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Saving up money for a dog and ongoing costs

A dog’s love may be unconditional but its lifestyle can come with a hefty price tag. In fact, according to the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), a dog can set you back between £6,500 and £17,000 over its lifetime, depending on the breed. And in a survey of over 10,000 pet owners, insurance provider More Than found the average monthly cost of dog ownership came to £240.

If you’ve set your heart on getting a pedigree chum but number crunching has your tail between your legs – never fear. Putting a little bit of cash in a high interest savings account or stocks and shares ISA on a regular basis could help you save for your perfect pooch. You can also check out these great tips on how to budget money and how to save more each month to boost the amount you stash away.

Upfront costs aside, when it comes to keeping your dog in the lap of luxury, there are all sorts of ongoing expenses. Here’s what you’ll need to consider.

Cost of buying a dog

Pedigree puppies don’t come cheap but cost depends on the type of dog you buy. A French Bulldog (now the UK’s most popular pooch) will cost you upwards of £1,000. In contrast, the humble Labrador, which had been top of the pups for three decades, costs from around £600.

If that all sounds howlingly expensive, think about visiting an animal charity or rehoming shelter. Not only are rescue dogs usually neutered, microchipped and up to date with their vaccinations, they also cost a lot less to buy – anything from £50 to £150.

One-off costs to consider

The most important thing you’ll need to do is have your dog microchipped – and you’d be a mutt not to because since April 2016, it’s been a legal requirement. If your chum is left chip-less, you could face a £500 fine. Dogs can be chipped by a vet or in some pet stores, with the cost being somewhere between £10 and £20 depending on where you go – or you can head to a Dogs Trust centre and they’ll do it for free.

If you decide to have your canine companion neutered, cost varies by vet practice. Expect to pay from £150 to castrate a dog and between £170 and £350 to spay a bitch, depending on whether you opt for traditional or keyhole surgery. If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, the Animal Trust (who work to a policy of ‘ethical pricing’) currently charge £125 for castration and £170 to spay. 

You’ll also need to add on around £60 for your pup’s first set of vaccinations if this hasn’t been done by the breeder or charity your pet came from. 

Annual costs

After your dog’s first set of jabs, you’ll need to book it in for its annual boosters, costing around £40. 

If you decide to buy pet insurance, figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show the average policy in 2018 cost £279. Needless to say, your premium will depend on the dog and the insurer you choose. Some breeds, like labs, are notorious for having bad hips in later life, which could mean the cost of your policy increases significantly as your dog ages.

If you’re in two minds about opting for pet insurance, bear in mind that there’s no animal NHS and vet bills can be staggeringly high. Earlier this year, the ABI revealed claims of £7,300 for a bulldog with a broken leg and £40,000 for a terrier with a lung condition.

If you don’t want a formal insurance plan, think about self-insuring instead by putting money aside in a savings account. 

Miscellaneous and recurring costs

Another must for all responsible owners is poo bags. If you’re new to the art of poop scooping, prepare to be dazzled by the array of choice – from cheap and cheerful doggy bags to eco-friendly versions. There’s no excuse for being caught short.

If you are going green, be aware that not all biodegradable bags are created equal. BioBags (around £4.75 for 40) are among the very few that meet EU standards and are suitable for home composting (though perhaps not in your veggie patch).

You’ll need to budget at least £30 per month for food and about £15 per month for tick, flea and worming treatments. As well as these essentials, you’ll need to factor in things like bedding, collars, leads, a dog guard for your car, toys, treats and dog walking fees if you aren’t at home (about £10 per walk). If you’ve got a particularly hairy hound, you’ll also need to include regular grooming charges. Expect to pay anything from £20 up to more than £50 for larger dogs.

Dogs…because they’re barking worth it

Dogs don’t come cheap, but they are brilliant companions that give back far more than the cost of their material needs. If you are planning on making a puppy purchase, it’s a wise move to research costs beforehand and have at least six months’ worth of furry friend funds saved up. Remember – a dog is for life, not just until your bank balance runs dry.

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