States with most Dogs in 2023: Analysis for a Dog Walking Business

In the world of entrepreneurship, understanding your market is key to success, and this holds true also for small businesses, or side hustles, such as dog walking. 

The success of a dog walking business hinges on several factors, and one of the most crucial is location. The number of dogs in your area, the density of dog owners, and the local culture towards pet care can all influence the demand for your services. 

By understanding these factors, you can make an informed decision about where to establish your business.

In this article, we delve into the numbers to identify the States with most dogs and I explain how I calculated the numbers.

Methodology to Calculate Number of Dogs in Each State

To calculate the states with the largest number of dogs, I used the dataset from a statistic showing Pet Ownership by State as of May 2023.  

I then extrapolated the following data sets relating specifically to dogs:

  • % Dog Owners: This represents the percentage of households in each state that own a dog.
  • Avg. # Dogs: This represents the average number of dogs owned by dog-owning households in each state.

To complete my calculation showing the total number of dogs in each State I then needed to find the data showing the total number of households in each state, which I got from here.

Now I had all the figures to estimate the total number of dogs in each state.

The formula I used was ‘Total Households x (% Dog Owners / 100) x Avg. # Dogs’. 

This calculation gives us an estimate of the total dog population in each state, providing a measure of the potential market for a dog walking business.

Findings

What State has the Most Dogs?

California, with an estimated 8,406,958 dogs, leads the pack. This is not surprising given that California also has the highest number of total households among all states. Texas and Florida follow with estimated dog populations of 7,308,698 and 4,734,994 respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have states like Vermont, Wyoming and South Dakota with the lowest estimates. These states have smaller populations and fewer households, which explains their lower dog populations. Vermont, for instance, has an estimated dog population of just 96,703.

State Name% Dog OwnersAvg. # DogsTotal # Dogs
California40.1%1.6 8,406,958
Texas43.4%1.7 7,308,698
Florida39.8%1.5 4,734,994
Ohio37.9%1.7 3,039,309
New York27.0%1.4 2,803,711
Pennsylvania38.9%1.4 2,781,055
Michigan41.9%1.6 2,668,466
North Carolina41.3%1.6 2,664,076
Georgia36.7%1.8 2,530,272
Illinois31.0%1.4 2,119,682
Tennessee47.0%1.7 2,108,925
Indiana49.4%1.6 2,057,229
Arizona43.0%1.8 2,046,015
Virginia35.6%1.7 1,927,030
Washington42.8%1.5 1,865,538
Missouri45.1%1.6 1,760,857
Alabama46.9%1.9 1,682,846
Colorado47.2%1.6 1,614,166
Kentucky46.5%1.9 1,544,405
South Carolina45.3%1.6 1,421,681
Oklahoma47.7%1.8 1,282,378
New Jersey29.1%1.3 1,237,818
Mississippi51.0%2.1 1,195,931
Wisconsin33.6%1.4 1,118,581
Minnesota35.5%1.4 1,097,370
Arkansas51.6%1.8 1,087,201
Louisiana38.3%1.6 1,073,599
Massachusetts28.9%1.4 1,070,968
Oregon37.8%1.6 993,432
Maryland30.2%1.4 943,067
Iowa36.3%1.8 832,393
Kansas43.1%1.6 787,513
Nevada36.8%1.6 665,350
Idaho58.3%1.7 643,520
New Mexico39.4%2 624,691
West Virginia49.6%1.7 619,107
Utah36.2%1.6 581,137
Montana51.9%2.1 475,249
Connecticut24.0%1.4 465,507
Maine35.9%1.5 306,703
Delaware42.2%1.8 281,776
North Dakota44.3%1.5 213,220
New Hampshire23.7%1.4 178,879
Rhode Island25.8%1.4 149,800
South Dakota32.1%1.3 145,169
Wyoming36.0%1.7 142,737
Vermont28.3%1.3 96,703

However, the total number of dogs is not the only factor to consider. The percentage of dog-owning households and the average number of dogs per household also play a significant role. 

Households with Most Dog Owners?

For instance, Idaho, despite having fewer total households than many other states, has one of the highest percentages of dog-owning households at 58.3%. This suggests a strong culture of dog ownership in Idaho, which is something to  consider for a dog walking business.

It’s important to note that these are estimates based on available data, and actual numbers may vary.

Other relevant statistics which were available in the original data set include:

  • Dog Devotion Score: This is a measure of the devotion or commitment of dog owners in each state, however the method of calculation or factors considered are not specified.
  • % Who Stayed At A Job They Disliked For Their Dog: This represents the percentage of dog owners in each state who have stayed at a job they disliked for the sake of their dog.
  • % Who Would Spend $4K To Save Their Dog: This represents the percentage of dog owners in each state who would be willing to spend $4000 to save their dog.

These additional statistics provide further insight into the attitudes and behaviors of dog owners in each state, which is a valuable source of information for a dog walking business or any other business targeting dog owners.

Let’s understand why.

Dog Devotion Score: This score measures how many dog owners in each state value their pets. A higher score indicates that dog owners are more likely to invest in services or products for their dogs, such as dog walking services. 

However, without knowing how this score is calculated, it’s hard to draw definitive conclusions. It would be beneficial to understand the factors contributing to this score to interpret it more accurately.

