Association between household location (urban vs. rural) and fundamental care provided to domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) in Northern Ireland

V Naughton, Teresa Grzelak, Patrick Naughton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to generate information regarding living conditions (e.g., indoors and outdoors, living space available), fundamental care (e.g., feeding and exercise) and owners’ perceptions of dog’s preferences (e.g. living conditions) in the urban and rural areas of Northern Ireland via a cross-sectional survey questionnaire. The responses were collected from May to August 2022, at 24 locations across Northern Ireland, including 15 agricultural shows and livestock markets and nine large supermarkets (single supermarket chain) located in an area of the show or market grounds. In all, 548 questionnaires were collected and after exclusion of questionnaires with missing or incomprehensible responses, 507 questionnaires were included in the final database. Out of 507 questionnaires, 264 respondents resided in a city while 243 respondents resided on farms. The majority of respondents from the city locations perceived their dogs as pets while those living on farms regarded their dogs as working animals. The populations of dogs in the city locations and on the farms in this study were similar regarding the age range and numbers of the animals, but more female dogs were spayed in the city locations than on the farms. Most respondents in this study, regardless of their household location, declared that they did not monitor their animal’s body weight or body condition. When feeding their dogs, the respondents from the city locations were predominantly following veterinary advice or instructions on food labels. On the other hand, the respondents from farm locations mostly reported that they fed their dogs based on “a visual inspection of dog condition”; this type of feeding was associated with a certain type of household occupancy (more frequent in single and adults only households) and respondents’ employment status (more frequent by retired and those managing the home). The living conditions of dogs in city and farm locations in this study were different, namely dogs in the city were kept predominantly indoors with access to outdoors while dogs from farm locations were kept predominantly outdoors. The dogs were reported to be walked daily for a shorter time (up to 1 h/day) in the city locations and longer on the farm locations (1- 2h/day). Regardless of household location (city vs. farm) respondents believed that exercise needs depend on animal age, body condition and medical condition, that dogs need to be kept active by owners to keep them fit, that dogs cannot self-regulate the amount of food they eat daily, and finally that walking with a dog a few times a day is difficult due to other commitments. On the other hand, the respondents from farm locations more often believed that dogs can get all the exercise they need by themselves if kept outdoors and they are happier with living outdoors, while the respondents from city locations believed that dogs are happier with living indoors. In conclusion, the results of this study have shown a number of differences in basic care and perception of dogs kept in city locations and on farm locations. Further studies are required to understand the provision of health care and fulfilments of all welfare needs of the dogs kept on farms.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 12 Jul 2023


  • pet dog
  • working dog
  • farm dog
  • dog welfare
  • feeding
  • exercise
  • body condition score


Dive into the research topics of 'Association between household location (urban vs. rural) and fundamental care provided to domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) in Northern Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this