The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been named the ‘greenest’ breed of dog, following new research that scored 25 of the UK’s most popular breeds based on how eco-friendly they are.
While many of us have become increasingly aware of our carbon footprint over the years, and may have even taken steps to lower our impact such as adopting cruelty free lifestyle; one area that has traditionally gone overlooked is our four-legged-friends’ impact or their carbon ‘pawprint’.
A recent study in the US showed that the carbon footprint of dogs across the pond was so high that if they were given their own country, they’d rank fifth in the world for meat consumption. Furthermore, the average US dog has a carbon footprint twice that of a SUV.
Currently it’s estimated that there are around 12.5 million dogs in the UK, making it the second-highest-ranking European country for dog ownership but still a way off from the US, where the canine population sits at just under 77 million.
However, the impact Britain’s love of dogs could have on our planet shouldn’t be underestimated.
Which is why Percuro, an alternative protein dog food brand, has looked at 25 of the most popular breeds in the UK and scored them against five unique criteria to determine which breeds have the highest or lowest potential for impact on our environment.
The company scored the breeds against size, coat characteristics, diet, destructiveness and popularity- assigning a winner for each category as well as one for the overall least impactful which went to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
As Denise Saber, Co-Founder at Percuro explains, this was done to showcase that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to making greener choices. Denise says: “It was important for us to show that each breed has ‘green potential’. A large dog will require more food, which has a larger CO2 impact but they may also have a thick double coat which sheds twice a year. That hair can then be used by local wildlife, such as birds building nests, increasing their positive environmental impact and will help keep them warm during the colder months reducing the need for artificial heating or clothing – all of which has an impact on CO2 emissions.
“As with all things in life, it’s a balancing act. It will be down to pet owners who are conscious of their dog’s carbon pawprint to make the changes that work best for them. Whether that is changing out their diet for a more sustainable option or incorporating more greener choices in their own lifestyle to offset their pet and everything in between.”
The Cavalier King Charles was closely followed by the Pomeranian and Puggle (a cross between a Pug and a Beagle) who took the second and third spot respectively.
Although, when it came to size alone, the breed with the lowest impact was the Chihuahua based on the average height and weight for the breed. In this category smaller dogs scored higher, with the top three spots being rounded off by the Pomeranian and the Dachshund.
However, every dog has their day and the larger breeds typically scored better when looking at coat characteristics. When scoring breeds across this category Percuro deducted points for breeds that require a lot of trips to the groomers or have thinner shorter coats that may not be best suited to the harsh UK winters.
But as Denise pointed out earlier points were awarded for breeds that shed heavily due to the wider ecological impact that lost hair could have.
According to the research potential pet owners who are looking for a breed with the greenest coat characteristics would be best suited looking at German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers who all scored in a joint first place.
Percuro employed a similar method for the destructiveness score, awarding and deducting points based on factors such as how easy a breed is to train and how much mental stimulation they need; because bored dogs tend to chew leaving owners repeatedly replacing items. Points were also deducted if breeds were found to have been included on lists of risky breeds from home insurers.
For diet the pet food brand looked at the daily recommended feeding amount for each breed based on their average weight. From here Pecuro added a multiplier for more active or working breeds, as these will often require more food, before working out the daily and yearly amount of CO2 emitted for that food production.
For example, the CO2 emission for feeding a Pomeranian, which was ranked as the least impactful breed when it came to diet, came in at 675kg for the entire year. A larger, more active breed however like the Golden Doodle produced over five times that amount at 3.4 tonnes.
That’s the equivalent of a return plane journey from London to Hong Kong.
Lastly, breeds were scored against their popularity using the average monthly Google search volume for that breed and how many posts on Instagram were tagged with the specific breed name as a hashtag.
Frenchies were the most popular dog breed, but actually scored the lowest because of this as highly popular breeds are often overpopulated and therefore less sustainable. The Cavachon, a cross between the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frise, won this category.
Being a greener owner
However, if you are concerned about the impact owning a dog can have on the environment, one of the easiest ways to lessen your pet’s carbon pawprint is to actually make changes yourself.
Percuro stresses that every dog breed has the potential to be ‘greener’ but it’s down to the owner to make those changes, and so have shared their top tips for being a more eco-friendly pet owner.
- Use environmentally friendly products – Swapping out stuff like your plastic poo bags for biodegradable ones can have a huge impact on the environment while requiring little effort from you.
- Consider Upcycling – Dog’s don’t really discriminate between new, old or re-used meaning more often than not buying them a new toy every time we pop the shops isn’t needed. Got a t-shirt that no longer fits? Tie it into knots and now you’ve got a new rope toy for your pet and saved the t-shirt from a landfill.
- Not All Food Is Created Equal – Greener living is becoming a larger part of our everyday lives and pet food is no different. As owners have become more aware of their environmental impact a number of new diet options for dogs is on the rise allowing owners to pick a food option for their dog that more closely matches their own and their values such as meat or cruelty free.
- Donate old pet gear – Just as with your own things you’ve outgrown there’s no need to throw out gently used collars, leashes, beds, clothing, bowls or toys. Give them a second life by donating them to a local animal shelter or rescue organization.