Humans believe they domesticated the canine some 30,000 years ago. Since then, dogs have progressed in number and moved from lounging by the fire, keeping a watchful eye, to cuddling with us on the sofa.
So who domesticated who? Pet dog ownership is on the rise, and the pandemic fueled part of this growth.
In 1988, companies started to keep better records to track pet industry expenditures. They saw the writing on the wall and that there was money in selling pet food, accessories, insurance, and toys to several million pet dogs. Pet ownership has increased in the U.S. from 56% to 67% in 2019.
Worldwide, countries follow a similar trend, with owned pets, and dog population problems creating countless fascinating statistics. Woof!
How Many Dogs Are in the World?
Good question; who is counting, and who wants to know? There are many answers to this question, and an exact number is difficult to obtain.
The WHO (World Health Organization) suggests that of all the dogs, we’ll get to that number shortly; 75-85% are free-range dogs. In North America, we’d say they’re strays. . We use feral for pigeons and cats but not wild dogs.
In other countries, village dogs roam in cities and villages; it’s just how it’s done. In North America and Europe, we round them up and put them into animal shelters, out of sight, out of mind. Personally, that’s no way to treat the domesticated species we love so much. (The Hungarian Vizsla German Wire Haired Cross sprawled on the sofa agrees.)
Some organizations also distinguish dog populations, aka feral dogs, from pet dogs. Consumer and pet industry survey information on pet dogs because that is where the money goes.
Strays get counted by WHO and pet shelter organizations like the ASPCA and Humane Society for the betterment of canine lives. The American Veterinary Medical Association studies vet visits.
The consumer goods division says there are 471 million pet dogs worldwide. Wikipedia says 900 million dogs and rising. The truth is somewhere in the middle. The WHO needs dog statistics to help prevent the spread of diseases like rabies because this preventable disease still kills tens of thousands of people and dogs, and other animals.
One more point about understanding stats. Romania has the world’s most balanced pet population, with 45% of households owning dogs and 45% of households owning cats. Wow, that is so awesome. Good job! Nope! You need to dig deeper.
This stat doesn’t tell you that Romania uses a barbaric dog-culling technique.
Let’s explore how the kibble crumbles and who owns the most pet dogs!
Dogs Population Statistics
One of the main reasons dog numbers fluctuate, aside from the impossibility of counting them, is that some figures represent pet dogs while others include the total dog population.
Not all dogs are treated as pets. Puppy mills churn out over 2.6 million puppies annually, according to figures from the HSUS (Humane Society United States). Not cool!
That number doesn’t necessarily include how many puppies are killed as unsellable. Also, authorities don’t have access to actual numbers from these horrendous facilities. Now multiply that by 150 countries or so.
More Than 471 Million Dogs Are Kept as Pets Worldwide (PetSecure)
If you’re paying attention, that number fluctuates. What remains steadfast is that dogs are the number one pet in the world, and pet felines come in at around 373 million.
According to PETA, community cats (feral or alley cats) add an additional 60 to 100 million animals to the count in the USA alone. Strays add to the animal overpopulation statistics.
75–85% of the Dog Population Includes Free Range Dogs (World Atlas)
If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, you know that not all countries hide their stray dogs in animal shelters. Technically, that’s how it’s done in Canada, the U.S., and other first nation countries, including the Netherlands, which claims they have no stray dogs.
The estimated 200 million free-range dogs are 75-85% of the global population. If you dig deeper into these estimates, it doesn’t add up to other sources with a much higher dog and pet dog population. It’s just impossible to say how many dogs are in the world.
The Most Popular Dog Breed in the World Is the Bulldog (AKC)
These headlines need clarification to extract real information. Bulldogs are perhaps the most popular in a Miss Congeniality contest, but by popular, it doesn’t mean the most numerous. Here’s why: Bulldogs are very difficult to breed and have a low birth average.
Most “Bulldogs” require a cesarian to give birth; that’s why they cost as much as they do.
There are many Bulldog breeds in the family, like Olde English Bulldog, French Bulldog, American Bulldog, Alano Espanol, Victorian Bulldog, Catahoula Bulldog, Alapaha Blue, Ca de Bou, Red Tiger Bulldog, Mammut Bulldog, Bullmastiff, and Australian Bulldog. We haven’t even counted the mixed and designer pooches with Bulldog DNA.
The AKC, the American Kennel Club, works with American breeds. According to them, the most popular pet dog is the Labrador Retriever, the German Shepherd, the Golden Retriever, the French Bulldog, and the Poodle returning to the top five.
The Number of Dog Breeds Worldwide Is More Than 340 (AKC)
There are many rules to becoming an American Kennel Club registered breeder, and this 139-year-old institution doesn’t recognize just any dog breed, regardless of how popular or if their trending on social media. It has to be purebred. Currently, they recognize 190 dogs though the FCI or World Canine Organization lists 340 dogs.
People’s love affair with designer breeds helps make dogs the most popular pets not just in American households and other developed countries, but also globally.
