Urban Dog Owners

Part
01
of four
Part
01

Urban Dog Owners - Demographics

There was not much information specific to urban dog owners, but there was still some useful and exciting data found. The typical urban dog owner ranges between 15 to 44 years old, makes an average of $70,000 annually, and they are usually located in urban states like New York or Illinois. More demographics related to urban dog owners can be found below.

GENERAL DEMOGRAPHICS

  • People who live in Washington, DC are noted to spend more on their dogs ($270/month) than dog owners in any other area in any other state.
  • There are more dog owners than parents with children in San Francisco, CA.
  • The age range for urban dog owners is from 15 to 44 years of age.
  • The audience demographics for Unleash Magazine, an urban magazine for dog owners, are 64% of females and 36% for males.
  • The median income for urban dog owners is around $70,000.
  • According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pet ownership is usually lower in urban states. (e.g., New York, Illinois, and Georgia).
  • At 63.8%, most of Urban Magazine’s audience had at least attended college.
  • 73% of pet owners in the Northeast region own a dog.

MILLENNIALS

  • Millennials represent 35% of all pet owners in the US (they recently surpassed baby boomers n ownership).
  • Millennials spend approximately $141.50/month on their pets.
  • Millennials—and assuming the millennial pet owners—"tend to be more diverse racially, with the largest number identifying as multiracial."
  • While not exactly specific to urban pet owners—though it is likely related to them given the high levels of home rentorship assumed by younger pet owners—there are more smaller dogs as pets that are under 25 pounds (52%) than any other weight class.
  • "Independent households that are headed-up by Millennials also experience more poverty (5.3 million households in poverty versus 4.2 million households headed by Gen X), so not everyone has the luxury of being spend-crazy for pets."

RESEARCH STRATEGY

The research team reviewed multiple credible and reliable sources to compile a list of readily available demographics. Some websites used to draft this list were Unleashed Magazine, the AVMA, Similar Web, and Numerator. Because data were limited, the research team took another strategy by pivoting (slightly) to first locate popular urban areas for dogs and their owners, and then attempted to gather the relevant demographics for these cities (e.g., Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; and San Diego, CA). However, most of the details located were not readily available in a way that was related to dog ownership and, therefore, may not have been valuable. We also reviewed academic research in an attempt to locate urban dog owner demographics but these were not quite on target. For instance, one older study focused on the demographics of pet owners but the urban area was in Brazil. As a result of the data limitations in attempting to find the information precompiled, we were able to identify some data that could be extrapolated about millennial dog owners and base these assumptions on the millennial tendency to live in urban areas and the expected projection that this will continue through 2035.

Part
02
of four
Part
02

Urban Dog Owners - Sentiments, Concerns, and Issues

Urban U.S. dog owners are more interactive, share increased closeness, and are more active in their dog’s life. More information is provided below.

SENTIMENTS OF A TYPICAL U.S. URBAN DOG OWNER

  • Statistically, more than 70% of dog or cat owners living in urban areas agree of having a dog or cat that sometimes has anxiety/stress issues, whereas 55% of dog owners living in different areas "say their pet has these problems".
  • Urban dog owners are more interactive and share increased closeness with their dogs. According to Dr. Stephanie Liff, rural dog-owners may not see their dogs every day, whereas urban dog owners share "500 square feet with their dogs".
  • According to Dr. Liff, since it’s considered to be a lot riskier to have a dog in the city, urban dog owners are more active in their dog’s life and visit the vets more often than their suburban counterparts.
  • Urban pet owners, which can be reasonably assumed to include dog owners too, tend to spoil their pets and spend more money on them, even though they feel the stress of the economy.
  • Statistically, more than 90% of dog owners agree that their dog has a positive impact on their mental or physical health, which leads to almost 75% of them to pamper their pets.

CONCERNS OF A TYPICAL U.S. URBAN DOG OWNER

  • It has been noted that urban dogs that share their owner’s bed might present separation anxiety, which implies that co-sleeping may end up as a concern for urban dog owners.
  • Urban owners are found to be more concerned than their rural counterparts about the kind of food they provide to their dogs and agree that natural/organic brand pet products are often better than standard national brand products, as fear of pet food contamination/product safety is a key consideration in the dog foods they buy.
  • Infectious diseases can be spread through trash on the sidewalk or an improperly cleaned pile of dog poo, which is a concern for urban dog owners.
  • Also, in an urban set-up, dogs interact with each other more frequently at dog parks and daycares, increasing the risk of a dog scuffle or contagious illness (like kennel cough).
  • Urban dog owners are found to be concerned about tying up their dogs when they go into a store, as they fear their dog will become anxious or someone might abduct their beloved pet.

