7 ways dog ownership in the U.S. has changed, in honor of National Puppy Day

NOTE: This article was part of an edit test I completed for an interview.

Image: Hanny Naibaho / Unsplash

In today’s pet-centric era, puppies and fully grown dogs are no longer simply furry companions — they’re also Instagram-famous personas with huge followings and brand deals, subjects of memes, and cute creatures that provide emotional and physical support and service.

March 23 is National Puppy Day, so in honor of everyone’s favorite four-legged friends, here are seven things you may not have known about dog ownership and culture in the U.S. (as if you needed another reason to show some extra love to your nearest pup).

1. America’s oldest-known dog is believed to closely resemble Arctic breeds, such as Siberian huskies.

The oldest dogs known in the Americas were discovered in the 1960s and 70s in Illinois, where archeologists discovered bones of dogs that are believed to be closely related to Siberian dogs from Russia, according to Science Magazine.

2. The history of puppy mills is rooted in post-World War II society.

After World War II, Midwestern farmers were in search of an alternative crop and responded to the demand for purebred dogs by selling puppies, which led to the creation of pet store chains, according to The Humane Society of the United States. The organization reacted to this by introducing the Animal Welfare Act in 1966 and investigating commercial puppy mills around the nation.

3. Approximately 1.6 million dogs are adopted each year from shelters.

ramesh-casper-697607-unsplash.jpgRamesh Casper / Unsplash

ASPCA estimates 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters each year, and 1.6 million of those are adopted. The organization reports that due to an increase in the amount of animals being adopted — as well as stray animals that are returned to their owners — the number of shelter animals being euthanized each year is on a decline.

4. Scientific evidence proves dogs really are man’s best friend.

When dogs and humans look into each other’s eyes, oxytocin — a feel-good hormone that has ties to bonding and parent/child attachment — is released in both the dogs and the humans, according to a study published in Science Magazine.

5. Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog breed in the U.S.

The German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and French Bulldog follow closely behind, according to the American Kennel Club.


6. The number of households with more than one dog increased by five million from 2006 to 2016.

Sometimes, one dog just isn’t enough. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of households with pets grew at a significantly greater rate than the total number of households in the U.S., according to a 2017 annual report, Pet Population and Ownership.” Packaged Facts, the organization that published the report, cites multi-pet households as a key factor in the overall pet increase.

7. A recent study showed that women sleep better next to dogs than other people.

ruby-schmank-783773-unsplash.jpgRuby Schmank / Unsplash

No wonder your dog is taking up so much space in the bed. In a 2018 study, researchers found that more than 55 percent of 962 women interviewed shared the bed with at least one dog — and that dogs are less likely than other humans or cats to wake their owners in the middle of the night.

Here’s how you can celebrate National Puppy Day.

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