How A Dog License Saves Dogs And Benefits You

It’s actually true a dog license can save your dog and other pets. You might be thinking that’s odd, my dog doesn’t even drive, why on earth does he need a license? Well, this is a different type of license. While you might not have heard of a dog license, or maybe grumbled at having to pay the fee, it’s actually a good idea. Today let’s dig into how a dog license saves dogs. 

SPOILER ALERT: It also benefits you in ways I bet you hadn’t thought about.

a happy dog knows how dog license saves pets in his area
Budget Tip:

A dog license is a great idea for your dog. You can ensure you own your down and that he or she is up to date on rabies vaccinations. Plus, you make it easier for local animal control to reunite your dog with you if separated. And if that weren’t enough, it also helps the homeless pets in your area. Additionally, some areas will let you save even more with a lifetime license, which is a HUGE savings. You can easily build a dog license fee into your dog budget or pay for it with your pet savings account. Either way, it’s a great budget winner all the way around.

First, what is a dog license?

A dog license is required in most counties and cities in the United States in order to own a dog. It certifies that your dog has a rabies vaccination. Additionally, when your dog is licensed, you’re issued a number and tag. The tag and number identifies your dog in case your pup gets separated from you. There is also some basic information you will need to provide along with the fee such as your name and contact information. It’s from this information you provide that you are contacted and reunited with your dog. 

What’s the difference between a dog license, microchip, and ID tags?

Dog License

A dog license is a fee that you pay to your city or county. It will help support animal services. Basically, it helps with homeless pets and animal control services. Thus, it helps save and support those pets in need in your area. Additionally, a dog license easily identifies your dog as being up-to-date on his or her rabies vaccine. 

NOTE: In some areas when you get your dog’s rabies vaccine, it will trigger a dog license invoice being issued. 


On the other hand, a microchip is inserted into your dog with an identifying number, which locates you. Your dog needs to be scanned to read the chip. Sometimes there’s an error and the chip isn’t detected. For instance, when I adopted my dog, Henry I was told he didn’t have a microchip. However, the next day we visited his vet and discovered he was chipped. 

ID Tag

Finally, an ID tag only gives your dog’s name and your info. But this info can become hard to read over time if not engraved. Also, if it’s not kept updated, it’s useless. And it doesn’t provide your dog’s rabies information, which can be critical at times.

Is a dog license required in all states and counties?

No. You will need to check your area to verify what’s required. Check with your local animal control. 

What are the benefits of licensing my dog?

  • Reunite you and your dog quickly often without your dog visiting the shelter, which saves you money
  • Provides proof of ownership
  • Supports lost and homeless pets and homeless animals in your community
  • Provides proof of rabies vaccination
  • You avoid fines for not registering your dog

What if I simply don’t pay my dog license fee?

This can be risky. Honestly, in some areas, you probably won’t be fined. This is simply because of the lack of registering your dog isn’t enforced. However, if your dog becomes a nuisance and you receive a visit from animal control, you might have an issue. According to a failure to pay your dog license could mean your dog is subject to becoming impounded. However, in my area, it’s generally a fine of up to $400. Of course, this is assuming your dog isn’t the subject of a “dog incident”. If there’s also a dog incident issue, then your dog could be impounded as well. 

How old does my dog need to be to get a dog license?

The age requirement will vary depending on your location. However, you can expect that somewhere between 3-8 months of age most dogs are required to be licensed. 

Do service dogs also need a dog license?

Yes, service dogs are subject to all licensing and regulations of your area

How much does it cost to get a dog license?

Again, this will vary depending on your area. In general, you can expect to pay a bit more for an unaltered dog than for a spayed or neutered dog. According to a bill put forth before the Pennsylvania legislature in 2021 Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement noted that the national average for a dog license was $10. Although I know many big city areas, where homeless pets are more of an issue, the fee is closer to $100. 

How often do I need to renew my dog’s license?

Generally, a dog license is renewed on a yearly basis. However, it can be a one-time fee. 

Is there a way to save on my dog license fee?

Some areas will offer a lifetime dog license, which is generally in the neighborhood of four times a yearly license. So, on a national average that would mean about $40. This could be a big savings, especially if you have a puppy or young dog. 

Where do I pay for my dog license?

Once again this will vary depending on your area. Some counties and cities will have all licensing collected through their licensing department. But others will leave this unique license up to animal control or their local shelter, which is how my area handles dog licenses. 

Can I pay for or renew a dog license online?

Most often yes. Just go to your county or city website and search for “dog license”. 

Is there a late fee if I don’t pay my dog license on time?

That will depend on your city or county. In most cases, while there may be a late fee, you can ask for it to be waived. However, if you do have to pay a late fee it’s always cheaper than the fine for not having a dog license in the first place. 

Is there any reason why I shouldn’t get a dog license?

