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16 UK Pet Ownership Statistics to Know in 2022: How Many Brits Have Pets?

owner petting pup and pup smiling

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

Pets have become more important to us over the years and are considered members of our families. They provide us with companionship, love, and even a certain amount of entertainment. Given how much of an impact they have on our lives, we collected these 16 statistics all about pet ownership in the U.K.

These interesting facts will possibly answer any questions that you might have, or you’ll just learn something new! The majority of these statistics are from 2020 and 2021 unless otherwise noted.

In this guide, we’ll give you a range of interesting UK pet ownership statistics and facts, including:

The 16 Most Interesting UK Pet Statistics

  1. 59% of households in the U.K. own pets in 2020/2021.
  2. Dogs are the most popular pets, with 12.5 million in U.K. households in 2021.
  3. Cats come in a close second at 12.2 million in U.K. households in 2021.
  4. 2% of U.K. households own indoor birds in 2021.
  5. Domestic fowl follow indoor birds closely at 1.1% pet ownership.
  6. There are 5 million fish tanks in U.K. households in 2021.
  7. The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the U.K., with 12% ownership in 2018.
  8. The most popular breed of cat in the U.K. is the Moggy at 51% in 2018.
  9. It’s estimated that the lifetime cost of owning a dog is £10,000 to £16,000.
  10. 3 million British people moved from the city to the country in 2020/2021.
  11. 2% of U.K. households acquired a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  12. More than half of U.K. households own a minimum of one pet.
  13. The RSPCA found homes for 39,178 animals in the U.K. in 2019.
  14. In 2018, Northern Ireland had the most dogs in the U.K. at 78% in 2018.
  15. London has more cats than dogs, with 61% cats in London households in 2018.
  16. 49% of U.K. households say that their pets are part of the family in 2018.
UK pet ownership stats
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divider-multipetGeneral U.K. Pet Statistics

1. 59% of households in the U.K. own pets in 2020/2022.

(Statista)

This works out to 17 million households. There are a total of 34 million domestic animals in these 17 million households.


2. Dogs are the most popular pets, with 12.5 million in U.K. households in 2022.

(PFMA)

This comes out to 33% of households that own dogs throughout the UK.


3. Cats come in a close second at 12.2 million in U.K. households in 2022.

(PFMA)

This means that 27% of U.K. households own at least one cat.

cat owner talking to his pet
Image Credit: Piqsels

4. 2% of U.K. households own indoor birds in 2022.

(PFMA)

They come in behind cats and dogs as the third most popular pet in the U.K. This works out to 1.3 million pet birds in U.K. households.


5. Domestic fowl follow indoor birds closely at 1.1% pet ownership.

(PFMA)

This means there are 1.2 million domestic fowl that belong to Brits in 2021. While pigeons don’t fit in as indoor birds or domestic fowl, it is interesting to note that half a million pigeons are owned in the U.K.

a close up of a red headed lovebird
Image Credit: Heidy Hills, Shutterstock

6. There are 5 million fish tanks in U.K. households in 2022.

(Pet Food Processing)

In their own way, this can mean that fish are actually the U.K.’s third most popular pet. 12% of households own an aquarium.


7. The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the U.K., with 12% ownership in 2018.

(Petplan)

This is not that surprising, given the Lab has been the most popular North American dog for years. Their devoted, friendly, and outgoing temperament is a big reason for the Lab’s popularity in North America, as well as the U.K.

labrador retriever puppies sitting
Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock

8. The most popular breed of cat in the U.K. is the Moggy at 51% in 2018.

(Petplan)

A Moggy is essentially a cat that is not purebred, just your average house cat. The second most popular cat in the U.K. is the British Shorthair at 24% pet ownership.

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Pet Ownership Statistics

9. It’s estimated that the lifetime cost of owning a dog is £10,000 to £16,000.

(IBISWorld)

This is usually an unexpectedly significant expense that many people do not take into account when they plan to bring home a new dog. The statistic was estimated by pet insurance companies, which is something that many people don’t take advantage of but can help when a pet encounters health issues.

dog with his owner on the bed
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

10. 3 million British people moved from the city to the country in 2020/2022.

