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20 US Pet Ownership Statistics 2024: Updated Facts & FAQ

Written by: Matt Jackson

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

US Pet ownership Facts and Statistics

20 US Pet Ownership Statistics 2024: Updated Facts & FAQ

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

Humans love the companionship of animals, as is evidenced by the fact that two-thirds of U.S. households own at least one pet. The U.S. is especially enamored with its animals, as it has the largest population of dogs and cats, compared to any other country, and 97% of owners say they view their pets as part of the family, rather than as possessions. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop 6.3 million companion animals from entering shelters every year, leading to the euthanization of nearly 1 million animals.

When it comes to individual owners, those living in rural areas are most likely to keep pets, while singles are the least likely group compared to married and divorced citizens.

Below are 20 statistics related to pet ownership, including information on the most popular dog and cat breeds, and the typical cost of keeping pets.

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The 20 Pet Ownership Statistics

  1. 2/3 of U.S. households keep pets.
  2. More owners got their pets from stores than from rescues.
  3. 6.3 million companion pets enter shelters every year.
  4. Approximately 900,000 animals are euthanized every year.
  5. A third of Americans have multiple pets.
  6. A quarter of pet owners have dogs and cats, while 4% have neither.
  7. 97% of owners view their pets as part of the family.
  8. Rural Americans are more likely to own pets than those in suburban and urban areas.
  9. Single Americans are the least likely group to keep pets.
  10. Wyoming is the state with the highest pet ownership rate.
  11. There are approximately 85 million pet dogs in the U.S.
  12. The French Bulldog is the most popular breed of dog.
  13. The U.S. has the highest dog population in the world.
  14. It costs as much as $93,000, over the course of its life, to keep a dog.
  15. 58% of households in Idaho own dogs.
  16. There are 60 million pet cats in the U.S.
  17. The Javanese and the Sphynx are the most commonly searched cat breeds.
  18. The U.S. has the highest cat population of any country.
  19. 2.7% of households keep fish.
  20. Approximately 5.7 million households keep pet birds.

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The Pet Population

1. 66% of U.S. households keep pets.

(Forbes 1)

With a total population of 333 million people, there are an estimated 127 million households in the U.S. and around 66% of these households keep pets. In 1988, just 56% of households kept pets.

While the figure was already rising, Covid saw a considerable surge in pet ownership rates with nearly 80% of pet owners saying they acquired animals during the pandemic.

cheerful young asian woman in casual outfit carrying her sweet fluffy dog jack russel terrier dog
Image Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

2. More owners got their pets from stores than from rescues.

(Forbes 1)

Buying pets from stores means buyers know what breed they are getting, and can get more information about the pet itself. Adopting from a rescue, on the other hand, gives that animal the chance of a loving home and a good life. It also costs less to adopt than to buy, but potential buyers won’t necessarily know what they are getting.

For both dogs and cats, more pets come from stores than they do from rescues. 42% of dogs came from stores, compared to 38% from rescues. 43% of cat owners got their pets from stores while 40% came from shelters.


3. 6.3 million companion pets enter shelters every year.

(Forbes 2)

There certainly isn’t a lack of pets in shelters and rescues, as there is a significant overpopulation problem in both dogs and cats. Although it is difficult to get a precise figure, it is believed that approximately 6.3 million companion pets are relinquished to shelters and rescues, every year.

Relinquishments have increased since the end of the pandemic, especially as owners return to work and find they no longer have the time or the availability to care for their pets.

woman adopting dog at the shelter
Image Credit: encierro, Shutterstock

4. Approximately 900,000 animals are euthanized every year.

(Forbes 2)

The overpopulation of cats and dogs means that many otherwise healthy animals have to be euthanized when a home can’t be found for them. Nearly a million cats and dogs are put to sleep every year in the U.S. because shelters are too full and homes cannot be found for the population of homeless pets.

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Pet Owners

5. A third of Americans have multiple pets.

(Forbes 1)

Multi-pet households include those that own two or three of the same species, but can also include homes with cats and dogs, as well as other pets. One-third of all households in the U.S. are multi-pet households.

