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18 Australian Pet Adoption Statistics to Know in 2024

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

18 Australian Pet Adoption Statistics to Know in 2024

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Our pets are indispensable members of our families. Their importance to us has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. They give us unconditional support and love, and they help keep us from complete loneliness during these times of social isolation.

So, we compiled 18 statistics about pet adoptions in Australia, including dogs, cats, and general Australian pet statistics. Pets have proven to be more essential here than almost anywhere else!

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Top 18 Australian Pet Adoption Statistics

  1. There are just over 5 million dogs owned in Australia.
  2. In 2019, 28,072 dogs were brought into the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
  3. 40% of the dogs in the RSPCA were adopted out.
  4. 12% of people adopted dogs to rescue them and give them a home.
  5. The cost of a dog from a breeder is almost four times as much as from a shelter.
  6. The most popular purebred dog is the Lab.
  7. 27% of Australian households owned cats in 2019.
  8. 61% of cats were adopted out in 2020/21.
  9. 16% of cats were adopted for the purpose of rescuing them and giving them a home.
  10. Four times as much was spent on cats through a breeder compared to an animal shelter.
  11. 71% of cats owned in Australia are mixed breeds.
  12. 61% of Australian households have pets in 2019.
  13. After cats, fish are the third most popular pets in 11% of households.
  14. 71,933 pets were adopted through PetRescue alone in 2019.
  15. In 2019-20, 45,426 animals were adopted out through the RSPCA across Australia.
  16. 90% of all Australian households have owned a pet at some point.
  17. 71% of pet owners say that their relationships with their pets are positive.
  18. In 10 years, the RSPCA has helped 718,960 animals.
Australian_Pet_Adoption_Statistics
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Dog Adoption Statistics

1. There are just over 5 million dogs owned in Australia.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

There are 39.9% of households that own at least one dog in Australia as of 2019. Dogs are definitely the most popular pet in Australia, with cats in second place. This statistic hasn’t changed too drastically within 3 years when, in 2016, 38% of homes owned dogs.

woman with her dalmatian dog at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

2. In 2019, there were 28,072 dogs brought into the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

(RSPCA)

Of these dogs, about 10,000 were reclaimed, and 3,400 were euthanased. Most dogs that were euthanased were done so for behavioural issues (2,400).


3. 40% of the dogs in the RSPCA were adopted out.

(RSPCA)

In 2019, 11,442 dogs were adopted out to new homes in Australia. Most of these dogs tend to be mixed breeds, which are also the most popular kind of dogs owned in Australia, with 46% mixed breeds owned.

pet owner sitting beside his dog
Image Credit: Piqsels

4. 12% of people adopted dogs to rescue them and give them a home.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

The top reason that people got dogs was for companionship, which was 42% of the respondents.


5. The cost of a dog from a breeder is almost four times as much as from a shelter.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

The average cost of buying a dog from a breeder was $940 from a breeder in 2019, and $260 from an animal shelter.

Dogs in shelter
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

6. The most popular purebred dog is the Lab.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

Labrador Retrievers seem to be the most popular breed practically worldwide. They are the most popular in North America, the U.K., and Australia.

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Cat Adoption Statistics

7. 27% of Australian households owned cats in 2019.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

This is behind dogs, which were in 40% of households, but there seem to be slightly more cats in the homes that have them. The average number of dogs per household is 1.3, and 1.4 for cats.

young woman with ragdoll cat on couch
Image Credit: rock-the-stock, Shutterstock

8. 6% of cats were adopted out in 2020/21.

(RSPCA 2019-20 Report)

This number is down from the 2019/2020 year, in which 64.2% of cats were rehomed. But this could be explained because more cats were brought into the RSPCA in that year (2,792 more cats, to be exact).


9. 16% of cats were adopted for the purpose of rescuing them and giving them a home.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

35% of cat owners adopted their cats for companionship, but 28% of cats adopted were more likely to be rescue animals.

cute tabby rescue cat in an animal shelter waiting to be adopted
Image Credit: nietbrucewillis, Shutterstock

10. Four times as much was spent on cats through a breeder compared to an animal shelter.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

The average amount spent on cats in 2019 through a breeder was $620 compared to an animal shelter at $155.


