UK’s stray dog numbers decrease but more needs doing


There are currently 56,043 stray dogs across the UK, according to Dogs Trust’s Stray Dogs Survey report 2018. The number of strays collected by local authorities in the UK is at its lowest level in 21 years, and is 15 per cent down on last year. However, more needs to be done to prevent these dogs from becoming strays in the first place.

As part of their mission to free dogs from threat of unnecessary destruction, Dogs Trust have an annual Stray Dogs Survey Report to investigate the UK’s stray dog population and to create a better understanding of what happens to these dogs.

This year only 57 per cent of the estimated stray dogs were reunited with their owners. Microchipping pets and keeping up to date with details is vital when it comes to reuniting lost dogs, yet it has been reported that only 35 per cent of the total number of stray dogs found were microchipped. Many of the chipped dogs were still unable to be returned to their owners due to incorrect contact details – and, in some cases, the owners did not respond or gave the dogs up.

The report shows a gradual decrease in the destruction of stray dogs. In 2018, an estimated total of 1,462 stray dogs were put to sleep across the UK – compared to an estimated 2,213 put to sleep last year. From the authorities that responded to the survey and gave details of reasoning for destruction, it emerged that 261 dogs were put to sleep due to ill health, 412 due to behavioural problems or aggression, 82 under the Dangerous Dogs Act, and 25 due to being unclaimed or having no rescue available.

Keeping up to date with microchip details and making sure your pet can be easily returned when lost is an important factor when preventing unnecessary destruction. Microchipping alone accounted for 5,775 reunions, and ID disks for 404 reunions. Making yourself and your dog known to a local dog warden is also useful when it comes to reuniting, as it was reported that 275 dogs were returned to owners due to already being known to the dog warden.


  1. I really think you need to research your statistics a lot more. Stray dogs have decreased???? This has been the worst year yet for abandoned dogs, the numbers increasing day on day. The influx of foreign dogs have greatly increased the pressure on rescue centres and it is the small rescue charities that take up the slack. Businesses like the Dog’s Trust and RSPCA take on dogs that will make them money and the rest they put to sleep or leave for the small volunteer rescues to deal with. This report has really angered me as I volunteer for one of the small rescues that has been absolutely swamped with dogs this year and other animals. Your report is ill informed, lacks real research and is completely inaccurate. It is so frustrating that you have reported this in such an unprofessional manner which could possibly have dire consequences for abandoned dogs and small rescues. Disgusted!

    • Hello Carla,

      The report was based on the response of 265 local authorities concerning the amount of stray dogs collected over the last year; you can find the report here. The report acknowledges that there are significant differences between regions – so, while the overall number of strays has gone down on a national level, it is possible for certain places to have seen an increase instead. Plus, the report is specifically about stray dogs collected by local authorities – it does not and cannot account for dogs handed straight to rescue centres without passing through them.

      If you have a different report and statistics concerning the number of stray dogs in the UK over the past year, we’d love to read it – so do feel free to send it through!


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