What’s the Most Popular Pet in the US? – Pet Statistics

So I have always believed that dogs are the most popular pet. I am a proud pug owner and I have always owned dogs since as far back as I can remember. According to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 67 per cent of all U.S. households (85 million) own at least one pet, compared to the same survey carried out in 1988, which showed 51 million households owned pets, which accounted for 56% of all U.S. households. But what is the most popular pet type really?

The answer is it depends. you could be looking at the number of pets owned by type, or the number of households that own a pet by type. In this article, we define the “popular pets” as in the pet type that the largest number of households own. So here it is:

Yes, dogs are the most popular pet in the U.S!

The same survey shows pet preferences in the U.S. are:

1. Dog (60.2 million households)

pet dog

There are many reasons why we say “Dogs are man’s best friend”. Because they are just awesome. There are many benefits to owning dogs. For example, owning a dog is linked to improved social life, reduced stress, anxiety & depression, as well as helps to keep fit and active. OK, so even with dog breeds that don’t require huge amounts of exercise like pugs, a daily short walk can offer great health benefits for us, such as improved heart health and lower cholesterol.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the most popular dog breeds are as follows:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Golden Retriever
  • French Bulldog
  • Bulldog
  • Beagle
  • Poodle
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Yorkshire Terrier

So where does the pug come on the list? Pugs are the 28th most popular dog breed in the U.S.

Did you know?

There are over 500,000 service dogs in the US currently, many of them helping individuals with autism, according to SafeSleepSystems.com.

2. Cat (47.1 million households)

pet cat

Cats are undoubtedly very popular, whether to have them as a pet or watch videos of them being cute and funny on youtube. It is also often a conversation starter for many: “Are you a cat person or a dog person?”. There are good reasons why many people choose to own cats. One of the benefits of having a pet cat is that he/she will be independent and low maintenance. This may explain the fact that on average, cat owners own two pet cats. There are 94.2 million cats, compared to 89.7 pet dogs in the United States.

It is also worth mentioning that the expenses for cat owners are typically much lower than those of dog owners in all aspects: Fees relating vet visits, surgeries, food, kennel boarding & toys. Another thing to remember – just like dogs, cats can get hay fever and as a result, this can add more cost for some unlucky cat owners, especially in summer.

3. Freshwater Fish (12.5 million households)

pet freshwater fish

Freshwater Fish are the third most popular pet to keep in the U.S, and what’s more, it tops the list of the number of pets owned by type. Between 12.5 million households that own freshwater fish, there are 139.3 million of them being kept as pets. So this means around 11 freshwater fish per household. It is quite understandable, considering some of the benefits these little pets can give:

  • They are quiet
  • They don’t take up much space
  • They don’t cost much to buy and maintain
  • They are relaxing to look at – creates a relaxing & stress-free environment

4. Bird (7.9 million households)

pet bird

Apart from their charming appearance, there are many reasons why around 8 million households choose to own pet birds. They are loyal to their owners, as well as being comical and entertaining. What’s more, their intelligence should not be overlooked, meaning they can be trained to do tricks! For example, African Grey Parrots and Amazon Parrots are seen as the best “talking-birds”. Pet birds generally have long life-span – Amazon Parrots can live for up to 75 years, while Macaws live between 30 and 50 years.

Some of the most popular pet birds to keep include:

  • Cockatoos
  • Conures
  • Macaws
  • African Grey Parrots
  • Amazon Parrots
  • Policephalus
  • Quaker Parrots
  • Cockatiels
  • Budgerigars

5. Small Animals (6.7 million households)

pet hamster

Small pets include:

  • Ferrets
  • Hedgehogs
  • Rabbits
  • Hamsters
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Chinchillas
  • Gerbils

6. Reptile (4.7 million households)

pet bearded dragon

Although they wouldn’t be my first choice, reptiles can be unique yet cool and great pets to keep! I would say they are like the UK’s Marmite – “Love it or Hate it”. Some of the popular pet reptiles include: bearded dragon, water dragon leopard gecko, snake, chameleon, tortoise and turtle.

7. Horse (2.6 million households)

pet horse

OK, so the first thing that comes into my head when thinking of owning a horse is “it must be so expensive to own a horse!” Not just the purchase price, but also expenses, such as horse riding equipment, horse box, food, healthcare and insurance. But then just imagine being able to go for horse riding whenever you feel like! It is clear that this is an attractive option for these 2.6 million households. Also, did you know the vast majority of horse owners are also dog owners?

You can also see horse owners really really love and are emotionally attached to their pet horses. There are plenty of horse owner gifts on the market to make it even easier to show love to their horses. And vice versa – Horses are known to be loyal to their owners and can be extremely affectionate.

8. Saltwater Fish (2.5 million households)

pet saltwater fish

Saltwater fish are also known as marine fish. You will often find them in aquariums but they are also commonly kept as pets. There are many reasons why they are a popular choice of pet. For example, health benefits that these exotic and beautiful looking fish can bring should not be overlooked. Several studies show they can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression, as well as lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Some of the popular pet saltwater fish are:

  • Ocellaris Clownfish
  • True Percula Clownfish
  • Tangs
  • Damselfish
  • Dottyback
  • Coral Beauties
  • Wrasses
  • Blenny Fish
  • Butterfly Fish
  • Royal Gramma Basslet

If we are defining the popularity as the total number of pets owned by type, ignoring the number of households, it can show a completely different picture.

  1. Freshwater Fish (139.3 million)
  2. Cat (94.2 million)
  3. Dog (89.7 million)
  4. Bird (20.3 million)
  5. Saltwater Fish (18.8 million)
  6. Small Animal (14 million)
  7. Reptile (9.4 million)
  8. Horse (7.6 million)

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