How much does a dog cost?

Dogs can be surprisingly expensive, costing around £6,500-17,000 over the course of their lifetime.

This estimate varies with breed, life span and size. Small dogs typically cost £6,500-12,000, medium dogs £8,500-13,000 and large dogs £7,400-£17,000.

But that’s just the minimum. Those estimates include pet insurance, but they don’t include vet fees if your dog becomes ill, has an accident or develops a health problem. Owners whose dog needs ongoing care may spend as much as £33,000.

So when you’re planning for a puppy, it’s important to understand the costs and set out a budget. Don’t worry – we’re here to help.

 

Starting costs

The cost of buying a dog varies a great deal, so we won’t include that figure here. Instead, here’s a list of extra costs you’ll need to budget for:

  • Bed (and/or crate)
  • Coat, lead, collar and tag
  • Food and water bowls
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toys
  • Car restraint
  • Initial course of vaccinations
  • Monthly wormers until your dog is six months old
  • Neutering
  • Microchipping (if this hasn’t been done by the breeder).

Estimated total cost, not including the cost of the dog itself:

  • Small dog: £370
  • Medium dog: £390
  • Large dog: £425

 

Monthly costs

There are a number of ongoing things that you’ll need to pay for. We’ve included annual costs here too, budgeted as a monthly figure.

  • Yearly health checks and booster vaccinations
  • Regular flea and worm treatments
  • Pet insurance
  • Food
  • Small toy allowance
  • Poo bags
  • Toothpaste

Estimated monthly costs:

  • Small dog: £70
  • Medium dog: £80
  • Large dog: £105

 

Professional services

The estimated figures above don’t include vet fees if your dog becomes ill. They also don’t include services like boarding kennels, training classes, grooming and day care. If you expect your dog may need them, remember to budget for these too.

 

Costs in detail

Here’s a closer look at how some costs break down, along with some practical advice.

Groomers and grooming equipment

Grooming costs vary depending on where you live, dog size, coat type and how well you look after it. Typically, bigger dogs will cost more to groom.

Some breeds, such as poodles, should be visit the grooming salon every four-six weeks, while wire hair breeds only need to visit once or twice a year for hand stripping.

A Labrador bath and de-shed treatment can range from £25-50. Some Labradors go for grooming every month, while some only go once a year.

For a working type Cocker Spaniel, grooming can vary from £35-60 and should be done every eight weeks. If they have minimal fluffy bits (“feathers”) expect lower costs of £30-45 per treatment, around four times a year.

Giant, heavy coated breeds such as a Newfoundland can range from £60-150 per time and should be done every eight weeks.

Once you have your shortlist of breeds, it’s a good idea to call around local grooming salons to ask how much they charge and how many treatments a year they recommend.

You’ll also need to buy grooming equipment to use at home, to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. What you need depends on the breed, but the most basic items include:

  • Comb
  • Slicker brush
  • Nail clippers
  • Ear and eye wipes
  • Dog towels
  • Shampoo (please don’t use human shampoo)

These basics should cost around £30 in total.

 

Neutering and spaying

The cost of neutering and spaying can vary too. Smaller breeds are typically cheaper, and neutering a male is usually slightly cheaper than spaying a female. Expect £110-230 for neutering and £154-397 for spaying (figures from Bought by Many pet insurance).

A quick note: for many breeds, it’s now advised not to have them spayed or neutered under two years of age to avoid increasing the risk of joint and skeletal disorders. Advice for breeds differs here, so please research that for your dog.

 

Vaccinations

A puppy’s vaccination course will cost around £35-75 and annual boosters should cost a similar amount.

 

Insurance

Your breeder may give you four-six weeks free insurance. After this, the average annual premium for pet insurance costs UK dog owners is £287-324 (Consumer Intelligence data, May 2017 - May 2018; Mintel/Association of British Insurers/Bought by Many, 2017).

Like all insurance, premiums rise after a claim. They may also be higher for breeds and cross breeds with specific health risks or shorter life spans, and they’ll go up with age too. Dogs are classed as “veteran” once they pass the age of seven.

Despite the cost, pet insurance offers peace of mind when things go wrong and vet bills mount up – and it also covers you for public liability. That means cover if your dog got free and caused a road accident, which could make you liable for costs of £500,000 or more.

If you decide against pet insurance, consider covering yourself for public liability in some other way. Some home insurance policies sometimes offer this – and membership with the Dogs Trust (£25 a year or £12.50 for over-60s) also includes third part public liability cover.

A final note: many insurance companies also offer a set amount per year for “complementary therapies”. It’s worth getting this if you can, as these can be crucial in a dog’s recovery from serious illness or injury.

 

Emergency vet bills

If you don’t go for pet insurance, you may need a healthy savings account or a credit card with a high limit. The treatments now available to pets are amazing but costly.

Here are a few examples of average costs in the UK:

  • Consultation fee: £60
  • Blood tests: £100-130
  • X-ray: £300
  • Out-of-hours emergency treatment: £150 supplement
  • Overnight stay at the emergency practice: £500
  • CT scan: £725
  • Ultrasound: £45-150
  • Endoscopy £495
  • Average cost of surgery: £1,500
  • Chemotherapy: £5,000
  • MRI scan: £1860 (£3025 out-of-hours)

(Figures from moneysupermarket.com, animaltrust.org.uk and nimblefins.co.uk)

 

Fleas and worms

Expect a combined cost of around £120 a year for a medium sized dog.

 

Dog coats

Some breeds – like Staffies, Greyhounds and Whippets – will benefit from wearing a practical, good quality coat on colder walks. Young puppies and old dogs can also struggle to regulate their body temperature, so a coat may be helpful for them too. Expect to pay £30 for a high-quality small dog coat or around £100 for a large one. 

 

Extra washing

An easily overlooked expense is the cost of washing dog beds, blankets, dog towels, toys and coats. Some of your own clothes may need more washing too, with a likely increase in muddy walks.

It’s hard to put a price on this, but your use of electricity, water and cleaning products will probably increase a little. You may also want a wash bag (£8-20) which stops dog hair from blocking your washing machine.

 

Vehicles

Your vehicle must be large enough to safely transport your fully-grown dog – and by law, your dog must be restrained while traveling with a seatbelt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard. Seatbelt harnesses or soft crates for small dogs can be as little as £10-20, while bespoke dog guards for your vehicle can be anything from £200-2000.

 

Poo bags and disposal

From supermarket own brand nappy bags at 0.1p each, to biodegradable, heavy duty, tie handle bags (5p each) this minor cost is still worth factoring in. Larger dogs will poo more often, as will dogs on a lower quality diet.

 

Treats

You may be spending £2-10 per week on treats in the first year with your puppy, to help with training.

 

Chews

Dogs need to chew – adults as well as puppies. Expect to spend £2-15 per week on chews in the first year with your puppy.

A Kong is a great investment. It’s a rubber toy you can stuff with food and it’s a great way to keep dogs occupied and tire them out. Fill them them with treats, their daily food, soft cheese, meat paste, banana, and so on. Pop them in the freezer first to give dogs a bigger challenge, reduce mess and sooth teething gums.

Good chews include bull pizzles, beef hide and pigs’ ears (the latter in moderation). Avoid rawhide, coloured munchy rolls and any cooked bones.

 

Holiday care

Many rely on family and friends to care for their dog while they’re away, but circumstances can change. Commercial kennels range from £15-60 per night, while professional pet sitters can range from £25-100 for 24 hours.