how much does it cost to keep a dog

I got a dog for Christmas. I’m getting a dog. I got my girlfriend a dog, my brother brought a puppy home and now he can’t look after it.

My friend’s dog had puppies, and he wants to give me one. My friend doesn’t want his dog and asked me to look after it.

Dog in a sitting in a christmas gift box

All the above are statements that I’ve directly or indirectly heard from people or heard about people as reasons why they ended up with a dog that they’re not prepared to care for. These are also some of the root problems why some dogs eventually end up in a rescue.

There are plenty of adorable videos on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook that capture awesome moments of dogs with their owners. But viewers of these videos fail to see the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes by the dog owners.

If you’re like me, then you would probably agree that you can’t just blindly make a commitment to get a dog and hope everything will work out without any hiccups. Although I’m guessing this is the approach taken by the majority of people that end up with dogs. Furthermore, if you are like me and like to watch your finances closely, you’ll also agree that it’s a good idea to calculate the cost of caring for a dog, like working out the monthly cost to own a dog, then balance the result with any financial commitments you already have. Not everyone is like me, so, in this case, I’ll just speak for myself.

mini statue of a dog being used as apaper weight. On a table with money and a calculator

I set out to find out the financial cost of dog ownership. Like most questions needing an answer, working out the true cost of the dog ownership is not so straight forward. This is because there are upfront costs, ongoing costs, and fees, surprise costs, hidden costs, emotional cost, and opportunity costs. Yup, these categories of costs are all factored into the price of dog ownership.

I found that costs associated with dog care don’t appear obvious at first glance, at least to a newbie dog owner like me. But when examined and considered, each cost category can be justified to make sound sense. I’ll list some of the items that make up the costs and only consider quantifiable financial expenses. So, expenses that fall into the category of tangible items include:

  • Dog Food
  • Dog Grooming
  • Pet Insurance
  • Emergency Treatments
  • Car fuel to and from Vet
  • Dog Crates and Dog Pens
  • Dog Bedding
  • Dog Toys
  • Doggy Accessories
  • Spraying or Neutering
  • Dog Training
  • Medication
  • Dog Day Care
  • Dog Kennels when Vacationing
  • Replacement of Furniture from Damage
  • Licensing and/or registration
  • Microchip (One-time event)

My dog requires the same level of care as any member of the family

Veterinary Clinic with dog being examined one a table by a vet

The decision to bring a dog into my home is a big deal. The acceptance of this decision means recognizing that a dog will not only become an addition to my family, but my dog will literally become a part of the family. This means that my dog will require the same level of care and attention that anyone in the family receives, e.g., health insurance, and in my dog’s case, pet insurance.

How much does it cost to keep a dog?

I spent hours trawling the web and discovered that the general consensus on the yearly financial cost of caring for a dog ranges between $930 (£750) to $2480 (£2000) and above. does a very good job of giving some actual facts and figures that can help forecast how much I can expect to spend over the course of my dog’s life.

Below is the average cost per month for dog ownership, depending on the size of the dog, according to This is useful for giving an indication of the minimum I should budget to spend monthly.

Graph to show The average cost of keeping a dog is most affected by the dog’s size. SOURCE:
The average cost of keeping a dog is most affected by the dog’s size. SOURCE:

What are some of the costs of having a dog,

Opportunity costs

snippet that talks about the opportunity cost of dog ownership

An interesting cost that I discovered was the opportunity costs. Opportunity costs? Huh? That was my first thought. Anyone would think we are talking about starting a business. Well, you’ll be glad to know that it has nothing to do with business. I’ll try and explain. moneyunder30 explores the true cost of dog ownership in an article post. In a comment response to the post, a reader mentions that they are not ready to own a dog because they see people in suits frantically walking their dogs in the morning and looking flustered.

The comment goes on to mention how there is the opportunity cost of missing work happy hour because some colleagues have gone home or take a long lunch just to take their dogs for walks. Hahahaha. Work happy hour is used to justify opportunity costs! That’s funny. I can’t see myself sprinting home and sprinting back to work to get back in time for happy hour. I don’t know if I would be too fussed about that. Anyhow, to each their own. But that’s just me.

The cost of furniture damage

dog sitting on damaged sofa
I’ve owned a cat (RIP Jinga), so I know full well about furniture damage caused by animals. The back and side of my leather sofas were clawed and scratched mercilessly by my cat. I’ve seen videos of dogs damaging furniture too. So, yep, this is a valid point. Just take a look at the video and pictures of the havoc dogs can wreak on furniture. The price of having to replace furniture can quickly mount up to burn a hole in your pocket. The message from this is that if you have a dog, make sure you have home or furniture insurance too.

Basic things to consider when working out your monthly or annual pet parent dog costs

puppy dog surrounded by paper money

I plan to get a purebred dog and have been advised that I need to get one from a reputable breeder. But a higher price tag comes with getting a dog from a reputable breeder; ok, noted. I’ve been told to stay away from classified advert listings of puppies for sale. The lower upfront cost that is associated with this type of puppy listing purchased from a random breeder isn’t worth the potential long term uncertainty and risks. By choosing to buy my dog from a reputable breeder, I will be paying a higher financial price, but likely avoiding the long term downside of potential health risks and a bad temperament dog. If these types of risks were to surface, I would be required to pay the difference or more in my attempt to try and resolve them.

