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By Spencers Solicitors

  Dominic O'Neil    
  April 16, 2018

How much is that doggy in the window?

Somewhere in the region of £33,000.00!!

Yes – that’s right – a whopping £33,000 based on average costs including food, vet bills, medications, bedding, toys, grooming and insurance.

Whilst this amount may shock some people, some would argue it pales in comparison to the average cost of raising a child to the age of 21, which is reported to be in the region of £230,000.00.

My wife and I are the proud parents of two adorable English Springer Spaniels: Boo (bear) & Sassi-Belle. We rescued Boo from a shelter where he had been taken due to his owners no longer being able to fit him into their family life and after a few years we gained Sassi as a puppy.

Instagram collage from images by @a_bear_and_a_belle

At present we spend approximately £1,700.00 a year to cover their food, vet bills and insurance. When you take into consideration money that we spend on the other stuff, we will easily end up meeting the current £33k average. It should also be pointed out that we are parents to a 16 year old too!

I WOOF you very much!

Britain is most definitely a nation of dog lovers. According to RSPCA statistics, the UK Dog Population for 2017 is estimated at a staggering 8.5 Million! with 40% of households having a pooch.

Everyone knows, and is told year upon year that “A dog is for Life, Not just for Christmas” but nevertheless it can still be expected that up to 200 dogs will be abandoned once the festive period is over due to the unpreparedness of their new owners to accept the lifetime commitment that they opted to undertake.

When the decision is made to bring a dog into your life, it should be well informed with the knowledge that you are committing to providing a loving home for the duration of its life.

Having a dog, be it an adult or a pup, can be likened to gaining another child as they may cry, give you sleepless nights, they seemingly always want to eat (not necessarily what you want them to!), you may have to potty train them, they require their own toys/interaction and exercise, they have to be taken to the doctors if they are poorly (which can be costly) and; if you are a caring owner your carefree days of doing anything on a whim are over as you should be considering what is happening with your four legged friend.

A Breed Apart

Your first decisions are what breed do you want? And what Sex? Once you have one you should make sure that you research it, just as you would a car for example. Just because you like a certain breed, does not mean that it is the right one for you.

What are you looking for in your dog? Do you want a lapdog, do you want one that you can take on long walks, do you want a quiet dog or are you happy for a little crazy in your life?

Every breed has its own distinct traits, and you need to look at these to make sure that you are getting exactly what you bargained for. Likewise, each breed has its own ailments that you should make sure you are aware of, for example Alsatians and Spaniels are prone to hip problems and Dachshunds are at risk of back problems.

Choose the dog that you can see fitting in with your lifestyle and which will give you the lifestyle that you want.

A Breed(er) above the rest

Once you have decided upon what breed you want to pursue, you need to start the search for one. With tens of thousands of dogs being rescued every year, shelters are full to bursting with dogs waiting to be given another chance at a happy home. Although some may have behavioural problems, most are just unlucky in love. The shelters are all staffed with experts who can give advice on the right choice for you, but first and foremost they will know if you are the right choice for them. The cost of obtaining a rescue is usually somewhere in the region of £250.00+.

If you want a blank slate and a puppy is what you are after then you need to find a good breeder. The Kennel Club ( maintains a register of accredited breeders who they recognise as promoting good breeding practice and who have puppies for sale. If you find a breeder by other means, then it is your sole responsibility to ensure that you are happy that the breeder is responsibly rearing them before committing to buying from them.

Recommended tips for this are:

  • Always visit the breeder at their premises and ensure that you see the pups with their mother. Is the mother happy and does she look healthy?
  • Make sure that the breeder provides full care, diet and pedigree information, including proof of all relevant vaccinations.
  • Are the pups being properly socialised, do they seem frightened or aggressive.
  • The premises should be clean and the owners should be happy to answer any and all questions. Likewise, they should be inquisitive about you and asking their own questions to make sure that you are the kind of person they want to sell their precious cargo to.

The cost of obtaining a puppy varies from breed to breed and is also dependent on the sex, but you should expect to pay anywhere in the region of £500-£1,000.00+.

A Dogs life

You and your dog can hopefully expect to enjoy 10-13+ years together. They won’t grow up and leave the nest or ever become independent and relieve you of your duties and responsibilities. You will be this animal’s whole world for their time on this earth, and their love for you is unconditional and without expectations. Just some of the reasons why committing to a dog is a huge responsibility that no one should take lightly.

If, however, life takes a turn, and it so happens that you find yourself unable to give the dog the appropriate level of love and care due to circumstances out of your control, then know that there are places out there which can help including the RSPCA.

Here, at Spencers Solicitors, we are currently pledging proceeds from our certifying fees to the Chesterfield & North Derbyshire branch of the RSPCA in aid of national pet month and beyond.

About the Author

Dominic O'Neil is an Accounts Assistant within our Accounts Team.

Dominic, who has worked for the business since August 2002, originally started his tenure as an Admin Assistant before changing direction and joining the Accounts Department. As an Accounts Assistant, Dominic provides day to day support to all our teams and is responsible for processing daily accounts transactions in addition to other varied duties.

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