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What’s the real cost of buying a dog?

Paul Rawling does the maths

gundog puppies

From conception to the day the first puppies are sold is around 18 weeks

So you’ve decided on getting a gundog puppy that eventually will be your shooting companion. But what’s the real cost of buying a dog? Be warned, a puppy – like a sports car – will eat away at the bank balance throughout its life.

The real cost of buying a dog

Expect a significant change to your lifestyle once a new gundog puppy has become part of your family. You will be responsible during the coming weeks, months and years for the correct maintenance of its health, care and welfare. Providing somewhere for it to live, eat and sleep, and its subsequent socialisation, exercise and training, will be your responsibility.

Other luxury purchases can be put away in the cupboard or garage and brought out only on special occasions, but a puppy needs constant looking after so that it can live a long, happy, healthy life. It is not just a simple question of whether the bank balance is big enough, but whether there is enough space in the home and free time in the potential owner’s life to make the commitment to future care and welfare and, in the case of a gundog puppy, time to train it to become an obedient shooting companion.

Puppy prices have soared during lockdown

Gundog owners have been amazed at how the prices of puppies have gone up over the past year.

The purchase prices vary greatly, depending on the chosen breed and sex. Kennel Club registered, working cocker spaniel puppies can be around £2750 at current prices.  The gundog price should include the Kennel Club registration document and usually a copy of the pedigree. You may receive a puppy pack containing food and other goodies, including rearing information, usually supplied free to the breeder by the puppy food manufacturer. However, that is when the freebies stop!

Bringing your puppy home 

The puppy will immediately need somewhere comfortable to live and sleep. This may be a dog bed or dog crate in the family home, in a suitable outhouse or in a purpose-built kennel and run in the garden. It will need food and water bowls, a lead and collar with an ID tag for being taken out in public, canine toys, a marrow bone and a radio to relieve boredom in those first few weeks away from its litter mates.

Register with a local veterinary surgery for a thorough health check and its first vaccination. A second vaccination will follow in another two weeks, and in 12 months an annual booster will be required.  Essential regular treatment for fleas, ticks, lice and worms will add to the bill. Other illnesses may arise naturally or through accidents, so gundog insurance should be considered but beware of the excess clause. Nail-clipping may be necessary but needs skill, so another visit to the vet.

The expenditure has not finished: a suitable vehicle with safety harness, dog-guard or travelling box will be needed for safe travel to the vet, training, exercise and shooting trips later on. You will incur boarding kennel fees at holiday time. Add the expense of books, DVDs, training classes, one-to-one or residential training and the list is reaching completion.

Dog in car crate

You’ll need a crate for transporting your dog

What you’ll need

  • Bed and bedding
  • A dog crate
  • Lead(s)
  • Collar
  • ID tag
  • Toys, dummies for training
  • Food and water bowls
  • A toothbrush
  • A crate/carrier/pet seatbelt for the car, if needed
  • Some breeds may need coats during cold weather
  • Initial course of vaccinations and worming tablets
  • Paying for your pet to be neutered or spayed (possibly)
  • Training lessons

The monthly cost of owning a dog

The People’s Dispensary Sick Animals (PDSA) has estimated the monthly costs of owning a dog to be as follows (that’s apart from the expenses listed above).

  • £50 small dog
  • £65 medium-sized dog
  • £80 large dog.

Gundog ownership can be surprisingly expensive as this piece on the hidden costs of buying a dog shows.  As you can see, £5000 could easily be spent. Be prepared and embark upon this very rewarding experience with both feet firmly on the ground and your eyes wide open.