 or an Akita puppy for $3,500.
With any breed you choose, puppy prices -- and availability -- vary by region. It is possible that a particular breed of puppy that has been socialized and comes from a responsible breeder is not available in your state.
To be recognized by the American Kennel Club, breeders have to be spread across at least 20 states, but responsible breeders can live anywhere. So it may be worth the travel expense -- or shipping costs -- to find a puppy who also has a three-generation health history. The AKC Marketplace is one resource to help you find a responsible breeder.
Read on to see the five of the most expensive dog breeds that are also relatively common household pets, according to AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo.
Rotties are loving, loyal, and good with children. They're happiest when given a job to do, such as herding, training and therapy work. They are natural protectors, but need training and socialization due to their size and strength.
The breed is intelligent and has great endurance. They need regular exercise: at least two solid walks or runs daily.
Eight-week old Rottweiler puppies generally have a purchase price in the $1,500 to $2,500 range. Because of training needs, expect to spend a couple hundred or more on a quality training course.
Also, expect to spend at least $300 annually on pet health insurance. The Rottweiler is the only dog on this list that was on the Nationwide Pet Insurance's list of 10 breeds with the highest insurance claims. Rottweilers are among the breeds most susceptible to hip and joint issues, according to Embrace Pet Insurance, and affected dogs can develop arthritis as they age.
But individual dogs may have a lower likelihood of health issues. Reputable breeders do health screenings and know a dog's family health history for three generations, which lets a buyer know if any serious conditions are common in a particular puppy's family.
The Lowchen is an outgoing, positive and affectionate breed. The breed is clever and comical with a happy attitude and big personality. It's also an athletic, alert and courageous little dog, at 12 to 14 inches of fearlessness.
They make great watchdogs; they also love kids and are very affectionate. Yet they are relatively rare, ranking 161st in popularity on the AKC registration list.
While they are a healthy breed overall, Lowchen have a higher risk than other dogs for eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy or cataracts.
Eight-week old puppies can cost up to $3,000.
The Samoyed is bred to work hard in bitter cold, so fetching your slippers in the snow or going snowshoeing with you is easy for them. Their white coat is very thick, which protects them from brutal weather conditions.
They are agile and tireless, but because of their energy, they need a lot of daily exercise, preferably in a fenced yard where they can run around. They are gentle and friendly.
Like many larger dogs, Samoyeds are at risk for hip dysplasia, which can cost thousands to treat, so choose carefully. About 7 percent of the breed has the condition, according to the Samoyed Club of America.
Puppies start at $1,500 and can easily top $2,500.
Akitas are large, powerful dogs. They have medium energy, needing a good daily walk or jog. They do best as an integral part of a household and they are naturally protective.
Because of their guardian instincts, they need early and extensive socialization to learn that not all strangers are threats to the family.
In addition to being at risk for hip dysplasia, like many medium or large dogs, Akitas can also develop skin conditions such as pemphigus or sebacaous adenitis. Embrace Pet Insurance also lists the breed as being at risk for some ligament and eye problems.
Eight-week old puppies generally run $1,800 to $3,500.
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is loyal and enthusiastic. Entles are an active, high-energy and physical breed, with above-average exercise requirements, so they are not a dog for the casual owner. They require at least an hour of vigorous exercise per day.
Entlebuchers do best when they have a job such as herding, agility, obedience and tracking. Although the Entlebucher loves children, his natural herding instincts can make integrating small children and a puppy a bit tricky.
Expect to spend at least $1,800 for a spayed or neutered puppy. Add several hundred dollars to the cost of first-year ownership for a basic obedience course and possibly further training if you have a small child.