The UK is a nation of dog lovers, with 27% of pet owners caring for two or more canines.
But have things changed with the cost of living crisis and people returning to work? Do people feel differently about their dog’s breed or the level of care they need?
In partnership with survey company OnePoll, let’s learn all about the UK’s top dog breeds. Find out what research UK pet parents do before getting a dog and how much it costs to care for their pup.
To find out which breeds are most popular across the UK, 2,000 dog owners were asked about the pooch they own and why.
From the 222 dog breeds recognised by the UK Kennel Club, there were two standout favourites – the Labrador Retriever (8%) and the Border Collie (8%). The Labrador Retriever is known for being a calm, affectionate dog, while Border Collies are typically highly energetic and intelligent.
Our survey shows that most UK dog owners (18%) own a crossbreed of some kind – which is a hybrid of two different types of dog.
Crossbreeds usually show a mix of their parents’ characteristics, but there’s no guarantee which traits the dog will have. Knowing what breed the parents are will give some idea of their appearance and personality, so it’s useful to do as much research as possible.
No matter the breed, it’s key to do your research before you bring a dog home. It’s important to remember that care needs and trainability vary from dog to dog.
Owners were drawn to Labrador Retrievers due to their appearance and behavioural traits. Three-quarters claimed that their experience of the breed matched up with their expectations of their four-legged friend.
Border Collies were chosen for their temperament and compatibility with families, though this highly intelligent breed needs plenty of stimulation and exercise.
Training is massively important for any dog, as it can teach them skills that make life easier for both you and them. From toilet training to cues like ‘stay’ and ‘leave it’, dogs of all ages love to learn. It’s a fantastic way to keep your pooch active, even without leaving your house.
A dog’s behaviour comes as the top priority for 41% of owners. Jack Russells were seen to have the best temperament by their owners, followed by Cockapoos, Cocker Spaniels, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
With dogs being such loveable-looking animals, appearance is also one of the top reasons behind owners’ choices. Almost a third (30%) admit to choosing the breed ‘for their looks’.
Another priority for owners is finding a dog who will fit in with their family. One in four owners chose a breed for their compatibility with children.
Many breeds are known for their playful nature and patience with children. But you should learn how dogs and puppies interact with babies and children to make sure everyone lives safely together.
Taking care of a dog can help teach responsibility and is a great excuse for getting outdoors.
But parents need to make sure these child-dog bonds thrive and everyone in the family is living happily together. No matter how prepared you think you are, don’t underestimate the time and effort that goes into the responsibility of owning a dog.
You also want to make sure your new pet gets on well with any other pets in your house. Almost one-fifth of dog owners chose their breed for their compatibility with other pets. This shows just how important it is that a new addition is welcomed by all the family.
If you are bringing a new puppy home to a cat, do your research as first impressions count. Don’t cut corners and be patient, it may not be love at first sight!
19% of the dog owners in our survey picked their pet because they simply ‘liked the breed’. But like humans, no two dogs are the same – even if they are the same breed. It’s important to bear this in mind when choosing a dog based on their typical behaviour.
You won’t know your new family member’s individual personality until they trot through the door. But researching breeds will give you a great idea of the dog that could be best suited for you.
With more of us working from home than ever before, the settling-in period means that owners can spend more time with their dogs. Over half (51%) of UK owners only leave their dog alone for up to six hours a week, which is well within the recommended guidelines.
But even though a third (34%) of people thought their dog fitted their lifestyle better than anticipated, many owners were ‘not fully aware’ of what to expect.
Only 27% thought they were ‘very knowledgeable’ about their dog’s breed, highlighting the need for more education and awareness.
From grooming and vaccinations to food and exercise, you want your dog to stay healthy with all the care they need. Understanding dog laws and your responsibilities as an owner is really important. For example, microchipping is now compulsory, and Brexit has changed rules for travelling with pets.
Most people (97%) agreed that research is a good idea to make sure your new pet is going to be a great match.
But 18% of owners admitted to not doing very much research and 9% did no research at all.
The internet is full of information and misinformation that can leave you overwhelmed when trying to decide which dog breed is right for you.
More than half (57%) of owners researched their chosen dog breed online. While the internet can help your decision, you can also explore other options to help you make the right choice.
Almost half (45%) of dog owners spoke with other owners, while 31% asked for tips from reputable breeders. Trusted breeders can offer in-depth knowledge about the breed, from characteristics to health.
Vets can also check for any health concerns or dietary needs to keep your new companion healthy and happy.
Rebecca Gardiner, Petsure’s Marketing Manager, underlines the importance of research when choosing the right dog for you.
“With so much information available online, it can be hard to know who to trust when it comes to choosing the right dog for you and your family,” she says.
“Our survey shows the more research owners do beforehand, the better informed and comfortable they are once their dog comes to live with them.
“Think about seeking help from professional organisations like the Kennel Club, and speaking to current owners of the breed you are interested in.
“With careful financial planning and being fully informed about the health care needs of different breeds, dog owners can look forward to a long and happy time together with their pet.”
It’s positive to see nearly two-thirds (64%) of owners have pet insurance, but 17% of dog owners found unexpected costs of owning a dog a challenge.
For those who didn’t have cover, 45% said it was too expensive, while 25% believed it wasn’t needed.
You never want to see your pet suffer if they have an accident or illness. But making sure you’re protected with pet insurance means that should the worst happen, you won’t have the extra worry of the cost of your pet’s care.
Without cover for your pet, you could face vet bills that are much higher than the cost of a policy. A monthly or yearly contribution could save you in the long run. There’s no NHS for our canine friends, so think about the importance of dog insurance, before you need it.
There can be lots of unexpected challenges as a dog owner, so pet insurance can give you a little extra comfort and security.
After deciding which breed is best for you, the next step is to find your dog. There are several ways for you to be united with your new canine companion.
With the UK’s estimated dog population having risen to 11 million in the last 12 years, there are more and more unlicenced breeders. 27% of UK dog owners used local breeders, so it’s important to be sure you are buying or adopting from a trusted source.
That is the case for online marketplaces and social media too. 8% of pet parents used sites such as Gumtree and another 3% used the likes of Instagram and TikTok.
Rescue centres are another option for people looking for a new best friend. 20% said they found their dogs through rescue centres and charities, and another 6% used similar organisations from outside the UK.
Expert vet, Dr Scott Miller says: “Whether you’re looking to buy or adopt a dog, you need to be responsible. Ethical breeders know so much about the animals they raise, including the good and bad of their health and behaviour. They want them to go to the right homes.
“Lots of people make massive mistakes when choosing a dog. Always think: Is the dog right for the family, or do I just like the look of them or feel sorry for them? Can I afford to look after them? Can I manage the progress and setbacks of training and settling them in?”
Unless otherwise stated, the data has been taken by a survey Petsure commissioned OnePoll to conduct. The survey asked 2,000 UK dog owners 20 questions between the 9th and 18th August 2023. Full survey data available upon request.