The retired anthropology professor I worked with at Western Carolina University is my friend Nyaga Mwanki. When our children were in first grade, Nyaga was their soccer coach. His son Munene and my daughters Betsy and Katie are the same age. On the foothills of Mount Kenya, in the settlement of Kana, Nyaga was born.
I once questioned him about the presence of dogs while he was a child in Africa. Dogs were free to wander in his village, he told me. He claimed that strong canines were highly prized because they could frighten off intruders and wild animals. However, he made it plain that these dogs weren’t thought of as friends. They were not permitted to enter homes, eat at tables, or use mattresses. In fact, the type of creatures we refer to as pets has no name in his original tongue.
I’ve been curious about why some people adore pets and others don’t for a very long time. Pet ownership is influenced by a variety of variables, including DNA, personality, and even gender. However, geography is important. Compared to just 24% of homes in Connecticut, 58% of households in Idaho have dogs.
Recently, Dr. Andrew Rowan and I looked into how dog ownership rates varied between countries. The president of WellBeing International, Andrew, has been gathering data on canine populations around the world for years. He emailed me a wealth of information about dog ownership in 70 nations a few months ago. Dr. Matthew Gompper, an expert in animal ecology, Euromonitor International, and the European Pet Food Industry Federation are a few of the sources that contributed to this data. After reviewing the spreadsheets for a few months, I recently presented the findings of our analysis at the 2019 International Society for Anthrozoology annual meeting. The extent of the disparities we discovered between nations in regards to how dogs are used in human lives astounded me. Our research also clarifies the extent to which culture, as opposed to biology, determines how much we love animals.
How Many Dogs Are On Earth And Where Do They Live?
However, these billion or so dogs are not dispersed equally over the world. Consider the figures of dog ownership in 53 different nations provided by Euromonitor. There were, on average, 109 dogs kept as pets per 1,000 persons in these countries. However, as the graph below demonstrates, there are significant distinctions between nations.
With 225 dogs per 1,000 people, the United States is at the head of the pack. Saudi Arabia ranks last with only 1.3 dogs owned per 1,000 people. There are almost 200 dogs per 1,000 people in the ten nations that love dogs the most, compared to 20 dogs per 1,000 people in the ten nations that don’t. In fact, the likelihood of having a dog in your life is 20 times higher in India than it is in France or the United States, and it is twice as likely if you reside there.
Why Do Some Nations Have More Dogs Than Others?
Why are dogs adored in some nations yet despised in others? According to some historians, keeping pets frequently begins as a luxury enjoyed only by the wealthy and eventually spreads to the lower classes. According to this theory, pet ownership should be more prevalent in wealthy countries than in less developed ones. To my amazement, dogs are an exception to this. Consider the countries that make up the EU. One of the wealthiest countries in Europe is Sweden, which has a per capita GDP of $54,135. However, just 12% of homes in Sweden have dogs. Romania is one of the poorest nations in Europe with a per capita GDP of $13,669, but 46% of Romanian houses have a dog. This scatterplot displays the association between GDP and dog ownership in the EU. The correlation coefficient (r = -.44) was far bigger and in the opposite direction than what I would have anticipated for stat-geeks.
Religion Affects Our Relationships with Dogs
Religion and other cultural elements have a significant impact on how people view dogs. For instance, dogs fall within the category of unclean creatures in various sects of Islam. Data on dog populations in 12 countries with a large Islamic population were included in our spreadsheets. We matched each of these nations with the non-Islamic nation with the most comparable GDP in order to account for disparities in national wealth. There were almost three times as many dogs per 1,000 inhabitants in the 12 non-Islamic countries as there were in the countries with a majority of Muslims, including both stray and pet dogs (160 dogs versus 60 dogs per 1,000 people).
Dog Nations and Cat Nations?
