How Many Dogs Are There in Australia?

Alice Newen | 23 November, 2023

            How Many Dogs Are There in Australia?

Did you know that Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world?

This was no surprise, as the Land Down Under has always been known for its environmental and animal conservation efforts. Today, the country is home to around 28.7 million pets, with 6.9 million households confirming they have animal companions.

Dogs still dominate these numbers, as 48% of Australian households have at least one pup, affirming their long-standing title as man's best friend!

But really, how many dogs are in Australia? 

Dogs in Australia: In Numbers

Are dogs popular in Australia?

They’re not just popular but also well-loved by the Aussies. Australia even established dog-friendly parks, pubs, cafes, and beaches to ensure fur babies aren’t left behind from all the fun. Apart from these, all Australian states have unique animal welfare acts, such as NSW’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation 2012, protecting dogs from abuses.

With these dog-friendly places and laws, approximately 6.4 million pet dogs are enjoying the company of Australians as of 2022, making up almost half of the household pets in Australia, closely followed by cats (33%), fish (12%), and birds (11%).

Pet Ownership Of Australian Households

Source: Animal Medicines Australia- Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people

With this big Australian dog population, you’ll surely find one having a Puppaccino, flaunting their new dog harnesses with fur parents, walking on a leash, or even sleeping in their backyard! 

How the pandemic impacted pet ownership in Australia

Unsuitable living arrangements. No time to care for pets. Too much of a responsibility.

When asked why they opt not to have a pet, these are some reasons Australians and people generally argue. But with the lockdowns and workspace flexibility brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, many Australian households now spend more time at home, allowing them to entertain the thought of having a dog. 

1. Increased pet ownership

Consequently, Australia experienced a boom in pet ownership during the pandemic, with one out of five pet owners (19%) saying they had their pets amidst the pandemic.

According to Animal Medicines Australia's report,  69% of Australian households now have a pet—a rate significantly higher than the 61% in 2016 and 2019.

Dog & Cat Acquisition

Source: Animal Medicines Australia- Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people

Although pet owners raised concerns over the difficulties of accessing pet essentials and veterinary services during the pandemic, the following social and emotional benefits have outweighed the said challenges:

  • Companionship
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Pets have become more used to humans
  • Better bonding quality with pets 
  • Increased physical activity

2. Rise of pet surrenders

Unfortunately, the rise of pet ownership also came with pet surrenders to rescue centres as the country gradually recovered from the pandemic. Australians are returning to their busy lifestyles and battling cost-of-living pressures, compelling them to surrender or rehome their pandemic companions.  

Animal Welfare League NSW has seen a 37.7% increase in discarded pets. Meanwhile, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) NSW said that their shelters are experiencing fewer cases of surrenders, with the number decreasing from 4,861 in 2021 to 4,248 surrendered dogs in 2022. 

This situation reminds us that pet ownership is a responsibility that must be taken seriously, not only when convenient or during a pandemic. So before adopting a pet, ask yourselves, am I ready?

Factors for pet ownership in Australia

Like anything we pursue, pet ownership is also driven by various factors. Some of these are:

1. Price to purchase pet

Too expensive?

Although 27% of dogs and 38% of cats are obtained for free, most are still purchased from breeders and pet shops for considerable price. The price skyrocketed even more after the pandemic, from $930 to $1,793 for pure breeds, $489 to $1,257 for mixed breeds, and $985 to $1,534 for designer breeds.   

2. Ongoing pet maintenance costs

Love isn’t enough to raise a pet. It also comes with significant expenses. Apart from the initial cost of purchase, aspiring pet owners also have to consider the ongoing costs of veterinary care and pet essentials. 

Today, Australians have spent over $33 billion on pets. 51% are for food, followed by veterinary services at 14%. Among other expenses are accessories, like harnesses, bandanas, and other pet clothes. After all, pets deserve only the best!

3. Living space

Whether we like it or not, pet type matters as we live different lifestyles and home setups. Pet needs and requirements might not be met if your living space or routines aren't suitable for pet ownership. For instance, dogs require a dog-friendly backyard or a regular walk in the park to maintain physical and mental fitness.    

4. Responsibility

Ready to carry a MAMA dog bag around and look for pet-friendly places?

Like kids, pets can be a handful, especially dogs. They're playful, curious, and full of energy. So, you must be ready for all the mess, pet-proof most house areas, and look for places where pets are also welcome. 

Having pets is truly fun, but it’s also a responsibility you should brace yourselves for.

Which dogs are more popular? 

We can all agree that all dogs, regardless of size and breed, are adorable and deserving of love. But some dominate the numbers as they suit pet owners' lifestyle, time, and space better. 

Does size matter?

All creatures, great and small!

As small dogs (4 to 10 kg) fit more household space and lifestyle, they remain the most popular dog size in Australia, comprising 43% or two out of five pet dogs. This is closely followed by medium-sized dogs, with 35%, and the remaining 22% are large dogs (more than 25 kg).        

How about the breed?

You might think pure breeds would be the most popular dogs in Australia. Still, surprisingly, Australians highly preferred Cavoodle—a hybrid of Poodles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. 

1. Pure Breed 

Pure breeds of dogs are known for their predictability and have been well-loved by pet owners, which remains true today. However, the rate dropped from 52% in 2016 to 44% in 2022. This is mainly because of the rise of designer breeds like Cavoodle and the price increase from $1,246 to $1,731 after the pandemic.

Moreover, most pure-breed dogs are found in lavish homes with earnings over  $100,000. The majority of these dogs are the following:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Border Collies
  • German Shepherds
  • Jack Russells
  • Pomeranians
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Chihuahuas 

2. Mixed Breed

Since most mixed-breed dog owners are uncertain of their dogs' identity or breed; these fur babies were most likely obtained from family and friends. That said, the popularity of mixed-breed dogs remained steady over the years (39 to 40%).  

3. Designer Breed

Are you allergic to dog fur?

No problem! Designer breeds like Cavoodles and Cockapoos have risen in popularity for their hypoallergenic and low-shedding qualities. Their numbers rose from 8% in 2016 to 17% of pet dogs in 2022.


Dogs aren’t just companions to get by during lonely times or cute stuff you admire but do not care for. No matter what size or breed they are, they need us. They need us to care. Hence, we must realise that dog ownership is a lifelong commitment, especially now that they’re increasing in number in Australia.

You must be ready for vet visits, regular walks in the park, trips to the beaches, grooming sessions, and purchasing pet essentials. We must accept that they won’t always be pleasant and'll sometimes test our patience. But even with their imperfections, dogs surely hope we’ll still love them unconditionally.

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