Do Big Dogs Cost More Than Small Dogs?

Do big dogs cost more than little dogs? The short answer is yes, they do.

According to the AKC big dogs cost about $1,440 per year and little dogs cost about $1,000 a year. That means that owning a big dog costs about 40% more than owning a little dog.

Of course, $1,440 is not a hard and fast number, it’s just an average. If you are into sports like agility training with your dog or if your dog has a lot of veterinary bills the cost can go up fast.

Where does this extra expense come from with big dogs? There are several places where the cost can ratchet up.

Veterinary Care:

Veterinary care is more expensive when you have a large dog versus when you have a small dog. Even if your dog is 100% healthy and they only need worming medication, flea treatments, and vaccinations these things will be more expensive for a large dog than a small dog.

Large dogs are also more susceptible to joint problems, such as hip dysplasia, than small dogs. This too can increase your veterinary bills, especially as your large dog gets older.


It probably doesn’t surprise you that big dogs eat more than small dogs, and that makes feeding big dogs more expensive. Large dogs also have specific nutritional needs including needing more calories when they are puppies, as well as joint support from nutrition when they are adults.

It’s not a good idea to cut corners on food costs either, because poor quality food can lead to poor health in big dogs – especially as they age. This can make vet bills more expensive, which means that buying cheap food likely won’t save money in the long run. In fact, the opposite is likely to be true.


There are lots of people that groom their large dogs on their own. If you are willing to tackle brushing and bathing your dog by yourself you can skip this section. But if you are going to get your big dog professionally groomed you should know that it will be more expensive to groom a large dog than to groom a small dog.

The website Thumbtack, which helps you find people to hire for tasks like dog grooming, lists the average grooming service at $60 to $90 per session and they list size as being taken into consideration for the price.

If you have multiple large dogs that need grooming this cost can add up fast. Two dogs at $90 each that need to be groomed every six weeks add up to a cost of $1560 for grooming over a year. That’s a big chunk of change!


Traveling with a dog can be quite pricey. Whether you are staying at a dog-friendly hotel or trying to move your dog cross country by air, the cost can be much more for a large dog than a small dog.

Alaska, American, and Hawaiian Airlines are the only remaining domestic carriers that allow large dogs to fly, and only if they weigh less than 100 pounds. So, if you want your dog to travel by air you have to hire a charter or a service like Pet Jets that allows you to share a charter and have your dog fly in the cabin with you.

Dog Training

You can sometimes get away without training a small dog (although we don’t recommend that), but big dogs need training so that they don’t jump up on someone’s chest or shoulders while you have them out for a walk and so that they are well socialized and not likely to attack random strangers.

This is another area that some people choose to do themselves and do quite well. However, hiring a dog trainer or taking a dog training class can help your dog to understand what good behavior is and help the two of you to develop a strong bond.

Group dog training classes run around $50 an hour and a weeklong boot camp can be up to $1250 a week.

If your large dog is traveling with you by car you may also want to get a dog ramp or steps to make it easier for your dog to get into the vehicle. Some of the larger breeds may have trouble jumping into a high vehicle and can be too heavy just to lift in like you can with a small dog.


Gear like collars, leashes, harnesses, and dog bowls are all more expensive for a large dog than a small dog because they need to be bigger and thus require more material to make.

Vehicle Maintenance

Large dogs shed – often a lot and they can make cars super messy. You might buy backseat covers or liners and have to pay for extra cleaning and hair removal in your car if you own a large dog.

Dog Boarding or Pet Sitting

Boarding a large dog at a kennel is expensive. You can easily spend $500 or more to board your dog for a one-week vacation.

Hiring a pet sitter at another person’s house through a site like or having someone sit with your pets at your house is an alternative to dog sitting. The size of the dog comes into play with the price of these services as well. To use you have to tell them the size of your dog.

Dog Daycare or Dog Walker

Since many large breeds need a lot of exercise, it might be wise to hire a dog walker or dog daycare to make sure they get the exercise and mental stimulation they need.

Dog daycares can cost around $30 a day and dog walking ranges from about $15 to $20 per walk.

Not all owners need this type of service, but if you can’t exercise your dog for 60 minutes a day then you should consider adding it to your budget.

Dog Hair Removal

If you have a large dog that sheds then you are going to be spending a significant amount of time getting dog hair out of your house. You may want to get special tools for this like vacuums that are specifically meant to remove dog hair.

Removing dog hair from your home and clothes can be more costly and time-consuming for a large dog than a small dog simply because large dogs have more hair to shed.

Scroll to Top