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15 Incredible Dog Statistics & Facts: Updated in 2024

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog Statistics

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Dogs are uniquely popular and endlessly fascinating creatures. People have been living with dogs for thousands of years. Due to a recent bump in pet ownership, dogs are more popular than ever before. But how much do you actually know about man’s best friend? There are a ton of interesting statistics about who owns dogs, how many dogs there are, and the history of dogs to dig into.

Divider 5Top 15 Dog Statistics & Facts

  1. Dogs are the most popular domesticated animal in the world (with cats at number two).
  2. Dogs were first domesticated between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago, making them one of the first animals ever domesticated by humans.
  3. The first true dog evolved 40 million years ago and was called Cynodictis.
  4. Domesticated dogs (Canis familiaris) evolved directly from gray wolves.
  5. Dogs are the most popular pet in America, outpacing cats by over 18 million households.
  6. 44.6% of American households own at least one dog.
  7. 65.1 million households own dogs in the United States.
  8. As of 2022, Americans owned 83 to 89 million dogs.
  9. Idaho is the number one state in the country for dog ownership, with over 58% of households owning at least one dog.
  10. There are 471 million pet dogs in the world.
  11. The Labrador Retriever has been featured in the top 10 most popular dogs list for 30 consecutive years.
  12. The Norwegian Lundehund is consistently the least popular dog breed in the United States.
  13. Zeus the Great Dane is the world’s tallest dog standing at 3 feet 5 inches tall.
  14. Zorba the Mastiff was the world’s largest ever recorded dog weighing in at 343 lbs and measuring over 8 feet from nose to tail.
  15. The record for the world’s smallest dog is currently Pearl the Chihuahua, who is just 3.59 inches tall and weighs 1.22 pounds.
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The History of Dogs

1. Dogs are the most popular domesticated animal in the world (with cats at number two).

(PetMD)

Dogs and cats are the two most popular domesticated animals on Earth. People own these animals in larger numbers than any other domesticated animal, including horses, donkeys, chickens, birds, and pigs. It is not surprising that these two animals are so popular, as they are also two of the oldest animals ever to be domesticated by humans. Humans and dogs have been living side by side for tens of thousands of years.


2. Dogs were first domesticated between 14,000 & 29,000 years ago, making them one of the first animals ever domesticated by humans.

(Encyclopedia Britannica)

Dogs are one of the first animals ever domesticated by humans. Dogs were domesticated somewhere in Eurasia. That means people have been living alongside dogs for far longer than any other animal. Horses, for example, were only domesticated 6,000 years ago. Cows were domesticated 11,000 years ago. The long duration of domestication is one of the reasons that dogs and humans have such a strong bond. This bond has been cultivated over a period of thousands of years.

miniature schnauzer dog barking
Image by: Daniela Della Penta, Shutterstock

3. The first true dog evolved 40 million years ago & was called Cynodictis.

(Encyclopedia Britannica)

Mammals are constantly evolving, and as species go extinct and evolve, they fade in and out of the geologic record. The first species that would be considered a “true dog” emerged in the fossil record 40 million years ago. The first dog was called Cynodictis, and it is the ancestor to all of the modern dogs that we know and love today. Cynodictis eventually evolved into wolves which eventually evolved into the domesticated dog.


4. Domesticated dogs (Canis familiaris) evolved directly from gray wolves.

(PBS)

Domesticated dogs make up their own species called Canis familiaris. All dog breeds are a part of this taxonomic species. Canis familiaris evolved directly from gray wolves (Canis lupus.) That means that today’s dogs are essentially domesticated wolves. However, modern dogs have evolved in both appearance and behavior. Dogs are more amicable to humans and have shorter snouts and smaller teeth than their wolf ancestors.

grey wolf
Image by: keyouest, Pixabay

divider 9Dog Ownership Statistics

5. Dogs are the most popular pet in America, outpacing cats by over 18 million households.

(Forbes)

To the chagrin of cat people everywhere, dogs are much more popular. There are about 18.6 million more dog-owning households in the United States than there are cat-owning households. That is a stunning number. Many people believe that cats and dogs are similar in popularity, but it turns out that far more people own dogs than own cats. Still, despite the gap, cats are the second most popular pet in the United States by a long shot.


6. 44.6% of American households own at least one dog.

(American Veterinary Medicine Association)

Over one-third of all American households are home to at least one dog. The average number of dogs per household is 1.46 dogs. However, people tend to own more cats than dogs. American households own 1.78 cats on average compared to 1.46 dogs per household. Overall, roughly 70% of all American households own at least one pet of any kind.

A dog at a beach
Image by: brycekauai, Shutterstock

7. 65.1 million households own dogs in the United States.

(Forbes)

There are roughly 131 million households in the United States, and 65.1 million of them own a dog. That is the largest group of pet owning households in the country, and it is not even close. Only 46.5 million households own a cat in the United States. These dog-owning households help to drive a $245 billion pet care industry, with expectations for the industry to only continue growing.


8. As of 2022, Americans owned 83 to 89 million dogs.

(American Veterinary Medical Association)

All of those households and individual pet owners add up to a lot of dogs. As of 2022, Americans owned between 83 and 89 million dogs. Those numbers rose during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data shows that 78% of households adopted an additional pet during the pandemic (Forbes) and that over 20 million dogs were adopted out during this span (2019– 2021). It will take time for a new data set to be compiled, but it is likely that the number of dogs owned in the United States will be approaching 100 million in the coming years.

young dog owner hugging her pet collie in the woods
Image by: Selenit, Shutterstock

9. Idaho is the number one state in the country for dog ownership, with over 58% of households owning at least one dog.

(Statista)

Out of all of the states in the United States, Idaho comes in first for dog ownership. Over 58% of households in Idaho own at least one dog. That means that the majority of Idaho households are dog-owning. If you want to be around a large number of dog owners, Idaho is the place to be. In second place, however, is Tennessee, with 47% of households owning dogs.


