There are a lot of costs that come with getting a dog. Just because a particular breed is cheap to buy, it doesn’t necessarily mean it'll also be cheap in terms of food, vet bills or pet insurance costs.
We’ve analysed the UK’s 30 most popular dog breeds and ranked them from cheapest to most expensive. Instead of just basing this on buying cost, we’ve also taking into account food cost, insurance cost and the potential annual vet bill if you choose not to insure.
How we worked out the cheapest and most expensive dogs
We looked at the 30 most popular breeds of dog in the UK according to the numbers of them we insure.
We then used four cost factors to work out the cheapest and most expensive breeds:
The cost owners said they paid for their dog.
The average cost of pet insurance for each breed, according to our data for 2021.
An estimated uninsured vet bill cost. We based this on the total cost of pet insurance claims for a breed, divided by the number of the breed we insure.
The average cost of feeding each breed for a year. This is based on a mid-range food cost of £3 per kg and feeding 2% of bodyweight per day for a typical-sized dog for each breed.
Our ranking is a good guideline for which dog breeds will work out cheaper to buy and to keep, but it doesn’t reflect the whole cost of owning a dog.
Remember you also need to account for:
Vaccinations – see the average dog vaccination costs in your area
Neutering, if you choose to have it done
Holiday care – although we’ll give you a year’s TrustedHousesitters membership for free pet care when you take out a policy
Flea tick and worm treatment – ManyPets Flea, tick and worm plan covers your pet and you can get a discount.
Toys, treats, beds, approx. 500 tennis balls a month…
You can see the full cost matrix and ranking of dog breed costs at the bottom of this page, but here’s what it revealed…
The UK’s five cheapest dog breeds
Going from cheapest first, the five cheapest dog breeds to buy, insure/treat at the vet and feed are:
It’s official: the compact and sturdy Jack Russell is the cheapest dog breed. With just a £685 average buying cost and an average food bill that works out at around £13 a month, this is a dog that’s relatively inexpensive both to buy and keep.
The £308 average annual pet insurance cost for a Jack Russell is well below the average pet insurance cost for all breeds of £421.60 too.
It’s quite surprising that three traditionally ‘fashionable’ breeds are also on the cheapest dog breed list: the Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier and Shih Tzu.
Smaller breeds tend to have cheaper vet bills and it shows – all had lower than average pet insurance costs, but these tiny dogs also had tiny food bills. Chihuahuas might cost less than £4 a month to feed… as long as yours hasn’t got particularly expensive tastes.
Last but not least is the reliable Border Collie. The breed has few genetic health problems which accounts for the low insurance and vet bill costs. The unpretentious Collie is relatively inexpensive to buy as well. They’re also one of the best dog breeds for children.
The UK’s five most expensive dog breeds
Most expensive first, the five costliest dog breeds to buy, insure/treat at the vet and feed are:
The English Bulldog is the most expensive breed on our list to buy. The reason is party due to their popularity, but also because this breed often has to be artificially inseminated to conceive pups, which then need to be delivered by Caesarean section. It makes breeding English Bulldogs a costly business and breeders will look to recover their costs when they sell puppies.
It’s not just during pregnancy that Bulldogs rack up vet bills though. The breed sadly has quite a number of genetic health challenges. That makes both pet insurance and vet fees higher for this breed than for most.
It’s the same story with French Bulldogs. They don’t have the same level of health problems as English Bulldogs, but they still cost around double the average to insure.
The rest of the five most expensive list is mostly more big breeds with a few genetic issues, including Cane Corsos and Rottweilers. Big dogs cost more to treat at the vet, especially if they’re predisposed to expensive conditions like hip dysplasia, as these two breeds are. And of course big breeds have bigger food bills too.
The family favourite Golden Retriever is a bit more of a surprise in fifth place. Their pet insurance costs are only a little above the average for all breeds, but their popularity means they’re on the more expensive side to buy. And then there’s that infamous Golden Retriever appetite which could cost you in day-to-day food bills… and at the vet when they swallow a sock, tennis ball or entire cooked chicken.
What’s the cheapest dog to buy?
If you only want to know the up-front cost of buying a dog, without the ongoing costs like insurance, food and vets, the five very cheapest breeds of dog are:
Jack Chi £646
Patterdale Terrier £672
Jack Russell £685
We’ve looked outside our 30 most popular breeds for this, but we’ve only counted breeds where we insure at least 100 of them to make sure the average buying cost is accurate.
And these are the five most expensive dog breeds to buy:
English Bulldog £2,666
Miniature Goldendoodle £2,655
Australian Mini Labradoodle £2,525
Chow Chow £2,442
Bernese Mountain Dog £2,433
Dog insurance cost by breed
If you want to know what the cheapest dogs to insure are, the list is slightly different. Again, we’ve only counted breeds where we insured at least 100 of them in 2021 to make sure the average is accurate.
This is the top five cheapest dog breeds to insure and the average cost for that breed in 2021:
Patterdale Terrier £276.93
Jack Chi £292.04
Lhasa Apsho £292.08
Bedlington Terrier £306.12
And the five most expensive dogs to insure are:
Bernese Mountain Dog £933.37
Great Dane £905.79
Chow Chow £902.65
The full dog breed cost matrix
Here are the costs we added up to calculate an overall cost ranking for the UK’s 30 most popular dog breeds.
Pet insurance may or may not work out cheaper than the average annual vet fee cost, but it does mean you’ll have the peace of mind that you can afford vet fee treatment for your best friend, even for bigger bills.
Because you just don’t know if you’ll end up paying the average amount in vet fees or not – your dog could be one of the ones with no vet visits, or they could be the unlucky one with an eye-watering bill.
Our Complete policy includes cover for up to £15,000 in vet fees annually, enough to cover even expensive surgeries in larger dogs, as well as conditions that have ongoing costs for many years.
|Breed||Average cost to buy||Average cost to insure||Average annual vet visits cost||Annual food cost||Overall cost ranking|
|Staffordshire Bull Terrier||£1,139||£378.1||£493.9||£306.6||8th|
|English Springer Spaniel||£1,226||£419.23||£628.79||£438||15th|
|Cavalier King Charles Spaniel||£1,810||£415.07||£589.59||£153.3||19th|