Dog Walking Vehicle

Dog Walking Vehicle – Van vs Car

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One of the first things you need to consider when starting a dog walking business is what sort of dog walking vehicle to get. You need to think about how many dogs you think you will walk at once and whether a petrol or diesel makes the most sense. Electric may soon become an option as well but currently the technology is still in its infancy. All the cars I’ve owned for the last 10 years or more have been diesel and despite a current anti-diesel trend in big cities I still think they make the most sense outside somewhere like London for the following two reasons:

  1. Diesel vehicles are generally capable of higher mileages (longer useful life) than petrol vehicles.
  2. Diesel vehicles are more fuel efficient than petrol vehicles.

Once I’d decided on a diesel the next decision was what size of vehicle to get. There are people who use estate cars or SUV’s for transporting dogs but in my opinion you want something square and boxy with no sloping roof lines. Essentially you want a van or an MPV that’s derived from a van. Dog crates tend to be very square so your vehicle should be too to maximise space.

At the larger end of the market popular models could be vehicles like the VW Transporter, Fiat Scudo, Citroen Dispatch or Peugeot Expert (the last 3 are almost identical and made on the same production line). The next size down and also very popular with dog walkers are vehicles like Fiat Doblo, Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, VW Caddy, Ford Transit Connect and the Renault Kangoo. This is the size of vehicle I wanted, perfectly suited to carrying about four dogs at a time, good on fuel and relatively reliable and cheap to maintain. Since all of these vehicles are available as a van or car this was the decision I had to make. How I approached this decision and the pros and cons as I saw them form the basis of the rest of this article.

Dog Walking Vehicle – Advantages of Van

Since it’s just Ewelina and I at home I don’t need more than 2 seats so a van was a real possibility. As I see it these are the advantages of a van.

  1. Transporting multiple dogs day in and day out can lead to your vehicle to have that ‘doggy’ smell. If you own a van with a full bulkhead then the driver’s cabin is completely separate from where the dogs will be.
  2. Vans don’t have windows. Some people argue that all that glass in a regular car acts as a greenhouse in hot weather which is not ideal for the dogs. To counter this however a regular car with air conditioning is likely to have a cooler interior than a van where the air conditioning won’t reach the cargo area if you have a bulkhead. The problem with dogs in hot cars always seems to occur when the car is parked with the engine off with no circulation. Realistically no dog is likely to be in my vehicle unattended for more than a few minutes whilst I am collecting or dropping off another dog. However just to be sure I feel it’s wise to invest in a 12v fan for any dog walking vehicle which works regardless of whether the key is in the ignition. Window blinds or tinted windows can also help reduce the impact of the sun. Another perceived advantage of not having windows is that you have much more space for signwriting your dog walking vehicle to help with advertising.

Dog Walking Vehicle – Advantages of a Car

  1. The first advantage of the car based versions of the vehicles I was looking at is their flexibility. If it’s to be your only vehicle, providing the cages can be removed you still have a 5 seater vehicle. The rear seats can be completely removed or folded away giving you interior space similar to the van models. When you need extra seats though there are there.
  2. Another advantage of the car based versions is the cost of insurance. There seems little logic to it but if you get quotes on a vehicle and explain most of the mileage will be business use, the quote for the car based versions will typically be about half that of the van based version.
  3. Another cost related advantage of the car based version of the vehicles I was looking at relates to the cost for road tax. Vehicle excise duty for vans seems to be at a flat rate and takes no account of the size of the vehicle or how polluting it is. Basically all commercial vehicles up to 3500kg maximum weight pay £230.00 tax for 12 months. There are some exceptions made for Euro 4 and Euro 5 vehicles made between short periods but chances are the vehicle you will be looking at will be rated at £230.00 a year. For large polluting commercial vehicles this rate might actually be in your favour over the car based equivalent. For example a Hyundai iLoad van will almost certainly be cheaper to tax than the MPV Hyundai i800, especially if you had the automatic version. For dog walking vehicles like the Fiat Doblo and Citroen Berlingo though, the car based versions are likely to cost around £130.00 to £145.00 a year to tax depending on the model.
  4. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the car based versions is the condition of examples you will find for sale. The vans have often been driven hard and have relatively high mileages. The car based versions of Berlingo’s and Doblo’s seem to appeal to older drivers or families who do lower mileage and typically regularly maintain their vehicles.

So as you can probably see from the image at the top of this post the vehicle I finally purchased was a Citroen Berlingo Multispace car based dog walking vehicle. The Fiat Doblo was also in contention and I especially like the idea of their long wheel base high top version. However the high top version is pretty hard to find. Also with the Doblo the vast majority of sales were the van version whereas the Berlingo has sold very well in the UK as a car as well as a van. I prefer the look of the Berlingo over the Doblo but truthfully that alone would not be a deciding factor. User reviews seem more positive for the Berlingo and that was one of the deciding factors for me. My used example came from a Citroen dealership. Now I have the vehicle I need to consider what sort of cages to get!

If you are a dog walker reading this feel free to comment about your buying decision. Perhaps you decided to look at ex police dog vans, or found something already fitted out with cages on the agilitynet website. I’d be keen to hear what dog walking vehicle you ended up getting and why.

More to explorer

Dog Car Ramp

Dog Car Ramp Review

Not long after I started this business I purchased this dog car ramp but have only just got around to reviewing it.

Lintran Dog Cages

Lintran Dog Cages

After deciding on the right dog walking vehicle for my needs, the next decision was what sort of dog cages to use.

14 thoughts on “Dog Walking Vehicle – Van vs Car”

  1. This will be something i will be looking into in the future.
    My first thought about car vs van was also the road tax prices which like you mentioned can vary alot. I currently drive a diesel Renault Megane Sports Tourer and only pay £20 per year.

