Ooh, aah — the West Country is officially home to England’s most pampered pooches, new research reveals.
A survey of pet owners found that dogs across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset are generally lavished with more time and affection than those in other regions.
Their walks are usually longer, and they gobble more valuable treats than dogs in the Midlands, East Anglia and the South East.
One-in-three enjoy “top-notch” premium natural food, and almost all are allowed to sit or sleep on the sofa or in the owner’s bed – a strict no-no in other parts of the country.
The research was conducted by the luxury pet food brand Green Dog Food and our sister PR agency, Iceni PR, in a bid to create a ‘Great English Dog Map’, the first definitive breakdown of spending habits by region.
Owner Simon Booth, a respected authority on canine nutrition, said the results of the survey reflect the nation’s “devotion to man’s best friend”.
“This research shows that dog lovers everywhere invest a considerable amount of time and money into their pets,” he said.
“It’s true that some people may spend a little more on their dogs than others. But everyone we interviewed went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the physical and emotional wellbeing of their animals.”
Green Dog Food — which produces a range of premium, holistic dogfood — interviewed 1,000 owners from the South West, the South and East, East Anglia, the Midlands, the North East, and the North West in order to establish an overview of the annual cost of keeping a dog.
The overwhelming majority in all six regions agreed that their dog was an “integral member” of the family and “very much part of the furniture”. In fact, some 72 per cent of all owners admitted they speak to their dogs “like a real person”.
Unsurprisingly, the most common breeds across England were found to be Labradors, Golden Retrievers and other family-friendly varieties.
The North East is home to more so-called ‘giant’ breeds like Irish Wolfhounds and St Bernards while folk in the South and East generally keep small types like Yorkshire terriers – perhaps because of limited space.
In the Midlands, and the South and East, owners were generally less willing to let their dogs sit on the sofa or on their beds than folk in the other four main regions.
On average, most dogs are walked twice-a-day for a total of one hour. Of those who walk their dogs for two or three hours each day, most are located in the South West and East Anglia.
Almost all owners (97 per cent) treat their dogs to tasty titbits. Of these, owners from the South and East, the North West and the Midlands spend up to £10 on doggie chocolates and bones each month.
But owners from East Anglia, the South West and the North East spend £10 more in the same four-week period.
Most owners (82 per cent) give their dogs non-organic food. Of those who buy organic or holistic food, a third is from the South West. The average food bill across the board was said to be approximately £30.
The two most common names, across all six regions, were found to be Max and Mollie.
Simon Booth, of Green Dog Food, accepts that the findings are based on the feedback of a straw poll rather than upon more in-depth, household-by-household research.
But he said: “The amount of money we spend on our animals is immaterial. The key to a dog’s wellbeing is a balanced and healthy diet, regular exercise, and a happy home.”