Numerous studies have revealed personality differences between “dog people” and “cat people.” But do “dog nations” and “cat nations” also exist? The answer is affirmative, as shown by statistics from 47 countries collected by Euromonitor in 2014. Americans favor dogs and cats roughly equally, with a very slight preference for cats, when it comes to the sheer number of animals. (In the US, there are.97 dogs for every one cats.) Additionally, there are 1.3 pet dogs for every cat in the world. However, some countries exhibit more overt predilection for dogs and cats as pets. In India, pet ownership is relatively uncommon, but among those who do, dogs are ten times more common than cats in households. South Korea and the Philippines are among the countries with the highest dog ownership rates (9 pets per cat) (7.2 pet dogs per cat). On the other hand, there are three or four times as many pet cats as dogs in Indonesia, Switzerland, Austria, and Turkey.
Attitudes toward Pets Can Change Rapidly
Munene, the son of Nyaga Mwaniki, was born and raised in America and has continued in that tradition. He obtained a Ph.D., much like his father did, and he works at Western Carolina University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. I recently sent him an email because I wanted to know if he shared his father’s early dislike of dogs as family members. He responded right away…
My two dogs currently have free reign of the house. They’re pleasant to cuddle with on the couch or in bed, and they have a way of winning you over. They visit my parents as well, where they are permitted upstairs and on the furniture. My dad enjoys playing with them while holding them on the couch. Overall, I think he has changed significantly in how he views dogs, and I also believe that Kenyan society is changing.
And in a subsequent email, Nyaga discussed changes in Kenya’s stance on dogs and cats over the past few years.
Increased Westernization has had a significant impact on people’s attitudes regarding pets, though less so in rural areas than in metropolitan centers. The cost of caring for dogs is a burdensome one for many rural residents with limited incomes. Even households with dogs or cats may allow them to eat on their own, but they are not allowed inside the home. Some people live off the food that is wasted. The situation is considerably different for the affluent households. Pets are fed in the same manner as we do here and taken to the veterinarian. Of course, they are welcome inside and even get to sleep in the same beds.
Additionally, more families are starting to maintain guard dogs as a result of an increase in burglaries and home invasions, particularly in urban areas. They are typically kept outside during the day in closed doghouses and allowed out at night. To keep them from getting to know potential thieves or strangers, they are kept in closed dog homes during the day.
Their responses effectively reflect what our research found, which is that our sentiments toward animals are highly context-dependent and that our connections with pets are more a function of culture than DNA.
M. Gompper (2015). Identifying the extent of the problem at the dog-human wildlife interface. In the conservation of wildlife and free-ranging dogs. Press of Oxford University.
H. Herzog and A. Rowan (2019). Geographical, societal, and pet-keeping trends: the case of dogs. Orlando’s International Society for Anthrozoology convention is where the presentation will be made.
Why are dogs so beloved by people?
According to a 2003 study by J.S.J. Odendaal, humans who pet dogs experience oxytocin release, which is a hormone linked to bonding, affection, and happiness.
 The social support theory contends that companionship and social support, both of which are essential for wellbeing, can be found in animals.  The social impact of dogs on people is particularly important for those who are more likely to be socially isolated, such as elderly people or children without siblings.  According to this perspective, the animal is an integral component of our society and a key factor in determining psychological health.
According to self psychology, an animal can be a “self-object” that provides a person’s sense of self with a sense of coherence, support, or nourishment. The importance of some animals to a person’s sense of self and overall wellbeing is explained by self-psychology.  Dog companionship frequently enables people to establish regular routines and gives them daily gratification.  According to studies, having a dog decreases stress, eases anxiety, and even increases lifespan[61, 62]. 
Are Americans the biggest dog lovers?
ONLY AFTER LIVING AND VISITING IN INDIA FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS, your columnist was able to truly understand the culture after having his first child there. Babies are adored by all, but Indians seem to like them even more. While Lexington’s infant was strolling through Delhi in the morning, housewives and security personnel would be falling over one other to welcome him. On domestic flights, businessmen in suits would unbuckle themselves and request to silently wander up and down the aisle. Social restrictions in India dissolve when a newborn is nearby.
While returning from North Carolina with a six-week-old Jack Russell terrier puppy, Lexington had a similar event. The majority of the other travelers became bubbling wrecks at the sight of the small white dog. Your columnist was followed by oohs and aahs as she moved across the Charlotte airport terminal. Smiling CEOs offered their phones so they could take a selfie with the puppy or show off a photo of their own dog. Chaos ensued as they attempted to get the white dog, who would later be known as Betsy, through security.
