January 3, 2016


There are approximately 8.5 million dogs in the UK.  Dogs can be great companions and have a positive impact on, people and local communities if they are cared for responsibly.  Responsible dog owners ensure the health and welfare of their pet throughout all their life as well as considering how their dog interacts with other people and animals in the community.

However, whether a dog is a family pet, working or a sporting animal, its welfare needs (as set out under the Animal Welfare Act 2006) must be met.  Sadly, in 2016, the RSPCA:

*  rescued 8,009 dogs

*  secured 858 convictions for cruelty to dogs

*  re-homed 8,893 dogs



There are a range of dog welfare issues which concern the RSPCA and which can impact upon individual animal’s welfare needs including:

  • acquisition – the way people acquire dogs has changed and legislation needs to reflect this across breeding, dealing, and trading so that the welfare of parents and offspring is protected
  • behaviour – it is beneficial and important to train and, where necessary modify unwanted behaviour, but this should not be in such a way that compromises welfare or places people at risk. e.g. electronic shock or prong collars should not be used.
  • control – keeping dogs under control helps protect human safety and animal welfare.  The RSPCA believes a preventative approach is the way forward rather than punitive and breed specific measures
  • identification – compulsory microchipping is an important tool to ensure any lost or stray dogs can be traced back to their owners
  • Education – ensuring those responsible for dogs, regardless of the purpose they are kept for, understand and provide for their animal’s  welfare

The RSPCA welcomes the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare on developing an England-wide strategy for dogs.  If we are to encourage responsible dog ownership and reduce associated problems then a holistic approach is needed.  For further information on this please see the APGAW website

The briefings on this page provide further information on some of these important issues.