german shepherd and black labrador sitting with tongues hanging out

Popular pets – facts about cats and dogs

There are so many benefits to having a pet, and obviously millions of people around the world agree given the number of people with pets.  The popular pets, cats and dogs have remained top of the charts for years.

Check out which foods are toxic to dogs

I’m not sure the saying that you’re either a dog or cat person is true though. I had a cat as a child, whereas I was scared of dogs when I was young thanks to a little yappy yorkshire terrier having a nip at me. As I grew up I was around dogs a bit more, and got used to them. Now I’m a big dog lover, but I still like the superciliousness of cats too.

In our house, we don’t have pets as such. Our cats are farm cats, who largely fend for themselves apart from one meal a day and they live in the farm buildings. The dogs are meant to be working dogs, whether sheepdogs or gun dogs. Although at the moment, the latter are still nearer to pets. 

But getting the right pet for you can really lift moods and make them part of the family with nearly 60% of households in the UK having a pet.  

popular pets around the world facts about cats and dogs

Benefits of having pets

  • Companionship and friendship
  • Teach children compassion and gentleness; and 
  • How to care for and treat others
  • Therapy, aiding mental health
  • Protection – even if dogs aren’t taught specifically to protect, others approaching the property can be more wary
  • Exercise and getting outdoors – leading to improved health and potentially weight loss
  • Increased opportunity for socialising – talking to like minded people, meeting others during dog walks
  • Can provide routine and daily structure
  • Help you relax and sleep better
  • Fewer allergies in children exposed to pets early on in life.

But how do others around the world feel about which types of pets are best And which are the most popular breeds.

What are the most popular pets

UK pets (millions/households, Statistica 2022, PFMA)

  • Dogs 12.5m, Labradors being the top breed
  • Cats 12.2m most popular being a moggie/mixed breed
  • Indoor birds 1.3m
  • Domestic fowl (chickens) 1.2m
  • Rabbits 1.1m
  • Guinea pigs 0.8m
  • Hamsters 0.6m
  • Horses 0.5m
  • Pigeons 0.5m
  • Tortoises/turtles 0.4m
  • Lizards 0.4m
  • Snakes 0.4m

USA pets (Source Petkeen and Forbes/APPA)

  • Dogs 65 million households, labradors are the most popular dog and have been since 1991.
  • Cats 46 million households. The Ragdoll breed was the most popular 2023
  • Fish  14 million
  • Birds 9/9 million
  • Hamsters, gerbils, rabbits and other small mammals 6.2 million
  • Horses 5 million
  • Snakes
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Iguanas, Geckos, Lizards
  • Tarantulas

Around the world favourite pets are:

  • Asia – Japan is the country with more pets per capita than any other Asian country, the favoured being dogs.
  • South America – in a survey, 80% of those polled reported as being pet owners in Argentina, with Brazil coming in next highest with 75% stating they have pets.

Most popular dog breeds

UK 2021

  • Mixed breed / mongrel
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Cockapoo
  • French bulldog
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dachshund
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Border collie
  • Chihuahua
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever

USA 2021

  • Labrador
  • French bulldog
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Bulldog
  • Poodle
  • Beagle
  • Rottweiler
  • German shorthaired pointer
  • Dachshunds
german shepherd and black labrador sitting with tongues hanging out
Source: Emma T

Average life expectancy of dogs

  • German Shepherd 11 years
  • Labrador 11 years
  • Golden retriever 11 years
  • Bulldog 8-12
  • Beagle 12-15
  • French bulldog 8-10
  • French mastiff 5-8 years
  • Poodle 12 
  • Jack Russell 13-16
  • Yorkshire terrier 15-20

Most popular cat breeds 

UK 2021

  • Siamese
  • Persian
  • British shorthair
  • British longhair
  • Ragdoll
  • Benghal
  • Scottish Fold
  • Sphynx
  • American shorthair
  • Devon Rex

USA 2021

  • Domestic shorthair
  • American shorthair
  • Domestic longhair
  • Maine Coon
  • Siamese
  • Russian Blue
  • Ragdoll
  • Bengal
  • Bombay
  • Persian
line up of 6 cats sitting

What pets do you have in your house?

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  1. There are so many benefits to having a pet. I have had pets ever since I was young. They are so loving. Thank you for sharing this list.


  2. We have 3 cats and some indoor and outdoor fish – I’d love a dog too but I don’t think our moggies would appreciate that!

    1. It’s definitely hard getting animals that don’t mind each other. Do your cats watch the fish? Our childhood cat would go fishing in the people’s pond behind our garden!

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