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How Many Dogs Are Too Many? American Household Insights

Pet ownership is a joy and responsibility, merging emotions with practical aspects. But when it comes to our canine companions, just how many is the right number?

The Short Answer

The ideal number of dogs in a household hinges on your capacity to meet their needs, your living conditions, and local regulations. Though there’s no strict rule, the balance lies between love, space, time, and resources.

Every dog deserves individual attention and care. So, while there’s an undeniable charm in a house bustling with wagging tails, it’s crucial to ensure each one experiences a life filled with love, activity, and care. After all, it’s not about quantity, but the quality of life you can offer to your furry friends.

woman in ripped pants walking 5 dogs on leashes in countryside

How Many Dogs Is Considered Normal in The US?

The United States has the world’s largest pet dog population, with approximately 86 million dogs as pets. According to AVMA, roughly 45% of American households owned dogs in 2020, which is about 1.46 dogs per household.

Dog ownership increased by 6%, from 38.4% in 2016 to 44.6% in 2020, despite a decrease in the average number of dogs per household from 1.6 to 1.46. The state and municipality may also determine the range based on a few factors.

More urban states, such as NY, have fewer dogs per household and fewer households with dogs in general. For example, in 2020, the number of homes that owned dogs in New York state was 27%, compared to Nebraska (47.1%) or Mississippi (51%).

Dog ownership per household in the US in 2020:

Number of dogsNumber of households in the US
062.2 million
140.6 million
216.8 million
33 million
41.3 million
5+0.4 million

While some families may opt for a single pet to minimize responsibilities, others, especially in rural areas, have larger homes or farms where maintaining a pack of dogs serves both companionship and functional purposes, like herding or guarding.

The limiting factors are usually the environment, the laws limiting dogs per household, and the general lifestyle. It would be best if you researched your city/municipality laws. In my city, you can have up to four dogs or cats, regardless of the combination.

Some dog trainers and breeders who professionally compete in dog shows or obedience trials might find themselves naturally having more dogs than the average household. Their familiarity and expertise enable them to care for more dogs simultaneously, though the average person might find juggling multiple canine needs more challenging.

What Are the Signs That You Have Too Many Dogs?

Typically, you have too many dogs when your time and money to care for them are insufficient. You have too many dogs when you can no longer care for their needs financially, mentally, or physically.

When determining how many dogs are too many, it’s essential to factor in their specific needs. A household with multiple senior dogs might require less physical activity but more medical care than one with young, energetic breeds.

Consider your financial stability, space, and time to determine what you can handle. Of course, some cities and communities have dog and cat restrictions that you should be aware of. This limit is usually 3 to 4 pets in the United States, but it varies depending on your location.

Their mental and physical health begins to deteriorate as soon as they become a financial burden or develop behavioral issues that you don’t have time to address. If you find yourself in this situation, think about whether you have one too many.

In other words, you have too many dogs if you can’t care for them equally. It doesn’t matter if the number is two or ten.

7 white dogs in a van being happy

Regardless of numbers, your ability to maintain a healthy environment for each dog is crucial. Overcrowding can lead to territorial disputes, increased stress, and even health issues, so even if you’re passionate about owning multiple dogs, remember their well-being should always come first.

When Is It OK to Own Ten or More Dogs?

Owning ten or more dogs is usually OK if you can meet all of their needs, afford their care, and aren’t above the city/town limits.

It doesn’t matter if you have one, two, or ten – what matters is that you can adequately care for them and aren’t breaking any laws.

I see nothing wrong with having ten dogs as long as there is enough space for everyone and everyone is fed and happy.

How Many Dogs Should a Single Person Have?

Depending on how much you can care for a dog, a single person typically has one to two dogs. Some single people have more than that, but it’s not as common and requires a bit more organization on your part.

If you’ve never owned a dog, getting a first dog is a bit of a learning curve. It takes time to get a handle on everything and slowly learn how to care for the dog. If you’re unsure, I suggest getting one dog, and then, once the dog reaches 3-4 years, get a second one.

It’s much easier this way, and won’t be a big learning curve with the 2nd dog, as with the first one. You’ll also be able to care for the dogs this way, and they won’t cause a big financial burden either.

Considering how many dogs you should have also means understanding the dynamics between the dogs themselves. Some breeds are more independent, while others thrive on companionship, so gauging the harmony between your dogs is as vital as ensuring your capability to care for them.

Budgeting both time and finances are also factors in determining the number of dogs one should have. Even if someone has ample space, the costs associated with vet visits, grooming, feeding, and training for multiple dogs can accumulate rapidly.

Final Thoughts

In deciding how many dogs to have, remember it’s more than a number—it’s a commitment to each furry friend’s health, happiness, and well-being. Don’t hesitate to reevaluate your situation and seek guidance if you’re uncertain. Whether you’re a one-dog wonder or a ten-dog trooper, prioritize their quality of life.

If ever in doubt, lean on community resources or local experts for advice. Here at AnimalReport, we’re always rooting for you and your canine companions to thrive. Stay informed, love deeply, and always choose what’s best for your pack.


How many dogs is considered hoarding?

Legally, there’s no specific number of dogs you can own before it is considered hoarding. As long as you care for your dogs and they are licensed and not causing problems for neighbors, no law says how many you can have.

States don’t have a specific hoarding statute, but it’s usually hoarding if you have a lot of dogs and don’t provide them with proper care or food. Even with legal definitions aside, no definite number draws the line between “having a lot of pets” and “hoarding animals.” 

Is owning 5 dogs too many?

Just like in the case of 10 dogs, if you can adequately care for them, provide them a place to stay that isn’t harmful to them, and feed them regularly, it’s not too many. You’re probably fine if you’re not bothering neighbors and no one is getting harmed.

Are dogs happier when there are many of them?

It’s primarily dependent on the dog. There are both introverted and extroverted dogs, just like people. Some dogs enjoy having a canine companion, while others despise the idea and prefer to have their humans to themselves.

  • Alex

    Alex, a passionate animal lover, has experience in training and understanding animal behavior. As a proud pet parent to two dogs and three cats, he founded AnimalReport.net to share insights from animal experts and expand his knowledge of the animal kingdom.