There has been an impressive increase in pet ownership in the UK since 2020, from 41% of UK households owning a pet to 62% in 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic kept everyone isolated during the lockdown, and many people turned to pets for companionship, comfort, and entertainment. They quickly become an important addition to many new households, as well as existing ones. Now, around 17.4 million UK homes have pets, which is more than half of the population in the UK.
However, when we looked at the data, we were surprised at how popular some types of pets were—and they’re probably not what you expect either. We’re going to discuss the latest statistics with you and reveal what the 10 most popular pets in the UK are based on household ownership.
The 10 Most Popular Pets in the UK
You probably guessed this one. Dogs are wildly popular in the UK as well as the rest of the world. They are man’s best friends, after all. There are currently around 13 million pet dogs in the UK, with 34% of UK households owning a dog. The most popular type for the last few years has been mixed breed dogs. They’re home to many celebrities, which has gained them a lot of exposure, on top of their cuddly and friendly personalities.
Other popular breeds in the UK are the Labrador Retriever, Cockapoo, French Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, and Dachshund. These breeds are mostly quite small and easy to manage, making them suitable for the small flats that are commonly found around the UK.
The Labrador Retriever maintains its high ranking as the second most popular dog breed in the UK but the first most popular purebred dog. This is due to their loving and affectionate personalities, which perfectly suit families with children.
Competing for the title of “most popular pet in the UK” are cats. There has been a rise in the cat population in the last 10 years, from a population of under 8 million cats in 2010 to around 12 million in 2022. That’s only 1 million less than dogs!
28% of UK households own at least one cat, with the average cat household owning 1.5 cats. Some pets are more desired by adults, while others are more preferred by children. However, cats are one of the few pet types that are evenly desired by both adults and children.
A few popular cat breeds in the UK are the British Shorthair, Ragdoll, Bengal, and Siberian. Most pet owners adopt their cats from local shelters, but there has been a growing interest in purebred cats in recent years.
3. Indoor Birds
This one may surprise you, but indoor birds are the third most popular pet in the UK, with around 1.6 million of them being trained, housed, and looked after by 2.9% of households. Indoor birds range in size, color, and intelligence. A few popular types are African Gray parrots, cockatiels, lovebirds, budgies, and finches.
Indoor birds are popular in the UK because they bring companionship to those with homes that aren’t allowed cats and dogs. They can comfortably fit into any sized home that may not accommodate other pets, and they don’t require as much attention and maintenance. They’re incredibly entertaining, social, and intelligent.
Who can resist a fluffy rabbit? Turns out that many people in the UK can’t, as around 1 million rabbits are home to 2.4% of UK households. Many children desire rabbits as pets, but a fair number of adults do, too, as there are many benefits to having one. Firstly, rabbits are one of the quietest pets to have, making them ideal for quiet neighborhoods or apartment living. They’re also interactive, bond with their owners, are intelligent, don’t require a lot of space, and can be trained.
Popular rabbit breeds in the UK are the Angora, Beige, Belgian Hare, British Giant, Beveren, English Lop, and the Chinchilla.
Like rabbits, hamsters are also a fairly easy type of pet to own who require little space and are quiet enough to live in an apartment without upsetting the neighbors. 1.5% of UK households have at least one hamster. The Syrian, Chinese, and Dwarf types make up a large portion of the 600,000 pet hamsters in the UK. Hamsters of different species display different colorings and body sizes, but they all have their cute noses and ears in common.
If you’re a light sleeper, you’ll need to get used to your hamster running on their wheel at 2 am in the morning as they’re a nocturnal species. They bond well with their owners and are very affectionate, but they do require daily care, water, and food.
6. Domestic Fowl
There may be more domestic fowls than hamsters in the UK, but fewer households own them, which means they’re slightly less popular. With 1.4% of UK households owning 1.4 million domestic fowls, most households would have to own several domestic fowls, with very few owning just one or two. This isn’t surprising as you’re allowed to house up to 50 chickens at your home in the UK without having to register them with DEFRA.
Domestic fowls include chickens and roosters. They typically live in a chicken coop or hen house and are becoming so popular because of their individual, sweet personalities and their ability to lay eggs for consumption. They don’t need to be groomed much nor require constant attention.
7. Tortoises and Turtles
Isn’t it interesting that more households in the UK have tortoises and turtles than guinea pigs, horses, or snakes? 1.4% of UK households own one or more as a pet. Who knew these shelled creatures were so popular?
Although it’s illegal to purchase a tortoise or turtle in many counties around the world, it is legal to purchase them in the UK, as long as you follow the correct procedures. You’ll need to have specific certification to purchase the animals in most cases, but capturing and keeping a tortoise or turtle from the wild is illegal.
Of the 600,000 tortoises and turtles kept as pets in the UK, you’ll find many different types, such as the leopard tortoise, red-footed tortoise, horsefield tortoise, and Indian star tortoise, as well as many others.
8. Guinea Pigs
900,000 pet Guinea pigs are living in 1.3% of the UK’s households. Although that’s a high number of Guinea pigs, they’re owned by fewer households than many other pets on this list, making them the 8th most popular UK pet.
Guinea pigs are social and do well with a partner, so if you’re considering purchasing one, consider getting two instead because they tend to get very lonely on their own, especially if you’re at work during the day. They bond well with other Guinea pigs as well as their owners. They should be cared for by adults as they’re a big responsibility and require good care throughout their 5-year lifespan.
9. Horses and Ponies
Horses and ponies are a huge responsibility, but 1.1% of UK households are up for the challenge. A few types of horses that you’re likely to find within the 600,000 pet horses and ponies owned in the UK are the Shetland, Eriskay, Highland, Hackney, English Thoroughbred, and Hackney. A few common pony breeds are the Exmoor, New Forest, Welsh, Dartmoor, and Fell.
Horses and ponies are well-loved as pets because they provide you with exercise as you ride them, they have a long lifespan, and they’re energetic and playful. However, horses areexpensive to care for and are highly social, needing to be around other horses.
Snakes have made it onto our top 10 list, but they’re right at the bottom due to no fault of their own. Many people fear snakes, and they’re not everyone’s preferred pet choice. But the 1% of UK households that do own snakes as pets appreciate their gentle natures and low maintenance.
You can legally keep a snake in the UK and can easily find one at your local pet store. To care for a pet snake properly, you need to house them in a tank with an object they can hide in. They’ll also require a heater or heating pad, water, and lighting. Snakes are a great choice for those allergic to dander, have long working hours, live in an apartment, and don’t have the time to exercise their pet.
There are many weird and wonderful types of pets in the world that we’re privileged enough to welcome into our homes and care for. They make our lives so much happier and bring comfort and companionship. The UK loves its pets and has a wide range to choose from. The most popular UK pet are dogs, with cats coming in closely after them. Snakes are housed within 1% of UK households, and although less popular than other pets on our list, they’re loved by thousands of people.
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock