One Nation, Holding a Leash: America’s Obsession with Pets

Americans’ pet ownership, by the numbers

August 2022

Script

This video is part of our Kite & Key Shorts series — easy to understand ... but hard to forget.

 

Americans love their pets. All told, 70% of households in the country owned a furry friend in 2022.i And Americans’ spending on their pets has skyrocketed in recent years, reaching over $123 billion in 2021.ii

The biggest debate among America’s pet owners: dogs vs. cats. And on that front … the dogs are winning. 69 million households own dogs.iii While only 45 million have cats.

According to the American Kennel Club, the most popular dog breed in America is … the Labrador Retriever. Followed by the French Bulldog.iv The most popular pet that’s not a cat or dog? Freshwater fish, kept in over 11 million households.

But some pet owners have more … rarefied tastes.

There are about 15,000 pet primates in the United States, although 33 states have some kind of restrictions on monkey ownership.v

Monkeys aren’t the only exotic animals banned in certain states. It’s illegal to own hedgehogs in six states, including California and Georgia.vi Get caught with a ferret in Hawaii and you could be on the hook for a $200,000 fine and subject to up to three years in jail.vii

If you think that’s weird, you should know that Americans would have even stranger pets if they could. When asked what exotic animal they’d most like to own, 26% said a tiger. Giraffes came in second at 20%. And the third-place finisher was … a dinosaur.viii

Oh well. Close enough.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  1. Americans spent over $123 billion on pets in 2021.
  2. Dogs are the most popular pet (69 million households) followed by cats (45 million) and freshwater fish (11 million).
  3. Monkeys are a popular exotic pet, but it is illegal to own them in several states.

Sources

  1. Pet Industry Market Size, Trends & Ownership Statistics  American Pet Products Association 
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. "Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2021" (Jan Reisen) – American Kennel Club
  5. “Pet Primates for Sale in the United States” (​​Melissa S. Seaboch and Sydney N. Cahoon) – PLOS One 
    Pet Monkey Legal States 2022 – World Population Review 
  6. “8 Pets You Probably Never Realized Are Actually Illegal to Own” (Brittany Gibson) – Reader’s Digest
  7. Ibid.
  8. “U.S. Pet Poll: Most Prefer Dogs, 18 Percent Want Dinosaur” (Christine Dell’Amore) – National Geographic

Shownotes

SOUND: “Parisian Spring” (Alex Khaskin)
FOOTAGE: Zonepress (Getty)

Sources

  1. American Pet Products Association
    Pet Industry Market Size, Trends & Ownership Statistics 
  2. American Kennel Club
    "Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2021" (Jan Reisen)
  3. PLOS One
    “Pet Primates for Sale in the United States” (​​Melissa S. Seaboch and Sydney N. Cahoon) 
  4. World Population Review
    Pet Monkey Legal States 2022 
  5. Reader’s Digest
    “8 Pets You Probably Never Realized Are Actually Illegal to Own” (Brittany Gibson) 
  6. National Geographic
    “U.S. Pet Poll: Most Prefer Dogs, 18 Percent Want Dinosaur” (Christine Dell’Amore)

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