Red,Shiba,Inu,Dog,And,Red,Cat,Lying,On,Gray
Image Credit: Egrigorovich_Shutterstock

6. A quarter of pet owners have dogs and cats, while 4% have neither.

(Pew Research)

Dogs and cats are the most popular pets. Dogs are generally preferred because they are perceived to be more obedient and form closer bonds with their humans. Cats are the preferred choice for owners who don’t want to have to walk their pets because they are believed to be more independent than dogs.

While it is possible to own both, only a quarter of pet owners keep cats and dogs together, while 4% of pet owners own neither.


7. 97% of owners view their pets as part of the family.

(Pew Research)

Pets have become integral parts of our lives, especially evident during the pandemic when so many people relied on them for companionship. Such is the close relationship between people and pets that nearly all (97%) of pet owners say they view their pets as members of the family, rather than as possessions.

Slightly more than half (51%) say their pets are as much a part of the family as their human family members are.

man introduces a Labrador dog puppy to a kid
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

8. Rural Americans are more likely to own pets than those in suburban and urban areas.

(Pew Research)

Although pet ownership is common across the country and with most groups, the most likely households to keep pets are those in rural areas. 71% of adults in rural locations own pets, compared to 62% in suburban and 53% in urban areas.


9. Single Americans are the least likely group to keep pets.

(Pew Research)

Just 49% of single adults, who are not in a relationship at all, keep pets. The percentage rises to 55% of divorced and separated individuals, and 77% of those with partners. The number drops to 65% of married adults, however.

Upset man and woman and a dog sitting on a couch between them
Image Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

10. Wyoming is the state with the highest pet ownership rate.

(Statista 1)

When it comes to areas of the country, Wyoming is the state with the highest pet ownership ratio of households. 72% of households in the state own pets, with West Virginia close behind with a 71% pet-ownership rate.

Wyoming is the tenth largest state, by size, and has a lot of rural areas, especially in The Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.

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Dogs

11. There are approximately 85 million pet dogs in the U.S.

(AVMA)

Dogs are the most popular pets in the U.S., as they are globally. There are 85 million pet dogs across the country, which means there is approximately 1 dog for every 4 people in the country. This means that approximately 45% of households own at least one dog, with many owning multiple dogs.

two dogs in the living room
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

12. The French Bulldog is the most popular breed of dog.

(AKC 1)

Historically, the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular breed of dog in the U.S. but this changed in 2022 when the French Bulldog took over the top spot. The French Bulldog held the top spot in 2023, too, after ranking just 14th in 2012.

The breed has proven popular because its small size means it can adapt to life in apartments as well as larger houses. It is a playful, intelligent, and loving little dog that will get along with people of all ages. The Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, and Poodle are the next most popular breeds, meaning there has been no change since 2022.


13. The U.S. has the highest dog population in the world.

(World Population Review)

Dogs are the most popular pets in the U.S. and the country’s love for the species means that it has the largest companion dog population of any country in the world. China has the second largest canine population with 27 million, followed by the UK, Japan, and the Philippines, with 13 million, 12 million, and 11.6 million dogs respectively.

Germany is the EU country with the largest population of companion dogs, with 10.6 million.

two women dog owners going out with their pets
Image Credit: CandyRetriever, Shutterstock

14. It costs as much as $93,000, over the course of its life, to keep a dog.

(AKC 2)

Dogs can be expensive to buy, with some pedigree breeds costing several thousand dollars, but this still typically only accounts for a small portion of the total cost of a dog over its lifetime. Considering food, vet bills, accessories, and all other costs, the American Kennel Club estimates that it will cost around $15,000 over a dog’s life, regardless of its size.

While bigger dogs eat more and can cost more at the vet, they have a shorter lifespan, which means the average costs are similar regardless of size. However, the cost can be as high as $93,000 if the owner has to pay for regular walks and other services.


15. 58% of households in Idaho own dogs.