(Mirror)

About 44% of Brits feel that living in the city during the pandemic is less appealing. These numbers are relevant because it’s thought that the search for green space and country living is more desirable due to the increase in pet ownership. With all those large Labs that need exercise, moving to a country property seems more appropriate!


11. 2% of U.K. households acquired a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(IBISWorld)

59% of these new pet owners are a combination of the Gen Z and Millennial age groups (ages 16 to 34).


12. More than half of U.K. households own a minimum of one pet.

(Statista)

Most of these pets are cats and dogs or a combination of several pets. In 2019, the U.K. was behind Germany as the second-highest ranking European country that owned dogs.

pet owner sleeping with dog on her bed
Image Credit: Daniel Myjones, Shutterstock

13. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) found homes for 39,178 animals in the U.K. in 2019.

(RSPCA)

Unfortunately, this also means that the RSPCA took in 10,564 dogs and 29,432 cats into their centres. It also had to investigate 93,362 complaints of reported cruelty.

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Regional Pet Statistics

14. In 2018, Northern Ireland had the most dogs in the U.K. at 78% in 2018.

(Petplan)

Northeast England comes in second at 75%, and Wales is third at 73%. Interestingly, in 2018, pet birds weren’t as popular as they seem to be now. Northern Ireland had 1% bird ownership and London 4%. Those are the only two regions with pet birds in the U.K. in 2018.

golden retriever dog watching over his owner's house
Image Credit: Luc Brousseau, Shutterstock

15. London has more cats than dogs, with 61% cats in London households in 2018.

(Petplan)

London was the only region in the U.K. where the cats outnumbered the dogs. Dog ownership sits at 50%. The other regions highest in cats are the Southeast at 51%, and third was the East of England at 47%.


16. 49% of U.K. households say that their pets are part of the family in 2018.

(Petplan)

These 49% of pet owners also say that they try to fit their lives around their pets whenever possible. About 15% of households said that their pet is the most important thing in their lives and that money is absolutely no object when it comes to their pets.

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Frequently Asked Questions on U.K. Pet Ownership

What is the main reason that people own pets?

Companionship has always been one of the primary reasons that people get a pet. But the pandemic has given people even more reason to seek out pets for companionship in the U.K. (IBISWorld)

How much did pet owners spend on pets in the UK?

Pet owners spent almost £8 billion on pets and pet products in 2020. This is about double compared to what was spent in 2010, in which £3.9 billion was spent. (Statista)

Who is the leading pet retailer in the UK?

Pets at Home saw a revenue of £1.14 billion in 2021 and is considered the top pet retailer in Europe. (Statista)

What did pet owners spend the most money on?

The most expensive costs and what pet owners spent the most money on were veterinary and pet services, at almost £4 billion in 2020. (Statista)

How much do Brits spend on clothes for their pets?

The average amount of £200 is spent every year on clothes for their pets. To top it off, approximately one in five owners said that they spent about £20 every month on outfits for their dogs and cats. (GroomArts)

How many pet owners buy their pets birthday presents?

About 25% of pet owners purchase birthday presents for their pets. They are spending an average of £264 on these presents. About 88% of pet owners spend up to £50 on gifts for their pets. (GroomArts)

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Conclusion

These statistics highlight how important our pets are. They are companions and vital members of our families, and these relationships are constantly changing. Particularly since COVID-19 struck the world, more people are turning to their pets or bringing home their first-ever pet as a way to deal with social isolation.

As seen in a few of these numbers, most pet owners prioritize their pet’s health and well-being, even at their own expense in some cases. Pet ownership is also quite clearly based on location. London has more cats than dogs, which is most likely due to the lack of yards and gardens. In the long run, as long as we take good care of our pets, we know that they will also take good care of us.


Featured Image Credit: Kaganovich Lena, Shutterstock

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