How Much Does it Cost to Keep a Dog?

A Complete List of Expenses

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This is the most complete guide to dog ownership expenses you’ll find:

Our 2021 Study

In 2021 we completed a meta-analysis of over 22 dog ownership studies; this wasn’t a quick process as we thoroughly researched all the citations and published data.

Below you can see a breakdown of all the expenses we believe dog owners have to budget for in 2021 and beyond:

Item:Cost in the USA:Cost in the UK:
One-Off Purchases
Average Cost to Buy a Dog:$1300£1900
First Check-up and Vaccinations:$120£100
Spaying or Neutering:$400£300
Other Mostly One-Off But 1st Year Expenses; Collar, Identity Tag, Leads, Harness, Bowls, Jacket, Toys, Bed:$300£250
Puppy Socialisation Classes. 4 or 5 x 2hour Sessions Recommended:$300£150
Ongoing Purchases
Food Per Year:$350£450
Treats:$250£200
Booster Vaccines (Every Three Years):$75£60
Insurance (1 Year):$585£436
Worming and Flea Treatments (1 Year):$100£120
Microchip, Legal Requirement in the UK, Optional in the US:$45£20
Grooming, Typically Every Three Months:$70£55
Replacement Toys, Leads, Collar etc Per Year:$200£175
One-Off, Occasional Costs or Optional Expenses
Pet Passport or Pet Health Certificate:$130£100
Insurance Excess, Per Claim:Unknown£75
Expenses Not Covered by Insurance:UnknownUnknown
Increases in Insurance Premiums Due to Age/Illness:UnknownUnknown
Extra Fees For Dog-Friendly Hotels, Holiday Cottages and Travel (Ferries Etc):UnknownUnknown
Special Diet/Medicine:UnknownUnknown
Professional Dog Walking Fees, Kennel Costs:UnknownUnknown
GPS Tracker, Dog Gates, Crates, Car Adaptations.UnknownUnknown
Dog Cremation:$200£200
Average Dog Lifespan:12 YEARS12 YEARS
Cost to Buy and Own a Dog For 12 Years:$25,000£22,300

Cost to Buy a Dog

The cost to buy a dog varies, not just from one country to another but also between counties and states.

Dogs from shelters are often free or nearly free, while pedigree canines cost many thousands of pounds.

The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a surge in demand for companion pets; the BBC reports that during the summer of 2020,  the average cost of a puppy in the UK was an eye-watering £1900 ($2600).

In the US, the average price is still considerable at $1300, according to PetBudget.

First Check-Up and Vaccinations

Responsible dog owners will want to know that their new pet is healthy and vaccinated.

Many pets are sold after vaccination; some are sold after only the first jab, while some are purchased with no medical history.

According to Pet Finder, the average cost of a health check and vaccination is $120 while in the UK, Job Prices state that the cost is around £100.

Spaying and Neutering

Spaying (female dogs) and neutering (male dogs) prevents them from breeding and helps calm them; some male dogs can become quite boisterous if they’re not neutered.

According to Pet Place, the average cost in the US is around $400, while in the UK, you can expect the price to be £300, states the Blue Cross Charity.

These prices are averages, but it typically costs more to spay a female dog than neuter a male dog.

First-Year Costs

The first year of owning a dog is the most expensive, not only do you have to cover the cost of the dog but also vaccinations, the first health check and all the accessories your dog needs such as:

  • Dog collar.
  • Identity tag.
  • Lead.
  • Harness.
  • Raincoat.
  • Toilet training pads.
  • Food and water bowls.
  • Poo bags.
  • Bed.
  • Towels.
  • Cage/crate.
  • Shampoo.
  • Flea treatments.
  • Toys.
  • Training aids.

Those on a budget can purchases used items but the cost for new products is likely to be several hundred pounds/dollars in the first year.

Puppy Socialisation and Training Sessions

By socialising your dog at a young age and taking your pet to training sessions, you can prevent all sorts of behavioural problems from developing:

  • Jumping up at people.
  • Aggression with other people and dogs.
  • Biting.
  • Anxiety.
  • Failure to recall.
  • Lead pulling.

It’s easy to train a puppy but very difficult and sometimes near-impossible to re-train an older dog.

