The Most Unloved Dogs in the UK (Expert Study)

RecklessSeptember 07, 2021
Demand for dogs is at an all-time high. Google searches for 'buy a puppy' show a year on year increase of 115%, with no signs of demand dropping.

This unprecedented demand for puppies has consequences. Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) believe the UK is on the edge of a puppy welfare crisis, as the pups born in lockdown continue to age and their behavioural challenges, such as aggression and separation anxiety, become more apparent.

All this leads to the expectation that the UK is on the verge of an exponential increase in dog relinquishment. With the average age a dog is relinquished at 22 months, we can expect that Christmas is the time we see this surge in abandons.

So, which dogs will get abandoned this Christmas? Why are people abandoning dogs? And, more importantly, what can we do to help? Find our research and methodology for this study below.

The Most Unloved Dogs in the UK

This research was conducted by analysing dog abandonment data from over 1000 different rescue centres across the UK. The data from each centre was then collated and analysed to look at which dogs were most likely to be relinquished at 22 months old. Unknown breeds were removed from the analysis.

The analysis revealed that the dog breed most likely to be abandoned at 22 months old is the German Shepherd. This breed is the victim of nearly a quarter of all abandons (21%). The second most likely breed to be abandoned is the Dachshund, with over 16% of abandons coming from this breed alone. In third place, we have the Labrador, which takes up an estimated 11% of all abandons at 22 months.

Other unfortunate breeds that find themselves in rescue centres include Terrier breeds, Staffordshire Terriers and, unsurprisingly, Greyhounds, albeit Greyhounds are usually abandoned when they’re much older.

The Most Common Reason for Abandoning A Dog

This part of our study was, again, conducted using the help of over 1000 different rescue centres across the UK. When someone abandons a dog at a rescue centre, the owner is asked to fill in a short form with information that may help the dog get rehomed. One of the questions on the form asks the owner to explain why they’re abandoning the dog. We were able to access and analyse this data.

So, why do people abandon these dogs breeds? Well, according to our research, the most common reason for abandoning a dog is “Financial”. Quite simply, whether due to job insecurity or other factors, over 33% of people who abandon dogs do it because they simply can’t afford to keep the dog. The second most cited reason was “Untrained/Aggressive Behaviour”, which is quite self-explanatory. Followed by “Moving” as the third most common reason and “Relationship Split” as the fifth most common. A further 12% of reasons were simply marked as “other”.

Age and Sex of Dogs Abandoned

Two other factors we were able to analyse in this study were the average age of a dog that gets abandoned and the sex of the dog.

The average age that a dog gets abandoned is 22 months old. After speaking with volunteers at rescue centres, this age seems to represent the point when a dog goes from a puppy to an adult and the behaviours that were once considered “fun” and “cute”, starting to become much more problematic.

What can we do to help dogs that are abandoned?

Dog abandonment is a difficult subject to talk about. Nobody wants to think they’re the type of person who would abandon a dog, but for some people, the circumstances they find themselves in would demand it of them. With such a drastic rise in dog ownership over the last 18 months, we are sure to see the same rise in abandons. Here are some things you can do to help the dogs that are abandoned this year.

Volunteer to Walk Dogs

Love dogs? Love walking? Why not combine the two and help out at your local rescue centre? Volunteers are always needed and even one walk over the weekend can go a long way.

Offer to Foster Dogs

If you are not able or ready to adopt a pet, or you simply prefer to provide temporary housing for homeless animals, then consider fostering abused and abandoned pets that are living in your local animal shelters.

Donate to Dog Charities

If walking isn’t your thing and you’re not able to foster a dog, why not start a fundraiser for a dog charity? You could set up a pop-up dog grooming centre, host a pet-themed raffle or even go on a sponsored dog walk. The options are endless. 

Support Your Local Wildlife 

If you want to get closer to nature without the responsibility of owning a pet dog, why not try tempting the wild birds into your garden by building a bird feeder and filling it with wild bird seed. We can't solve all the problems in the world, but we can help solve the problems on our doorstep.