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Owning a pet comes with lots of expenses. Some breeds are more prone to health conditions than others. Here's a guide to the priciest.

There’s no doubting how impactful—and wonderful!—owning a dog can be. They are faithful companions who provide endless snuggles and laughter. They keep us active and encourage us to get out of bed every day. They even help us fight high blood pressure and help us live longer! 

In return for their love, affection, tail wags and boops on their snouts, dogs require their owners to take care of them and meet all their care needs. Most of us can prepare for the general financial responsibilities and upkeep, like supplies, food and treats, grooming, vaccinations and regular visits to the veterinarian. However, the unexpected can (and often does) happen, creating emergency bills. And with some breeds, chronic health issues can become astonishingly expensive, says Charlotte Reed, animal expert and host of The Pet Buzz talk show.

“While some studies reveal that a pet owner will spend at least 1 percent of his or her income each year on their pets, we realize that it depends upon a pet owner’s lifestyle,” she says. “Most potential dog owners selected a breed based on trends or rarity. Unfortunately, in many cases, some of the most popular dog breeds come with expensive health problems.”

Here’s a look at five of the top dog breeds that pet parents may spend a pretty penny on. 


With flattened faces, petite bodies and lots of personalities, there’s a reason French bulldogs have reached the top spot on the list of the most popular breeds registered with the American Kennel Club. This unique breeding often comes with a steep adoption fee of $5,000 to $10,000, but that may be nothing compared to the potential health issues that French bulldogs usually have, Reed says. 

They are more prone to a wide variety of conditions—all with a long list of expenses that Reed predicts can add up to $20,000 or more in their lifetime. These include:

  • Allergies
  • Brachycephalic respiratory syndrome
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Cataracts
  • Cherry eye
  • Cleft palate
  • Colitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Deafness
  • Ear infections
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Heat sensitivity 
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
  • Luxating patellas
  • Spinal disorders


You’ve likely never met a Yorkshire Terrier you didn’t like. They are full of personality, energy and sweet facial expressions. Generally speaking, these dogs are relatively easy to care for, according to Dr. Brian Evans, the clinical director of Dutch, a pet telehealth platform. However, they come with one big issue requiring frequent, extensive, and expensive intervention: bad teeth.

“Plan on being proactive with their dental care, though to properly treat their teeth, it will require general anesthesia on an annual basis, sometimes even twice yearly for severe cases,” he says. “The alternative can be a rotten mouth, which has health implications for the rest of the body.”


When you think of the all-American dog, you may picture a goofy, loveable, affectionate golden retriever. These dogs are excellent family companions since they have a calm and patient demeanor around children, and they are pretty easy to train. However, they tend to have expensive health issues, including chest, skin, eye and ear problems, hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and many others, Reed says. The biggest worry, though, is cancer since 60 percent of golden retrievers will pass away from this disease, with the most common culprits as hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, osteosarcoma and mastocytoma.

Cancer comes with a hefty price tag that ultimately ends in devastation. “Cancer specialist visits are usually $1,500, but that doesn’t include any diagnostic tests, X-rays, blood work, fine needle aspiration procedures, ultrasound examinations and follow-ups,” Reed says. “Major surgery to remove a cancerous tumor deep inside the body or that will require reconstruction can start at $1,500.” Also: chemotherapy treatments are usually $200 to $5,000 each, and radiation is between $2,000 and $6,000. 


Believe it or not, Great Danes — even with their large size — are said to be ideal for cities since they don’t require a ton of space or exercise. However, according to Dr. Evans, their large size often results in large medical bills. “Medications for these dogs are typically more expensive because they need so much more. Even flea meds can be double the cost because you will need to purchase two different sizes to equal enough for one of these big dogs,” he says. “Also, Great Danes should have a procedure called a preventative gastropexy as there is a high risk of developing a fatal disease called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV).”

Regardless of whether this is done via a traditional open surgery or a less painful laparoscopic route, the cost can be high. 


Fans of the OG HBO hit, ‘Sex & the City’ will remember when Charlotte is gifted an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Though beautiful and easy-going with a sweet temperament, they often have more medical issues than other spaniels. Reed says their health problems include mitral valve disease, heart murmurs, syringomyelia, obesity, hip dysplasia and dry eye. Depending on the severity of the illness or their health issue, she says you can easily spend $10,000 alone on a positive mitral valve disease, and it will require them to be on medication for the rest of their life.  


Should you stay away from these expensive dog breeds? Not necessarily—but you should anticipate and prepare for these added costs. As Reed says, it’s important to note that veterinary health costs depend where you live around the country, but keep in mind that vet bills have gone up lately, just like everything else. “Since the pandemic, veterinary costs have skyrocketed due to labor shortages, supply chain issues, increasing transportations cost and other related contributing factors,” she says. 

Regardless of your dog’s breed — and especially if you own an expensive breed like the ones listed above — pet insurance can help defer your veterinary health costs and provide you with the financial means necessary to give the very best care to your beloved best friend. 

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