The Percentage of Households Owning a Dog, and Reasons Why

There are nearly 90 million dogs in 64 million homes in the US, making up 54 percent of American households. This is far more than other countries including:

  • Great Britain: 23 percent
  • Germany 19 percent
  • France 20 percent
  • Switzerland 12 percent

The majority of homes with a dog have just one.

Dogs are the most popular pet in the world by far. They are in approximately 63.4 million homes in the United States. In all of those homes there are around 89.7 million dogs.

There are other pets including cats, fish, reptiles, and birds, but dogs usually top the most popular list. A lot of money is spent on dogs (and all pets), with over 75 billion dollars spent on American pets in 2019 alone, and it’s expected this will grow each year regardless of the economy.

This expenditure includes things like:

  • Food
  • Over-the-counter medicine
  • Basic supplies
  • Vet Care
  • Live animal purchases
  • Grooming and Boarding

The household spending on animals has already increased year-on-year since 2010, when the annual expenditure was just over 48 billion dollars.


Exact Figures on Dog Ownership Are Hard to Find                                                    

The figures are not always 100 percent accurate when it comes to animal numbers and household ownership. This is because many communities don’t collect data on households or numbers of animals within those households.

This is why you may see big variations in numbers on various websites. Also, a lot of the research is completed by commercial companies that release data that is beneficial to them.

Pet ownership numbers can rise and fall in different communities at the same time.  While pictures of dogs on social media can increase ownership in some communities; urbanization, people living alone, and growing minority communities can cause numbers in otherareas to decrease.


Most Dog Households Own One Dog Only

The 63.4 million households that have a dog make up 53 percent of American households. It is also reported that of those households, the majority have just one dog.

This is in contrast to cat owning households who have an average of two cats per household, but dog ownership is more popular than ever before. Since 2000, dog ownership has risen by 21.9 percent.

Of all the states, Montana is more likely to have households with a dog, while those in Connecticut are less likely to have households with dogs.

Dogs are more expensive than other animals to take to the vets, but 68 percent of US households with dogs say they will keep their spending at their current levels, regardless of what happens with the economy.

US households also spend more on pet insurance for their dogs. 81 percent of all combined accident and medical insurance policies are for dogs. The good news for the households who insure their dogs is, it is only slightly cheaper to insure a cat than a dog.

Households on average take their dogs to the vet 2.7 times per year. The most common ailments affecting dogs are skin allergies and ear infections.


There Are Now More First Time Dog Owners

First time dog ownersand younger owners spend more on their dogs than those who have had a dog before, or who are in the older age bracket.

The majority of these pet owners are millennials  (18 – 34 years old) and Generation  X (35 – 50 years old.) These two groups make up 10 percent of pet owners, around 8 million owners.

These households spend more on their dogs than their parents’ or grandparents’ generations did. They also spend more on vet visits, toys, pamper presents and utilize more dog related services than those over 50 years old.

Doggie day-care and grooming services are much more popular today than for other generations.

These young households’ spending habits have opened up more opportunities for businesses with their money and willingness to pay. Themillennial and generation X age groups prefer high tech dog-related goods, such as these pet cams and health monitoring collars.

The online community has embraced these big spenders and dog enthusiasts. There are pet products, websites dedicated to dogs, FaceBook pages, YouTube channels, and many successful Instagram accounts.


More Males Own a Dog Than Females

Interestingly there is a gender difference in dog ownership. 71 Percent of male millennials who took part in a survey own a dog, versus 62 percent of female responders. This is an important aspect of household information because marketers know how to direct their advertising campaigns.

Even though the amount of households with dogs has been growing steadily, it’s expected by the end of 2021 there will be a further 4 percent increase in general pet ownership in the United States.  It is expected dog owning households will make up a healthy portion of this increase.

Households with dogs in the US spend a lot of money, and this will increase over time. Some interesting facts include:

  • The value of the US pet industry will reach 99 billion dollars soon: There was a 9 billion dollar increase between 2018 and 2020 alone.
  • Dog owners consider their dogs before purchasing a house: Dogs drive millennial’s decision on whether to buy a particular house for their first home.
  • More than 50 percent of millennials buy their pets a gift once a month: This is one of many reasons why pet spending is growing quickly in the US. It is also one of the perfect examples of the difference between millennials and previous generations.
  • American pet spending has doubled in the last 10 years: In 2010 American households spent over 45 billion dollars per year on pets. Within a decade that had doubled to over 95 billion dollars.

The biggest growth of 30 percent occurred between 2017 and 2018.

  • Some households put off important milestones because of their dogs: Some people go as far as delaying having children due to the cost of pet care. They also delayed buying a house, or getting married.


USA Has the Most Registered Dogs

America has the most registered dogs within their dog households. It is possible China has more, but they don’t have to register their pets, so no one can really tell exactly how many dogs they have.

Other countries have millions of dogs, but not as high as the US.

  • Great Britain: It’s estimated that Great Britain has about 9 million dogs in 23 percent of households.
  • Germany: With around 10 million dogs, Germany just beats the UK with dog numbers but has only 19 percent of households with dogs.
  • France: Approximately 20 percent of households in France have a dog.
  • Switzerland: Just 12 percent of households in Switzerland have dogs.

Contrast these countries with somewhere like Iran in the Middle East. Dogs aren’t considered pets by the authorities, and there are very few left.

This is based on religious reasons,and very strict laws have been enacted around keeping dogs as pets and even walking dogs in public places.

This has meant a big increase in cat ownership in Iran. Like most places in the world, people want that animal connection, and luckily for cats, Iran has embraced them.

Stray cats are fed by homeowners, which has led to a large population of strays, especially in Tehran.


US Households Buy More Dog Treats Every Year

Dog owners in the US buy dog treats from brick-and-mortar stores in increasing numbers each year. A 3 percent increase year-on-year shows that US households love to treat their dogs.

This market was worth 6.7 billion dollars in 2019, andis expected to grow each year. American dog owners prefer to buy American made products with American ingredients. This is in part due to the fact there were a series of recalls on pet treats that put the average US buyer off many overseas products.

There is an increasing market around dog treats using marijuana derived CBD or hemp. Around 11 percent of dog owners have purchased those treats, and the benefit of them is being scrutinized more and more.

What this shows us is the connection between the percentage of households with dogs, and the thriving dog supplies marketplace.


US Households Love Their Dogs

The bottom line is, American households love their dogs and treat them like family. Many of them spend as much on their dog’s healthcare as their own. It would seem that for the majority of dogs in the US, it’s a dog’s life, and life is good.

Other countries love their dogs too, but the number of households in America with dogs is much bigger than every other country.


Writer: Craig Taylor

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