% Who Stayed At A Job They Disliked For Their Dog: Once again this statistic indicates the level of sacrifice dog owners are willing to make for their pets. A higher percentage suggests that dog owners in that state are highly committed to their dogs’ wellbeing, even to the point of enduring a job they dislike to provide for their pets. 

This could imply a higher likelihood of these owners investing in their dogs’ care, potentially making these states more lucrative for a dog walking business.

% Who Would Spend $4K To Save Their Dog: This statistic provides a direct measure of the financial commitment dog owners are willing to make for their pets. A higher percentage suggests that dog owners in that state are more likely to invest significant amounts of money in their dogs’ health and wellbeing. 

This could indicate a market where dog owners are more likely to pay for premium or additional services, such as dog walking.

These statistics suggest that the attitudes and behaviors of dog owners can vary significantly from state to state. Understanding these differences could help a dog walking business or other pet-related businesses to target their services more effectively and identify the most promising markets.

In the next section, we’ll delve deeper into these findings and discuss what they mean for potential dog walking businesses.

Analysis: Best States for a Dog Walking Business

The analysis of potential markets for a dog walking business in the United States is not as straightforward as one might think, and it’s hard to arrive at a definite conclusion.

The findings don’t point to a single “best” state for a dog walking business based on just one factor, such as the total number of dogs. 

While the total number of dogs in a state is an important factor, it doesn’t tell the whole story. The percentage of dog-owning households and the average number of dogs per household also play crucial roles.

The potential success of a dog walking business in a particular state depends on a combination of factors, including the total number of dogs, the percentage of dog-owning households, the devotion and willingness to spend of the dog owners, and the average number of dogs per household.

While states with the highest total number of dogs might seem like the obvious choice for a dog walking business, it’s important to consider the density of dog owners as well. 

Dog Population Vs Dog-Owning %

For instance, a state with a high number of dogs but a low percentage of dog-owning households might indicate that a small number of households own multiple dogs. This could limit the potential client base for a dog walking business.

On the other hand, states with a high percentage of dog-owning households, even if they have a lower total number of dogs, might offer more opportunities for a dog walking business. In these states, the potential client base is larger, as there are more households that might need dog walking services.

So, a state with a high total number of dogs but a low percentage of dog-owning households might not be as promising as a state with a lower total number of dogs but a higher percentage of dog-owning households. 

For instance, while California has the highest total number of dogs, the percentage of dog-owning households is 40.1%, which is lower than many other states. This suggests that while there are many dogs in California, they are concentrated in a smaller number of households, which could limit the potential client base for a dog walking business.

On the other hand, states like Idaho, where 58.3% of households own dogs, could offer more opportunities. Despite having a lower total number of dogs than California, the high percentage of dog-owning households in Idaho suggests a larger potential client base and a strong culture of dog ownership.

The state with the highest percentage of dog owners is Idaho (58.3%), followed closely by Arkansas (51.6%) and Mississippi (51%). The state with the lowest percentage of dog owners is the District of Columbia (0%).

Dog Population Vs Average Dogs per Household

Another factor to consider is the average number of dogs per household. A state with a high average number of dogs per household might indicate a higher demand for dog walking services, even if the total number of dogs is not the largest.

States with a higher average number of dogs per household, such as Mississippi with an average of 2.1 dogs, might need this service more, because households with multiple dogs might be more likely to need help with dog walking.

However, it’s also important to consider the potential competition in states with a high density of dogs and dog-owning households. These states might already have a number of established dog walking businesses, which could make it more challenging to enter the market.

The state with the highest average number of dogs per household is Mississippi (2.1 dogs), followed by Montana (2.1 dogs). The state with the lowest average number of dogs per household is New Jersey (1.3 dogs).

Dog Population Vs Devotion of Dog Owners

The Dog Devotion Score and the percentage of dog owners who would spend $4K to save their dog provide additional insights into the commitment and financial investment dog owners are willing to make for their pets. 

States with a high Dog Devotion Score and a high percentage of owners willing to spend $4K could indicate a strong market for dog-related services, as these dog owners may be more likely to invest in services like dog walking to ensure the wellbeing of their pets.

The state with the highest Dog Devotion Score is Colorado (100), followed by Texas (81.42) and Washington (80.97). The state with the lowest Dog Devotion Score is Montana (1.06).

The state with the highest percentage of dog owners who would spend $4000 to save their dog is Massachusetts (51.5%), followed by New Jersey (50.5%). The state with the lowest percentage is the District of Columbia (0%).

Other Considerations for a Dog Walking Business

So, from the above, we can conclude that it is extremely important to consider all the above factors together, however we cannot stop there. Along with these you have to take into account  other local market conditions, when deciding where to establish your dog walking business.

Local regulations, competition from other pet care services, and average income levels can all impact your business. 

It’s also worth considering the local culture towards pets and pet care. In areas where pets are considered part of the family, the demand for pet care services like dog walking could be higher.

Conclusion

Understanding the dog ownership trends in your area is a crucial step when planning to open a dog walking business. While the analysis presented in this article provides a good starting point, it’s important to remember other local factors and to conduct further research to make the best decision for your business.

Once you’re all set to go with your new business, the next step is to find a good name for it. Take a look at our guide and suggestions for creative dog walking business names to get you started.  

AUTHOR

I am a branding and naming consultant with 16 years of experience. I believe in building a strong brand name that identifies your visions and that of your business. A brand identity motivates you and your team to achieve success.

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