November 3


Pet domination – the pet landscape

November 3, 2020


What does the Australian pet landscape look like?



Did you know that there are more pets in Australia than people!

Hard to believe I know…Here is the breakdown based on estimates from a survey conducted by Animal Medicines Australia in October 20191.

  • There are approximately 5.1 million dogs, more than 3.7 million cats, 11.3 million fish, and more than 5.5 million birds.
  • There are also many other kinds of Aussie pets like 600 thousand small mammals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, mice; more than 350 thousand reptiles like snakes and lizards and nearly 1.8 million other interesting kinds of pets; like horses and llamas.

That means that there are an estimated 29 million pets in Australia. And with a human population of around 25 million, that means that there are more pets in Australia than there are humans!


Not everyone has a pet, so who does own all of these pets? Well, if we take a look at the numbers of households that own pets the breakdown is interesting:

  • There are more households in Australia with pets than there are households without pets
  • 61% of Australian households own a pet compared to 39% of households that do not have pets

So, when you are driving down the street, for every 5 houses that you pass, on average 3 of them will have some sort of pet as part of their family!

It goes to show, here in Australia, we do love our pets because that is a pretty high degree of pet ownership. Whilst there are greater total numbers of fish and birds than dogs, the people who do keep birds and fish tend to keep larger numbers of these pets. For example someone who keeps fish is likely to have a tank or a bowl with a number of fish, and for those that keep birds, perhaps a whole aviary or a cage with more than one bird.


So what is the most popular pet in terms of the number of homes that have that particular pet?

Well its dogs as I’m sure many of you will have guessed. Dogs are the most popular pet (40%) followed by cats (27%), then fish (11%) and birds (9%).


Let’s have a look at how the numbers play out in some other countries across the globe.  Recent surveys from the USA conducted by the American Pet Products Association suggest that 67% of US households own a pet2. The data suggests that 50% of households own a dog, about 34% own a cat, just over 10% own fish, 4.5% own birds, 4% own small mammals and about 3.5% own reptiles. Just over 1% have a horse. So similar to Australia, dogs are the most popular pet followed by cats.


In the UK, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association found that approximately 41% of UK households have pets3. Although this seems a lot lower than the pet ownership in Australia and the U.S.A., the UK survey didn’t appear to have included fish ownership which may have increased the overall figure somewhat. The UK breakdown shows that 23% of households have a dog, 16% have a cat, approximately 1.5% own birds, just over 1% of households own reptiles and about 3% own small mammals. Once again dogs are the most popular pet, followed by cats.


Remember, if you’re trying to do the maths, some households may own more than one type of pet, so there will be some overlap between the percentage of households owning a certain pet type. For example, one household might own a dog as well as have fish and a bird.



We’ve seen that dogs and cats are the most popular pets, yet there are many different breeds. So which breeds tend to be the most popular?


Popular Dog Breeds

In Australia some of the most popular dog pure breeds are1:

  • Labrador retrievers

  • Border Collies
  • German Shepard’s
  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers
  • Chihuahuas
  • Golden retrievers

Mixed breeds are also common, and include mixes of1:

  • Kelpie
  • Maltese
  • Jack Russell
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Cattle Dog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Labrador Retriever

Then we have the “designer” breeds which have become more popular of late and include mixes of1:

  • Poodle
  • Maltese
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

  • Shih Tzu
  • Labrador Retriever


Popular Cat Breeds

As far as cats go, the vast majority of cats owned in Australia are a mix of breeds These cats are commonly referred to as domestic short haired cats.

Those owners that do have pure breeds commonly own1:

  • Ragdoll
  • Burmese
  • Siamese
  • British Shorthair
  • Persian
  • Bengal
  • Russian Blue
  • Maine Coon



In a population passionate about pets, how are you contributing to these statistics? And Which pets do you own?

If you were considering getting another pet, would it be the same as what you have now….or would you get something different?

And if you don’t yet own a pet, what kind of pet would you consider getting?


Share your comments and thoughts below or on social; And for more information on the surveys mentioned, check out my blog post which has links to all the statistics.


  1., accessed 22 October 2020
  2., accessed 22 October 2020
  3., accessed 22 October 2020

About the author 

Brett Simpson

Brett’s passion is to help people and animals live healthier happier lives. First and foremost, Brett is a passionate pet parent. He enjoys spending time with family and friends. Having grown up with many pets including dogs, snakes and chickens he knows how much joy they can bring to the family. This was reemphasised when for a period of time he was without a pet and reintroducing a pet into the home was like a breath of fresh air!
Brett has worked in the animal health industry over 20 years including experience as a vet in practice, a vet in the pharmaceutical industry as well as in the commercial operations of corporate veterinary hospital groups.
This experience gives Brett the unique perspective of knowing the insights from the perspectives of a pet parent, a practicing veterinarian, pharmaceutical companies and corporate group veterinary hospitals. With this unique blend of knowledge and experience Brett aims to empower pet parents with knowledge and products so they can better care for their pets and magnify the joy and passion they have with their pet.
Tails up to that!
Brett’s other passions include property renovations, landscaping, fitness, health and nutrition.

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