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Cash Clash

He'd love a pug, she thinks costs outweigh cuteness Add to ...

George, 64, and Hannah, 61, Montreal

These two filmmakers are thinking about getting a second pooch, and he's got his heart set on a pug. But she's not sold - yes, those smoosh-faced, snorting creatures are adorable, but they've got a reputation for costly health problems. Can we break up this dog fight before someone gets bitten?

He said: Pug-a-lug

I'll be honest, I fell in love with pugs because of YouTube - I saw this video of a pug going berserk over a morsel of pizza, and I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Those bug eyes, those curly tails - who could resist them? They're such characters, as anyone who has a pug can attest. A friend of ours has two, and she's completely besotted with them, despite the costs. Our greyhound, Lola, likes other dogs, but she's getting on in years. Maybe it sounds selfish, but I don't want to be left without a companion for walks. We're thinking of some day selling our house and moving to a condo, so a smaller dog would be a good fit.

She said: No doggone way

I don't want to rain on his pug parade, but I think falling in love with this breed - as adorable as it is - would be a financial disaster. I did some research and found out they're genetically susceptible to eye problems, breathing problems, joint problems, heat stroke and even seizures. An emergency vet visit could easily cost $1,000 a pop. With Lola getting older, having two dogs with expensive health issues could push us to the breaking point. I know there's no guarantee with any dog, but we should think about a less costly breed. Or if we must have a pug, maybe we should wait until poor Lola lives out her golden years.

Vital Stats

Years married: 30

Annual household income: $80,000 (mostly hers, he's semi-retired)

Current dog food costs for Lola: $1,200 a year

Dog walker: $3,600 a year

Vet costs: $800 last year (for vaccines, dental cleaning, grooming and medications)

Financial expert Kelley Keehn's Advice: Cute won't cut it

I think there are two issues here: First, should you bring a new dog into your family right now? And second, is it worth the cost of doing so?

Let's start with the latter.

There's no guarantee that a dog, regardless of breed, will be problem-free. But I agree with Hannah that getting a pug mainly for the cuteness factor, when you know the potential health issues, could be a costly error. (I'm thinking of all those poor Dalmatians after the Disney movie popularized the dogs.) It's true, you can't put a price tag on the love of a pet. Certainly, in the case of Lola, she's a member of the family and a worthy investment. But heed the advice of www.pugvillage.com, which estimates that the average veterinary cost over a pug's lifetime to be between $5,020 to $6,895.

As to whether you should bring another dog into your home now, I don't think it's selfish at all, George. However, here are a few things to consider:

1. Have you done enough research? For example, small breeds such as bichon frises or poodles have fewer lifetime ailments.

2. Do you need a more active dog? You mentioned you like to walk and having a dog is a great excuse for taking a stroll. But pugs generally get enough exercise indoors and owners need to be careful not to over-walk them, which exacerbates their breathing problems.

3. What are the possible positive and negative effects on Lola? Bringing in a new friend might extend her golden years. But it could also draw away much needed love and financial resources.

Ultimately, I'm concerned about Hannah's comment that any extra bills would be "financial disaster." I suggest you stick to YouTube videos and offering to babysit your friends' dogs to get your pug fix.

Kelley Keehn is the host of W Network's Burn My Mortgage. Her website is kelleykeehn.com

Are you and your partner having a cash clash? E-mail us at cashclash@globeandmail.com .

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