Ever Wonder How Many Dogs Are in the US?

dogs in the us

Americans keep no secrets about their best friends. According to the American Pet Product Association, pet ownership is still rising, and the battle between dog owners and cat owners is one where all parties win. Dogs are wonderful companion animals.

The Labrador Retriever still rules but the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, and breeds like the Bulldog are increasing the pet population.

Dog breeds are as unique as their dog owners, and our furry friends are a reflection that life is good for 90 million dogs in the U.S. It’s been a long-lasting friendship that started of necessity some 30,000 years ago.

First, we ate them; they ate some of us. Now they eat out of our hands. You have to wonder who the real winner is in this hooman-ex-wolf relationship.

Top 10 Most Fascinating Stats

The Population of Dogs in the U.S.

Instead of counting sheep, perhaps it’s time to count dogs instead.

According to the Pet Owners Survey of 2017–2018, There Are 89.7 Million Dogs in the U.S. (APPA)

how many dogs are in the us

We love our dogs, and 70% of households make room for at least one dog. To date, that number is still climbing and reached 90.5 million homes. The American Pet Products Association survey to track pet ownership began in 1988 when only 56% of Americans were pet owners.

population of dogs in USA

In 2020, 63.4 Million Households in the U.S. Owned a Dog (APPA)

Most American households have at least one dog; in 2020, 27 million households had more than one dog. Only two years, 2002 and 2015, saw a decline over the previous year. 

The Number of Households Owning a Dog Is 48,255,413 (AVMA)

population of dogs

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, pet ownership demographics suggest that between 2017 and 2018, there were over 48 million dogs. (source)

The American Pet Product Association pegs that number higher based on sales and pet statistics. The AVMA more than likely only uses data based on vet clinic stats and their unique formula.

As many as 27% don’t get yearly vet visits. Let’s hope they were all healthy.

The Total Number of Dogs in the U.S. Is 76,811,305 (AVMA)

Based on 2017 and 2018 pre-pandemic figures, the AVMA demographic sourcebook lists the number of dogs in American households at 76,811,305 dogs in pet-owning households. The APPA figures that number is 13 million higher.

Almost 65% of the U.S. Population Owns a Pet, and Dogs Make Up a Total of 48% (Ameritrade, 2020)

All generations, from boomers to millennials, agree that dogs make the best companion animal based on the number of dogs in our households. Two-thirds own at least one pet, and millennials helped drive dog population growth. The pandemic was another catalyst to grow pet ownership, products, and insurance.

20% of Dogs Entering the Shelter Are Euthanized (ASPCA)

population of dogs in the us

Entering an animal rescue center is one of the most heartbreaking yet endearing experiences one can undergo. Those eyes that watch you walk past the pens will haunt you. Many of those will not find a forever home in time. Repeat that by 6.3 million. 

The ASPCA and other rescue shelters deserve our gratitude. Although euthanization numbers are in decline and down from 2.6 million in 2011, 920,000 companion animals still need a loving home yearly. That’s 390,000 dogs waiting in animal shelters. Imagine the tails wagging! (source)

61% of Millennials Own a Dog in the U.S. (Ameritrade, 2020)

Dog ownership among generations

Millennials are good dog owners. They’re financially secure, are delaying parenthood, or have smaller families, but they help drive the dog ownership statistics. Boomers still have a fair grip on dog ownership, with 37% of the dog ownership pie.

15% of Americans Acquired a Dog as a Pet During COVID-19 (Petfood Industry, 2021)

dog population usa

Pet shelters and welfare organizations saw a 15% increase in pet adoptions during the pandemic, according to Petfood Industry sales data. Way to go, people! Let’s make sure we don’t return them: all sales are final.

America has gone to the dogs, and their number one choice is a Canadian–the Labrador Retriever is a most popular dog. Americans also like other designer breeds that the American Kennel Club doesn’t track. Designer dogs are mixed breeds, often of two purebred parents.

French Bulldog, the Beagle, and the Catahoula Leopard Are the Other Famous Dog Breeds (AKC)

us dog population

You’ll see a Frenchy Bulldog no matter what dog park you visit. Beagles are easy to recognize though not as common. If you’ve never heard of a Catahoula Leopard, you’re not alone, though you’ll recognize the mottled coat and hound stance when you meet one. According to the AKC, Poodles are back in the top five after a long absence.