10. There are 471 million pet dogs in the world.

(The Zebra)

The United States owns the largest number of dogs in the world, with 78 million. However, dog ownership worldwide is very high. There are nearly half a billion dogs in the world that are owned by people. That number does not account for stray dogs or unowned dogs. Dog ownership is common everywhere, from Japan to Germany to China and Brazil.

Two dogs running in the park
Image by: JumpStory

divider 9Dog Facts & Records

11. The Labrador Retriever has been featured in the top 10 most popular dogs list for 30 consecutive years.

(AKC)

When it comes to popular dogs, few are as decorated as the beloved Labrador Retriever. According to the American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever has been featured in the top 10 most popular dog list for thirty consecutive years. That is a record of any dog breed tracked by the AKC. Some dogs see a surge in popularity before dropping off again because of decade trends or fads. That is not the case for the Labrador Retriever. It has some serious staying power.


12. The Norwegian Lundehund is consistently the least popular dog breed in the United States.

(Newsbreak)

The least popular dog breed is an obscure breed not known by many people. It is the Norwegian Lundehund. This dog was bred for a specific purpose that Americans never participated in. These dogs were designed for hunting puffins in cold northern climates. Since the United States suffers from a dearth of puffins, the breed never took off, and it consistently ranks last or second to last on the dog breed popularity lists. If you spot a Norwegian Lundehund, consider yourself lucky, it is a rare occurrence.

Norwegian Lundehund in forest
Image by: Irine and Andrew, Shutterstock

13. Zeus The Great Dane is the world’s tallest dog standing at 3 feet 5 inches tall.

(Guinness World Records)

The world’s tallest dog is, unsurprisingly, a Great Dane. Great Danes are known for their large size and are cherished for it. Zeus The Great Dane snagged the record of the world’s tallest dog by standing at a height of 3 feet 5 inches. That is the height from the ground to the crown of the back. Zeus was recognized in 2022 and lives in Texas. Unfortunately, that size comes with a tradeoff as Great Danes rarely live to 10 years old, as most dogs do.


14. Zorba the Mastiff was the world’s largest ever recorded dog weighing in at 343 lbs & measuring over 8 feet from nose to tail.

(Guinness World Records)

The world’s biggest dog overall was Zobra the Mastiff. Zobra was recorded in the 1980s and weighed over 340 lbs. Zobra measured 8 feet 3 inches from nose to tail. That makes Zorba the largest dog in terms of both weight and length ever recorded. While Zeus might be the tallest dog, Zeus’s overall size has nothing on Zorba the Mastiff.

brown bullmastiff dog on grass
Image by: Julissa Helmuth, Pexels

15. The record for the world’s smallest dog is currently Pearl the Chihuahua, who is just 3.59 inches tall and weighs 1.22 pounds.

(Guinness World Records)

Pearl is actually related to the previous record holder, Miracle Milly, who was a tiny chihuahua herself. Sadly, she passed away in 2020 before Pearl was born.

divider 9FAQ

Are Dogs Expensive to Own?

Dogs cost around $1,800 per year on average to own. That covers food, toys, vet fees, and treats over the course of a calendar year. Large dogs cost more to own on average than small dogs. Despite the fact that small dogs live longer (15 years versus 10 years), they eat much less food than large dogs. Your overall costs can also be inflated by untimely vet bills or severe health issues. Before choosing to buy a dog, you should consider the ongoing cost of their care.

Beautiful dog chow-chow in the park
Image by: Flower Garden, Shutterstock

What Is the Smartest Dog?

According to a comprehensive study of dog intelligence levels, the Border Collie is the smartest dog breed. Border Collies are very intuitive and can learn hundreds of words. Collies, in general, rank very highly in terms of intelligence across the board. Other breeds that frequently rank highly in terms of intelligence include German Shepherds and Poodles.

What Is the Most Popular Dog Breed?

The French Bulldog is the new king of dog breeds when it comes to popularity. However, the Labrador Retriever came in second on the list of popular breeds in the United States for 2023. As mentioned, the Labrador Retriever has ranked in the top 10 for most popular breeds for 30 years and counting, despite being recently taken over by the Frenchie for the top spot.

Labrador-Retriever
Image by: Angel Luciano, Unsplash

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Owners?

Many people think that dogs lick as a sign of affection, but love might have nothing to do with it. Surprising results have arisen when examining natural behavior in the wild and instinctual behavior of dogs. Dogs in the wild lick each other to get them to give up their catch. That means your dog might be asking you to spit out some raw meat for them to eat. Similarly, evidence suggests that dogs might simply like the taste of your skin. Human skin is salty and filled with many microscopic things that could be tasty to dogs. Given these odd natural behaviors, maybe it is better to continue to think of licking as affectionate kissing.


Why Are Dogs So Popular?

Dogs are popular due to a variety of factors. First, humans and dogs are more tuned to each other than any other animal pairing. Myths about canine loyalty and being man’s best friend are rooted in some truth. Humans have yet to connect with any animal as deeply as they have dogs due to our long history together. Dogs are used for everything from hunting to herding to companionship. Dogs also have a very large role in popular culture, including Internet culture, movies, and television shows. All of these things have worked together for centuries to make dogs as popular as they are today.

therapy dog sitting with owner on a lake
Image by: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, with dozens of distinct breeds and thousands of years of history. Dogs have a long and interesting history stemming from wolves and morphing into the beloved pet we know and love today. Dogs are incredible animals that have formed an undeniable bond with humans. The statistics bear this bond out, with dogs being the most popular pet in the United States.


Featured Image Credit: Angyalosi Beata, Shutterstock

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