ISSUES OF US URBAN DOG OWNERS

  • Urban dogs grow anxiety issues by constantly seeing other dogs, which may require owners to take their puppies to vets who offer behavioral therapy.
  • Also, urban dog owners are more frequent keeping their dogs in daycare, where things may often go wrong for the pet while the owners are away.
  • Some issues that impact urban dog owners are factors like walkability, the number of parks, and the availability of pet sitters.

RESEARCH STRATEGY:

Although we could list out sentiments, concerns, and issues of a typical U.S. urban dog owner, some findings could not be backed up by data or insights that established them as the 'most common'. To find out most common issues, concerns, and sentiments we used the following strategies.

We started our search by looking into sources that provided survey reports on diverse aspects of dog-ownership in America. These included sources published in sites such as iii.org, americanpetproducts.org, avma.org, dailydogstuff.com and petfoodindustry.com, among others. Even though these sources contained surveys, the findings were mostly concerned on either the ownership numbers and type of pets categorizations or were focused on data related to the demographics or economic status of the owners. Therefore, topics similar to the psychographic aspects such as sentiments, concerns, and issues could not be found.

We then looked into sources that contained information related to pet dog services of various kinds in an urban set-up. These sources included sites such as Urban Pooch Canine Life Center, bestfriends.org, urbanpoochtraining.com, urbandogsNYC, Urban Dog Sanctuary, etc. Our aim was to find out whether these sources had generated insights from the clientele served by them, which focused on the issues or concerns faced by their costumers. Although these sources contained article blog posts written by them, the findings were hardly backed by surveys, which made it impossible to know whether these factors were the 'most common'.

Since sentiments, concerns, and issues of a typical U.S. urban dog owner were the drivers of the market involving pet-dog products such as food, nutrition therapy, etc, we looked into reports in sources like researchandmarkets.com, GM insights, Globenewswire, Businesswire, PRnewswire.com, among others. These sources published insights related to developments in the markets driven bye sentiments, concerns, and issues of pet owners. However, the findings were mostly on either the pet market or the dog market combining rural and urban areas.

Finally, we also looked into dog owners associations such as American Dog Owners Association, American Pet Association, American Kennel Club, Association of Professional Dog Trainers etc. Since these sources included owners of dogs as stakeholders, our aim was to find out their experiences detailing their sentiments, concerns, and issues, and subsequently find reports which would provide a clear picture on the subject. However, although these sources contained experiences and qualitative insights related to sentiments, concerns, and issues of a typical U.S. urban dog owner, the information did not indicate the most common, as the associations were presumably not large and resourceful enough to collect, compile, and analyze the findings obtained from their stakeholders.

Part
03
of four
Part
03

Urban Dog Owners - Most Popular Dogs

The dog breeds that are most popular in urban areas are mostly smalls dog breeds like the French Bulldog, Poodle, and Yorkshire Terrier. Meanwhile, Great Pyrenees and German Short-haired Pointers head the list of popular dog breeds in rural areas.

Popularity of small dog breeds in urban and rural areas

The popularity of mid-large and large dog breeds in urban and rural areas

Top list of dog breeds most popular in urban areas

Top list of dogs most popular in rural areas


Research Strategy:

To obtain information on which breeds are most popular with urban dog owners as compared to rural ones, we searched through trusted websites centered on dogs and pets, including the American Kennel Club, Baxter Boo, and My Animals. We found two lists from NBC New York and the American Kennel Club of the most popular dog breeds in urban areas. The articles mostly covered large urban cities in the United States, like New York, Chicago, Miami, Washington D.C., Houston, and Boston. To determine the most popular dog breeds in rural areas, we searched for lists of addressing the topic. We found a list from Baxter Boo and compared the dog breeds in that report with another list by American Kennel Club. Finally, we searched through websites such as My Animals, All Outdoor, The Guardian, and Bustle, where we found important information on the reasons dog owners living in the city prefer small dog breeds, while those in rural areas favor large dog breeds.
Part
04
of four
Part
04

Urban Dog Owners - Motivations

The motivations of an urban dog owner for pet ownership include Prior Dog Ownership, Health Benefits, Companionship and Children & Family.

