Are you a cat person or a dog person? It’s a common question amongst pet owners as people get to know one another. In looking at the demographics of who owns dogs, however, there are definitely more dog people out there than cat people.
In the United States, there are an estimated 69.9 million dogs owned by households on the average day.
Dog Owner Demographics
Dogs come in all different shapes, sizes, and personalities, which may account for their overall popularity. It’s one of the many reasons why the animal is called “man’s best friend.” Their loyalty may attract pet owners to dogs, but there is much more to dog ownership than being a dog person over a cat person.
- 36.5%. That’s the percentage of households that owns at least one dog in the United States right now.
- The average veterinarian expenditure per dog that is owned every year: $227.
- Dog owners are more likely to own two or more dogs instead of just one, with the mean average in the US being 1.6 dogs per home.
- 39% of all adults have at least one dog. Men are slightly more likely [40%] to own a dog than women [39%].
- People who are of a European Caucasian descent are more likely to own a dog than any minority designation at 45% of households.
- Only 1 in 5 African-American households in the US owns a dog, while 1 in 4 Hispanic households will own one.
- Living in a rural environment makes a household more likely to own a dog, but does not make them more likely to own a cat.
- Households that earn more than $100k per year are 2x more likely to own a dog over households that make less than $30k per year.
- People in the 30-49 age demographic are the most likely to own a dog or any other pet. The least likely is the 65+ age demographic as only 1 in 4 seniors owns a dog.
As a general rule, households that are more urban in nature are less likely to own a dog. Only one-third of urban households own a dog, while 40% of suburban households and 51% of rural households do. Dogs are the most popular pet that is owned and while the average cat owner might own 2 cats instead of one, even if they are a little more expensive to care for per animal. It is also interesting to see that as household incomes rise, there is a greater likelihood to own any pets, but dog ownership nearly doubles the growth rates over cat ownership. People clearly love dogs and dogs clearly love their owners – at least a vast majority of them do.
Are You A Pet Parent?
- Women are more likely to think of their pets as a member of the family [89%] than men are [80%].
- People in the 18-29 age demographic are the most likely to think of their dogs as members of the family, while those in the 30-49 age demographic are the least likely to think this way.
- 91%. That’s the percentage of adults who do not have children of their own that think of their dogs as their children.
- People who have never been married think of their pets as family [90%] more often than any other relationship demographic.
- 94% of dog owners say that they feel close to their pet and that they have an easygoing relationship with the animal.
- The percentage of dog owners that say that they have a tense relationship with their pet: 4%.
- The average person feels closer to their dog(s) than they do to their mother.
- People are 3x more likely to have a tense relationship with their father than they do with their dog.
How much do we all love dogs? So much that we love them more than even our closest human family members. It’s no wonder why many people consider themselves to be pet parents. The bonds that they have formed with their pets gives them a certain level of fulfillment that may be missing in their lives. There are certainly dog/human relationships that can be tense and there is the occasional story of a dog attacking its owner, but for the most part, these pack animals see their owners as the alpha leader and is content to be fed, go for walks, and settle for a lap when its available. That applies to all breeds. Laps are important, even if it’s only the dog’s head that fits into the lap.
Here’s The Truth About Dog Owners
- The state with the highest percentage of dog owners is Arizona, with a 47.9% ownership rate.
- The total number of households in Arizona that own a dog: 1.7 million.
- Since 2006, pet ownership in the United States has declined by 2.4%.
- Dog ownership saw the lowest levels of decline, falling just 1.9% in the same period of time.
- There has been a 37% increase in the amount of overweight dogs that are owned between 2006-2013, although this is far smaller than the 90% increase in overweight cats.
- The average dog owner spends 38% of the over $50 billion spent on dogs annually in the US on food. Another 22% is spent on supplies and medicine, while 28% is spent on veterinary care.
- Households that have a member of the family that has at least some college education [56%] are less likely to own a dog than people with a high school diploma or GED [64%].
- 5%. That’s the percentage of dog owners that have 4 or more animals.
- 62% of American households only have one dog.
- The percentage of people who rent that own at least one dog: 18%.
- Since the 1970’s, however, dog ownership rates in the United States have tripled.