Veterinary Visits per Household per Year Are Roughly 2.4% (AVMA)

There are more vets because there are more pets. On average, we take our household pets to the veterinary clinic twice each year. In 2016, 27% didn’t visit the vet. Between 2016 and 2018, pet-owning households remained stable, shifting from 56% to 56.8, ending 2016. And then came the pandemic!

How Many People Own a Dog

It isn’t easy to imagine life without a dog or cat. Humans get so much joy from animal companionship. And animals seem to like us, too, despite our sometimes questionable behavior.

Percentage of Households Owning a Dog in the U.S. is 38.4% (Statista)

dog population in us

Gaining accurate figures for dog ownership is difficult for many reasons. The AVMA keeps its own set of figures, and the APPA tracks another set base on money in the bank. Some web info is outdated or just fake news.

According to the most recent stats, the percentage of households owning a dog was 70% in 2022, according to III (Insurance Information Institute). 

However, dog owner numbers fluctuate because there isn’t a tangible tracking method.

The Average Dog Ownership per Household is 1.6 (Statista)

Survey companies devise mathematical formulas to predict semi-accurate numbers about pet ownership status. The average number of dogs owned in America is 1.6 (the .6 might be a Wiener dog) and 1.8 for cats.

71% of Males and 62% of Females in the U.S. Own a Dog, According To 2017 Stats (Petfood Industry)

  • 71% Male
  • 62% Female

There are some conflicting stats about who owns what kind of pet. The main thing is to care for them.

how many people own a dog

Montana and Arkansas States Have the Highest Percentage (52%) of Dog Owners (AVMA)

Arkansas and Montana represented the biggest share of dog owners in the United States. This shows they really do relish their companionship.

how many dog owners in US

The Lowest Number (24%) of Dog Owners Are in Massachusetts (AVMA)

Not sure why there would be such a significant difference between states. It makes sense that urban areas tend to have lower pet ownership households than rural areas.


population of dogs

How Many Dogs Are In The World

There Are 900 Million Dogs in the World (World Atlas)

How’d you like the job of official dog counter? Tough job since there are nearly a billion of them. It’s difficult to pinpoint the number because, in Asia, Africa, and South and Central America, many dogs are unaccounted for or strays. 

how many dogs are there

Roughly 471 million dogs are classified as pets. North America has about 87-90 million dogs, and Europe with 65 million. Russia is not so dog friendly, maybe because it’s too cold to walk the dog and has only 12 million pet dogs.

China Has the Highest Number of Dogs, With a Population of 110 Million in Asia (World Atlas)

Only makes sense since they have the population density. However, pet population statistics are difficult as many countries don’t have registration requirements. Beijing has an estimated million dogs.

75–85% of the Dog Population Includes Free-Range Dogs (World Atlas)

Free-range dogs are what Americans would call strays. The World Health Organization has grave concerns over overpopulation and animal shelter crowding, as 200 million dogs roam as free-range dogs.

In North America, strays are captured and sheltered and often adopted. In developing nations, free-range dogs are sometimes shared by communities.

The Most Popular Dog Breed in the World Is Bulldog (AKC)

how many dogs

That just startled every Labrador Retriever. Labs have held the number one spot since like forever. However, don’t let sleeping dogs lie; the French Bulldog is number two according to the AKC for the second time.

35 Species of Wild Dogs Are Known to the World (Active Wild)

Wild dogs fall under the Canidae umbrella, like our domesticated dogs, and are commonly known as canines. Wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, African wild dogs, and extinct dog species. Dogs and wolves share 99.9% of their DNA, but wolves are pure carnivores; the pooch on the sofa doesn’t mind hooman food.

In 2018, Global Dog Ownership Reached 471 Million (Statista)

Yes, the dogs have it, and this number is pre-pandemic, which saw a massive increase in overall pet ownership.

Cost Associated With Keeping a Dog

dog population in the us

The cost of keeping a dog isn’t just a financial number. Being a pet parent takes massive amounts of time and attention. It’s vital, aside from having the finances to pay for food, shelter, vet visits, and toys (not to mention replacing chewed shoes and furniture), owners can commit to a lifetime of caring.