If you’ve read my articles before, you know I’m a big advocate for being proactive. The idea behind a dog license is to help the homeless pets in your area while protecting your dog from undue stress. Plus, it’s easy to identify your dog with a dog license and prevents a shelter stay. While you may still be reunited with your dog if he or should go to the shelter, why stress yourself or your dog out for $10, $40, or even $100? It’s easy to get a dog license and you can build it into your dog budget

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Summary of how a dog license saves dogs and benefits you

I know you thought a dog license was a bunch of low-grade kibble at best. But there is value in a dog license. The thought of rolling the dice without a dog license is a big one. I’m not much of a gambler and when it comes to Henry, I’m not a gambler at all. So, if I can make something easier and as a side bonus help my local homeless pets, that’s a great idea. 

a cute husky mix know how a dog license saves dogs and pets

Do you have a dog license for your dog? Will you think about getting one now?


12 thoughts on “How A Dog License Saves Dogs And Benefits You”

  1. It is so important to get a dog license, which registers your dog with your city or county. I’ve always gotten dog licenses, especially when we’ve moved. It’s really important to have this proof of dog ownership and proof of rabies vaccination, as many places you bring your dog require it (grooming, boarding, pet sitting, doggie daycamp, some hotels, etc.). It’s interesting that Henry’s chip didn’t come up! Icy’s chip shifted from puppyhood to adulthood and it often takes several passes with the scanner to locate it. I think ID tags & license plus a microchip are the the best way to get reunited with your dog if lost or stolen.

    • I completely agree, Cathy! The more ways you have to reunite with your dog if ever separated the better. I’m all for ID tags, microchips, and dog licenses. They each can back up the other and each provides different protections. But all are definitely needed for your dog. Thank you for your continued support! I greatly appreciate it!

  2. Dog licensing is compulsory here in New Zealand and an owner is given an ID disc and the dog placed on the dog registration database. This is a fantastic idea as lost dogs are lost family.

    Honestly? Even if I didn’t need to I would licence a dog to help other disadvantaged pets.

    • WOW!!! Yet another thing we Americans could learn from New Zealanders. I love the way dog licenses are handled there. It sounds terrific and so easy. And you’re right, the fact that a dog license fee helps homeless pets is a great benefit. Thank you for sharing and for always being so supportive!

  3. Most dog licenses that we have seen around here are mandatory, but the price isn’t too bad – approximately $25 to $40 per dog, per year. We do enjoy the areas that remind you when renewal comes up, as not all do. Our current town doesn’t say anything so it’s easily forgotten (costing you more for being past the cutoff date) but the last town we live din, we would get a letter in the mail 2 months before our renewal date.

    • Oh my, that’s awful to not be reminded about your dog license renewal. I wonder if that is a staffing issue? They certainly would love the extra funds. I would probably mark down the renewal date a few weeks prior as a yearly popup on my calendars. I’d never remember otherwise. You’re absolutely right the fines for late renewals can be extreme. But often you can get them waived if you explain your situation. Or at least give it a try. The worst you’ll get is a no. Thank you for sharing how dog licenses work in your town. I really appreciate your support!

  4. Layla has an ID tag that can be scanned with a phone and on her profile has all her information, vet info, microchip number, my information plus emergency contact information plus she has a license also which is renewed each time she gets her rabies vaccine. All is up to date so I am very relaxed. Great post

    • I knew Ms. Layla would have her license, tags, and microchip up to date. I love that you get a renewal every time Layla gets her rabies vaccine. That’s a very helpful reminder. Thanks for sharing and for the continued support!

  5. This was very informative. I’m not a dog owner, however, learning about the requirements and benefits of having a dog license makes me smile. It’s great to know it helps with reuniting an owner and their dog quicker but also benefits animal welfare and homeless animals in the community. Overall, it seems like a no-brainer. I’ll be sure to share and pin this post.

    • Yes, it is a no-brainer! I love that wording, Kamira! A dog license helps your dog and the homeless pets in your area – a “no-brainer”. Perfectly said! Thank you for that and thank you for your continued support!

  6. This is so right on target! Once again, you provide not only excellent information but also great in-depth explanation. I totally agree with you about being proactive. I always licensed all of my dogs (and microchipped! I even had my feral cat microchipped!) I always paid annually with their renewals, and I did not know some areas offer the lifetime fee. What a terrific idea. I hope that catches on and more places do that. While I do not have my furbabies anymore (insert teary face here), I do have all of their license tags. <3 Sharing this with my followers!

    • Awe, yes proactive is key! I love that you microchipped your feral cat. That’s awesome! While lifetime dog licenses aren’t available everywhere, they are popping up in more places. They can certainly save a lot if you live in an area that offers a lifetime dog license.

      I have my other dog’s license tags too. They’re still part of me.

      Thank you for your continued support. I always appreciate it!


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