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Big dogs take longer to rehome as cost of living puts adopters off large breeds

Big dogs take almost twice as long to rehome as smaller breeds, according to figures released by the RSPCA today.

The RSPCA - the world’s largest and oldest animal welfare charity, which celebrates its 200th birthday this year - has released new figures that show it takes almost twice as long to rehome large dog breeds, such as Alaskan malamutes, shar peis and mastiffs, than small breeds, like West Highland terriers and lhasa apsos.

Figures* show that, on average, it takes 33 days to rehome small dogs and 39 days to rehome medium-sized dogs, compared to 60 days to rehome large dogs.

Alaskan malamutes wait longest of all - with the average time to rehome them in RSPCA care currently standing at a staggering 257 days.

Clinical Animal Behaviourist and RSPCA Dog Welfare Expert Esme Wheeler says: “At the RSPCA we love all creatures, great and small. And as a nation of dog lovers, we all adore our dog pals whether they’re as big as a horse or as small as a guinea pig!

“But there can be some differences between taking care of gentle giants and cheeky miniatures when it comes to their day-to-day needs - so it’s important to take time as a family to consider what type and size of dog might suit your lifestyle, and what costs will be associated with their care.

“Taking on any dog is a huge commitment, in terms of both time and money, so it’s really important to go into it with your eyes open as to how much it could cost. However, adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have so if you’re thinking of getting a pet, then please consider adopting a rescue.”

Some of the RSPCA’s longest residents are large breed dogs.

Big Moose - Waiting for a home for 21 months
Five-year-old mastiff Big Moose [pictured above] weighs more than 60kg (132lb) and has been waiting at the RSPCA’s Stubbington Ark, in Hampshire, since July 2022 for a new home. He’s a big boy with a big heart and the team caring for him describe him as a “gentle giant with a sweet nature who thinks he’s a lap dog - despite his size!”

Moose can be sensitive and finds strangers, loud noises and extreme weather quite frightening so needs new owners who will reassure him when he’s worried and help build his confidence. He loves to chase so any potential adopters would be advised to keep him muzzled and on the lead when he’s out and about.

Find out more about Big Moose online or contact Stubbington Ark - run by the RSPCA Solent Branch - on

Willow - Waiting for a home for 16 months
Three-year-old Caucasian shepherd Willow is a ‘gentle giant’ who loves bear-sized hugs. She’s been at Bath Cats & Dogs Home since New Year’s Eve 2022.

She’s a beautiful dog who weighs in at 43.5kg (96lb) and has ‘bear-sized paws’ is looking for a knowledgeable owner to give her a chance to thrive. She needs her own space and would struggle in a home where she didn’t have space to spread out.

Willow - who arrived in RSPCA care with her ears cropped - loves to be outside and needs an owner with experience owning a large working dog. She’s looking for an adult home where she’ll be the only pet but she loves socialising with other dogs out on walks. Willow loves people and is incredibly loyal. She’s very gentle and likes a fuss, leaning into her favourite people for a big hug.

Find out more about Willow online or speak to the team at Bath Cats & Dogs Home by calling 01225 787321 or emailing

Nina - Waiting for a home for 18 months
Five-year-old mastiff Nina has been patiently waiting for a new home at the Southridge Animal Centre, in Hertfordshire, since arriving in November 2022.

Nina may be a big girl at 50kg (110lbs) but she’s also got a big heart; she’s very sweet and loves affection from the people she knows and trusts. You soon become her best friend after some fun games with her favourite toys and some treats!

She walks nicely on the lead but can be strong and sometimes reactive around certain other dogs. Her history is unknown so staff feel she’d be best going to an adult home where she’ll be the only pet.

Find out more about Nina online or contact the Southridge team on

Toppa - Waiting for a home for seven months
Mastiff Toppa has been overlooked by potential adopters because of his size and strength, and has now been waiting seven months for a fresh start.

The two-year-old was taken in by RSPCA Lincolnshire Mid & Lincoln Branch but hasn’t had much interest from adopters. The team caring for him describes him as a lovely dog with lots of affection to give.

Despite his size, he’s a gentle and loving dog who loves spending time with people and enjoys playing with other big dogs. He’s looking for a family with older children and an owner who has experience with big dogs and can help with his training. He’d love a big garden so he can have fun outside.

Find out more about Toppa online or contact the team on

Breeds that wait the longest for new homes

Size Breed Length of time to rehome (in days) - average over three years
Large Alaskan malamute 257
Large Saluki 115
Medium Tibetan terrier 107
Small Dachshund 105
Large Shar pei 101

Figures showed that Alaskan malamutes face the longest wait for a new home, with an average of 257 days in kennels, compared to pomeranians who have to wait just 10 days or West Highland terriers and toy poodles who have to wait, on average, just 11 days to be adopted. Salukis face an average wait time of 115 days to find their forever home and shar peis have to wait, on average, 101 days.

Other large breeds also face long average wait times to be rehomed:
• Greyhound - 81 days
• Mastiff - 74 days
• Husky - 72 days
• Akita - 67 days
• Lurcher - 65 days
• German shepherd - 60 days

But small breeds, except for the Dachshund (105 days) and the Patterdale terrier (70 days), all had much shorter waits to be adopted:
• Miniature schnauzer - 16 days
• Pug - 18 days
• Cavalier King Charles spaniel - 19 days
• Yorkshire terrier - 20 days
• Lhasa apso - 23 days
• Shih tzu and bichon frise - 24 days


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