pets Insurance

40% of Dog Owners Surveyed Chose Pets Over Parenthood

Many Americans say they are choosing pets over parenthood. We surveyed 1,000 dog owners nationwide and found that 38% of them made the choice to become pet owners instead of having a child. The reasons: children are expensive, dogs are easier and many young Americans say having children just isn’t something they want right now.

Key findings

  • 67% of survey respondents ages 18 to 26 said they chose getting a dog instead of having a child, at least for now.
  • 74% of people surveyed who chose a pet over parenthood said cost was a major factor.
  • Nearly 50% of survey respondents said they consider their dog when making career, travel and romantic decisions.

Why people are choosing to get a pet rather than have a child

The number of people choosing to delay or refrain from having children in favor of owning a dog varies significantly by age and location.

  • Nationwide, 67% of people ages 18 to 26 say they are choosing pets over parenthood, at least for now.
  • This percentage drops to 43% for ages 27 to 42 and to 28% for ages 43 to 58.
  • The Northeast has the highest percentage of dog owners (61%) who choose their dog over having a child, followed by the West, Midwest and Southwest.
  • The Southeast (21%) has the lowest percentage of people who chose dogs over children.

Cost and convenience are two of the main reasons younger Americans are leaning toward dog ownership.

  • When asked, 74% of dog owners who chose to delay or pass on having a child said it was because dogs are more affordable.
  • More than 80% of survey respondents opting out of parenthood said caring for a dog is easier.
  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of people choosing pets over parenthood said children just weren’t for them.

How dogs are impacting major life decisions

Pet owners are factoring their dogs into many more decisions than just potential parenthood. The dog owners we surveyed are also considering their dog’s well-being when it comes to career decisions, romantic options and where they live.

  • Nearly 60% of respondents say they consider their dog when it comes to housing options.
  • Around 50% say they factor in their dog when considering their career and romantic relationships.
  • Dogs play the greatest role in decision-making by people ages 18 to 26. Nearly 90% of this age group say they consider their dog when making decisions about their career, and 80% say they think of their dog when making romantic decisions.

How to protect a fur baby’s health

With dogs playing such an important role in people’s lives, many pet parents are turning to pet insurance to make sure their furry family members get the best health care.

The most popular type of pet insurance plan covers accidents and illnesses, from broken bones to cancer, and often comes with the option to add a wellness plan for routine care.

Tea average cost of pet insurance for dogs is $45 per month for $5,000 of annual coverage, or $55 per month for a policy with unlimited annual coverage.

Pet insurance may be worth it to pet parents, considering how much vet bills could add up to in an emergency situation.

Learn more: Best pet insurance companies.


This online survey of 1,000 American dog owners was commissioned by USA TODAY Blueprint and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s (MRS) code of conduct. Data was collected from August 14 to August 18, 2023. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).

Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Northeast: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, DC

Southeast: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Southwest: Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

West: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

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