The National Dog Survey revealed a massive boost in dog ownership during the pandemic. 3.2 million dogs joined families during lockdown, taking the UK dog population to 12.5 million. A whopping 23% of the UK’s dogs now belong to the generation known as ‘pandemic pups’ — dogs who were acquired under six months old since 1 March 2020.
The pandemic also saw a significant shift in the average age of dog owners, with a huge increase in first-time dog ownership in the UK. 48% of those pandemic pups were acquired by under 44s. And 18–24-year-olds were over six times more likely to buy a pup in the last two years, than they were before the pandemic. For many people, and especially younger generations, the opportunity to work from home made it possible to add a dog to their family.
The price of dogs also soared during the pandemic; the National Dog Survey showed that from 2019 to 2021, the number of people spending over £1,000 for their puppy increased an astonishing 18-fold. 1 in 5 millennials told us that they had paid over £2,000 for their dog, with the most expensive breeds including Miniature Dachshunds, French Bulldogs and Cockerpoos.
Sadly, during the pandemic, unscrupulous puppy dealers capitalized on this demand, with many pups transported into the UK illegally and in unspeakable conditions to line their pockets. Many of you were passionate about this topic, calling for action to prevent dogs being exploited in this way both at home and abroad, and we feel the same.
Take action against puppy smuggling today
Life with a dog
You told us all about your relationships with your four-legged friends and the activities you love to do together. During the pandemic, our dogs were a huge comfort and helped many of us cope with time at home during lockdowns away from our loved ones, as well as providing a reason to get outside for walks.
People described dogs as their confidants and best friends, with 85% of us regularly telling our dogs how much we love them, and 46% of respondents revealing they let their dog sleep on their bed. 3 out of 5 told us they celebrate their dog's birthday, and over three quarters (77%) of millennials revealed they buy their dogs Christmas presents.
Our data tells us that many first-time dog owners have been shocked by the cost and the commitment of caring for a dog. Particularly for owners ages from 18 to 34, the cost of vet visits, food and toys came as a surprise. This age group also reported the reality of dog ownership didn’t match their expectations, particularly the patience needed to train dogs and the impact on their social life.
If you could use expert advice and practical training to help you and your pooch understand each other better, we're here to help.
Check out our Dog School
As we adjust our working routines, it’s more important than ever to consider the impact on our four-legged pals too. With some offices keen to start welcoming dogs, we’ve designed a new workplace programme to help.
If you’re thinking about getting a pup yourself, take a look at our help and advice to make sure you’re ready. If it's the right time for you to welcome a dog into your family, find out more about rehoming from us.
National Dog Survey - results
In autumn 2021, our first ever National Dog Survey got tongues and tails wagging across the UK, giving us an incredible insight into the UK’s dog population.
Read the results