Discover the True Cost of Keeping a Dog in the UK

Are you thinking about buying a dog but would like an idea of how much they cost to keep?

We think you might be surprised at how much it all adds up to but we’re confident all dog owners will agree; they’re so worth it!

As no two dogs are the same and different breeds have different needs, we’ll base our research on the Miniature Schnauzer, which is the breed of puppy shown in the photo below:

Miniature Schnauzer cost

On this page, we’ll cover:

  • purchase price
  • immunisation and first veterinary check-up costs
  • follow up booster vaccines
  • insurance/vet bills
  • worming, flea treatments, spaying/neutering
  • microchipping, rabies jab and the Pet Passport
  • puppy training/obedience and socialisation classes
  • equipment, dog bed, bowls, toys, collars, leads
  • food including treats and special diet food
  • grooming, nail clipping and dental work
  • kennel fees

In a hurry? Skip to the end of this page and see the cost here.

Before You Proceed Please Answer This Question:

How much do you think it will cost to buy and keep a small dog such as a Miniature Schnauzer over the course of a typical lifespan?

(This question is optional, you can skip it if you wish)

Cost to Buy a Miniature Schnauzer

The cost varies but prices between £500 and £1100 appear to the norm with £800 the average for a pedigree.

Of course, you could hunt around and find a cheaper pet from a puppy farm or similar but we think it’s best to go with a registered and responsible breeder.

Immunisation and First Veterinary Checks

Puppy vaccinations cost around £60 and when combined with a first veterinary “check-up”, which is recommended, the final cost will be around £100.

This page has more detailed information about dog immunisation costs.

Booster Vaccines

Immunisation booster vaccines are usually given on your dog’s first birthday and then every 2-3 years.

The booster is a weaker variant of the initial vaccine and is often slightly cheaper.

If you fail to give your dog its booster injection within 4 years since its last treatment, you may need to pay for the full treatment again.

Booster injections cost around £40.

Insurance and Vet Bills

This is the big one.

The cost of insuring a puppy pedigree Miniature Schnauzer with a plan for one year is around £200 (Petplan checked Nov 2017)

Unfortunately, as your puppy grows older, the annual cost goes only one way.

The level of cover also decreases with age as most insurers won’t cover existing illnesses.

At age 10, the cost shoots up to £425 per year. (Petplan checked Nov 2017)

All these prices are for basic cover, expect to pay more for lifetime cover that includes the ongoing treatment of illnesses beyond the 12 months of cover.

Our research suggests you’ll pay around £5000-£6000 for insurance and vet charges during the life of your pet.

Don’t forget that every policy has exclusions and policy excess charges.

Spaying/Neutering, Worming and Flea Treatments

Worming and flea treatments need to given throughout your pet’s life. We suggest you budget £10 per month for a small dog.

The cost of spaying/neutering will depend on the size of the dog but for a small dog, around £200 appears to be the going rate.

Rabies, Microchipping and the Pet Passport

Rabies is an infectious disease that’s found in most countries, including many within the EU.

Fortunately, the UK has eliminated this illness but you will need to give your pet dog the rabies vaccine if you plan to take it abroad.

You’ll also need proof of up to date immunisation boosters and rabies boosters, a microchip (now mandatory even in the UK) and a Pet Passport.

Rabies jab – £35

Microchip – £20

Pet Passport – £100

Puppy Training and Socialisation Classes

If you think dog training lessons are all about teaching your dog, you would be wrong.

They are actually designed to train the owner so he or she knows how to reward and punish the dog appropriately, this ensures the pet is well behaved and follows its owners’ instructions.

Socialisation classes are an important step for any puppy, especially if you don’t have any other dogs in your home. Without appropriate socialisation at a young age, your dog can become overly defensive, aggressive, possessive and may pose a threat to other dogs, animals and even humans.

Group puppy training and socialisation classes usually cost around £10-15 per hour and we suggest a minimum of 5 hours spread over a few weeks.

Dedicated and specialist one-to-one help for troublesome dogs will cost far more this and take much longer, so early socialisation and training are recommended practices.


A sleeping cage with a dog mat will cost around £40 for a small dog.

A travel case to put in toys, dog food, poop bags etc when travelling will cost around £15.

Dog leads and collars need to replaced as and when needed, so budget for £15 per year.

Harnesses, GPS trackers and winter jackets are optional, we won’t include their cost here.

A good quality and sturdy bowl will last for several years, if not the entire life of your pet – £20.

Toys are another costly expense for some playful dogs. You can easily spend £100 per year on toys.

Food, Treats and Specialist Diet Items

Dog food varies in price and quality but if your dog develops an allergy or illness, you may need to feed it special diet food which can be surprisingly expensive.

The prices below are for regular off-the-shelf food that a small dog would consume per month:

Wet food – £10

Dry food – £10

Treats – £10

Grooming, Nail Trimming and Dental Care

Some dog owners will cut their dog’s hair and nails while others will get a professional to do it. How much hair your dog sheds will depend on its breed, fortunately for us, Miniature Schnauzers shed very little.

Emergency dental care is usually covered by insurance policies but there is a caveat, the policies we looked at all required the dog to have a full dental examination by a vet at least every 12 months.

We’ll assume that your dog has two grooming sessions per year along with one dental examination. Any subsequent haircuts will be done by you – £100 per year.

Kennel Fees and Dog Walkers

If you go abroad and decide not to take your pet with, you’ll either need to ask a friend or relative to look after it or use a kennel.

If you don’t like the idea of your pet staying in a cold kennel, dog hotels are the answer:

Luxury dog kennels

Luxury dog hotel at Westlodge

Kennels for a two week holiday – £250

Dog hotel for two weeks – £430

Dog walking fees vary and not everyone will choose to use this service so we won’t include the cost here.

Check out this page for more info about dog kennel costs in the UK.

Pet Cremation

Cremation costs around £175 for a small pet, including an urn and small nameplate.

Total Cost to Keep a Small Dog in the UK

Based on our research, we think the cost of keeping a small dog for 14 years to be around £21500.

If you think that figure is high, do consider that we have been conservative with the cost of many items found on this page.

In January 2017, the Guardian newspaper suggested a lifetime cost of between £21000 and £33000 for a pet dog, depending on breed and health.

What’s Not Included in This Dog Cost Guide?

  • dog walking fees
  • harnesses, winter jackets and other clothing
  • gates or barriers for in the car and home
  • insurance excess fees
  • injuries and illnesses not covered by the insurance
  • special diet food
  • home or garden alterations, i.e  fences, walls or anti-digging devices
  • GPS trackers (don’t forget the subscription fees)

Other Options

We hope we haven’t put you off buying a pet dog, they truly are man’s best friend.

Of course, you could try something cheaper, like a pet rabbit 🙂


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