How much does owning a dog cost?
Getting a dog is exciting, but there’s a lot to think about and it’s a big commitment to take on. 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 legally have to meet their 5 Welfare Needs, keeping them happy and healthy throughout their life. Looking after a dog can be costly, even without any unexpected vet bills. It can be easy to overlook this in all the excitement of getting a new canine companion but it’s important to understand just how much you’ll end up paying for them over their lifetime.
How much does a dog cost over their lifetime?
Dogs can be surprisingly expensive as there are a lot of costs that you might not think of at first.
You should expect that a dog could cost you at least £4,600, but depending on which dog you have; their potential lifetime cost could be £30,800 over their whole lifetime:
- Small dog breeds: At least £4,600 up to potential lifetime cost of £25,000
- Medium dog breeds: At least £7,000 up to potential lifetime cost of £27,000
- Large dog breeds: At least £5,700 up to potential lifetime cost of £30,800
This estimated lifetime cost is the minimum that you will need to care for your dog. It will vary according to your dog’s size, breed and how long they live. Your dog could cost you as much as £30,000 over their lifetime if you decide or need to spend more on their ongoing care!
You may find that your dog has additional needs if they are a pedigree breed prone to certain health problems, which could also add to your costs.
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.
We’ve given estimated minimum costs on this page as a starting point, but if you are seriously thinking of getting a dog, it’s important to sit down and work out a budget for them, considering your lifestyle and all the things your new dog may need. You can use our handy pet quiz to find out if a dog is the right pet for you.
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:
- Lead, collar and tag
- Food and water bowls
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Car restraint
- Initial course of vaccinations
- Monthly wormers until your dog is six months old
The estimated costs for these are:
- Small dog breeds: £370
- Medium dog breeds: £395
- 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.
It also doesn’t include the cost of microchipping, as now the law says this should be done by 8 weeks of age by the breeder. If your dog hasn’t been microchipped before leaving the breeder for some reason (for example, a very small toy breed puppy might have been given a vet exemption until they are older and big enough to be chipped) then you’ll need to factor in this cost.
Ongoing care: how much a dog costs per month
Each month you need to budget for lots of things that your dog will need, such as:
- Yearly health checks and booster vaccinations
- Regular flea and worm treatments
- Pet insurance
- Small toy allowance
- Poo bags
The estimated monthly costs for the above items are:
- Small dog: £50
- Medium dog: £65
- Large dog: £80
Even though you might buy items when you get your dog as part of the initial cost, there are lots of things that you will need to replace over your dog’s lifetime which might increase these costs.
How we worked out the costs
The costs above 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 for an illness or accident.
Here’s how we worked out the estimated minimum lifetime cost of owning a dog:
- First, we looked up prices for the items listed in the bullet points under the getting started section above to work out the estimated cost of getting started with a small, medium or large breed of dog, rounded to the nearest £5.
- For ongoing costs, we worked out the monthly ongoing cost of caring for a small, medium or large breed dog based on regularly buying the items listed above under monthly care, rounded to the nearest £5.
- 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 minimum cost of caring for a dog over their lives, rounded to the nearest £100.
Current costs were last calculated in 2020 using current prices.
We first calculated these costs in 2017 using previously available rates for products online then and those rates were used in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Reports and are widely referenced.
What’s not included
These numbers are all estimated and don’t include the cost of purchasing a dog or vet fees if your dog becomes ill.
It also doesn’t include other services for your dog that might be required depending on your lifestyle and experience, such as the cost of boarding kennels, training classes and any day care needed for your dog. If you think you’ll need these, remember to budget for them as well.
* 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)
If you're thinking of getting a new puppy, we've put together a list of everything you'll need to think about before they come home.
5 Welfare needs
Do you know about your dog's 5 welfare needs and your legal responsibility for their care?