DOGS living in the South West are more likely to have longer walks than the national average, according to new research.

The survey of more than 3,000 dog-owners across the country showed that 38 per cent of dogs in the South West have a walk of longer than an hour, compared to 35 per cent nationally.

Almost 44 per cent of dogs in the region go out for a walk at least twice a day. The majority (43%) have a daily walk of 30 minutes to an hour, and 30 per cent go out for one to two hours. Only 18 per cent are walked for less than half an hour and seven per cent are not walked at all.

The survey was commissioned in the lead up to the RSPCA’s Big Walkies challenge in October, which invites people to walk 10,000 steps a day – approximately five miles - with or without a dog, to raise money for animals in need.

If they complete the challenge, animal lovers will have clocked up 155 miles in October - the same as walking from Penzance to Glastonbury.

Dog-loving singer Peter Andre, who is supporting the RSPCA Big Walkies challenge, said: “It's important to remember how much happiness dogs bring to our lives. Sadly, there are many dogs which are ill-treated every day and the RSPCA works incredibly hard to combat animal cruelty.

“I encourage dog-owners to sign up for Big Walkies. Taking part will help raise money which will enable the RSPCA to carry out this vital work.”

Dr Samantha Gaines, the RSPCA’s dog welfare expert, said: “Taking your dog for a walk can have huge benefits for both of you. For many people dogs are a huge part of the family, and exercising with them offers great opportunities to spend quality time together and helps form a strong bond. It can also boost your own fitness and happiness levels.

“For dogs, having a good sniff and investigating their surroundings while on a walk can boost their health and happiness.

“There are also huge benefits to you as a dog-owner - as a recent study showed that a brisk 10-minute walk a day can add years to your life. So imagine the benefits you will reap by walking 10,000 steps a day!”

The level of exercise a dog needs will depend on their age, breed and health and 10,000 steps may be too much for some dogs. So if owners are not sure how much exercise their dog needs, the RSPCA advises them to seek advice from their vet.