Background: Dogs are popular pets in many countries. Identifying differences between those who own dogs or have contact with dogs, and those who do not, is useful to those interested in the human-animal bond, human health and for provision of veterinary services. This census-based, epidemiological study aimed to investigate factors associated with dog ownership and contact with dogs, in a semi-rural community of 1278 households in Cheshire, UK.
Results: Twenty-four percent of households were identified as dog-owning and 52% owned a pet of some type. Multivariable logistic regression suggested that households were more likely to own a dog if they had more occupants (five or more); if they had an adult female household member; or if they owned a horse. The age structure of the households was also associated with dog ownership, with households containing older children (between six and 19 years of age) and young adults (between 20 and 29 years of age), more likely to own dogs. We also found that dog owning households were more likely to be multi-dog households than single-dog if they also owned a cat or a bird, or if the household contained a person of 20-29 years old. Dog owners reported increased contact with dogs, other than their own, compared to those that did not own dogs and this contact appeared to be mainly through walking.
Conclusion: Some household types are more likely to own a dog than others. This study supports the suggestion that dogs are more common in families who have older children (6-19 years), as has been generally observed in other countries. Dog owners are also more likely to have contact with dogs other than their own, compared with those not owning a dog.