Why are dogs not owned by people who rent homes more often? Part of the reason is the fact that many rental homes don’t allow dogs on the property. For the rare homes that do, the security deposits to have the pets on the premises can be huge. With money tight and options slim, renters just can’t afford the luxury of owning a dog, even if they might want to do so. Because 78% of dog owners own their own homes, it’s safe to say that the rates of dog ownership in the US might be even higher if rental restrictions were lifted just a little bit. This rental statistic is also a likely contributor to the decline in pet ownership from 2006-2013 as people lost their homes to the foreclosure process and had to move into rentals.
Where Do People Get Their Dogs?
- 3 out of every 10 dogs that are owned in the United States are adopted from a rescue operation, animal shelter, or other care organization.
- 28%. That’s the percentage of dogs that households own who come from a family friend or relative.
- Only 9% of dog owners got their pet from a pet store, but that’s 2.25x more likely than a cat owner.
- 34% of people with incomes less than $25k acquired their pet from someone else.
- 32% of dog owners said they knew in advance what breed of dog they wanted before working to obtain the animal.
- The percentage of dog owners who said that they didn’t have a choice in the breed of the dog before they owned one: 21%.
- 10% of dog owners don’t shop by breed. They shop by dog size.
- 52% of dog owners own a dog that weighs less than 25 pounds.
- Only 11% of people own dogs that weigh more than 75 pounds.
The best advice has always been to get a dog from an animal shelter or a rescue organization, but that isn’t always what happens. Sometimes people have life circumstances change and they need someone to care for their pet. It’s almost as likely that a dog will be given to someone as it is that a pet will be obtained from a form of shelter care. People who accept pets from others when they have no other place to turn are essentially keeping the animal out of a shelter anyway, which means only about 4 out of 10 dogs comes from a breeder, a pet store, or is purchased in some other way. With about 70 million dog owned, however, and another 70 million pets estimated to be homeless and on the streets right now, there is still potentially more that could be done.
What Does A Dog Do All Day?
- 65% of dogs have free run of the house where they live.
- 1 out of every 2 dogs gets to sleep in the bedroom of their owner every night.
- 1 in 5 dogs is crated at night or when the owner of the dog happens to be away from home for some reason.
- 8%. That’s the percentage of dogs that are kept outside 100% of the time. This figure doubles when a household’s income in $25k or less.
- Male dogs are owned in an equal proportion to female dogs.
- 80% of pet spending is done by Caucasian consumers and 80% of pet care-taking is done by women.
One of the unique assumptions about dog ownership demographics is that poorer households tend to make for worse pet owners, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Although more low income households keep their dogs outside, more than 80% of dog owners in even the lowest income brackets are still letting their dogs have at least some time inside and many of them are allowing the dogs to have free run over the house. The average dog in the US is going to get free time at least some point during the day, not be chained up frequently, and will be treated as part of the family no matter what the income level might be. This means that the average US dog is going to live a pretty good, fulfilling life.
What Does The Future Hold For Dog Ownership?
- Baby Boomers are holding onto their dogs longer, meaning that the 65+ age demographic drop-offs are likely to taper off over the next few years.
- A new program called Pets in the Classroom helps teachers be able to own dogs in the classroom environment. 22,000 classrooms currently have pets.
- No single trade association covers retailers, manufacturers, distributors, veterinarians and others who work with live animals.
- More Empty Nesters are starting to own dogs, closing down the gap that this demographic has traditionally had with families.
- Pet ownership among non-families has increased 17% since 2006.
- Young families are more hesitant to introduce a dog to the family than in previous generations.
- Many employers are adopting pet friendly policies that allow owners to take their pet to work with them, encouraging more professionals to own pets.
Dog ownership demographics are likely to shift a little over the next decade as Baby Boomers begin to age more into the 65+ category while Millennials and Generation Z start having more kids. Because the younger generations are less likely today to introduce pets to a family environment, the gains in dog ownership are going to be seen with singles, Empty Nesters, and the senior population primarily. Are these demographics going to be able to put a dent into the millions of dogs that are currently homeless? Maybe not. What we can do is encourage all dog owners to spay or neuter their animals so that there isn’t more unwanted offspring in shelters or on the streets. This way every home that wants a dog can have one and there won’t be as many unwanted dogs left to search for a best friend to love.