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10 things you need to know about adopting a rescue dog in the UK

Written by Napo HQ
22nd Apr 2022
5 mins read
Rehoming a rescue dog means taking on the responsibility of providing a forever home for your new furry friend. It’s also the reward of changing an animal’s life for the better. Adoption costs around £150-200 depending on the charity. Although some dogs do end up in shelters after cases of neglect, there are many reasons why dogs need to be rehomed. A reputable charity will assess dogs to make sure they’re suitable and safe for adoption and will only suggest pets fit for your home and lifestyle.
Adopting a dog from a shelter means you’re committing to giving a dog a forever home. More dogs than ever are waiting for one. An estimated 664,000 dogs enter UK shelters each year and the number of stray dogs that local authorities are taking in is increasing. 
Demand for dogs is high. The renowned Battersea Dogs Home fielded over 40,000 applications between April and June 2020 – an increase of 53% over the previous three months. Charities, including the Dog’s Trust, warn that people are returning dogs bought during the pandemic, reinforcing that you shouldn’t adopt without careful consideration. 
Our FAQs will guide you through the process of adopting or rehoming a dog in the UK. We’ll bust a few misconceptions about rescue pets and give you the facts about where to find your new furry friend, how much adoption costs, and what to consider when rehoming a dog.

10 FAQs on adopting a dog in the UK

1. Why should I adopt a rescue dog in the UK?

Adoption means giving a dog a loving home. As an RSPCA spokesperson told us: “Giving a rescue dog a second chance at happiness is incredibly rewarding, and you could change a dog’s life for the better.” Adopting from a UK rescue home also means you’re freeing up space for one of the tens of thousands of strays UK local authorities take in every month. 

2. How much does it cost to adopt a dog in the UK?

The RSPCA typically charges £150 to adopt a dog, including vaccinations and microchipping (a legal requirement in the UK). The Dog’s Trust charges around £200 to adopt an adult dog and takes care of vaccinations, microchipping, and neutering. The cost is higher for a puppy (£260) and includes a dog school fee for early puppy training. 

3. Will my rescue dog have behavioural issues?

Behavioural issues are a common concern for people considering adopting a rescue dog, but as the Dogs Trust points out, 80% of
puppy owners seek support for their puppies in the first year. “There is a common myth that rescue dogs are challenging and difficult, but every dog is unique regardless of what they have been through,” said a spokesperson.
That said, some rescue dogs will have issues, but a good rescue centre will know the personality and temperament of their dogs and consider these traits when matching a dog to your circumstances. RSPCA staff assess the dog’s temperament and reactions to people and other dogs. Although the RSPCA admits that it “may never know the dog’s full history.” 

4. Where can I adopt a dog in the UK?

Several national, recognised charities rehome dogs, including Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, and the RSPCA. The Dogs Trust and the RSPCA have tools on their sites to help you find a rehoming centre near you (listed below). 
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has three centres across the UK, and you can register to adopt. The Blue Cross charity also lists dogs for adoption across the UK. 

5. Where can I adopt a dog locally?

You may also discover local, independent rehoming centres near you. Where you don’t know the rescue home, ask questions to determine that they have the dog’s welfare at heart. For example, how much can it tell you about the dog’s history, including medical checks? Dogs should have received vaccinations and a microchip. What happens if things don’t work out? Will they find another forever home for the rescue? A good rehoming centre will also ask questions about your home situation to ensure it gets the best match.

6. What type of rescue dog should I adopt?

As with any dog, you need to match the breed to your lifestyle, home environment and personal circumstances. Think about the type of dog to suit your family. For example, if you have plenty of time for training, a puppy may serve you better than an older dog. Similarly, a large dog may not be the best choice if you have a small garden, or live in a flat. 

7. Have all rescue dogs been mistreated?

The backgrounds of rescue dogs specifically will vary. As an RSPCA spokesperson said: “Some may have suffered neglect and cruelty and need more patience and understanding than others. Some may have been born in our care and have only known kindness from staff or fosterers but need extra help adjusting to life in a home.” All rehoming centres will work with you to find your perfect match. 

8. What should I consider when adopting an older dog?

Older dogs will have some training already. However, they may require medications and have some pre-existing health conditions. 

9. Can I adopt a puppy from a rehoming centre?

Yes, you can. Charities such as Blue Cross, Dogs Trust and others have puppies that need rehoming as well as older dogs. However, consider whether you have the time to invest in training your puppy and settling it into your new home. 

10. Can I adopt a retired service dog?

Another adoption route is to rehome a retired service dog. Guide Dogs for the Blind trains dogs to work with visually impaired or blind people, but occasionally, it doesn’t work out. Dogs that don’t make it into service can make great pets. You can find out more about adopting on the Guide Dogs for the Blind website. Note that the rehoming fee is £500, so double the cost charged by the other charities mentioned. The dogs aren’t suitable due to various factors, including separation anxiety, poor lead recall, or other issues. 
Similarly, Hero Paws works to rehome and retrain military and working dogs through rehabilitation and retraining. The dogs for adoption tend to be middle-aged or older dogs who have finished their military service. The London Retired Police Dogs Trust also has dogs for adoption.

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