A Total of $1201 Is Spent Yearly by Dog Owners (Ameritrade)

A 2020 Harris Poll found that dog owners spend twice as much on their canines than their felines (that might explain your cat’s behavior toward your dog). Pet owners spend $1201 on dogs and $687 on cats.

New owners reported that owning a pet pooch was more expensive than they realized. Dogs are also more prevalent in 48% of households, while cats are in 36%.

dog stats

About 11% of Millennials Can Spend More Than $10,000 if Their Dogs Get Sick (Ameritrade)

Millennials are generous pet parents and have no qualms about spending $2000 to $10,000 on a sick dog. Other stats suggest that they don’t have the funds in their bank account, and investing in a pet emergency fund or pet insurance is the way to go.

Pet ownership statistics are interesting to interpret, and three sets of numbers stand out: Millennials spend more on clothing and accessories, and GenX buys premium pet food but doesn’t spend anything on training. Boomers walk their own dogs.

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association Report of 2018, Both U.S. and Canada Had a Combined Gross Written Premium of $1.42 Billion, From Which 88.9% Are for Dogs (Insurance Information Institute)

Not only do Canadians and American love their dogs, but they’re also willing to spend to insure their health. In under five years, Americans increased the gross written premium by 57% and escalated the total premium volume to $2.6 billion in 2021. The pandemic was a key driver.

  • 30.4% increase from 2020 to 2021
  • 27.5% increase from 2019 to 2020
  • 24.3% increase from 2018 to 2019
  • 21.7% increase from 2017 to 2018

The Canadian pet insurance market rose by 11% during the same timeframe. (source)

The Average Veterinary Expenditure per Household per Year Is $410 (AVMA)

Dogs are more expensive than cats at nearly half the cost of owning a dog for veterinary visits. Vaccinations, food, and emergency visits are the brutal reality of being a pet owner that requires serious thought before entering a long-term relationship. Pet insurance with an average $45 monthly premium is a good investment.

Interesting Facts About Pet Dogs

We all choose our dogs because something about a specific breed or mixed breed speaks to us. Sometimes those notions go out the window when we have an unexpected encounter with a shelter animal. Regardless of the type, we fall in love with them. 

Large Dogs Have a Shorter Lifespan Compared to Small Dogs (Pet, MD)

number of dogs in us

Everyone knows that one dog that always breaks the mold and outlives every other dog. Depending on the breed, larger dogs live between 8 to 10 healthy years, medium dogs average 9 to 12 years, and smaller dogs can live between 12 to 16 years. Older dogs develop arthritis, hip and joint problems, and cancer is a prevalent problem.

The Average Life of Dogs Less Than 20 Pounds Is 11 Years (Pet, MD)

Dogs with a bit of help from over-the-counter supplements, a healthy diet, help with dental care, and routine checkups can live happy and productive lives. While the average is 11 years for smaller dogs, many exceptions exist. 

On this day, Trixie, a favorite dog friend, and rescue mutt, is going to the vet. She’s been with her family for over twenty years. Update: Trixie got a clean bill of health, she just needs medication to address her incontinence.

statistics on dogs

Smaller dogs live longer, but with today’s medical advances, premium dog food, and overall better living conditions and treatment, who is to say that we can’t impact the life expectancy of a large dog as much as a small dog?

The Dogs 90 Pounds and Above Live a Shorter Life of 8 Years (Pet, MD)

While stats suggest this is true, medical science can’t substantiate the reason other than smaller mammals live longer than large ones. Older dogs develop medical conditions like incontinence and hip, joint, and mobility problems and might face euthanasia sooner.

If a larger dog suffers, it’s only fair to help them by doing the right thing. That means doing the hard thing and taking them to the vet for that last visit ;( Dogs have dignity.

Bluey, Was the Longest-Living Dog With the Age of 29 Years and 5 Days (Pet, MD)

how many dogs in the us

Bluey, the famous Australian cattle dog, died in 1939. Bluey set the record for over 80 years until Bobi broke the spell on January 10, 2023, with a new record of 30 years and 243 days.

Rabies, Distemper, and Parvovirus Are the Most Common Dog Diseases (AVMA)

Please vaccinate your dog. Rabies is entirely preventable through routine vaccinations and has been pretty much eradicated in the U.S. and Canada. Human and dog deaths from rabies still occur in Asia and Africa.

