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Apparently Young Women Are Choosing Dogs Over Babies Because Kids Are Hard

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Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - April 02, 2014Do you want the undying love and admiration of a tiny being, but think having an actual baby is just too much work? Why not get a tiny dog instead?! According to this confirmation bias-filled article from Quartz, that is exactly what American women are doing. Because kids are hard and dogs are practically the same thing, amirite?

To start off with, Quartz cites a recent report by the U.S Health Department, which shows that birth rates among American women between the ages of 15 to 29 have dropped ten percent in the last six years. That adds up to almost 400,000 less tiny humans beings birthed (to teen and twenty-something-moms) in 2013 than in 2007.

birth rate chart

U.S. Health Department

Meanwhile dog ownership, and more specifically Paris Hilton-esque tiny dog ownership, is headed in the complete opposite direction. According to market research from Euromonitor, American ownership of dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds has doubled in the same period and is only projected to rise. All this information begs the question; are chihuahuas the new infant? Are we going to see the E*Trade Baby and the Taco Bell dog fight to the death for the hearts and minds of the American people?

reggie watts nope

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Of course not, sillies! But these numbers are pretty interesting. According anecdata from Damian Shore, a market research analyst from Euromonitor, this pattern isn’t a coincidence:

“There’s definitely some replacement happening there…Women are not only having fewer children, but are also getting married later. There are more single and unmarried women in their late twenties and early thirties, which also happens to be the demographic that buys the most small dogs.”

I’m not entire sold on the idea that folks are suddenly choosing pooches over parenthood. Quartz uses data from the American Pet Product Association to show that people are treating their dogs “a bit more like humans these days.” The sale of premium dog food has grown more than 170 percent in the last 15 years, and now accounts for 57 percent of the market. Quartz also cites doggy fitness apps, puppy ice cream trucks and dog-centric vacations as evidence that dogs are the new baby.

This all might be true, but to me this is just evidence of the “narcissistic” information age generation (OMG millenials!) doing their thing. I’ve heard these same claims tossed at parents for year, only instead of deriding canine iced treats, they bitch about participation trophies and helicopter parenting. Basically, if you have a set of ovaries in American, you just can’t win.

Correlation does NOT imply causation here. Yes, younger women are having less kids, but the numbers for women having babies between the ages of 30 to 44 have actually gone up. And the fact that more than 80 percent of Americans are living in cities most likely plays a huge part in the increase in small dog ownership. Great Danes are the shiznit, but they’re not very convenient in a studio apartment in Manhattan.

To be fair, the Quartz article does play lip service to these points…for one short paragraph. Then they go right back to their main point, which is essentially “Silly wimenz, doggies aren’t babies!”

Does the fact that people are waiting longer to start families play a part in the increase in dog ownership? Maybe. But the data Quartz gives its readers hardly proves this point. Also, it’s not like people treating dogs like children is a new concept. The niche dog product industry has been on the rise for over a decade, and any pet parent would tell you that their furry friend is or was a part of the family, even if they last owned a pet 40 years ago. This is obviously just another way to judge women on what is (or isn’t) coming out of their vaginas, and a pretty lame judgement at that.

(Photo: Getty Images)