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A dog can bring an immeasurable amount of joy into your life. Before deciding to take a dog home, however, it is important to understand the costs involved in owning a dog—because while most dog owners agree that dogs give more than they take, a dog takes a considerable amount of money to keep healthy and happy.
We’ve researched typical dog ownership costs in the UK, so you'll know what to expect before you commit to buying or adopting a dog. Use this information to decide if dog ownership fits in your budget, so you can enjoy years of companionship without financial worries.
Types of Dog Ownership Costs
The costs of owning a dog generally fall into one of two categories:
If you insure your pet to cover unexpected vet bills, then you shouldn't have too many surprise costs during the course of dog ownership. Most one-off costs occur during the first year of pet ownership, such as the initial cost to buy your dog or neutering/spaying. The exception to this would be vet health bills if your pet is uninsured.
Average Costs of Owning a Dog
The average costs to keep a dog per year are approximately £1,875 per year, but depend on your dog's breed (this has a big impact on insurance or vet bills, food costs and grooming costs), how much you travel (and need boarding), where you live and many other factors. Below you'll find a breakdown of typical annual expenses for the average dog—but keep in mind that costs are rising, and due to a variety of circumstances some pet owners will pay a lot more to keep their dog:
|Dog Care Cost Items
|Average Annual Cost
|Dog Boarding (2 weeks)
|Flea & Tick Treatment, Wormer, etc.
|Treats, toys, etc.
|Total Annual Cost to Own a Dog
Note, this does not include any vet bills that may be required but would not be covered by pet insurance (e.g. a teeth cleaning). And those who forgo pet insurance could have significant vet bills in the thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds if something happened to their dog.
In addition, some pet owners might face other expenses such as dog walking costs, which average over £10 per walk in the UK. Plus the first year of ownership you'll need to pay for
How much does dog insurance cost?
The average cost of dog insurance is around £27.7 per month or £332 per year for a 'Lifetime' policy (i.e., vet limits reset each year to cover recurring, repeat or long-lasting conditions), although other types of pet insurance may cost less. However, you may pay less or (a lot) more than these figures, as the cost of pet insurance is highly variable depending on pet age and breed, as you can see below:
While expensive, pet insurance is highly recommended to keep your dog healthy—an illness or injury can easily cost hundreds or thousands of pounds in vet bills, so having the right cover in place can help you treat your pet as they need without you suffering a big, unexpected financial hit.
How much does dog food cost per year?
The price of keeping your dog well fed largely depends on the size of your dog. A 4-lb chihuahua will eat a fraction of the volume that a 70-lb Labrador eats. Per kilo of body weight, most dogs eat between 10 and 30 grams of food per day. Small dogs eat more for their weight (e.g., up to 30 grams of food per kilo of body weight) per day than large dogs do (e.g., as little as 10 grams of food per kilo of body weight).
With so many dog food brands and options out there, it can be confusing deciding what to buy. We've researched some typical per-kilo prices for some popular UK brands of dog food, to give you an idea of dog food costs. Actual prices will depend on the particular food, retailer and size of bag. (Like with grocery shopping, it generally pays to buy in bulk.)
Cost of Dog Food - Popular UK Brands
|Dog Food Brand
|Approximate Per Kilo Dog Food Costs
|Lily's Kitchen Chicken, Duck and Sweet Potato Countryside Casserole Natural Grain Free Complete Adult Dry Dog Food
|Arden Grange Adult Dry Dog Food Chicken and Rice, 12 kg
|Bakers Adult Dry Dog Food Beef and Veg 14 kg
|IAMS for Vitality Small/Medium Breed Adult Dry Dog Food with Fresh Chicken, 12 kg (Packaging may vary)
|PRO PLAN VETERINARY DIETS HA Hypoallergenic Dry Dog Food 11kg
|Harringtons Complete Dry Dog Food Turkey & Veg 18kg
Below we've estimated annual dog food costs by weight of the dog, assuming a dog food cost of £3.5/kilo. These numbers are meant to be a guide to understanding the potential feeding costs of a dog. Individual dogs may have different food requirements, based on factors including activity level, age, type of dog food (e.g., brand, dry, wet, raw dog food, etc.).
Cost to Feed a Dog per Year (assuming dog food cost of £3.10/kilo)
|Weight of Dog (kilos)
Finally, it is best to pop into your vet regularly for weight checks (the dog, not you!) to be sure your pet maintains a healthy weight.
