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What is the true cost of a family dog?
By Craig Hore, Editor | January 31st 2020
It's no surprise that dogs are the most popular pets in the UK. Who could resist a faithful friend that is always happy to see you?
Family dogs are a great way of teaching kids responsibility and they also provide a good reason to get the family active and out of the house together. There is also plenty of research which shows that dogs can be great for our physical and mental health too.
But what is the true cost of owning a dog? From pet food to holiday kennels and insurance, our canine companions can be pretty expensive to maintain. So how much does it cost to keep a dog - and what can you do to reduce the price?
Paws for thought - the lifetime cost of owning a dog
Before buying a playful pup, it's a good idea to work out what the monthly costs will be. That will help you set a budget, and make sure that having a pooch isn't too pricey to take on.
Research suggests that the average cost of a dog is £21,000 over the course of their lifetime. Of course, the price will depend on a wide range of factors, from where you live in the UK to the size of the animal and even the length of its coat (longer hair = more care).
Pounds for hounds - how much does it cost to buy a dog?
Whether you prefer a cute little French Bulldog, a trendy Labradoodle or want to go big with a Great Dane, the initial purchase price for your dog can vary massively. As a general rule, pedigrees are going to set you back the most, while mongrels and less fashionable breeds are cheaper.
Border collies, for instance, cost £276 on average - that is an awful lot less than British Bulldogs, the most expensive dog breed, for which you can expect to pay over £1,500.
For most people, the benefits of owning a dog far outweigh the costs. However, it is a sensible idea to calculate how much it is going to cost you and budget for those extra outgoings.
Once you've bought your furry friend, you will also need to pay for a series of one-off bills, including:
- Neutering or Spaying
- A bed, leads and a collar
- Food and water bowls
- Initial Vaccinations
You can expect to pay between £370 and £425 for these one-off costs depending on the size of the animal according to the PDSA.
How much does it cost to keep a dog per month in the UK?
Once again, these prices will vary depending on the size of the animal and your personal preferences. You will need to budget for the following kinds of monthly or annual costs:
- Dog foods and treats
- Insurance (it is almost always worth it since vet bills can be astronomical) - Money Supermarket is a good place to start for comparing prices
- Vaccination top-ups
- Toothpaste and oral care
- Flea and worm treatments
- Poop bags
- Dog walkers and kennels
- Grooming costs
Again, the exact costs can vary a lot but the PDSA estimates that small docs cost around £70 per month, medium dogs cost about £80 and large dogs will set you back in the region of £105.
How to reduce the cost of owning a dog
If you think those prices seem barking (sorry, last pun) mad, there are lots of things you can do to help manage the monthly costs of owning a dog. It can be useful to use an app like Bó to separate out your monthly budget and set aside the exact amount you will need for your four-legged friend. That means you avoid overspending or needing to use your overdraft to pay for monthly costs, like dog food.
There are also numerous things you can do to help bring the cost of owning a dog down:
- Groom your dog at home
To avoid some of the costs associated with the grooming of your dog, you could look to purchase shampoo and conditioner and wash and condition your 4-legged friend at home in a bathtub.
- Buy in bulk
It is almost always cheaper in the long term to buy in bulk, either online or from large pet stores. If you have the space, buy your food, treats, toys, poop bags and so on in one go - it will also save you lots of trips to the pet shop.
- Consider buying a rescue dog
Rescue dogs are usually a little bit older, but they normally don't need much training and will have already been microchipped and neutered. And of course, they will cost much less to purchase than a puppy - and may even be free.
- Cheap or free dog treats and toys
Friendly with your local butcher? Chances are they'll happily share some of their leftover bones from time to time. You can also make toys out of old household goods and this will help towards recycling too.
- Choose a dog which fits your lifestyle
Do you and your partner work full time? It is probably best to buy a smaller dog which only needs one walk or less per day - if you have a bigger animal they will need to be taken out a couple of times daily, so you may end up spending money on dog walkers - and that can cost up to £20 per walk.
For most people, the benefits of owning a dog far outweigh the costs. However, it is a sensible idea to calculate how much it is going to cost you and budget for those extra outgoings. And if you use an app like Bó, you can closely track the amount you're spending on pet care and figure out how to pay less.
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