Getting a dog is one of life’s most enjoyable and rewarding experiences, and with so many great breeds, you’re spoilt for choice in deciding which one to choose.
There are loads of factors that will help you decide which dog is right for you, including lifestyle, characteristics, temperament, and of course, the cost. You need to think about the ongoing price of food, toys, accessories and beds for your new pooch.
One expense that some owners can forget, though, is insurance. There’s no legal requirement to have a policy, but it could be a lifesaver if your dog has to have vet treatment either in an emergency or as ongoing care. Finding the best dog insurance for your pet can be confusing, with so much choice out there.
This price can be as low as £5 a month depending on the cover you choose and breed of your dog, or it could be as high as £80-£100 depending on the same factors. As dogs become older, they are also more expensive to insure. It is also more expensive for a Lifetime Policy than an Accident-Only policy.
Insurance prices vary every year with external factors, so below is a rough guide – different companies may have different policies in place.
Why do different breeds cost different amounts to insure?
The reason why breed affects the insurance price varies.
Larger dogs are thought to age faster and have more issues with mobility in later life, versus smaller breeds. They also tend to have shorter life spans and can be more active, with the likelihood of injury much higher.
Some breeds are more prone to illnesses because of the characteristics that have been bred in them, such as bulldogs with squashed noses or German Shepherds with curved backs. This doesn’t mean the dog won’t live a happy, healthy life, but there’s more of a risk of ailments as they get older.
The breeding of some breeds has also gone too far to correct issues, according to vets. Pugs, for one, are brachycephalic (flat-faced). Many suffer from issues with breathing, and it is thought this can never be reversed because the issues have been man-made through breeding.
Insurers also determine how likely it is that they would have to pay third-party insurance. Larger dogs are seen to cause more potential damage to another party, so third-party insurance is more expensive.
As a general rule, mixed breeds are healthier and more resilient to illness. This is because the gene pool is larger, and therefore hereditary disorders can usually be bred out. As a result of this, mixed breeds are generally seen to be less likely to develop hip dysplasia, spinal diseases, knee problems, and fewer cancers and heart problems.
But that’s not to say pedigrees can’t live a healthy, happy life. Many issues are a worst-case scenario and are rather something to be aware of instead of a reason not to buy the dog. Every breed will be vulnerable to some health concern, even mixed breeds; it’s just part and parcel of having a dog for its entire lifespan.
It is worth noting, however, that when we say ‘mixed breed’ in this context, we mean mongrels or mutts. Some mixed breeds which are newer to the dog world and bred for humans in terms of looks or behaviour, such as Labradoodles, could become predisposed to health issues later down the line when their gene pool becomes smaller.
The cheapest dog breeds to insure
The general rule is the smaller the dog, the cheaper the insurance (with pugs and french bulldogs being two large exceptions). They are seen as less likely to injure themselves, other people, or suffer from joint issues caused by weight and over-activity.
1. Border Terrier
Terriers are tough little things, and despite their small stature, they’re incredibly resilient. Border terriers seem to be the cheapest to insure, but as a rule, you’re not going to pay an awful lot to insure a terrier of any kind.
They are often cheap to buy or adopt and have a very diverse gene pool. This makes poor health less likely.
2. Jack Russell
A Jack Russell is another form of terrier. They are small and hardy, and thanks to their popularity for years here in the UK, they have a large gene pool. Hereditary conditions are also uncommon with this breed. There is less likelihood of you needing to claim, and the price of insurance is reflected in this.
A Jackahuahua is actually even less expensive than a pure Jack Russell, but less common.
3. Yorkshire Terrier
We said that terriers are the cheapest overall breed to insure, didn’t we?! Again, they are pint-sized, and their popularity over the decades means their gene pool is large. Most are cheap to buy too, as they aren’t classed as ‘designer’ and bred for their looks or to keep up with demand.
This may come as a surprise to some, as their larger Greyhound cousins can be pricey to insure. But Whippets are smaller and much less likely to be raced nowadays. Their main possible health concern is joint issues as their legs are long and slim for their bodies, but aside from this, ailments are rare.
5. Shih Tzu
Again, the Shih Tzu is an ancient breed going back hundreds of years, so the gene pool is very diverse. It is a common belief that Shih Tzu’s are pampered lapdogs and enjoy all the love and attention in the world.
This could mean that some believe they are expensive to insure, given they’re a toy breed. But they’re tough, and not prone to hereditary illness.
The most expensive dogs to insure
Every type of Bulldog is expensive to insure, whether French, English or Bull Mastiffs.
They are predisposed to many health disorders including brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), dystocia (difficulty giving birth), and a range of spinal diseases. They are so short and stocky, with such flat faces, that their health can really suffer.
The dogs also tend to be more expensive to buy, which makes insurance expensive, as they are in demand. Larger breeds also suffer from joint problems because their short legs have to carry so much weight.
A Rottweiler will tend to live between 8-11 years old. While many live healthy lives, this breed is predisposed to cruciate ligament problems as well as digestive and heart problems. While this all sounds severe, regular check-ups and medication can either prevent or alleviate these problems so your dog can have a happy, healthy life.
Because it is common that they need medication, insurance will usually need to be claimed, hence the high premiums.
3. Dogue De Bordeaux
This isn’t a hugely common breed, but they are very expensive to insure. Their sheer size makes it obvious that they will likely suffer joint problems in older life, and unfortunately the breed also has predisposed hereditary conditions in the lineage.
Their average lifespan is also only 7-8 years, so they develop a lot quicker than a lot of other breeds. This again makes it more likely that they will become ill in a short time.
4. Great Dane
Like all large dogs, Great Dane’s have a shorter life span than small dogs and therefore are more likely to be expensive to insure. Because there is so much more weight, there’s also more pressure on the joints. This can naturally lead to more pain and joint problems down the road.
However, a lot of preventative measures can slow this down, like the right nutrients and supplements as well as an orthopaedic bed. You may need to use insurance to claim on medication to alleviate pain when the time comes.
Unfortunately, Newfoundland is the most expensive breed to insure by quite a wide margin. They are large, slow-moving, tall and heavy. Prone to joint issues, they again, unfortunately, don’t really live past the age of 10.
Congenital heart murmurs are also in their lineage. The cost of treating such a large dog is incredibly high, hence the insurance prices reflect this.
While these conditions and the price of insurance may seem daunting, getting a good cover will ensure your dog gets quality treatment and care. This will prevent or treat these conditions from really affecting your dog’s quality of life. And a lot of these conditions really are a worst-case scenario; it’s natural to expect some difficulty as your dog ages in the same way people need more medication and help as they age, but it certainly shouldn’t put you off getting a dog if you really want one.
Speciality insurers are also coming on to the market in response to these high prices. Some may only insure particular breeds, meaning the price is lower.