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The UK’s Most (and Least) Adopted Dog Breeds Revealed

posted by Rosie on Monday, 15 March 2021

With Britons spending more time at home than ever due to the pandemic, searches for dog adoption in the UK are now at an all-time high. Over the past 12 months alone, online dog adoption searches have increased by 203% – and are the highest level of interest since records began in 2004, with large spikes following the announcement of each national lockdown in March, October and January.

But of all the dog breeds us Brits were keen to adopt during the coronavirus pandemic, which proved the most popular? And how has interest in adopting and rehoming certain breeds changed over time?

To find out, we conducted research to discover the UK’s most and least adopted dog breeds. Using data gathered from Google searches for dog adoption and rehoming over the last year, we wanted to find out:

When it comes to dogs, us Brits are rather picky. Because while some owners will settle for a good old mutt, there is huge interest in adopting or rehoming dogs of specific breeds – from the cockapoo to the classic West Highland terrier.

But of the dogs to generate most interest online, which breeds came out on top? Let’s take a look.

Based on the number of users searching each breed on Google, the greyhound, cockapoo and French bulldog topped the list by significant margins. Elsewhere in the top 10, beagles, border collies and golden retrievers also made an appearance, with the enduringly-popular pug clinching the eighth spot.

In terms of size and type, over half of the 20 most popular adoption breeds were in the small dog category. According to the PDSA, the average lifetime cost of owning a smaller dog is £2,600 less than a larger breed – something which could be a key factor in this trend.

Similarly, companion dogs were among the most popular breed group, followed by terriers and medium-sized hounds. Britons have also been seeking out dogs with moderate energy levels and high intelligence and trainability when it comes to adoption – likely seeking pets which fit well with a home-working or domestic lifestyle.

While it’s great to learn that dogs are in such high demand, it does raise questions about the breeds missing from our top list; the 20 most popular breeds account for around 76% of all dog adoption searches – meaning there are thousands of wonderful dogs out there being routinely overlooked.

Claire Barber, Animal Care Specialist at Oxbridge, comments: “Although it’s heartening to see such a healthy rise in animal adoption as a result of the pandemic, it’s clear many animals are being overlooked based on their breed alone. Those looking to adopt might also consider less popular breeds, which are desperately in need of a good home.”

How Interest in Dog Breeds Has Changed Over Time

Like everything, our interest in different dogs changes over time, with some breeds proving popular one year and then out of favour the next. That’s why we wanted to find out how our preference towards pooches has changed over time.

Take a look at our animated race graph below to find how interest in the most popular dog breeds has changed since 2017.

As the chart demonstrates, popularity for breeds like greyhounds, cockapoos, French bulldogs and dachshunds has been rising consistently over the past four years, with interest in greyhounds, in particular, going through the roof.

The same can’t be said of all breeds, however. While pugs were far and away the most popular breed a few years ago, they’ve seen a persistent decline in adoption interest since 2017.

Regional Google search data also revealed some interesting findings about how our interest in dogs changes by location. The greyhound, for example, proved the most popular dog in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the South West for the longest period, while searches for many breeds have sky-rocketed in London and the South East in recent years, with this region now showing the highest interest in dog adoption overall.

It’s a sad reality, but some dogs just aren’t as readily adopted as others, whether through their size, appearance or supposed reputation. If you’re hoping to adopt a dog that often gets overlooked, here’s a look at some of the least popular breeds that deserve your attention.

It may not surprise you to learn that larger dogs have lower levels of adoption interest – with the majority of least adopted breeds falling into the giant to medium categories. This means that breeds like the mastiff, bernedoodle and giant schnauzer were revealed as the UK’s least adopted dog breeds, with their large size putting prospective owners off.

This trend is mirrored in breed class, with working and herding dogs accounting for more than a third of the least-adopted list.

Mongrels are also among the dogs with the lowest levels of adoption interest, which is sad considering the sheer number of unique pooches in need of a good home. They also have the advantage of having a unique appearance and fewer health issues than purebred dogs, not to mention a longer life expectancy.

Commenting on the least popular adoption dogs, Oxbridge’s Dog Grooming Expert Lisa Graham said: “While cost and space are obviously factors in people’s choice not to adopt a large dog, with the right care and the right home, oversized breeds make wonderful, gentle companions.

“As for mongrels, these unique dogs offer so much potential and personality. It’s heart-breaking to learn that, despite there being thousands of mutts in need of a home, they’re often overlooked in favour of pure-breed dogs. We say that they deserve a chance.”

Which Dog Breeds are Most Commonly Rehomed?

While heartening to see the huge rise in interest in dog adoption, unfortunately, searches in which owners are looking to rehome their current dogs are also on the rise. Searches for dog rehoming have increased by 103% over the last 12 months, with spikes again aligning with each national lockdown.

Here, we take a look at the relationship between dog adoption and rehoming interest by breed, to learn which breeds are most likely to be rehomed.

It may surprise you to learn that the most popular searches for rehoming concern small and medium dogs, as opposed to large, high-energy breeds that owners may struggle with. This may be due to the fact that small and medium dogs are more popular and accessible, meaning that more owners have taken them on without first considering the commitment involved.

Of course, we also need to consider the possibility that dog owners are rehoming their pets as a direct result of the coronavirus lockdown. With huge financial and lifestyle pressures for many, it’s very likely that some pet owners will have struggled to take care of their animals during what proved a truly tumultuous year.

From a regional point of view, those living in London, the North West and Yorkshire are least likely to rehome dogs they already own. Meanwhile, owners in the East Midlands, Scotland and the East are most likely to do so.

On the issue of rehoming dogs, Lisa said: “We shouldn’t need to remind prospective pet owners that taking on a dog is a long-term commitment, and not a decision to be taken lightly. Dogs of all breeds and sizes require a stable, loving home if they’re to lead a happy, contented life, and if they face the prospect of regular rehoming, it can cause serious damage to a dog’s development, trust and quality of life.”

So, there you have it, an in-depth look at the UK’s most and least popular dog breeds, and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected dog adoption rates around the country.

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