If you’ve owned more than one dog, you may have learned the hard way that some pooches need vet visits more often — and rack up bigger bills when they’re there. And such variations aren’t necessarily random.
In fact, our research on the best pet insurance companies confirms how much a dog's breed can help predict its medical costs down the road. For example, you'll pay more for pet insurance coverage for a purebred dog than for a mixed breed, as the former are prone to hereditary and congenital conditions.
To find out more about dog insurance costs by breed, read on.
What is the most expensive dog breed to insure?
An extensive survey by AdvisorSmith on average pet insurance premiums for 15 popular dog breeds reveals significant differences in costs between dogs. Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and English and French Bulldogs are almost twice as expensive to insure than less costly breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds and Australian Sheepdogs.
The rate differences between these high-cost and less expensive breeds were as much as $500 a year. Most of the high-premium pooches also show up on other lists of the priciest breeds based on veterinary costs.
Here’s the cost of dog insurance by breed, followed by information on why the differences are so wide — and what they may mean for owners of insured and uninsured canines.
|Pet insurance costs for 15 popular dog breeds|
|Pembroke Welsh Corgi||$76||$909|
|German Shorthaired Pointer||$69||$827|
|SOURCE: AdvisorSmith, which got quote estimates for a 5-year-old animal with no pre-existing conditions for 15 popular dog breeds. Premiums based on up to $10,000 in annual coverage at 70% reimbursement with a $250 deductible. Twelve insurers were surveyed on costs for dogs in 25 of the most populated U.S. cities, from Los Angeles, Chicago, and Las Vegas to New York City and Philadelphia, and from Seattle and Indianapolis to Houston and Phoenix. The data were released in 2021.|
Why do dog insurance costs differ so much by breed?
The wide variation in veterinary costs and pet insurance premiums among different dog breeds can be attributed to their varying genetic predisposition to diseases. On the other hand, mixed-breed pets often have fewer genetic issues due to interbreeding, which is why their owners tend to pay lower premiums, as reported by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.
But data from a major pet hospital shows that even within popular dog breeds with low costs — such as German Pointers and Welsh Corgis — the incidence of cancer is relatively low, affecting only about one in 100 dogs. The incidence jumps to two or three in 100 for Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Boxers, and to about 10% for Golden Retrievers. And cancer treatment for a dog can easily cost $10,000, and a $25,000 bill or higher isn't out of the question.
Two high-cost breeds — Rottweilers and Labradors — are also especially prone to elbow and hip dysplasia. If it advances enough, the condition can require surgery that costs anywhere from $1,500 to over $4,500. And those two breeds, along with German Shepherds, are also among the most vulnerable to cranial cruciate ligament injuries to the leg, for which surgery can cost as much as $6,000.
Bulldogs, including the English and French breeds on the list, are “brachycephalic” (or short-headed) dogs. According to the Humane Society, "the structure of their bodies means that dogs of these breeds often suffer from health issues ranging from breathing problems to heatstroke; many of them can’t exercise for long without collapsing."
The behavior of some breeds can also help drive up their medical bills. One such breed is Labradors, which Steve Weinrauch, Trupanion’s chief veterinary officer and chief product officer, says are especially prone to eating things like rocks and socks. Surgery to remove swallowed objects can cost up to $10,000, according to one vets’ trade publication.
AdvisorSmith generally found higher premiums by breed than did our own price survey, probably because of differences in the coverage used to gather quotes. Pet insurance deductibles are one of the factors that most affect premiums, and the site chose a relatively low deductible of $250, compared with the $500 amount we selected. It also used a fairly high annual limit of $10,000, while we chose a moderate $5,000 limit.
AdvisorSmith did, however, opt for only a 70% reimbursement rate on expenses, compared with the 80% we selected, but reimbursement rate affects premiums less than most other pricing factors.
Pro tip: If you’re worried about insurance costs but aren't sure of your dog’s breed, look into one of the best dog DNA tests.
Tips for buying pet insurance for dogs
These tips will help you weigh differences in veterinary costs and premiums by breed when you are getting a dog or deciding whether to insure one.
Compare pet insurance premiums, even if you don’t plan to insure your dog
There’s plenty of luck at play when it comes to how much medical care your particular animal may need. Not every dog of a breed that’s pricey to insure and care for will be unhealthy, just as dogs of breeds with better track records won't necessarily run up lower bills than the norm.
Still, a list of premiums by breed is useful because it ranks the likelihood of running into big medical bills for your dog. Chances are you'll spend more money at the vet if you own a Pinscher rather than a Pointer, or any breed of Bulldog rather than a Yorkie.