How much does dog walking and boarding cost?
Dog walkers typically charge between £8 and £20 per hour, with the average cost in the UK coming it at around £11.25 per hour for dog walking. Near London, you can expect to pay up to £25 per hour of dog walking. Often a lower price can be negotiated if you hire the dog walker on a regular basis.
Typically, overnight dog boarding costs between £20 - £60 per night, depending on location and type of facilities. Boarding your pet for an annual two week holiday would cost around £420 per year, at a rate of £30 per dog per night.
How much does it cost to groom a dog?
In most cases, getting your dog professionally groomed will cost around £43. As the price depends on many factors including size and breed of the dog and your location, the actual range you might pay is quite wide: anywhere from £20 to £75 (or more at some posh London doggie salons).
Many pet owners have their dogs groomed on a regular basis—at intervals between 4 weeks and 12 weeks. Dogs with lots of hair and non-shedding dogs (e.g., cockapoos, some terriers, sheepdogs, etc.) will need more frequent grooming, as they can become matted. Dogs with clean, short coats need grooming less often. Given the vast differences in individual circumstances, different pet owners will face different annual grooming bills, but you could easily pay between £100 and £400 per year or more in dog grooming costs.
If you're on a tight budget, some dog owners groom their dogs themselves. There are plenty of YouTube videos on trimming for different breeds. You'll just need a bathtub, some shampoo and scissors, and a bit of patience! But, there are a lot of factors that determine whether grooming your own dog would be successful or a disaster, such as the dog's temperament, size, type of coat and more. For this reason, we've assumed most people will use professional groomers and included the cost of regular grooming in the annual cost to own a dog.
How much does it cost to clean your dog's teeth?
We found that the average cost of a dog teeth cleaning in the UK is £233, but prices can range drastically from £149 up to £500 or more. It's always worth comparing prices with local veterinary practices before you book a cleaning, as prices can vary by 50% or more between different vets in the same area.
How much do dog vaccinations cost?
The average cost of dog vaccinations is around £82 a year for a booster and kennel cough, but prices can range from £68 up to £97.5 or more. In some cases the price charged by your vet offers additional value by including flea, tick and/or wormer treatments.
One-Off or Unexpected Costs of Owning a Dog
Many of the one-off costs associated with dog ownership fall in the first year, such as the initial cost to buy your dog, microchipping and neutering/spaying. Beyond the first year, unexpected vet bills for accidents and emergencies can be quite a shock—both in terms of worry for your beloved pet and the accompanying vet bill.
How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Dog?
Depending on the type of dog and where you get your dog, prices can vary significantly. On the high end, a purebred or popular cross puppy (e.g., Labrador, Vizsla, Bulldog, Cockapoo, Cavachon, etc.) can easily cost £2,000 to £4,000 or more from a reputable breeder. Prices have skyrocketed since the pandemic started. If you are looking for a trained 2-year old dog, you may need to pay an extra £1,000 or more.
Those who want to adopt a rescue dog will pay a fraction of that price. For instance, Battersea Cats and Dogs charges £175 for dogs over six months and £250 for puppies under six months—note, these prices have risen by around £20 a year over the past few years—but it's still a lot cheaper than buying a puppy from a breeder. Not only is the purchase cost significantly lower, but your new adopted pet will be microchipped, vaccinated and neutered/spayed for you—a further cost savings of hundreds of pounds.
How Much Does it Cost to Microchip a Dog?
The average cost to microchip a dog is £15—a small price to pay to help reunite you with a lost dog, and to avoid the £500 fine for dogs that are not microchipped.
How Much Does it Cost to Neuter or Spay a Dog?
The cost to neuter or spay your dog depends on a few factors, including size of dog, type of procedure and location. Typically, pet owners should expect to pay around £220 to neuter or £294 for a traditional (not keyhole) spay. For more information on the costs of spaying and neutering, including low-cost options, see our article on How Much Does it Cost to Neuter or Spay a Dog?
Unexpected Vet Bills
Finally, the potentially largest one-off costs come in the form of vet bills. Over the course of their lives, most pets will have a number of unexpected trips to the vet. Even relatively common grass seeds in paws or ear infections can result in hundreds of pounds worth of charges. More serious accidents or illnesses can cost thousands of pounds. You may want to consider pet insurance to help protect you and your pet—expect to pay anywhere from hundreds of pounds up to £1k or more per year for insurance, depending on your dog and the type of pet insurance plan you choose.