The UK’s most (and least) affordable dog breeds 2024

One of the things that has stood out during that time the UK spent in and out of lockdown was how pet ownership rose during the pandemic – with an extra 3.2 million households across the UK buying a pet from March 2020 to March 2021.

Puppy demand drove the average cost to buy a dog up considerably, however, now four years on and we’re still in a cost-of-living crisis which is stretching peoples’ everyday budgets to their limit.

With many people struggling with the costs of food and other everyday essentials, could owning a pet make a positive impact on your mental health? Well, a 2023 report has revealed that 94% of pet owners say that owning a pet makes them happy, with 44% going as far to say that their four-legged friend has been a lifeline during the cost of living crisis.

With this in mind, if you’re considering welcoming a new furry friend to your home you may be wondering what are the cheapest dog breeds to own versus the least affordable? Good question, but thanks to our team of data analysts here at The Insurance Emporium (TIE) we’ve done all the hard work by looking at our top 30 most popular dog breeds and ranking them from the most affordable to the least.

Our methodology

Before we get into the heart of which dog breed top’s our list for affordability, let’s talk you through what factors we’ve taken into consideration.

Our list looks at the 30 most popular UK dog breeds that we insure here at TIE, we’ve then analysed the overall costs against each breed for the following factors:

  1. The average cost owners paid for their pooch according to our data from 1/01/2023 to 31/12/2023
  2. The annual cost to insure each breed according to our data (correct at the time of writing this: 31.01.24) – based on each breed being under 8 years of age, located in York, on a Time Limited Bronze Yearly policy with Illness & Accidents cover.
  3. Pet food costs are based on the typical weight of the breed, feeding 2% of the bodyweight per day with a mid-range dry dog food costing £3.65 per kg.

Our ranking table is purely to demonstrate which dog breeds work out cheaper to buy and look after versus those which are more expensive. It does not reflect the whole cost of owning a dog for example, routine vaccinations, flea and tick treatment, neutering (if the owner decides to do this), dog grooming, toys and treats, and holiday care if you go away.

Plus, we can’t account for whether your canine has a penchant for expensive dog food or the several dog chew toys that will inevitably be destroyed in a matter of moments from being brought home from your local pet shop.

jack russel puppy on autumn alley

The cheapest dog breeds in the UK

From our research we can reveal the top 5 dog breeds that are the most affordable to own are:

Topping our list of the most affordable dog breeds is the small but mighty Jack Russell Terrier. It’s the cheapest on our top 30 to buy and relatively inexpensive to look after, costing around £16 a month to feed.

In at number two is the Yorkshire Terrier – while it’s not the cheapest to buy its small stature means it is one of the cheaper breeds to feed, as long as you’re not the type of pet parent to feed your beloved pooch only the finest dog food that is.

Sadly, this once widely popular breed has fallen out of favour with pet owners and now Yorkie’s have been put on the ‘at watch’ list by The Kennel Club. We hope our list will help people see that a pedigree breed such as a Yorkshire Terrier doesn’t have to cost the earth to own.

It’s no surprise that the Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, and Chihuahua make up the rest of the pack of most affordable dog breeds due to their smaller size. In particular the Chihuahua, which is commonly regarded as the smallest breed of dog in the world, is the cheapest to feed. This pocket-sized pooch is the ultimate lap dog for those looking to really spoil their pet with love and affection.

puppy love - bulldog father and daughter sleeping with reflection on white background

The most expensive dog breeds in the UK

On the other end of the scale, we’ve got the dog breeds which are likely to cost you the most:

At the bottom end of the scale, the British Bulldog is the most expensive breed to own. There are several reasons for this. First of all, female Bulldogs often have to be artificially inseminated to become pregnant. The puppies are mostly delivered via caesarean section (C-section) and finally, they produce very few litters. Therefore, these costs are reflected in the price owners are likely to pay to take a puppy home.

You’ll notice that Bulldog breed types make up two out of our five most expensive dog breeds to own and that’s partly because brachycephalic breeds such as British and French Bulldogs are prone to several health issues that can incur costly visits to the vets including breathing difficulties, skin and ear conditions, and eye problems. These health conditions subsequently make this breed more expensive to insure.