    Another dog walker local to me purchased an ex police van although ive read some can be driven into the ground before sold on.

    • Hi Reece,

      The right size vehicle largely depends on how many dogs you think you’ll walk at any one time. Car based MPV are cheaper to tax than vans. What I liked about buying the car version was that many you see for sale have actually done low mileage for the age, much lower than the van versions typically.

      Yes I’ve seen people who buy ex police vans but again they usually have high mileage. Van insurance quotes was the main reason though that I decided on a car based version. I’m waiting for Lintran to make me a custom cage that takes up almost the entire rear of the vehicle. It will mean the middle row of seats comes out but I think I will end up with the right vehicle for my needs.

      Good luck whatever you decide to get for your dog walking business.

      Gary

      • Hi there . I am just starting my own dog walking business, and I’ve purchased a Peugeot expert tepee.. do you think I’ve purchased the right vehicle? It’s very roomy and boxy in the back but also not to huge to drive

        • Hi Alexandra,

          The model you have purchased is slightly bigger than my Citroen and is a good choice for dog walking. You will easily be able to transport 6+ dogs, even large breeds in such a vehicle. It’s also relatively fuel efficient.

          I’m assuming it’s a diesel and if so the only thing I’d say is that if it’s fitted with a dpf make sure it gets a good run from time to time. Diesels from about 2006 tend to have the dpf and they don’t like constant short journeys.

          Good luck

          Gary
          The Northampton Dog Walker

          • Thank you so much for your reply . Van is all fitted for use now .. and I have been up and running for about 3 weeks now. Business is great .. and I’ve definitely made the right decision in buying this vehicle 🤗

  2. I bought a citroen xsara picasso and it is huge inside. I have been walking dogs for over eight years and one of the pit falls is the vehicle insurance. We got a policy that included a replacement vehicle if we were in an accident. What they don’t tell you or state on any web site is that certain professions do not get replacement cars or vans, and yes you guessed it dog walkers is one. Our business almost folded because of it so make sure that you can allow dogs into an insurance replacement vehicle. We were lucky as I managed to buy another vehicle at very short notice and this took away our funds.
    Due to this we have now made sure we have enough funds available to buy another vehicle if the same happened again.

    • Hi Stewart,

      Thanks for the comment. I’ve heard of some dog walkers who use a Picasso. During the research some said it was not as square and boxy and it tapers in towards the roof. Does the Picasso have the same low boot line as the Berlingo which makes it easy for dogs to jump in?

      Your comment about insurance is interesting and something to be aware of. Like you said having a contingency is a must. Hire companies usually have a no pets rule so you might need to replace the vehicle yourself while you wait for the claim to go through, fingers crossed it’s something I won’t face any time soon. Using your vehicle for business can throw up problems like these. Another is breakdown cover. When my RAC was due for renewal I asked if they would be able to take the dogs as well as me. They said it would depend on the driver who came to help and was at their discretion and based on size of vehicle, number of dogs. They also said if I had sign writing on the vehicle (which I don’t) then I would need to go for their commercial breakdown policy in any event.

      Thanks again for the comment, it will give readers even more information to consider which is all good.

      Gary
      Northampton Dog Walker

  3. Hi Gary

    I am setting up a dog Walking business in Stirlingshire and followed your lead buying a Citreon Berlingo multispace. But am regretting it now as I don’t seem to be able to get insurance for it if I remove the rear seats. I have tried direct line, admiral and Hastings. They class that as modifying the vehicle, even though the car is built to flip and remove the rear seats..I asked them does that mean if people remove their rear seats for a trip to the dump, or ikea etc their car insurance is invalid and they to,d me yes. Curious as to who you are with.

    • Hi Catherine,

      I’ll check who I’m insured with in the morning but what they are telling you sounds like complete nonsense.

      If you were removing seats by undoing bolts then I can see that they might consider this a modification. The berlingo though is designed as an mpv meaning multi purpose and the seats just unclip. They assess the risk of each model and these are purchased by people who want that flexibility. For an insurer to claim you would not be insured by removing the seats to take things to the dump I feel could be challenged. Indeed I’ll check with my insurer who knew the intended use when they took my money. If they try and claim a modification I’ll take it to insurance ombudsman.

      Will get back to you.

      Gary

  4. Hi Gary.

    Just got business car insurance quote from Liverpool Victoria to cover removing my seats, putting crates in ( classed as interior changes) and magnetic signs covered too under modifications to paintwork. So good to go. What a hassle!

    Catherine

    • Hi Catherine,

      I checked following your comment. I’m with Hastings Direct but they use various underwriters. The underwriter for my policy has no problem with the seats being removed since that’s a feature of the Berlingo. They also have no issue with my Lintran cage but if it was not a removeable cage it may be a different story. They are sending me something in writing to this effect.

      On the subject of advertising they did say large lettering on windows would be considered a modification but car magnets are perfectly OK.

      Good luck.

      Gary

  5. Great insight into vans, I’m just at stage of getting started. So this has been really helpful. Where did you get your cages for inside?

    • Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for your comment. I obtained my cages from Lintran who measured the interior of the Berlingo and custom made them. You can also buy ready made cages for certain vehicles and can sometimes find these used for a good price. Normally the advice is for the cage to fit right up to the seats which offer better crash protection. Lintran are good company to deal with so you can always ask their advice. I have a seperate blog post about Lintran cages. Essentially they do powder coated and galvanised. I went with the latter which is more rust resistant. Cage outlast vehicle many times over which is why I went for a system that could be removed. My Berlingo in 2009 and the 2018 model is exactly same. This gives me an upgrade path for some time. When you have permanently installed cages you either have to sell your vehicle to another dog walker or lose lots of money as new vehicle owner may not want or need the cages. Good luck.

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