Dog Data & Trends

Highland Canine’s 2020 Dog Owner Survey: The Results

2020 highland canine dog owner survey

At Highland Canine, we’re always curious to know more about dog owners and trends in the pet industry. That’s why if you subscribe to our newsletter, in recent months, you’ll have had the opportunity to participate in our annual Dog Owner Survey.

Just as every dog is unique, we know that every dog owner is different, too – and we wanted to understand the trends and statistics shaping pet ownership in 2020.

We want to thank every dog owner who took the time to complete our survey. We received hundreds of submissions, both from across the United States and globally – and we are so grateful for your input!

Our Methodology

We invited dog owners who subscribe to the Highland Canine mailing list or have interacted with us on Facebook to provide us with information on life with their dog.

Our questions asked our respondents to provide information on:

  • The number of dogs living in their household
  • Average monthly spend per dog
  • Their favorite dog breed
  • If their dog has undergone formal obedience training
  • How they would rate their dog’s behavior, on a scale of 1-10
  • If their dog was adopted from a shelter or purchased from a breeder
  • If their dog is purebred or a crossbreed

Where dog owners had specified they owned more than one pup, we simply asked them to answer for the most recent addition to their pack.

The electronic surveys took place between October 2019 and January 2020

How many dogs are in your home?

The first question we asked our survey respondents was the number of pups they currently live with.

As the pie chart shows, by far the most popular choices were one dog or two dogs, which account for 31.64% and 30.00% respectively. 

Just over six percent of those surveyed said they had more than five dogs in their household – which possibly shows the enthusiasm for dog ownership among some of our respondents!

How well behaved is your dog?

Next, we asked respondents to tell us how well behaved they believe their dog is – on a scale of 1 (completely uncontrollable) to 10 (perfect angel). For this question, we asked dog owners to think about the most recent dog they purchased, adopted or rescued.

Overall, the results show that the majority of survey respondents feel their dog is well-behaved.

A grade of 8 out of 10 was the most common response from 27.22% of dog owners, with 7 out of 10 just behind with 24.13%

8.69% even said their dog was perfectly behaved – giving their pup a 10 out of 10 grade. 

Taking all responses into account, the average behavior score in the survey was 7.24.

Has your dog undergone formal obedience training?

We sometimes speak with dog owners who have never participated in formal obedience training with their dog – so we wanted to see how this played out with our survey respondents. We offer a wide range of dog training services – so it’s likely that some of our respondents have attended one of our group obedience classes or had private lessons with one of our trainers.

For this question, we asked dog owners about the most recent dog they purchased, adopted or rescued.

These results were extremely close! Just over half of respondents – 51.16% – said they had never participated in formal training with their dog, in contrast with 48.84% who said they had taken part in training.

Dog training is a vital component of responsible dog ownership. Not only does it help to ensure your pup is well-behaved and able to interact safely with dogs and humans, but it strengthens the bond between owner and canine. It also provides mental stimulation for your dog, which prevents them from becoming destructive.

One overlooked aspect of dog training is socialization. Taking your dog out in public and making them perform behaviors in different environments is key to a well-rounded dog.

Did you purchase your dog from a breeder, or adopt your dog from a shelter?

A perennial debate in the dog ownership community is breeder vs. shelter. We asked our respondents if their most recent dog had been purchased from a breeder, or adopted from a shelter.

There are evidently pros and cons on both sides of this question, and the truth is that a dog can be ideal for any purpose – either as a pet, or as a working dog – regardless of whether they have been rescued or purchased from a breeder. There are so many factors that can determine the success of a dog for any given purpose.

Often, dogs are left at rescue shelters because of the circumstances of their owner (they may have moved out-of-town, family circumstances may have changed, or the owner may have even passed away). Even if a dog has a history of abuse and neglect, they can still be trained. 

If you are considering adopting a dog from a rescue shelter, take a look at our guide to the questions you should be asking when you visit.

How much do you spend on your dog per month?

Next, we asked dog owners in our survey to estimate their average monthly outgoings for their dog. This includes food, treats, training, vet bills, medication and any extra activities.

Our responses show that the most popular range of average monthly dog spend was $76-$100, with 26.25%

At one end of the scale,  on 2.71% said they spent $0-$25 on their dog each month; by contrast, 4.17% said they spent over $300. Assuming that isn’t on food alone, the cost can quickly add up if your pup participates in skill activities or dog sports. 

In total, 63.13% of respondents said they spent $100 or less on their dog each month.

Is your most recent dog a purebred or crossbreed?

We asked dog owners if their dog was a purebred or a crossbreed – or if they didn’t know.

For those with more than one dog in their household, we asked them to answer for their most recent addition.

Just over half of respondents said their dog was a purebred. Of these, four out of five purebred owners said they had purchased their dog from a breeder, with the remaining owners adopting from a shelter.

Of the 41% who owned a crossbreed dog, almost 70% said they had adopted the dog from a shelter.

Which is your favorite dog breed?

Finally, we wanted to get an insight into the preferred breeds of our survey respondents. We asked them to name their favorite dog breed – whether they currently owned one of these dogs or not.

Across the survey, our respondents named 88 different dog breeds as their favorite – ranging from Afghan Shepherds to Yorkshire Terriers. We omitted the 70 responses to this question from dog owners who said they didn’t know their favorite breed, or said they had too many favorite breeds to choose just one!

So, here are the top 20 favorite dog breeds, as chosen by Highland Canine Dog Owner survey respondents:

(Despite not being – technically – dog breeds – we included Mutts and Doodles on this list. The response was overwhelming for both!)

The German Shepherd’s popularity should not surprise us. When we analyzed the most popular dogs worldwide last year, the GSD finished in second place. It also regularly appears at the top of the American Kennel Club’s annual registration list.

We want to thank everyone who participated in Highland Canine’s 2020 Dog Owner Survey! We hope you found the insights interesting and we look forward to conducting the survey again in 2021.

Are you looking for additional information on this survey and the responses? Please contact training@highlandcanine.com with your questions and we’ll be happy to assist!

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