How Much Is that Doggie in the Millennial Pet Owners Window?

Starting a family is a classic motivation for new home buying. With Millennial pet owners, both family and home buying journey often starts with a 4-legged family member.

A new online survey by Harris Poll for SunTrust Banks found that Millennial pet owners were more influenced by the desire to provide a better space or a yard for their dog than because of an upcoming marriage or the anticipated birth of a child.

  • 66% – more living space
  • 36% – to build equity
  • 33% – better space or yard for a dog
  • 25% – getting married
  • 19% – expecting a child

Among non-home owning Millennials, the desire to get a dog is also a key factor in their decision to become home buyers. 42 percent of those surveyed said their dog (or desire to have a dog) was a key factor in their determination to buy a new home in the near future.

Average Age of Millennial Pet Owners

Millennials might be moving out of their parents’ homes and starting families later than previous generations, but they aren’t holding off when it comes to pet ownership. Wakefield Research’s report on The Millennial Pet Owner notes that the average age when a Millennial gets their first pet is 21 (vs. Boomers who got their first pet at an average age of 29).

Just coming into their own in terms of buying power, 76 percent of Millennial pet owners say they would splurge on pet items like expensive treats and custom beds vs. 50 percent of Baby Boomers who say the same thing. Millennials are also conscientious and expect:

  • 78% – Pet products to be BPA-free
  • 76% – Made of natural or organic materials
  • 86% – Natural food is “essential”
  • 75% – Hypoallergenic shampoos

Millennials pet owners are also conscientious about their dog’s exercise. 70 percent feel that crates conducive to exercise are a must. They view pets as good training (for themselves) before starting their own families.

  • 60% of Millennial pet owners own pet clothing
  • 61% think it’s important to have a portable pet (smaller, easy to take along)
  • 55% believe coat coloring and styling is important
  • 53% think it’s essential that they dine with their pets
  • 55% follow at least one pet on social media
  • 69% will use tech to keep track of their pets

Millennial Pet Owners May Be onto Something

Numerous studies show that owning a dog can have mental, emotional and even physical benefits. From reduced stress and lower blood pressure to reduced risk of asthma in children, a tendency of their owners to take more steps during the day and the pure companionship dogs provide, the benefits of pet ownership are very real.

How can you know which type of dog is right for you? has a fairly detailed dog breed selector quiz which offers suggestions based on your motivations, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors to help you narrow down your search based on the types of dogs that would be best-suited to your preferences. From there, it can also potentially help you find dogs in your area that are a good match.

How much does it cost to buy a dog?

Even if you adopt a dog from the local shelter it will come with a cost, generally from $70 up to $300 but that cost could increase for rescues or dogs with special conditions. If you’re buying a puppy from a breeder, depending on the breed you could pay anywhere from $300-1500 – unless it’s a show-quality puppy. Those costs could range from $1500-15000 or even higher. From there, you will also need to budget for regular visits to the veterinarian for shots, to have your pet spayed/neutered, micro-chipping and so on. Plus the cost of food, supplies, toys and other pet-related items.

Dog owners spend an average of $1,641 every year to care for their pets. Since Millennial pet owners are more willing to splurge than older generations, they may be well above that number when it comes to annual expenditures on their dogs. The American Pet Products Association found that U.S. pet owners spend $62.75 billion on their pets in 2016:

  • $23 billion on food
  • $15 billion on veterinary care
  • $20 billion on supplies and services

You might also like: 4 Ways to Pet-Proof Your Home

How Much Is that Doggie in the Millennial Pet Owners Window?Millennial Pet Owners – Where to Start?

The U.S. humane society is a great place to gather information and advice before choosing a dog. They own and operate animal shelters throughout the country. Their Shelter Pet Project website can help you find a pet to adopt or connect you with other pet owners for support, advice and other resources.