In addition, when it comes to dog food, owners will find that a French Bulldog, the smallest of the Bulldog breed types, will be the cheapest to feed.

In at number two of the most expensive dog breeds is the German Shepherd. Although this dog breed is cheaper to buy in comparison to a Bulldog breed, feeding one dog alone will cost you £85 on average a month due to their size and love for the great outdoors – making them ideal for owners that enjoy being outside.

The Cavapoo Cross may surprise some as the third most expensive dog breed to own and rightly so. They’re a relatively small dog and on the face of it don’t carry the worrisome health issues that the likes of a bulldog breed do. However, what makes this breed particularly expensive is its designer price tag – it’s our second most expensive breed to purchase out of the top 30 most popular breeds we insure.

Finally, we have the Hungarian Vizsla, these red-haired dogs are known for being extremely active, so their monthly feed intake is in the higher cost bracket. At the same time, the cost to purchase is also relatively high compared with the other dog breeds on our list.

Cute maltepoo puppy is siting on a yellow foliage in the autumn park. Mix of the breeds maltese and poodle. Pet animals. Purebred dog.

Cheapest versus most expensive dog breeds to buy

Outside of our top 30 most popular dog breeds, we also explored which UK breeds were the most and least expensive to buy where we insure 100 of more of each breed to get a fair representation on cost. Again, this was according to our data from 1/01/2023 to 31/12/2023.

Buying a dog from the offset can be a considerable investment, with some breeds costing closer to two thousand pounds. What’s more, buying a pedigree or popular breed of dog can also make your dog more desirable to pet thieves.

A study in 2023, found that American Bulldogs were the most stolen breed in 2022, with the number more than quadrupling compared to the year before. Staffordshire Bull Terriers and French Bulldogs were also popular targets for dognappers, with the former seeing a 610 per cent year-on-year increase. French Bulldogs saw thefts rise by 31 per cent compared to the prior year.

Thankfully, in January 2024, the UK’s government announced its backing for new legislation to make pet theft a criminal offence. Under the Pet Abduction Bill – a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Anna Firth MP – anyone found guilty of stealing a pet will face up to five years in prison, a fine, or both.

To help prevent your pet from being taken firstly make sure your dog is microchipped as this is a legal requirement, failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £500, and always remember to keep their details up to date too. Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop or in a car unattended. Keep them on a lead in busy areas, especially if the area is unfamiliar to you and your pet. Finally, when considering pet insurance, it’s worth checking if your cover includes ‘loss by theft or straying.’

Cheapest versus most expensive dog breeds to treat

From our affordable dog breeds list, when it comes to common illnesses and conditions, based on customer claims, the West Highland Terrier is the cheapest dog breed to treat whereas Miniature Smooth Hair Dachshunds are the most expensive to treat.

Francis Martin, CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of The Insurance Emporium commented: “Our recent research into global pet insurance adoption rates revealed that only around 30% of British pet owner have pet insurance, leaving 70% uninsured. Similar to our own health, we cannot predict if and when our pets fall ill or have an accident. Therefore, without pet insurance owners are 100% financially responsible for the veterinary fees incurred and will need to ensure they commit to saving a lot of money to protect themselves from emergencies.”

In addition to our analysis of the cheapest versus most expensive dog breeds we’ve also been looking at the most popular names owners give their dogs, and we can reveal the top five for boys and girls as follows:

Owners of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may have given a nod to his majesty with ‘Charlie’ being the most popular name for male dogs of the breed. Male Bulldogs are most commonly called ‘Winston’ which potentially is a nod to former PM Winston Churchill whose first dog was a Bulldog, however, more notably it was a Poodle called Rufus that Churchill could be remembered for.

Our top 30 UK dog breeds in full

So which dog breeds made our top 30? Take a look here to see the full rundown of breeds and how they ranked overall in terms of cost to own from least expensive to most expensive. When looking to purchase a new dog we’d always advise people to do their own research to help them decide which breed of dog is going to suit their lifestyle the best.

If you’re due to welcome a new puppy to your home – here at The Insurance Emporium our range of pet insurance cover gives owners the flexibility to choose what suits their needs the best. We also offer owners a 10% multi-pet discount, plus a 20% introductory offer (see our website for T&Cs) – paw-fect!

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