Prices vary, and informal groups can be created via Facebook for free, while professional guidance can cost several hundred pounds/dollars for a block booking of sessions.

We highly recommend professional training sessions and socialisation classes if this is your first time owning a dog.

The HomeGuide suggests prices around the $300 mark for a session bundle, while in the UK, The National Dog Training Academy advertises prices around £155 for a course.

Grooming

How often your dog needs to be groomed will depend on the breed and the type of coat it has. Some breeds require regular de-shedding, while others need only a hair cut every few months.

Dog groomers also offer nail clipping, ear cleaning, teeth brushing and other hygiene services.

Prices vary with certain breeds with long or difficult to manage hair costing more than the average.

ThumbTack suggests prices around the $70 mark, while in the UK, expect to pay around £5 for a standard dog grooming service.

You may need to pay for grooming services between 3 and 6 times per year.

Food and Treats

Food is an obvious expense but how much you’ll spend depends on your dog’s size and the quality of the food.

In recent years, the amount of money spent on dog food has increased significantly with more good quality food products available.

In the UK alone, the pet food industry is worth £1.7billion, and in the US, it’s an astounding £44.1billion.

Even taking a conservative view, The Spruce Pets suggest a guide price of around $350 per year (excluding treats); we think the cost will be much higher for those that want to feed their pet quality products.

In the UK, estimates start at around £300 per year for food, but again we feel this is underestimated.

A more realistic cost guide for food and treats comes in at around $650 to $750 in the US and £500 – £600 in the UK.

Insurance and Healthcare

Dog insurance prices reflect the breed of dog, its likelihood of contracting a disease or other health condition, its age and the level of cover.

Average prices in the US are around $585 per year, while in the UK they’re £436.

Obviously, some dogs, especially older ones, will cost much more.

All insurance policies have exclusions, and dog owners may need to pay extra for:

  • Policy excesses.
  • Medicine.
  • Chronic illnesses.
  • Pre-existing or recently diagnosed conditions.
  • Dental care.

Want to go it alone and skip pet insurance?

In the UK, the average claim under a dog insurance policy is £800, according to BoughtByMany.

Pet Passports and Health Certificates

In the EU, pet passports are used to confirm which vaccines a dog has been given and when. The passport is usually given after a rabies jab is administered and after blood tests have proven immunity.

In the US, health certificates are issued in place of a pet passport. The health certificate is issued after the rabies vaccine is given, and the USDA must endorse the certificate before travel.

The cost for an EU pet passport is about £100, excluding the rabies vaccine which the dog will need. As the UK has now left the European Union, a UK-issued Pet Passport is no longer valid, and all UK pet owners will now need to get health certificates and rabies jabs.

In the US, certificate prices are around $40 inc the rabies jab, with an official endorsement letter from the USDA costing a further $130. If the destination country requires blood test results, these will cost up to $150 extra. More information from the USDA can be found here.

Dog Kennels, Daycare and Home Boarding

It’s impossible to predict how much a typical dog owner will spend on these services as some will never use a kennel, while those who go on holiday abroad frequently will use them often.

We looked at over 60 kennels, daycare centres and home boarding businesses in the UK, and the average cost for one dog was between £20 and £30 per day, depending on the service.

The pet care sector in the UK and many other western countries has expanded considerably over the last few years. There are now many service levels, from basic concrete kennels to luxury dog hotels and foster carers/home boarders.

For insights into how much this costs in the UK, check out our guide to dog kennel costs here.

Prices in the US are even more difficult to quantify as they differ so much from state to state.

Dog ownership infographic

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When Was This Page Published?

This page about dog ownership costs was published in April 2021.

When Was The Data Sourced?

The statistic published in this guide were sourced in 2021 from data published in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Where Did These Statistics Come From?

We looked at existing estimates for how much it costs to own a dog for its life.

We then researched puppy sale prices, insurance prices, published veterinary prices, food prices, puppy training classes prices, grooming fees and frequency, pet passport and health certificates etc and much more.

The average life expectancy of a dog is 12 years, and our dog ownership costs are based on this. Some dogs, such as the Great Dane, have a lower expectancy, while some breeds regularly live more than 15 years.

Why Haven't You Published Dog Ownership Prices For More Countries?

It takes a long time to go through all the existing research and check the citations and data.