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Home > General > 10 Most Popular Pets in the UK in 2024 (With Pictures)

10 Most Popular Pets in the UK in 2024 (With Pictures)

young woman holding adorable rabbit

There has been an impressive increase in pet ownership in the UK since 2020, from 41% of UK households owning a pet to 57% in 2023. 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 16.2 million UK homes have pets, which is more than half of the UK’s population.

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’ll discuss the latest statistics with you and reveal what the 10 most popular pets in the UK are based on household ownership.

divider-multiprintThe 10 Most Popular Pets in the UK

Most popular pets in the UK infographic
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1. Dogs

Golden Labrador Retriever in the grass field
Image by By: idahoharleydude, Pixabay

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 12 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 relatively 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.

2. Cats

siberian cat indoor_Joanna Gawlica-Giędłek_Pixabay
Image by: Joanna Gawlica-Giędłek, Pixabay

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 11 million in 2023. That’s only 1 million less than dogs!

26% of UK households own at least one cat. 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.

The British Shorthair, Ragdoll, Bengal, and Siberian are a few popular cat breeds in the UK. Most pet owners adopt their cats from local shelters, but there has been a growing interest in purebred cats in recent years.

3. Rabbits

hand holding a polish rabbit
Image Credit: Valentina Covalli, Shutterstock

Who can resist a fluffy rabbit? It turns out that several people in the UK can’t, and around 1 million rabbits are home to 2.8% of UK households. Many children desire rabbits as pets, but a fair number of adults do, too, since there are several benefits of having one. 

First, rabbits are among the quietest pets, 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.

4. Indoor Birds

grey green budgie bird
Image Credit: UniqSnaps, Shutterstock

Indoor birds switched places with rabbits as the fourth most popular pet in the UK, with around 1.3 million being trained, housed, and looked after by 2.3% 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 don’t allow cats and dogs. 

They can comfortably fit into any sized home that cannot accommodate other pets and don’t require as much attention and maintenance. They’re incredibly entertaining, social, and intelligent.

5. Hamsters

Fluffy Syrian Hamster with wooden hamster house in a cage
Image Credit: FUN FUN PHOTO, Shutterstock

Like rabbits, hamsters are also a relatively easy type of pet to own since they don’t require much space and are quiet enough to live in an apartment without upsetting the neighbors. 0.9% of UK households have at least one hamster. 

The Syrian, Chinese, and Dwarf types make up a large portion of the 900,000 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 2:00 AM in the morning since they’re a nocturnal species. They bond well with their owners and are very affectionate, but they require daily care, water, and food.

6. Guinea Pig

woman is feeding a guinea pig
Image Credit: Vince Scherer, Shutterstock

One million pet Guinea pigs are living in 1.8% of the UK’s households. Although that’s a high number, they’re owned by fewer households than many other pets on this list, making them the 6th most popular UK pet.

Guinea pigs are social and do well with a partner, and if you’re considering purchasing one, try to get two instead because they 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 since they’re a big responsibility and require proper care throughout their 5-year lifespan

7. Tortoises and Turtles

Box Turtle eating mealworm
Image Credit: SusImage, Shutterstock

Isn’t it interesting that more households in the UK have tortoises and turtles than lizards, domestic fowl, and snakes? 1.8% of UK households own one or more of the 900,000 tortoises and turtles. Who knew these shelled creatures were so popular?

Although it’s illegal to purchase a tortoise or turtle in several countries, purchasing them in the UK is legal if you follow the correct procedures. In most cases, you’ll need certification to purchase the animals, but capturing and keeping a tortoise or turtle from the wild is illegal.

In the UK, you’ll find several types, such as the Leopard tortoise, Red-footed tortoise, Horsefield tortoise, and Indian Star tortoise, among others.

8. Lizards

Rare species reptiles lizard frog in tanks
Image Credit: Kitmaumau, Shutterstock

The estimated population of pet lizards skyrocketed from 400,000 in 2022 to 800,000 in 2023. Although lizards seem like low-maintenance pets, their enclosures require careful monitoring to ensure the temperature, humidity, and lighting are suitable to keep them healthy.

Some species, such as Monitor lizards, are temperamental and unsuitable for beginners, but the Bearded Dragon is ideal for amateurs and the UK’s most popular pet lizard. Other species that make excellent pets include the Moroccan Uromastyx, Leopard Gecko, Crested Gecko, and the Blue-tongued Skink.

9. Snakes

Caramel Tessera Corn Snake
Image Credit: Scink, Shutterstock

Snakes have made it onto our top 10 list, but they’re near the bottom due to no fault of their own. Many people fear snakes, and they’re not everyone’s preferred pet choice. However, the 1.4% of UK households that own snakes as pets appreciate their gentle natures and low-maintenance care.

You can legally keep a snake in the UK and easily find one at your local pet store. To properly care for a pet snake, you must house them in a large tank with a hiding spot. They’ll also require a heater or heating pad, water, and lighting. Snakes are an excellent choice for those allergic to dander, have long working hours, live in an apartment, and don’t have the time to exercise their pets.

10. Domestic Fowl

Image Credit: Erni, Shutterstock

There may be more domestic fowl than hamsters, lizards, and snakes in the UK, but fewer households own them. With 1.3% of UK households owning 1 million domestic fowls, most households own several, with very few owning just one or two. That isn’t surprising since you’re allowed to house up to 50 chickens at your home in the UK without having to register them with DEFRA.

Domestic fowl include chickens and roosters. They typically live in a chicken coop or hen house and are becoming popular because of their sweet personalities, low-maintenance care, and ability to lay eggs. They don’t need to be groomed much nor require constant attention.


In Conclusion

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. Dogs are the most popular UK pets, but cats aren’t far behind. Snakes are kept in 1.4% 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

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