Canine distemper is a virus that attacks dogs’ respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems through airborne contact like coughing or sneezing or community dog bowls. It is often fatal.

Parvovirus is a contagious virus that is particularly dangerous for unvaccinated dogs. Parvo is transmittable through feces, surfaces, and people. Most deaths occur within 48 to 72 hours. Please vaccinate your dog.

Annually, Around 3.3 Million Dogs Enter Shelter (ASPCA)

dogs in usa

The good news is that the numbers are coming down, and the number of dogs is currently at 3.1 million, with a sharp decrease since 2011. We still euthanize 920,000 unwanted pets.

From 3.3 Million Dogs, 1.6 Million Find New Homes (ASPCA)

Charities like the ASPCA and the Humane Society work relentlessly to save the lives of animals. Although not all dogs that enter the shelter system find a forever home immediately, many go on to live with foster parents.

Campaigns and community involvement have helped reduce the number in shelters, and 4.1 million homeless animals are adopted annually.

The Number of Dogs Returned to Owners Is 6,22000 Annually (ASPCA)

dogs in us

Undoubtedly, the ASPCA picks up where we fall down. They care for animals we lose accidentally or pets that we can no longer care for because our lives change drastically and force us to abandon our dogs.

The pandemic had people rushing out to get companion animals, and according to sources, the fallout is just starting to trickle in, and shelters are filling up again.

According to ASPCA numbers, 6.3 million animals enter the system annually; 3.1 million are dogs, significantly dropping from 3.9 million in 2011. 

The ASPCA does a fantastic job returning pets to their owners and new owners. Of the 810,000 stray animals entering the shelter, 6,22000 are dogs reunited with their owners.

dogs in the US

In 2019, 24% of Dogs Were Named Sansa After a Character on the Popular TV Show Game of Thrones (Mental Floss)

Never saw one episode of Thrones, but the character Sansa had a dog named Funni that she adopted in real life. 

44% of Dogs Were Named Spider-Man, and 12% Were Named Thor (Mental Floss)

Never met a dog named Spider-Man, but Thor is not unusual. Here are some of the most popular dog names. Luna, Bella, Daisy, Lucy, Coco, Bailey, Buddy, Max, Milo, Rocky, and Charlie.

dogs in USA


Pet ownership statistics are a fascinating topic. Before you buy a dog, consider adoption.

Is There Any Country Without a Stray Dog?

Yes, the Netherlands doesn’t have stray dogs. There is also severe punishment for people who abuse an animal with three years in prison or €16,750 fine. That’s how it should be!

How Can the Number of Shelter Dogs in the U.S. Be Reduced?

Spaying and neutering is one way; educating people is another. Stop buying from puppy mills and adopt a rescue. If you commit to taking on a pet, take it seriously. It’s yours for life.

How Many Service Dogs Are There in the U.S.?

Service dogs are such remarkable animals. The USA has about half a million dogs in service.

How Many Dogs Are Born Per Day in the U.S.?

It’s impossible to answer that question accurately because dog births are not registered like human births. National estimates suggest around 30,000, but since puppy mills don’t have to disclose any numbers and produce 1.3 million puppies yearly.

Wrap Up

Having a dog or cat is a privilege and not a right. It takes 100% commitment on our part to make sure that these animals receive the best care. Bringing a pet into the family is a joyous occasion, but make sure you can afford all the costs associated with owning a pet.

A great way to experience dog companionship is through volunteering and fostering. Both are rewarding. Another way is through pet sitting or dog walking. You get to have all the frisbee-throwing fun without the cost.

Monika Martyn
Monika Martyn is a nomadic minimalist and published author. Her pet portfolio includes experience with over forty cats and dogs, and she becomes their surrogate and a valued pack member. One of her proudest accomplishments is typing while petting a fur baby on her lap. She also excels at dog-speak and cat-talk and is working on mastering fish lingo. Aside from her animal advocacy, she is passionate about the environment, plastic pollution, and living with less (not including chocolate and coffee). She practices yoga and meditation faithfully. She’s experienced living abroad and believes that together people can evoke change for the better. Or at least be kind to one another despite our differences. She has an uncanny knack for remembering people’s names. She’s proud of her two Pushcart Nominations, her debut novel, and her marriage. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. Monika believes that education is the biggest gift to humanity at any age.

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