PRIOR DOG OWNERSHIP

  • According to a 2019 research study in the Journal, Animals, 43% of dog owners in a US study reported that their decision to acquire a dog was "mostly influenced" by previous positive experiences with dogs.
  • Similarly, a 2018 research study published in the US-based Public Library of Science highlighted that dog "ownership history" increased the motivation for dog ownership in the future, potentially because prior dog owners have a bias in "selectively recalling positive experiences" from memories with previous dogs.

HEALTH BENEFITS

COMPANIONSHIP

  • According to a 2018 research study published in the US-based Public Library of Science, "over half" of those surveyed expected the adoption of a dog to offer companionship, both with the dog itself, and with dog ownership creating "opportunities to meet new friends."

CHILDREN & FAMILY

  • Children and family are a key decision factor in dog ownership among US households, with a 2019 research study in the Journal, Animals, reporting that the likelihood of dog ownership "increased" with the "number of people" in a household, as well as in "households containing children."

RESEARCH STRATEGY

An extensive review of trusted media sources, academic research, dog and pet industry reports and articles published by authorities and key players in the dog and pet industries was conducted to ascertain the motivations of US-based urban dog owners for pet ownership. However, no public information was available that directly explained the motivations of US-based urban dog owners, likely due to the highly specific nature of the requested information.

Despite this circumstance, relevant information was successfully triangulated through the use of several assumption(s), combined with a systematic review of relevant information sources. Specifically, as suggested, the general motivations for dog ownership in the US were first used as relevant insight into the motivations for urban dog ownership. Based on this assumption, we identified Prior Dog Ownership and Children & Family as two general motivations for US dog ownership.

Next we assumed that data on dog ownership motivations within US-based publications would be relevant for dog owners in the US. This second assumption further substantiated Prior Dog Ownership as a motivating factor in US dog ownership, and highlighted Health Benefits and Companionship as two additional motivating factors.

Finally, several strategies to triangulate the different motivating factors for dog ownership between urban and more rural households were executed. Given that no direct-precompiled information on urban versus rural dog ownership motivations was available for the US overall, the motivations for urban and more rural dog ownership was explored specifically for several urban and rural centers across the US, including Los Angeles and New York City as urban centers, and several suburban areas in the state of Connecticut and Kansas as more rural areas. Content discussing dog ownership in these locations and/or published by outlets based in these locations was reviewed. Additionally, social media posts on outlets including Twitter were explored for potential insight into the dog ownership motivations for dog owners living in these urban and rural centers. Unfortunately, limited information was gathered from this strategy.

Lastly, more general differences between urban and rural pet ownership motivations were researched as a potential proxy for urban and rural dog ownership motivations. Unfortunately, this strategy to identify urban and rural pet ownership motivations did not yield sufficient, relevant information, and was unable to serve as a proxy for the difference in motivation between urban and rural dog ownership.

As a potential next step, the American Pet Products Association recently published a 2019-2020 national pet owners survey. While existing, free reporting on this survey did not provide relevant data, it may be possible to purchase a custom report which uses the underlying demographic information from the survey to provide insight into urban versus more rural pet ownership motivations.
Sources
Sources

