Data for: Factors Influencing Adoption of Pet Dogs and Eventual Owner Satisfaction

Published: 23 March 2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/39975y2t8s.1
Ian Dinwoodie


Dogs can be adopted from shelters, breeders, family, friends, local pet shops, or online resources. Personal likes, experience and deep-rooted interests to satisfy emotional needs such as companionship, affection, empathy and security are some of the underlying motivations for acquiring a pet companion. In this study, we sought to learn what key characteristics influence the adopters' decision to select pet dogs, and how satisfied they were with the result. The welfare effect caused by negatively mis-matched relations impacts both the “small inter-species social group” and, the community at large as emotional and financial burdens often ensue leading to pet surrender and even euthanasia. Pet professionals servicing the relationship are by extension also negatively impacted. In our qualitative study respondents (n=1225) completed an online questionnaire with responses representing 1704 dog/owner pairs. Of the characteristics explored we found, 44% of participants placed a strong emphasis on looks; 47% on trainability; 52% on the age of the dog; 53% on compatibility with other pets, and 54% a on the dogs’ breed. Close to half of the respondents, 49% spent between one week and six months thinking about acquiring a dog before taking action. Personality/behavior and age were two characteristics that stood out in our study. And while personality/behavior is a difficult characteristic to assess, it was a key factor for over a third of respondents. Most notably we found those who judged their dog’s future behavior by its behavior at the time of adoption reported a negative effect on owner satisfaction. Our findings further establish the need to guide new owners as they make decisions early in the acquisition process so they may better plan and manage expectations, reduce “buyers remorse”, prevent the development of unwanted behavioral challenges and thus improve the human animal bond.


Steps to reproduce

Please see the public study GitHub repository ( for scripts and analysis files.


Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine


Canine Behavior, Veterinary Behavior, Animal Personality