Millennials Own More Dogs Than Any Other Generation

Discover how Millennials, the leading generation in dog ownership, shape the pet industry, informed by Roch's original research on the growing trend of pet-friendly living and travel.

Millennials Own More Dogs Than Any Other Generation
Jeff Whitlock & Kramer Johnson

Navigating modern life's complexities can be eased by our faithful canine companions, who never fail to lighten our mood and offer emotional support. The bond between humans and dogs, a relationship as old as civilization itself, has amplified in recent years due to evolving societal norms and lifestyle shifts. Dog ownership in the United States has surged over the past three decades, and this trend has only accelerated during the pandemic.

As of 2023, 66% of U.S. households own a pet, an increase from 56% in 1988. Dogs top the list in popularity, with approximately 65.1 million U.S. households owning a dog. Millennials take the lead as the generation with the most pet owners, accounting for 33%, followed by Gen X at 25% and Baby Boomers at 24%. The pandemic significantly influenced these statistics, with 78% of pet owners acquiring pets during this challenging period.

Roch's original research into pet ownership trends reveals a fascinating connection between millennials' lifestyle choices and the increase in dog ownership. The shift to remote work has allowed millennials more time at home, making dog ownership a more manageable commitment. Furthermore, during the isolation and stress experienced during the pandemic, the emotional support and companionship offered by dogs became even more valuable.

In our increasingly digital and disconnected world, dogs offer a unique sense of companionship. For millennials, a group particularly affected by societal loneliness, dogs provide emotional support and stress relief that is hard to find elsewhere. Unconditional love, loyalty, increased physical activity, and mental health improvements are just a few of the many benefits dog owners experience.

The pandemic-driven rise in remote work and flexible schedules further boosted dog ownership. With more millennials working from home, they found they had more time to adequately care for and bond with a pet. For many, a pet was a source of companionship and comfort during uncertain times.

For millennials, dogs also serve as social facilitators. Walking a dog often results in interactions with other dog owners and lovers, fostering a sense of community. These encounters offer valuable opportunities for socialization and connection, which have become increasingly rare in our digitized world.

The surge in dog ownership can also be linked to the growing acknowledgment of the benefits of animal-assisted therapies in healthcare settings. Dogs are increasingly being used to support individuals with physical disabilities, mental health conditions, and emotional challenges. As awareness of these benefits grows, so does the popularity of dogs as pets.

The pet industry has been significantly impacted by these trends. The increase in dog ownership has led to a booming demand for pet products and services, from pet food and accessories to healthcare and pet-friendly accommodations. This is a promising sector for entrepreneurs looking to cater to the fast-growing pet-friendly lifestyle trend, driven largely by millennial pet owners.

Our research underlines the pivotal role dogs play in shaping millennials' lifestyles. The rising trend of dog ownership underscores our innate desire for companionship and the increasingly recognized benefits pets offer us. Dogs truly are our best friends, providing love, companionship, and numerous health benefits. However, the decision to become a dog owner should be made with full awareness of the responsibility it entails. As the old adage goes, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.

Whether you're a millennial considering getting a dog, or a business looking to cater to this demographic, understanding the impact pets have on millennials' lives is crucial. By appreciating the depth of this relationship, businesses can better cater to this audience, and potential dog owners can ensure they're ready for the joyful yet demanding journey that awaits.