11. 71% of cats owned in Australia are mixed breeds.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

We don’t know how accurate this number is because many cat owners aren’t sure what breed of cat they own. According to the responses in the survey, the most common answer given regarding the breed of their cat was “don’t know”.

mixed breed cute cat lying on its owner's knees
Image Credit: Prystai, Shutterstock

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General Australian Pet Statistics

12. 61% of Australian households had pets in 2019.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

In fact, there are more pets than people in Australia, with 29 million pets and 25 million people. Australia has a higher percentage of pets compared to most other countries. The U.S. had 57% and the U.K. had 40%.


13. After cats, fish are the third most popular pet in 11% of households.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

After fish comes birds at 9%, small mammals at 3%, and reptiles at 2%. There was also 2% of Australian households that had pets such as goats, horses, hermit crabs, and alpacas.

aquarium with cichlids
Image Credit: Frantisek Czanner, Shutterstock

14. 71,933 pets were adopted through PetRescue alone in 2020.

(PetRescue)

This is up from 69,070 pets that were adopted in 2019, which is almost 3,000 more animals.


15. In 2019–20, 45,426 animals were adopted out through the RSPCA across Australia.

(RSPCA)

These numbers include dogs, cats, and ‘other animals’, which incorporate birds and small mammals.

cats in animal shelter
Image Credit: Yulia Grigoryeva, Shutterstock

16. 90% of all Australian households have owned a pet at some point.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

This statistic includes 75% of households that didn’t own a pet in 2019.


17. 71% of pet owners say that their relationships with their pets are positive.

(Animal Medicines Australia)

3% of pet owners had a negative response, which was based on the cost of caring for the pet, the loss of spontaneity, the cleaning and maintenance, and grieving for a pet when it passes.

St. Bernard dog with owner in the park
Image By: SasaStock, Shutterstock

18. In 10 years, the RSPCA has helped 718,960 animals.

(RSPCA 2019-20 Report)

The RSPCA, as of 2019, has helped almost 720,000 animals by reuniting them with their owners, adopting them out, or re-releasing them back into the wild.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many puppies were registered through officially recognised Australian breeders?

In 2015, breeders with the Australian National Kennel Council Ltd (ANKC) registered 71,361 puppies. This compares to the 408,639 puppies that were bred by people outside of the ANKC. This means that 85% of puppies in Australia were bred with no accountability for their welfare or health. (Australian National Kennel Council Ltd)

Who are the most likely to own pets?

The most significant percentage of pet owners in Australia, at 77%, were families with children over the age of 6. Within these families, 82% had children ages 12 to 17. (Animal Medicines Australia)

family with dog
Image By: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

What is the most popular small mammal as a pet?

Guinea pigs beat out rabbits as the most popular small mammal, with 46% owned by Australian households. Rabbits went from 55% down to 27% from 2016 to 2019. (Animal Medicines Australia)

What is the most popular reptile?

Reptiles are the least popular kind of pet in Australia. But turtles and tortoises are the most popular reptiles owned at 44%, which is up from 15% in 2016. (Animal Medicines Australia)

What is the main reason that pet owners love having pets?

The top reason that pet owners feel that they benefit from pets is having companionship, love, and affection. 49% rated this as the primary reason that they own a pet, followed by 19% who feel that their pets make life better in general, and 18% who reported improved mental health. (Animal Medicines Australia)

dog lying on owners stomach
Image By: Josep Suria, Shutterstock

Adopted vs breeder statistics: How many pets are adopted each year from shelters? How many are bought from breeders?

It’s impossible to find statistics on every single shelter in the entire country, but the RSPCA rehomed over 38,600 animals in 2020–2021, which includes cats, dogs, horses, livestock, and small animals. (RSPCA)

Breeder statistics for all pets are harder to come by. That said, it’s reported that in 2021, 40% of dogs and 14% of cats were acquired through breeders. (Animal Medicines Australia)

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Conclusion

These statistics have made it quite clear that our pets are important to our families. The pandemic has only heightened how much we rely on our pets, as they give us necessary love and companionship.

Due to how much importance we place on this companionship, we are spending more time and money on them. Our animals give us unconditional love, and we need to do the same. Adopting an animal from an animal shelter is rescuing an animal from an uncertain future. It makes for an ethically worthy act and a meaningful experience.


Featured Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

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