How many dogs are in the world? It can be hard to go anywhere these days without crossing paths with a dog … lucky us!
It is nearly impossible to figure out how many dogs are in the world. We can make good estimates about how many dogs live in homes as animal companions, but when we also include the number of free-roaming stray dogs, it can be quite challenging.
However, current estimates place the dog population between 700 million and 1 billion dogs!
How did we even get to that point?!
The Human-Dog Bond
Humans and dogs have an incredibly deep bond. In fact, the relationship is symbiotic.
A symbiotic relationship is when two different species or organisms both get benefits out of being together. For example, a clownfish and an anemone! The anemone protects the clownfish from danger and also provides a home, and in return, the clownfish gives the anemone nutrients and protection.
Humans and dogs have been bonding for tens of thousands of years. The oldest known dog burial is from 14,200 years ago, from the Stone Age! This means that we have kept dogs close to us, as part of the family, for a very long time.
Distinguished biologist and anthropologist Colin Groves wrote in “The advantages and disadvantages of being domesticated. Perspectives in Human Biology”:
“The human-dog relationship amounts to a very long-lasting symbiosis. Dogs acted as human's alarm systems, trackers, and hunting aides, garbage disposal facilities, hot water bottles, and children's guardians and playmates. Humans provided dogs with food and security. The relationship was stable over 100,000 years or so and intensified in the Holocene into mutual domestication. Humans domesticated dogs and dogs domesticated humans."
Nowadays, dogs and humans provide the ultimate comfort and support for each other.
So…how many dogs are in the world … as companion animals?
In the USA, it is estimated that 62% of households have some kind of companion animal (dog, cat, rabbit, gerbil, etc). Way more than half of all households!
An estimated 80 million dogs live in homes in the United States. This number has increased by over 20 million since the year 2000.
Across the world, an estimated 470 million dogs are kept as companion animals.
But sadly enough, millions more do not get to live in homes or with human families. Instead, they live their lives in shelters or on the streets.
How many dogs in the world are abandoned?
In the US, there are about 3,500 animal shelters.
3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters every year. Hundreds of thousands end up being put to death due to overcrowding.
How many dogs in the world are on the streets?
Hundreds of millions of dogs live their lives on the streets.
In many countries around the world, dogs are put to death in horrific ways. This is a brutal method of dealing with the overpopulation crisis.
However, the Netherlands has no stray dogs! The Netherlands is the first country in the world to achieve such an important goal.
How did they get there? Effective spay and neuter campaigns. Neutering dogs is essential in order to fight overpopulation and the stray dog crisis that comes as a result.
Additionally, the government put large fees on store-bought dogs. This is to encourage people to adopt a dog from a shelter instead of buying from breeders. When so many dogs do not have homes, we should be prioritizing saving the ones in shelters.
The Netherlands even has a special police force to make sure that animal cruelty laws are enforced.
But sadly, many dogs around the world are abused in horrific ways.
How many dogs in the world are abused?
Dogs are abused in horrific ways, all around the world.
Some people intentionally abuse dogs. They may kick or hit the dog just to cause harm.
Dog fighting is one example of horrific abuse. Sickeningly, some people consider this form of abuse to be a sport. Although it is a felony crime in all 50 states, dog fighting still happens in secret across the USA. In fact, HALF of police officers report having dealt with dog fighting cases at least once in their careers.
In order to get a dog to fight, dogs are abused to the point that they become terrified, aggressive, and violent.
Another example of dog abuse is puppy mills. In the U.S., thousands of dog breeders make a living by keeping large numbers of dogs crammed in dirty cages or pens. These dogs are often exposed to extreme temperatures, with poor food and water, and no affection. They are forced to breed year after year until they die. Why? So that their sickly purebred puppies can be sold online and in pet stores.
Another example of dog abuse is hoarding. Hoarding is a compulsive behavior in which the person cannot stop bringing more and more dogs into their home, to the point where it becomes dangerous to both the dogs and the human. This is generally an unintentional form of abuse where the human genuinely feels that they are saving the animals. Hoarding behaviors are often a sign of a mental health crisis, and the hoarder should seek professional help.
Dog abuse is tragically common, and happens in many more ways than described here.
But one of the largest instances of abuse to dogs comes as a result of the overpopulation crisis.
Hundreds of millions of dogs are suffering on the streets, and yet they will continue to be born to suffer.
We need a solution that solves this crisis right at the source.
A Solution to How Many Dogs are in the World?
600 Million Dogs is developing a world-changing solution. The Spay and Neuter Cookie, once completed, will be one-dose, permanent birth control.
The best way to reduce the number of dogs suffering is to reduce the number that are born in the first place.
Dogs shouldn’t be born only to live a lifetime of suffering.