The Percentage of Free-Ranging Dogs Worldwide Is Almost 70% (Nature)
FRD or free-roaming dogs are a global problem responsible for dog-mediated human rabies. Rabies is 100% preventable through vaccination programs and saves human and animal lives from an incredibly cruel death. India has some of the highest FRD-related rabies incidents through feral dogs and unmanageable dog populations.
The Number of Stray Dogs Worldwide Is 200 Million (WHO)
This number is very debatable and much higher. Not every culture thinks it’s cute to have Fido sleep on the bed or eat with its hoomans at dinner. Many people find pet-human relationships gross. In other countries, families already share their bed. Free-ranging dogs don’t get invited into the house even if they own at least one dog.
The WHO also sees many wild dogs living in Eastern Europe and Romania surface frequently. A considerable problem is abandonment and no spaying/neutering programs to make sterilization affordable.
99% of All Rabies Cases in Humans Are Caused by Dogs (WHO)
It’s a heartless statistic. Rabies is a horrific disease for humans and animals and is entirely preventable through vaccination programs. Yet over 150 countries can’t get it under control.
Thousands of people, 40% are children, die needlessly from rabies in Asia and Africa. The cost of fighting rabies is $8.6 billion annually. You’d think that would buy some vaccines.
Dogs Population in North America
Did you know that Lassie was the first recipient of pet insurance? This news flash came from 1982, and accidental injury and comprehensive medical coverage sold by hundreds of pet insurance companies only validate how much Americans pamper their dogs.
Television dog stars include Eddie, Beethoven, Rin Tin Tin, Gidget, Snoopy, Scooby-Doo, and Pluto.
Stats of 2021 Revealed in the U.S. More Than 69 Million Are Living as Pets (APPA)
The American Pet Product Association is vested in understanding why Americans love over 69 million dogs. Americans also love 45 million pet cats, 9.9 million bites, 11.8 million freshwater fish, and many others. So much so that pet owners spend a staggering $123.6 billion spoiling them and why the APPA wants to study them.
In the U.S., 42.5 Million Households Own a Pet Dog (III)
Not every American household owns a dog; many own several. Dogs continue to be America’s pets. The National Pet Owners Survey found that 70% of U.S. households (90.5 million families) own a pet, and dogs take the most considerable portion.
The Labrador retriever is still number one. However, there is a problem with homeless dogs too.
The Number of Dogs Living as Pets in Canada Is 7.9 Million (Pet Food Processing)
That is nearly 20% of dogs in the Canadian (38.25 million) population vs. 14% in the American (331.9 million) population. These two countries contribute to just how many dogs are in the world. Canadian shelters are bracing for a catastrophic fallout as people abandon pandemic pets to enter shelters en masse.
Dogs Population in South America
Reviewing pet ownership statistics is fascinating, heartbreaking, and heartwarming all at once. It’s challenging to extract real numbers since pet ownership isn’t an exact science. Pet numbers change constantly, and no one is keeping track of officially 900 million dogs.
A few significant factors stand out. The ASPCA and Humane Society does a tremendous job fighting for the lives and rights of animals.
Stats for 2021 Show, in South America, Brazil Has the Highest Number of Dogs as Pets Which Is More Than 58.1 Million (Instituto Pet Brazil)
Pet ownership figures are daunting, and Brazil is home to 132 million pet animals. Spaying and neutering work to prevent overpopulation and prevents STDs in dogs. Yes, dogs can get sexually transmitted diseases like V.D. That is 58.1 million pet dogs, not dogs in total.
Argentina Has 6.5 Million Pet Dogs (Woof Dog)
It’s difficult to pinpoint a number for Argentina. Still, experts predict that the dog population in Argentina rose from 6.5 million to 10 million in just one year. Although pet dog ownership gained popularity worldwide, the pandemic helped to drive it even higher.
Colombia Has 5 Million Dogs as Pets (Pet Food Industry)
Tip: Geography lesson–It’s Colombia, not Columbia. Yes, they have a dog population issue, too, except for Medellin. When visiting this beautiful country, you can buy a T-shirt that spells it out. COLOMBIA.
In Colombia, the pet food market skyrocketed from $60 million in 2000 to $600 million in 2018. That substantiates a dog population increase.
Dogs Population in Europe
The Netherlands says it’s stray-free, and anyone caught abusing an animal gets three years in jail and €16,000 fine. 👍 When you visit Europe, don’t be surprised to find a dog lying at its owner’s feet in restaurants and bistros. They also go on public transport in urban areas.
In Europe, Germany Has the Highest Number of Dogs As Pets I.E. 10.3 Million (Fediaf)
Germany has the highest pet dog population alongside the second-highest human population density (behind Russia), which is interesting since Germans have the second lowest homeownership ratio in the OECD and still have room for 10.3 million pet dogs.
Italy and Spain Come after Germany with 9.3 Million and 8.7 Million Dogs (Fediaf)
Dogs are such a big part of everyday life in most countries. Italians also like to keep birds and reptiles, and Spain isn’t that fond of owning cats.
The Number of Dogs in Russia Is 17,550,000 (Fediaf)
Despite having the highest European population, Russia has only 17.6 million dogs, but ownership rates are growing. Russians also like cats, with nearly 23 million felines. Not having to walk them makes cats a better choice.
