Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Are Dog Owners Happier Than Other People? What Science Say

Chelsie Fraser

By Chelsie Fraser

young woman owner with her Jack Russell Terrier at home

There’s no doubt that people love their dogs, but are dog owners happier than others? According to a new artificial intelligence study, yes! Researchers with the insurance company PetPlan conducted a global analysis to determine if dog owners are happier than other people. They concluded that pet ownership in general brings up a person’s overall happiness score by over 22%.

divider 9

The PetPlan Happiness Study

The pet insurance study used AI facial recognition software to examine selfies of pet owners on Instagram and Google Images. The collected data was used to determine whether pet companionship made people happier.

Researchers in this study specifically looked at dog, cat, and rabbit ownership, finding photos using hashtags like #DogOwner. Each face was scored on an emotion level of 0 to 100. The average happiness rating of selfies is 36.8%. The average happiness rating of pet owners’ selfies is 59.3%.

Of course, this study only looked at dog owners who posted selfies on social media, but the results do indicate that our canine companions make us happier. While this study only looked at subjective happiness measures, there are actual health benefits that dogs can provide.

young happy couple holding and hugging golden retriever puppy
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

The Health Benefits of Owning a Dog

Owning a dog has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Dogs lower overall stress levels for both adults and children. Children with dogs have a decreased risk of asthma, and dog ownership has been linked with lower blood pressure.

The Journal of Physical Activity and Health published a recent study showing that dog owners are more active than other individuals. On average, they take 2,760 more steps per day than non-dog-owners, which equals an additional 23 minutes per day of physical activity.

Here are other documented benefits of owning a dog:
  • There is a reduced risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
  • It can lead to lower cholesterol levels.
  • Dogs can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Dog owners are also 36% less likely to report feeling lonely compared to their non-dog-owning counterparts.
  • Service dogs save lives. They are trained to aid people with mobility impairments, help veterans with PTSD, and act as aids for those with autism. Assistance Dogs International also trains dogs to seek assistance for individuals with diabetes, seizure disorders, and psychiatric conditions and acts as medical alert services. More recently, dogs are being trained to rescue those with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Dogs boost your immune system. Due to the natural bacteria that dogs have on their bodies, your immune system is naturally boosted by being exposed to a more diverse set of microflora. It can even help children with asthma and allergies.

Related: Can Golden Retrievers Live in Apartments? What You Need to Know!

Golden retriever dogs lying on floor_
Image By: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

Divider 5

Final Thoughts

Happiness is a subjective measurement, but it does seem that dog ownership makes people happier. On a more objective scale, dog ownership can make people healthier. There are numerous physical, emotional, and social benefits to owning a pet at all stages of one’s lifespan. However, dog ownership requires a serious commitment and shouldn’t be taken on lightly. It is simply that those who are willing to take on the responsibility can reap numerous benefits from doing so.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database