Dogs are widely considered to be man's best friend having been the first species to be domesticated by man. Although around the world many families keep dogs as pets, the majority of the world's dogs are free-range. In 2012, the total population of dogs in the world was estimated to be about 525 million; today that number is estimated to be at 900 million. Establishing the precise number of dogs in the world is challenging attributable to the free-ranging dogs roaming the streets and neighborhoods around the globe.
Global Population of Free-Range Dogs
Free-range dogs are those that are not contained. They can be stray dogs, federal dogs, wild dogs, street dogs and village dogs. Stray dogs are differentiated from feral dogs in that they were socialized before becoming free-ranging, whereas feral dogs are raised without human socialization. The WHO estimates the total number of stray dogs to be about 200 million, and the total population of free-range dogs to make up about 75-85% of the global dog population.
Population of Pet Dogs Around the World
Patterns of dog ownership vary across many countries in the world. It is easier to find out the number of pet dogs compared to finding out the total population of dogs. This fact is because many governments in the world have enacted pet registration rules.
In the United States, for instance, the number of dogs is estimated to be over 73 million. More than 42.5 million households in the US have ownership of either one or more dogs.The population of pet dogs in Canada is estimated to be over 6 million.
Statistics about the number of pet dogs in South America is scarce. The spotty data is because many dogs in these regions are unregistered and uncounted. In South America, Brazil has the highest population of pet dogs. The number of pet dogs in Brazil is estimated to be above 30 million. The number of pet dogs in Argentina is thought to be above 6.5 million while that of Columbia is estimated to be about 5 million.
Western Europe is estimated to have about 43 million pet dogs. The region with the biggest pet dog population is France which is estimated to have approximately 8.8 million pet dogs. There are about 7.5 million pet dogs in both Italy and Poland. The pet dog population of the United Kingdom is about 6.8 million. In Eastern Europe, Russia has the highest population of pet dogs of about 12 million. Ukraine follows with a population of about 5.1 million pet dogs.
The statistics of the dog population in Australia is limited just as in South America owing to many dogs that are unregistered and uncounted. The number of pet dogs in Australia is estimated to be about 4 million. It is thought that there could be about 2 million stray dogs in Australia.
Dog statistics in the continent of Asia are unreliable as there is no registration of dogs in many Asian countries. China has the highest pet dog population of about 110 million. Its capital city, Beijing, alone is estimated to have a dog population of about one million. Pet dog population in India is about 32 million while the stray dog population is about 20 million. Japan has approximately 9.5 million pet dogs.
Statistics of dogs in Africa are the sparsest except for South Africa which reports having approximately 9 million pet dogs. The World Health Organization, in its quest to combat the spread of rabies in Africa, estimated that there are about 78 million owned dogs and over 70 million stray dogs in Africa.