Dogs are very popular pet animals; there are approximately eight million dogs kept as pets in the UK .
There are many different breeds and varieties of dog, varying in size, body shape and personality. The UK Kennel Club currently recognises over two hundred breeds of dog. The majority of dogs in the UK are pedigrees.
Typically, dogs live for thirteen years, but many may live for much longer.
Understanding dogs' needs
Dogs have very complex needs so looking after them well can be challenging. Insight into the biology and behaviour of dogs can help you understand your pet’s needs better, so why not check out our Dog Factfile to learn more.
Your duty to care
Owning and caring for a dog is great fun and immensely rewarding. But it is also a big responsibility and a longterm commitment, in terms of care and finances. If you own or are responsible for a dog, even on a temporary basis, you are required by law to care for him/her properly.
Read more about the Animal Welfare Act and your duty of care to your animals.
The five welfare needs
There is no one 'perfect' way to care for all dogs because every dog and every situation is different. Whilst many dogs are kept inside their owners' homes, some dogs are kept outside in kennels. It is up to you how you look after your dog, but you must take reasonable steps to ensure that you meet all your dog's needs.
Read our expert reviewed pet care information to find out more about the needs of dogs: Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company, Health and welfare.
You'll find lots more detailed advice under these main webpages, so do take a look around our dog section for top tips on keeping your dog happy and healthy.
You can also download our booklet: How to take care of your dog (pdf 2.08MB).
 Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA) pet statistics 2012. PFMA provide statistics on the UK pet population and pet food market.