Mixed breeds of dog the role it plays in health and how this can impact the cost of having a dog

dog in a skeleton costume

An interesting point that made me raise my eyebrows was the fact that mixed breed dogs are less susceptible to genetic health defects that are associated with the inbreeding of dogs. Please don’t quote me on this. If you have issues, speak to Wikipedia. I’m just an impartial wannabe dog owner trying to make an informed decision while also attempting to learn as much as I can along the way. The Wikipedia posts go on to say that some enthusiasts who defend this category of dog actually prefer mixed-breed dogs to dogs that are intentionally bred. Now, this is something to consider.

With that being said, I’m considering a Doberman Pinscher as my dog breed of choice. Ok, let me assume that I am willing to pay between £1000 and £1500 (one time cost), then there will be a starter kit that comes as a requirement. The puppy starter kit will contain the essential items required to help me and my dog get settled and adapt to its new life (another cost). Then there is health care (another cost), then preventive meds (another cost), insurance (another cost). I get the point and can see how costs can quickly mount up.

Life or Death

Dog laying down with its paws being held by its owner

You may be faced with a choice between your pet’s life and being able to pay the rent next month

Wow. That’s serious talk right there. I pulled this statement from a comment post I found on the website moneyunder30. The article post attempts to explore The True Cost Of Pet Ownership. I don’t think the reality of the responsibility of having a dog can hit home any harder than the quote above. I haven’t had the chance to build a close bond with a dog, but I’m quickly discovering that there may potentially be times that you may have to choose between saving your dog’s life or going into serious debt. Wow! Seriously!

In our case, that’s already been true. When he was two, DiMaggio almost died of a mysterious bacterial infection in his brain. When we thought we might lose him, we would have paid anything to make him better. Luckily, he pulled through. But between his medication and time in the pet hospital, the illness cost us several thousand dollars.

My emergency fund and unplanned dog costs

piggy bank with a the word emergency fund written on it.There are also lots of paper money notes on the table

I have an emergency fund that I like to have easy access to, in the case of an emergency. Obviously! The purpose of my emergency funds is so I can quickly react to any unforeseen scenario or circumstance. It seems like my emergency fund will have to increase in size to factor the addition of a dog to my family. The increase in the size of my emergency fund will now factor in the unforeseen circumstances that may occur with my dog.

With all this being said, what is the true cost of dog ownership? I don’t have a mortgage at the moment but plan to within the next year or two. Will this impact my ability to care for my dog? Will I need to get a new job or cut back? Oh, gosh, my head is starting to throb at the thought of having to crunch numbers to make this work.

In 2011, Thisismoney wrote that the average cost of owning a dog for the duration of its lifetime was approximately £16,900. This figure was supposedly backed by Sainsbury pet insurance. They then went on to talk about pet inflation. They proceeded to add thirteen years to the initial time forecast, essentially saying that if a dog was purchased in 2011, the effect of inflation will take the lifetime cost of ownership of a dog from £16,900 to £18500. You can check out the full details here.

Evidence that points to the actual cost of keeping a dog

I’m almost certain that the breed of dog I’m getting will be a Doberman. That’s why I was pleased to come across the video below that explores the financial ins and outs of getting a Doberman puppy. I must confess that my jaw dropped slightly at the $1500 to $2500 initial outlay cost. The information may seem relevant to my specific situation, while at the same time it gives an insight into the financial practicalities of keeping a dog has gone to lengths to provide data on the financial requirements to care for a dog over the duration of the dog’s lifetime. Their data was obtained from the PDSA. The PDSA is a UK veterinary charity that provides free and low-cost treatment to pets in need. The original source for the graphs below can be seen here.

Below is the average financial cost of how much a dog costs per month on average to maintain compared to other common household pets. It’s clear that dogs are the most expensive common pets to care for. Or could it be that dog owners just spend more on their dogs than other pet owners do on their pets?

Graph to show the average lifetime cost of keeping a dog compared to other common household pets. SOURCE:
The average cost of keeping a dog per month compared to other common household pets SOURCE:

Below is the average lifetime financial cost of keeping a dog compared to other household pets, and it is clear to see that dogs are the most expensive to care for, or it may be that dog owners just spend more on dogs.

Graph to show The average lifetime cost of keeping a dog compared to other common household pets. SOURCE:
The average lifetime cost of keeping a dog compared to other common household pets. SOURCE:

Below is a list of average financial cost of dog care dependant on breed. The average cost of caring for a Doberman is approximately £219 per month which works out to 2,628 per year.

table to show the average monthly cost of keeping a dog based on the dog breed SOURCE:
The average monthly cost of keeping a dog based on the dog breed SOURCE:

Final thoughts

The outcome of all this discovery is to note to self. If you want to do something, make sure you do it properly. Looking after a dog properly requires a significant financial commitment. However, a financial commitment is just one facet of the cost factor. Yes, there is a financial cost of dog ownership; however, there are other non-financial costs that are required for dog caring, especially if I want to promote the best possible well-being of my dog.

Having all the essentials in place to get my dog caring commitment off to the right start will always be a good and responsible thing to do, but remember that the cost commitment will be required to be upheld for between ten and thirteen years. With inflation, this cost can potentially mount up as the years pass by. Am I still up for it? Hmm. Hmm. Of course, I am.

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