The cost of owning a dog

Getting a dog is a huge commitment. They need a loving home, plenty of exercise, a healthy diet, a comfy bed, toys to keep them occupied…the list goes on!

When you get a dog, you take on a legal commitment to ensure their welfare needs are met and there’s a financial commitment, too. It can be easy to overlook this in all the excitement of getting a new doggy companion but it’s important to understand the cost involved in caring for them for their entire life and meeting their five welfare needs.

So, how much does caring for a dog really cost?

You should expect your dog to cost you at least £6,500 - £17, 000 over their whole lifetime:

  • Small dog breeds: £6,500 to £12,000
  • Medium dog breeds: £8,500 to £13,000
  • Large dog breeds: £7,400 to £17,000

This estimated minimum lifetime cost is the minimum that you will need to care for your dog and provide for their five welfare needs. It will vary according to your dog’s size, breed and how long they live. Your dog could cost you as much as £33,000 over their lifetime if you decide or need to spend more on their ongoing care!

This estimated cost doesn’t include the cost of any vet fees if your dog becomes ill, although we have included the cost of pet insurance. If your dog has an accident or develops a health problem the cost of caring for them could increase dramatically. It’s important to be prepared for this, which is why we recommend taking out pet insurance.

Getting started: the initial cost of getting a dog

When you first get a dog, you’ll also need to get everything they need to be happy and healthy. This includes things like:

The estimated costs for these are:

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

This cost doesn’t include the cost of buying a dog. We recommend getting a dog from a reputable rescue centre and you can read more advice on our ‘Getting a dog’ page.

Monthly care: the ongoing cost of looking after your dog

Each month, your dog will need lots of things to keep them on top form, such as:

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

The estimated monthly costs for these are:

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


How we worked out these costs

Here’s how we worked out the estimated minimum lifetime cost of owning a dog:

  • First, we worked out the estimated cost of getting started with a small, medium or large breed of dog and then the monthly ongoing cost of caring for them.
  • We multiplied the monthly cost by 12 to get an annual cost.
  • We multiplied the annual cost by the average life expectancy for small, medium and large dog breeds*.
  • We added this number to the estimated cost of getting started with a dog to find the full cost of caring for a dog over their lives.

These numbers are all estimated and don’t include the cost of purchasing a dog or vet fees if your dog becomes ill. These are the basic minimum costs to meet a dog’s five welfare needs and you could spend much more over the course of a dog’s lifetime, especially if they need ongoing vet care.


* Small Dog: 7.1-14.2 years, Medium Dog: 8.4-13.5 years, Large Dog 5.5-13.1 years (from O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England. The Veterinary Journal. 198 (2013) 638–643)

Getting a dog

Where you get a dog from can have a big impact on their future health and happiness. Here's what we recommend at PDSA. 

Read more

5 Welfare needs

Do you know about your dog's 5 welfare needs and your legal responsibility for their care? 

Read more

PDSA Pet Insurance

Pets can get into all sorts of mischief so make sure you’re protected with 5 Star** insurance selected by our vets.

Get a quote