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 legally have to meet their five 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 doggy companion but it’s important to understand the cost involved in caring for them for their entire life and meeting their welfare needs.

 

How much does caring for a dog really cost?

Dogs can be surprisingly expensive as there are a lot of costs that some owners may not have considered.

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 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 £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.

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:

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 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
  • Food
  • Small toy allowance
  • Poo bags
  • Toothpaste.

The estimated monthly costs for the above items are:

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

Even though you might buy some of these things as part of the initial cost, there are lots of things that you will need to keep buying over your dog’s lifetime.

Monthly cost of owning a dog

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 used the items listed in the bullet points above to work out the estimated cost of getting started with a small, medium or large breed of dog.
  • For ongoing costs, we worked out the monthly ongoing cost of caring for a small, medium or large breed dog using the items listed above.
  • 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 costs were calculated in 2017 using rates available for products online and have been used in the 2017 and 2018 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)