Consider pet insurance costs when choosing a dog breed
If you're shopping for a dog you intend to insure and you’re open to multiple breeds, make the dog’s lineage part of your buying decision. Your choice may affect not only the dog’s purchase price but its cost of ownership too. You could easily spend five figures more in premiums over the dog’s lifetime by insuring a costly breed rather than a cheaper one.
Your choice could also have implications for your homeowners insurance. Since medical bills and legal action resulting from dog bites are covered under some policies' liability provisions, many home insurers are picky about the dog breeds they’ll tolerate. Some even decline to insure a home in which certain breeds live — leaving you with fewer choices of insurance company.
Of the six breeds that companies most often use to reject applicants for homeowners coverage, three also have pricey pet premiums: Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. (The other especially unwelcome breeds for homeowners' coverage are Pit Bulls, Chows and Presa Canarios.)
Research the health problems that dog breeds are prone to
Before getting a dog, spend time learning about the breed you’re interested in and finding out which genetic illnesses are likely to affect it. Some dogs, like St. Bernards, are prone to hip dysplasia and joint issues, while others, like Bulldogs, may develop respiratory problems.
Knowing which health issues are prevalent in the breed you like or own will better prepare you for what you’ll pay on pet insurance premiums.
Pet insurance may be worth it for pricier dog breeds
If you've wondered whether pet insurance is worth it, the answer may depend on how far you're willing to go to care for your dog in the event of an accident or illness, and on its breed. It may seem counterintuitive to say pet insurance is potentially a better buy for a breed that’s costly to insure than one with modest premiums, but our calculations suggest that can be true.
In general, pet insurance can pay off for a pet that’s likely to run up high medical bills. And higher odds of the pet developing a serious condition may eclipse the extra you’ll pay in premiums to insure that animal.
Let’s say you're insuring a Dachshund. In a year in which the dog runs up an average annual vet bill for accidents and illness, about $425, you would pay approximately $771 in premiums. After paying a $250 deductible, the insurer would reimburse you for 70% of the remaining $175, or just $123.
Deducting that payout ($123) from the premiums paid ($771), the net cost per year of care for your dog would be about $500. The overall good health of Dachshunds increases their likelihood of experiencing more years without health problems compared to breeds that are more prone to health issues, so what you’d pay in annual premiums would be offset only slightly by insurance.
Now, you’d pay a lot more to insure a Doberman: $1,347 a year. But by doing so, you’d be reimbursed 70% of a hefty bill in the event your dog developed cancer, which is statistically more likely than for a Dachshund. If the treatment costs came to $7,000 — a plausible figure for cancer care — you’d net more than $3,000 from insurance, even after paying the deductible and premiums for the year.
This simple one-year calculation doesn’t necessarily make insurance a must-buy for your dog. Pet insurance may not pay off for many people in the long run. But our numbers do reveal how, when deciding whether to insure your dog, its breed and likelihood of serious illness may be more important than differences in premiums.
Most expensive dog breeds to insure FAQ
Do pet insurance companies charge more for mixed dog breeds?
Do aggressive dog breeds cost more to insure?
Dog health insurance costs depend on the breed's predisposition to genetic or hereditary conditions, among other factors. Whether the dog's breed is considered aggressive should have no bearing on your pet insurance premiums, unless the breed is predisposed to certain illnesses or behaviors (like eating non-food objects).
However, when it comes to homeowners insurance, some companies charge higher premiums to owners of dog breeds categorized as dangerous. Moreover, according to the Insurance Information Institute, some insurers may decline to insure these dog owners altogether or require that they sign a liability waiver. Other companies don't take the dog's breed into account, but do consider whether the dog has bitten someone in the past.
What are the cheapest dog breeds to insure?
What dog breed has the least health problems?
According to Veterinarians.org, the five healthiest dog breeds are the Ibizan Hound, Canaan Dog, Whippet, Havanese and Brittany Spaniel.
If you're thinking about adopting or buying a dog of a specific breed, check whether they are prone to genetic or hereditary conditions. This will give you a clearer idea of what to expect with regard to veterinary expenses and help you decide whether pet insurance might be a good investment.
How expensive is dog insurance?
Summary of Money’s most expensive dog breeds to insure
Pet insurance can help you cover expensive veterinary services and treatment should your dog suffer a major accident or illness. While pet insurance premiums are generally affordable, they can vary based on factors such as your dog's age and breed.
If you're getting a new dog, understanding which dog breeds are the most expensive to insure due to common health issues can help you prepare for potential veterinary expenses and help you decide whether pet insurance is worth it.
To learn more about affordable pet insurance, take a look at the best cheap pet insurance companies.