(Statista 2)

While Wyoming has the largest number of pet-owning households, a massive 58% of households in Idaho own dogs, which is considerably higher than the 44% national average. It, too, is considered a very rural state with its large size and comparatively small population.

group-of-dogs-with-owner
Image Credit: SpeedKingz, Shutterstock

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Cats

16. There are 60 million pet cats in the U.S.

(AVMA)

Although dogs are the most popular pets, cats run them close. It is difficult to know the exact figure because there is no registry of cats, but according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are between 60.2 and 61.9 million pet cats, excluding stray cats and those without permanent homes.


17. The Javanese and the Sphynx are the most commonly searched cat breeds.

(Shane Co)

When it comes to breed popularity, the Javanese and the Sphynx breeds are the two that are most searched for on Google. Their popularity is likely helped by the fact that both are said to be hypoallergenic. The Javanese is low shedding while the Sphynx is a hairless cat breed.

All cats still secrete the proteins that cause allergic reactions in sufferers, but because the protein is primarily found in dander and hair, low-shedding and hairless cats typically cause less reaction.

Man holding two Canadian sphynx kittens with blue eyes
Image Credit: Mariia Boiko, Shutterstock

18. The U.S. has the highest cat population of any country.

(World Population Review)

As well as having the largest dog population, the U.S. is also the country with the largest cat population. The countries with the next largest populations are China, Russia, Germany, and France, with 53 million, 23 million, 15 million, and 15 million cats each, respectively.

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Other Pets

19. 2.7% of households keep fish.

(AVMA)

Although cats and dogs are the most popular pet species, U.S. households keep a diverse range of pets. 2.7% of households keep fish, which includes those kept in indoor aquaria as well as ornamental pond fish.

Although fish are lower maintenance than dogs and cats, they do still need regular maintenance including cleaning their habitat. However, the swimming motion and the sound of the water can encourage relaxation.

couple buying pet fishes in pet shop
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

20. Approximately 5.7 million households keep pet birds.

(Pet Food Industry)

Another popular group of animals kept as pets are birds. Pet birds can range from small birds like finches and canaries to parrots and other large species. Although they don’t need walking, large birds typically need a lot of socialization, and owners need to ensure that their birds are kept in a secure, safe environment.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the global population of pet dogs?

Although it is an estimate, it is believed there are between 700 million and 1 billion pet dogs. This means that approximately 30% of all households in the world have at least one companion dog. (World Population Review 2)


How many pet cats are there in the world?

Again, it is an estimate and the figure could be significantly different, but there is believed to be a population of around 1 billion cats. This includes 100 million wild cats, as well as nearly half a billion stray and homeless cats. This means that around 350 million cats are kept as pets and have homes. (World Population Review 3)


Which country has the most pets?

Based on cat and dog populations, the U.S. has the highest pet ownership of any country. China has the second most. Germany, Russia, and the UK have high pet populations, although none come particularly close to the U.S. (World Population Review)


How much does it cost to keep a cat?

The cost of keeping cats varies according to many factors. Typically, the greatest costs will come at the beginning of the cat’s life, when it needs spaying or neutering and you have to pay the initial cost to buy or adopt the cat.

In a lot of cases, costs will rise again when the cat gets older because it will have more illnesses and problems that require veterinary attention. Typically, you can expect to spend between $325 and $1,600 a year on a pet cat. (CNN)


What age group are most likely to keep pets?

Although people of all ages own pets, a third of all current pet owners are millennials, which makes them the largest portion of pet owners. Gen X makes up the next largest proportion, with 25%, followed by baby boomers, who make up 24% of owners. The silent generation only makes up 2% of current pet owners. (Forbes 1)

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Conclusion

Pets are an integral part of daily life for many people, and with the largest population of both cats and dogs of any country in the world, the U.S. certainly has a strong affinity towards its companion animals.

Two-thirds of households across the country own at least one pet and one-third of Americans keep two or more pets. Dogs are more populous than cats, although they cost more to keep and typically require more exercise and maintenance. The French Bulldog retains its title as the most popular dog breed, having wrested it from the paws of the Labrador Retriever in 2022.


Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

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