What’s the Most Popular Pet in the UK?

It’s estimated that 3.2 million households added a pet to their family during the pandemic, meaning that over 17 million households in the UK now own a pet.

Research by the PFMA found the most popular pet in the UK. Below, we analyse the top ten pets favoured by UK households.

1st Dogs

There are now 12.5 million dogs in the UK, making them the most popular pet. Dogs are so popular thanks to the loyalty, friendship and unconditional love that only a dog can give to its owner. Plus, they’re great support for those that are looking to keep fit, getting their owners out and about on walks (and some dogs even enjoying a run!). As well as getting us exercising, dogs can also help to improve our health by making us feel happier and less stressed, lowering our blood pressure and helping us to relax.

2nd Cats

Continuing the traditional rivalry between cats and dogs, cats come in second as the UK’s most popular pet, with 12.2 million kept as pets. Cats can bring all the love and relaxation that dogs can, helping to reduce stress and lower anxiety. But unlike dogs, cats are independent and usually much more low maintenance. Cats don’t need daily walks, instead happy to nose around the nooks and crannies of your house or play with their toys in the comfort of your living room. Cats make for great companions but are also usually perfectly happy to entertain themselves, so you can get on with things knowing your cat is content.

3rd Rabbits

There are around 1.1 million rabbits kept as pets in the UK, making them the third most popular pet. Rabbits are loving, social animals, and make great companions. Most love human interaction and most will bond closely with their owners. Rabbits usually need less space than cats or dogs, and are happy to live inside or outside, depending on the weather and if they have suitable shelter. Most rabbits prefer company, so many people have at least two, so they don’t get lonely. They’re intelligent and inquisitive animals and usually prefer a calm environment.

4th Indoor Birds

Indoor birds, like budgies, parakeets, and cockatiels, are the 4th most popular pet in the UK, with around 1.3 million kept as pets. Indoor birds are generally very intelligent and enjoy problem-solving games and toys to keep them occupied. They’re very social animals, used to living in flocks in the wild, so will happily spend time with humans for company. They can be quite low maintenance and are usually happy to spend time in their cage whilst humans are out.

5th Domestic Fowl

More and more people are now keeping chickens as pets, usually with a coop in the garden where they can collect fresh eggs. There are now 1.2 million domestic fowl kept as pets in the UK. Individual chickens will develop their own distinct personality, which makes them a pleasure to watch and interact with. Domestic fowl are pretty low maintenance, as they don’t need walking or grooming. Just about anyone with a garden can have their own flock of chickens and they can be a more sustainable way of including eggs in your diet.

6th Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are the 6th most popular pet in the UK, with around 800,000 kept as pets. Guinea pigs are social creatures, usually preferring to live with one or more companions. They’ll form strong bonds with each other and their owners. They’re especially good pets for children of all ages, as long as they have been taught how to properly handle animals, as guinea pigs are gentle and enjoy being held and fed by hand.

7th Hamsters

There are around 600,000 hamsters kept as pets in the UK. Hamsters require very little space, just needing a decent cage and maybe an area to run around in their hamster ball for some extra exercise. They’re relatively low maintenance and don’t need constant company – they’re quite happy to explore their cage on their own, and they can be quite entertaining doing so!

8th Tortoises and Turtles

Bringing up the rear in the race, perhaps not surprisingly, are tortoises and turtles. There are around 400,000 tortoises and turtles kept as pets in the UK. Tortoises are calm and docile creatures, and whilst they’re not the cuddliest, they can be friendly and can even be affectionate. They love to explore gardens in the winter months and can generally be left to their own devices if the area is secure.

9th Snakes

There are around 400,000 snakes kept as pets in the UK. Snakes are generally quite docile and happy to stay in their tank. Different snakes will have different needs and have different temperaments, but most can be handled well if they’re started young. Snakes are quite low maintenance, just needing a suitable tank, heat source and appropriate food.

10th Lizards

Lizards are the 10th most popular pet in the UK, also with around 400,000 kept as pets. Like snakes, lizards are generally low maintenance and happy to be left to their own devices. Many lizards enjoy being handled and can get the exercise and mental stimulation they need just from exploring your living room. There are many different species of lizards, all with their own distinctive look, and each individual will have their own personality.


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