5.1 Million Dogs Reside in Ukraine (AZ Animals)
Ukrainians are fighting for their lives, which sadly means many animals are neglected and dying too. New stories and how the conflict affects shelter animals hit the news stream constantly. This pet dog population and war will turn many dogs into feral dogs if no one claims them.
It’s heartbreaking on so many levels. Please stop the war.
Dogs Population in Africa
The African wild dog is a curious-looking creature. These feral dogs are on the brink of extinction. However, most people are familiar with other African breeds like the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Soluki, Aidi, Chinese Crested, and Basenji, which are part of the global dog population.
Don’t freaking adopt an African wild dog. Owning an animal on the extinction list doesn’t do anything but encourage poaching and the illegal exotic animal trade.
Only 1409 African Wild Dogs Are Left in the World (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 2020)
Sad that we are adding another unique animal to the threatened species list. We are losing the African Wild Dog to habitat destruction and human-wildlife altercations. The stray dog population is a problem when societies can’t find a common solution to prevent more dogs in the world.
We already know who loses against humans. See the RED LIST for more wild animals close to extinction worldwide.
Stats Show 9 Million Dogs Live in South Africa (AZ Animals)
Like most countries, there isn’t an official dog counter, but South Africa makes some effort to provide statistics. Africa is a massive continent with 54 countries and 1.4 billion people, and suggesting there are only 78 million pet dogs seems light. However, any data helps the WHO fight rabies.
The Number of Stray Puppies in Africa Is 70 Million (Az Animals)
Dogs multiply when there isn’t a strict spay and neuter program to help control overpopulation. Stray puppies can about break one’s heart, and hearing that 70 million of them are subject to death from starvation and rabies is horrendous.
Dogs Population in Asia
If you’re squeamish, you might want to skip this part. People in some countries eat dog meat, and the Asian continent has some pockets of dog meat consumption. Many thieves steal pets for consumption. However, dog meat consumption isn’t widespread. Even the USA has no legislation banning cat and dog meat consumption.
According to Stats of 2018, China Leads the World With the Highest Number of Dogs as Pets, i.e., 110 Million (Bloomberg)
China has the population density to support a strong pet industry, and demand for pet goods is increasing. According to Bloomberg, the pet population has increased to 188 million pets. One of the driving factors is that the middle class is growing, and birth rates are declining.
India Has Almost 31.41 Million Dogs As Household Pets (Euromonitor)
Like other countries, India’s pet care industry set new records as people adopted more pets during the pandemic. Pets helped millions of people survive the loneliness and anxiety of living in isolation. Although the pandemic added financial strain to families, the pet care industry grew.
The Number of Stray Pups in India Is 30 Million (the Washington Post)
Street dogs or free-range dogs are a problem in India. Indians feed these mongrels but won’t adopt them. There are public spay and neuter programs, but they are badly underfunded, and the law forbids humane euthanasia for dogs.
Sadly, 30 million stray dogs cause 20,000 human deaths from rabies. Again, rabies is preventable through vaccines.
Almost 7.1 million Pet Dogs Reside in Japan (JPFA)
During the pandemic, Japanese people also turned to pets for comfort, and they have a substantial pet population. However, according to the pet food industry, interest in pet ownership is dwindling. Stats suggest dog owners have decreased, and cat ownership has stayed flat.
Is There Any Country Without a Stray Dog?
Yes, the Netherlands has solved its problem with stray dogs.
How Can the Number of Shelter Dogs in the U.S. Be Reduced?
It’s an easy answer. When you get a dog, you become responsible for its well-being for its entire life. Or that’s how it should be. Education, spaying, and neutering programs are vital components. Also, stop buying from puppy mills and adopt or foster instead.
How Many Service Dogs Are There in the U.S.?
There are half a million service dogs that work with the disabled. Service dogs owned as pets add a lifesaving quality to people’s life. These dogs help with the blind, epileptic, hearing impaired, diabetics, and more.
How Many Dogs Are Born Per Day in the U.S.?
If you google it, the web will say that 70,000 puppies and kittens are born daily. However, these are complex numbers to verify since no one keeps accurate records to any one authority for consistent information. Most institutions use a formula to extrapolate pet ownership numbers.
Searching through massive amounts of data on dog ownership in the U.S. and the world highlighted a few key points. The pandemic was a driving force in an enormous increase in pet ownership globally.
Despite our cultural differences, humans experience loneliness and turn to animals to fill that void. It explains why and how many dogs are in the world.
The next phase of the pandemic-animal adoption craze is already in full swing. People are abandoning pets at shelters like disposable trash. That’s just not cool. A pet is for life. Another problem that humanity must address is animal overpopulation. It’s unfair to the 900 million dogs and not fair to innocent people who die as a result.
Many of these articles try to drive home that being a pet owner is challenging. Most of us don’t have the dog whisperer’s gift for correcting dog behavior with assertiveness and a small corrective TSK. Instead, it takes devotion and patience. But it’s also so rewarding!