Dog Lifestyle

What is the Most Popular Pet in America?

Before reading you may want to take our Most Popular Pet Quiz or test your knowledge after!

You may have been wondering what the most popular pet in America is and so have we. Given our infatuation with Popular Pets we did some research about the most popular pet in America and found the answer.  

Pet Data Most Popular Pets

According to the American Pet Products Association, and the data learned in the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of survey participants in American households own a pet, which equates to 90.5 millions U.S. households that own pets. Pet ownership is at an all time high!

Of the 90.5 million homes that own a pet there is a clear winner for the most popular pet in America in those households which is a dog. 69 million households have a dog while only 45.3 households have a cat, followed by fresh water fish, birds, and small animals and reptiles.

Dogs have not always topped the list of the most popular pet in America. Dog ownership has propelled in the last 20 years to the staggering number of households owning a dog which almost ⅔ of all households in the U.S. As a result there has also been a 298% increase in household spending on their dog furry friends.

This is interesting in that although more households own dogs propelling dogs into first place for the most popular pet in America the actual number of dogs in United States is less. Families own 1.7 dogs on average whereas households own more of fish, cats, and birds making their true population greater and the total number of pets greater for these pets.

Why Are Dogs The Most Popular Pet in America?

We all know that during Covid-19 that more pets were adopted in the US than at any time in history but why would that be so much more than any other pet? After all, one could argue that other pets are easier to look after, less expensive to maintain and need less space.

Dogs have propelled themselves to be the most popular pet in America for a number of reasons including:

What we all know is their lovable personality;

A higher divorce rate;

Larger disposable income;

We know that dogs make us happy;

Dogs can also increase our mood and reduce stress and depression;

The growth of the internet has allowed us to find a dog we fall in love with more easily; and

The growth of technology and reduced social interactions. Dogs are social animals and they make us more social too!

Perhaps one of the most interesting reasons on the list is the growth of technology and reduced social interactions. It is thought by some that with the growth of technology we naturally have reduced in-person interactions where at the same time man’s best friends force us to get out in the community, interact with folks at the dog park and any other places.  

Added to that the growing body of research to support the health benefits of community and social interactions and one could argue dogs are an important piece for longevity and wellness for their owners.

Cat owners may argue about some of these benefits but cats simply don’t have the ability to get people out in the neighborhood and increase social interactions although cat owners are taking cats out on leashes it will not be as prevalent as dogs.

Other Popular Pets in America

If you, like me as a child, loved Guinea Pigs and Rabbits you were likely surprised not to see them on this list. Guinea Pigs and rabbits are in the small animal category and are less common pets finding themselves in 6.2 Million U.S. Homes in a recent survey.

Pet Statistics in United States

We have a long list of some key pet statistics here but here are some that are related to the most popular pets:

15 Top Popular Pets Statistics

  1. Small pets — rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice, rats and sugar gliders are the most popular pet in 45 states and Washington, D.C., according to Chewy
  2. In the wake of COVID-19, 12.2% of all U.S. households own one (or more) type of pet other than dogs and cats, up from 10.8% five years ago according to Packaged Facts.
  3. Arkansas, fish are the next most popular pet after Kitty and Rover according to Chewy.
  4. 7 million U.S. households own reptiles.
  5. The Guinea Pig is the most googled pet in Texas.
  6. Idaho had the most dog owners at 58%.
  7. Cats were the second most popular searched pet appearing in 137 countries’ pet search globally appearing in 129 countries top three searches.
  8. There was a surge in pet medication purchasing recently. According to Packaged Facts, Ending 2020 with $10.8 billion in sales, up nearly 13% from 2019, the pet meds market initially faced an uphill battle given the closures of vet clinics and retail stores, threats to production and supply lines, and economic hardship that could have potentially translated into reduced consumer spending on pet care. None of these factors were enough to offset the fact that pet owners—committed to their own health and wellness—were equally determined when it came to keeping their pets safe and sound, leading to above-average growth in key pet medication segments including prescription and over-the-counter parasiticides.
  9. The average lifetime cost of raising a dog is $23,410 See source
  10. The average dog owner in the US spends $1,201 per year on their pet. In contrast, the average cat owner in the US spends $687 per year on their pet. See source
  11. Based on AKC registration statistics the Labrador retriever have been the most popular breed in the United States since 1991.
  12. The French Bull dog is Number 2 most registered and therefore most popular dog breed according to the AKC and with the Golden Retriever right behind.
  13. National Pet Day is on April 11th and is a day dedicated to those pets who may not always get the companionship, unconditional love, and attention pets deserve.
  14. States with large rural areas tend to have the highest rates of pet ownership. You’re also likely to find more dog owners in warm, rural states like Texas and more cats in colder states like Maine and Washington, according to Zippia.
  15. Millennial Pet owners make up over 27% of pet owners overall making them an important pet marketing age group segment. Another reason why Millennial pet owners constitute a key pet market consumer segment is that compared to pet owners in older age groups, 25 to 39-year-old pet owners are more likely to have younger pets that they have acquired recently.
  16. This June, 2022, New York Lawmakers passed what is being referred to as the Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill — which aims to “stop the flow of cruelly bred puppies into New York.” The Bill, when signed into law when signed into law, will ban pet stores in the state from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits.

Pets that are Illegal to Have in the United States

You may be infatuated watching the latest popular pets on social media and thinking about making one of those part of your family but certain pets are not legal to have in certain states (mostly California). Fish and wildlife experts consider that they transmit disease and if they were to get loose they would pose a threat to natural wildlife. Here are some pets that are illegal to possess in certain states:

  1. Ferrets are illegal to have as a pet in California. As a result, ferrets cannot be legally imported, transported or possessed in California except by a permit issued for a specific, legal purpose — such as medical research or transporting rescued ferrets out of state. You will not find such a thing as a domestic ferret as a pet in California.
  2. Hedgehogs are illegal to have as a pet in California as well. Even though you love to follow that cutie pie on Instagram, they can carry salmonella and other harmful disease.
  3. Monkeys and primates are illegal to possess in California except by researchers and qualified people issued a permit. According, the Shouse Legal Blog The Department of Fish and Wildlife considers primates – including monkeys and chimpanzees — both an undesirable menace to native California wildlife and agriculture, and a threat to public health and safety.

Pet Ownership Worldwide

We are used to thinking about pets and the United States population but it is interesting to compare US Pet Ownership statistics with other countries and regions like Asia. I often think the majority of Asian population living in spaces that would be too small for pets as the majority of the populations live in Cities, however, pet ownership trends in Asian countries are very similar to the U.S.

According to Rakuten Insights more than half of people (59%) have a pet in their home, but there are quite big differences. On one side, there is Hong Kong, where 16% own a dog compared to 47% in Thailand and on the other side, Philippines with the highest rate – 67% owning a dog. Indonesia and Malaysia were the outliers where cats were more popular pets than dogs.


As pet lovers, pet ownership trends are fascinating.

If you want to test your pet knowledge check out:

The Most Popular Pet Quiz and determine where your pet fits on the list of Popular Pets and Important Dog Statistics and Facts Updated 2022 (Dogs and Relationship Statistics May Surprise You!)

Let us know if we missed a reason why dogs have propelled themselves to the most popular pet in America.

Check out our other articles that clearly help us understand why dogs are the most popular pets in America:

Can Dogs Help with Depression and Anxiety?

Learn How Pets Make Us Happy

How Pets Help with Mental Health