From Part 02
Quotes
  • "Urban, suburban and rural pet owners hold widely divergent views of their pets' health, according to the report. In what may stand as an affirmation of how pets can mirror their owners' emotional life or perhaps how pet owners can unwittingly project something of themselves in their pets, more than 70 percent of dog or cat owners living in urban areas agree they have a dog or cat that sometimes has anxiety/stress issues. Only 55 percent of dog owners and somewhat more than 40 percent of cat owners living in suburban or rural areas say their pet has these problems. Thus, urban pet owners likely will be much more receptive to efforts to market products such as calming shirts/suits or calming sprays/diffusers, according to the report."
  • "Urban dwellers are nearly twice as likely as rural residents to assert that their pets have special nutrition needs (45 percent versus 24 percent) and they are even more likely to be concerned about their pets having food allergies or intolerances (51 percent versus 22 percent)."
  • "More than half (52 percent) of rural pet owners buy pet foods at Walmart, compared to just 37 percent of urban pet owners. Just 18 percent of rural pet owners buy pet foods at PetSmart, compared to 42 percent of urban pet owners."
Quotes
  • "Urban myths abound about dogs sharing their human’s sleeping spot. For example, your dog will think he’s dominant to you or he will become spoiled. While there can be a link between bed-sharing and behavior problems, it’s not known whether co-sleeping creates the problem or the problem leads to co-sleeping in the first place. For example, a dog that shares his owner’s bed might have problems with separation anxiety. "
Quotes
  • "Urban pet owners also are much more likely than their rural counterparts to agree that natural/organic brand pet products are often better than standard national brand products or to concur with the statement that fear of pet food contamination/product safety is a key consideration in the dog foods they buy."
  • "More than 90% of dog owners across a wide range of demographic segments agree that their dog has a positive impact on their mental or physical health. The profound connection between pet owners and their pets leads three in four pet dog or cat owners to admit that they enjoy buying pet products that pamper their pets."
Quotes
  • "Dr. Liff told us that city pet parents are "probably more interactive" guardians. "[Rural] clients may not see their dogs every day, whereas my clients share 500 square feet with their dogs." Dr. Liff stressed that this level of closeness is not a bad thing. "For a veterinarian, that’s very beneficial."
  • "Of course, it might be that city pet parents are more active in their dog’s life because it’s a lot riskier to be a dog in the city. "I see my patients and clients more often, compared to my [vet] classmates in suburban environments. [Urban] pets are more social."
  • "More things happen to them." Infectious diseases can be spread through trash on the sidewalk or an improperly cleaned pile of dog doo. Dogs also interact with each other more frequently at dog parks and daycares, increasing the risk of a dog scuffle or contagious illness (like kennel cough)."
  • "Dogs here for the most part are very well socialized and interact better with other dogs [compared to] suburban dogs that may never see another dog." But for dogs that have anxiety issues, constantly seeing other dogs is nerve wracking. What should pet parents do with an anxious puppy? See a vet that offers behavioral therapy"
  • "Most of my patients have dog walkers or daycare at least a couple days a week," Dr. Liff said. And luckily for our canine friends, "the daycare facilities [in New York City] are phenomenal." That doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong while pet parents are away. "We had this one puppy that came in with a bump on her head and a fever. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her and she ended up having extensive diagnostics - CAT scan, bone biopsies - but most likely what happened with this puppy is that she hit her head at daycare, just playing around, and ended up having a bone infection in her skull from just a little bit of roughhousing trauma at daycare."
Quotes
  • "There are more dogs than kids in Seattle, but activist owners say there isn’t enough room for them to roam free — Seattle has only 27 acres of off-leash dog land. But what the city lacks in space it makes up for in regulation. As of this year, a new enforcement team will cruise Seattle’s parks to make sure all dogs are on leashes and owners are carrying “scoop equipment"
Quotes
  • "What is interesting to see is that urban pet owners, who tend to spoil their pets, spend more even though they feel the stress of the economy. The cost of owning a pet has increased; many pet owners spend at least $50 or more on pet products over a month in urban areas. However, rural pet owners tend to spend less time and commitment to their pets, and unlike their urban counterparts, they don’t tend to shop online."
Quotes
  • "Winston was bored and stressed out. Time after time, he was being left at home in Brooklyn, rather than going out on adventures. Chelsea Brownridge, owner of the six-year-old terrier mix, wanted to change that."
  • "I couldn’t leave him tied up outside places as he would get upset. I was worried about him breaking free of his leash, or getting into trouble. So that’s how I came up with the idea for Dog Spot."
  • "The concept is simple. Dog owners sign up to the app, and book their time at one of 60 Snoopy-style aluminium dog kennels, placed outside shops, cafes, supermarkets and libraries in 35 cities, across 14 states."
  • "It’s definitely more of an urban issue, but it’s not limited to New York,” she said. “In many cities there are more dogs now than children – in San Francisco dogs significantly outnumber children. The demand is nationwide."
Quotes
  • "Factors like walkability, the number of parks, and the availability of pet sitters all dictate how comfortable a new city will be for dogs and their owners."
  • "If you're looking to make a move with your pooch, pet-sitting site Rover recently teamed up with real estate website Redfin to determine the best cities for dog lovers."
  • "Together, the companies looked at a number of different metrics, like how easy it is to walk in each city, the concentration of dog walkers and sitters there, and the number of homes for sale with the word dog in the listing. And to measure the quality of a city's pet services, Rover broke down the total hours, minutes, and distance per walk given by the dog walkers in its system."
Quotes
  • "In small towns, people will tie up their dog when they go into a store. But many urban dog owners are reluctant, fearing their pooch will become anxious or that someone might abduct their beloved pet."