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Direct Line Insurance : Breed-related conditions cost dog owners ú5.4 billion

11/17/2021 | 01:08pm EST
Breed-related conditions cost dog owners £5.4 billion
4min read
15 Nov 2021
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  • Predisposed health conditions for certain breeds have cost dog owners an average of £831, rising to an estimated £1,144 over the dog's lifetime
  • Half of vets (53 per cent) believe owners are not fully aware of their dog's potential health conditions
  • Three quarters of vets (76 per cent) have seen an increase in the number of breed related conditions they have treated
  • This is only likely to increase further as four million dogs have been purchased or adopted over lockdown

Dogs that suffer with breed related conditions, have so far collectively cost their owners £5.4 billion, reveals new research from Direct Line Pet Insurance1. Owners of breeds that are susceptible to these conditions due to their genetics have on average faced bills of £831 to manage these conditions and predict that they will need to spend a further £312 on the issue over the rest of the dog's lifetime. This totals nearly £1,150, meaning that the total vet bill for treating genetically predisposed conditions will cost Brits nearly £7.5 billion.

Many vets2 believe there is a lack of awareness from some owners about illnesses and conditions their beloved pets may be predisposed to, estimating more than half (53 per cent) of owners are not fully aware of the potential health conditions that their dog could experience later in life.

Vets also estimate that some 56 per cent of all illnesses experienced by pets are directly linked to their breed, with three quarters (76 per cent) reporting an increase in the number of breed specific conditions they have treated in the past five years. Common conditions in popular breeds include ear infections in Cocker Spaniels, Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in Daschunds and hip dysplasia and obesity in Labradors.

Table one: Common conditions the UK's top 10 popular dog breeds3 are most predisposed to

Rank of breed3

Dog breed3

Predisposed conditions4


Labrador Retriever

Obesity, hip, and elbow dysplasia



Cataracts, liver disease


French Bulldog

Respiratory problems, joint disorders


Cocker Spaniel

Ear Infections, eye conditions



Intervertebral disc disease/hip dysplasia


Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Skin and eye conditions


Jack Russell Terrier

Eye conditions, lack of coordination


Border Collie

Eye conditions, epilepsy



Joint disorders, heart disease


German Shephard

Skin Allergies, Hip Dysplasia

Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance, 2021

A fifth (20 per cent) of dog owners, 3.6 million people, did not think it was important for them to know whether their dog was susceptible to certain health conditions beforehand, or if the dog's parents had any known conditions (19 per cent), while nearly a quarter (23 per cent), 4.1 million people did not think it was important to know about susceptibility to certain behaviours.

Yet over a third (36 per cent) of dog owners across the country, some 6.5 million people, have seen breed related chronic or ongoing conditions in their dog. Skin and hair related problems are common among dogs with conditions (28 per cent), as are behavioural issues (24 per cent) and ear complaints (21 per cent).

With over four million Brits having purchased or rescued a dog since lockdown began (around 24 per cent of all dog owners) vets could soon be seeing an even greater rise in demand for treating breed specific complaints.

Madeline Pike, Veterinary Nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance said: "It's always really exciting choosing a new dog to join your family, but it's important to make sure you choose the best breed for you. It's vital to check things like how big the dog will be, how much exercise it needs and what its training requirements will be, but it's equally important to check for any conditions or illnesses it is predisposed to.

"Owning a dog can be expensive, so understanding what issues the dog may face during its lifetime will help you budget, and also understand what you can do to make sure your dog is as healthy as possible. And always double check any limits or exclusions on conditions before taking out a pet insurance policy. We have no time limits on conditions as part of our advanced cover at Direct Line, as we know how often this affects our customers."

In recent years there has been a rise in popularity of so-called designer cross breeds such as Cockerpoos, Labradoodles and Puggles. While traditionally, cross breeds can be healthier than pure breeds, vets warn that owners still need to be careful when choosing a puppy as there is a risk that it could inherit predisposed conditions from two different breeds.

Vets have provided the following points about the health of 'designer' cross breeds:

  • Early on, 'designer dogs' were a mix of two dogs that have fewer health problems. However, now they are a breed in their own right so have as many if not more genetic problems as their ancestors
  • There are breed specific issues in crossbreeds too, so owners need to be careful about understanding the potential predisposed conditions in both breeds their dog is bred from
  • Health problems can occur in both pedigree and designer dogs, it all depends on the ancestry and what health issues were common with the breeds in the 'mix'
  • It is not fair on the dogs or their owners to recklessly breed animals without prior research. If proper screening is done this can greatly improve the lives of designer dogs crossed correctly
  • Only professional dog breeds with sufficient medical knowledge should breed animals with potential health risks, so source a reputable dog breeder to avoid an avalanche of health issues and expensive vet trips

Recognising that these are common problems which affect millions of dogs and their owners, Direct Line Pet Insurance has no time limits on conditions covered as part of its Advanced cover, which also provides up to £8,000 of cover per condition. For more information visit https://www.directline.com/products/pet-insurance.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

1 Research commissioned with Opinium between 17th - 20th August among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults

2 Research among 100 vets across the UK during August 2021

3 The UK's 10 most popular dog breeds in 2021 (https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/dog-breeds/a33020458/most-popular-dog-breeds-uk/)

4 Breed information courtesy of the PDSA (https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs)

For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
PR manager - Direct Line

Tel: 01651 832 095

Email: [email protected]

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/car-cover


Direct Line Insurance Group plc published this content on 15 November 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 17 November 2021 17:59:26 UTC.

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