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There are approximately eight and a half million dogs kept as pets in the UK*. There are many different breeds and types of dog, all varying in size, body shape and personality. 

We rescue and rehome thousands of dogs each year - each one comes with a unique personality ready made. If you're looking to introduce a dog into your family why not offer a forever home to a dog in our care?

Understanding dogs' needs

Man resting on sofa with rehomed dog © RSPCA photolibrary

Owning and caring for a dog is great fun and immensely rewarding. But it's also a big responsibility - on average, dogs live for around twelve years, but many live for much longer.

Dogs have very complex needs and each dog is unique. There's no one 'perfect' way to care for all dogs because every dog and every situation is different. It's 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 - every dog deserves a good home, where they can be healthy and happy.

  • Diet - make sure your dog has a healthy diet to help keep them healthy and happy.

  • Behaviour - our top tips to help your dog behave normally.

  • Company - dogs are sociable animals who enjoy appropriate company.

  • Health and welfare - help protect your dog from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

You can also download our booklet: How to take care of your dog (pdf 2.08MB).

Dog factfile

It's generally accepted that the common ancestor of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is the wolf.

Domestication of the dog began around 15,000 years ago and during this process humans selected desirable traits such as coat colour and leg length.

This selection process has resulted in over 400 different breeds of dog. Why not view our full Dog Factfile (PDF 48KB).

Dogs use a range of methods to communicate

  • Dogs produce a range of sounds, often in complex combinations, including whines, whimpers, growls, barks and howls.
  • Many dogs can use their body, face, tail, ears and limbs to communicate with other dogs.

Dogs are playful

  • When inviting others to play, a dog crouches on its forelimbs, remains standing on its hind limbs and may wag its tail or bark. This is called the ‘play bow’.

Dogs really are man’s best friend

  • Assistance dogs can help blind, deaf and disabled people, whilst some dogs can alert owners before an epileptic fit starts.


Your duty to care

It's important for people owning or caring for a dog know about dog laws, to find out more please download our Dogs and the law information (169 KB).


* [Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA) 2015].