The majority of wealthy nations have changed their stance on dogs in recent decades. Americans, though, appear to enjoy dogs more. They are the nationality that is most likely to possess a dog, with one dog for every four owners, which is double the likelihood of the French. The canine dramas that animate American public life surpass even that of the dog-loving British. The information that Mitt Romney had fastened an Irish setter named Seamus to the roof of his family’s station wagon on a summer vacation was the most devastating to his career. (The picture of Seamus urinating in fright during his presidential runs will live on.) Truman and Buddy, the dogs owned by Pete Buttigieg and his husband, are the best representation of his claim to be boringly ordinary. The American state of dog love.
Your columnist went to the National Dog Show in Philadelphia to reflect on this. one of the three substantial “A Thanksgiving tradition, benched shows have around 2,000 participating dogs and are open to the public for petting and one-way discussion. Up to 25 million people (nearly twice as many as watched Donald Trump’s pre-impeachment hearings) are expected to watch the program when it airs on television the following week at noon, immediately following the Macy’s Parade.
The audience hovering around the show dogs were delighted in typical ways by the canines. “Shari Marder, glowing beside a procession of Portuguese water dogs, exclaimed, “It just makes me happy to see all these dogs in one spot.” “Her husband Mitch added, “You just feel so good on the inside.” “They are pretend beings, yet I still adore them, remarked Eva, their daughter. Dog divination of human emotions is a sign of canine madness, which has peaked in America. It’s difficult to turn on the television without seeing a dog instructing its master in some way, frequently in order to promote the sale of automobiles or acid-reflux medications. Indeed, while dog theorists emphasize the importance of loneliness in fostering the dog obsession, American capitalism also seems to play a significant role. It has effectively remade dogs as people, only better, under the direction of the $70 billion pet products business (represented at the national show by a thousand stands offering dog accessories).
That is supported by the fact that the 1950s and 1960s saw a surge in the popularity of dogs in America. According to word searches, America suddenly became far more likely to use the word “pet at the conclusion of that time. Pedigree dogs, a 19th-century invention of upper-class Britons that America’s thriving middle classes enthusiastically adopted, were the early benefactors. To paraphrase a cricket writer from India, it is even tempting to see this development as the British unintentionally invented pedigree dogs. Nothing is more uniquely American than the strangely sheeplike Bedlington terrier or the diabolical snout on a Bull terrier to symbolize the triumph of man over nature. However, the attractiveness of pure breeds undoubtedly had more to do with aspiration than eugenics, and it still does. The Pembroke Welsh corgi is much more well-liked in America than it is in Britain, where it is best known for its connection to Queen Elizabeth II.
Using eastern Europe as an example, it can be seen that a recent agrarian past is another dog-booster. The heartland of America is where dog ownership is most prevalent. Being anti-regulation, it also scorns the dog-banning laws of northern European countries like Sweden, where dogs are not allowed to be left alone for longer than six hours.
The dog love that these circumstances have sparked is not universal. Compared to white people, African-Americans are far less likely to own a dog. On many measures, Hispanics fall somewhat in the middle. Additionally, there are finer distinctions in the American love. For instance, right-on coastal Americans have shunned pure breeds more frequently since the 1990s in favor of a rescue dog from their neighborhood shelter. Due to this, pedigree breeders have had to market their products in novel ways. At the National Dog Show, there was a lot of discussion about the necessity for therapy dogs “conserve breeds, most of it questionable.
Do all nations adore dogs?
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There may be a billion dogs on the earth, but only roughly a quarter of them are maintained as pets. These furry buddies are given shelter, food, and veterinary care, and they’re frequently treated like members of the family, unlike the enormous number of stray dogs that exist across the world.
But not every country is equally fond of Fido. While there are many other ways to quantify dog ownership around the world, we focused on the proportional number of dogs per 1,000 people from WellBeing International. Discover the top 10 dog-loving nations in the world by reading on.