Demographic studies of owned dogs in the Northern Peninsula Area, Australia, to inform population and disease management strategies

EG Hudson, VJ Brookes, MP Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To generate domestic dog demographic information to aid population and disease management in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of the Northern Peninsula Area, Queensland, Australia.
MethodsSight–resight surveys using standard and modified methods were conducted to estimate the free‐roaming dog population size. A cross‐sectional questionnaire of dog owners was used to gather dog demographic information and investigate owners’ dog management behaviours. A survey was also conducted to estimate the total dog population size.
ResultsThe mean total dog population size was estimated to be 813 (range, 770–868). The roaming dog population was 430 or 542 (95% confidence interval (CI) 254–608; 95% CI 405–680, standard and modified methods, respectively). Therefore, the roaming population represents 52.8% or 66.7% of the total population based on the sight–resight methodology. We surveyed 65 dog owners who owned 165 dogs (1 : 1 ratio of male : female dogs). Only 14% (95% CI 9–19) of dogs were sterilised and significantly more males were entire (P = 0.02). Although most dogs were pets (65%), hunting dogs were significantly more likely to be taken outside of the resident community (P < 0.001). The birth rate was 2.4 puppies/dog‐owning house/year, which was higher than the death rate (1.7 dogs/dog‐owning house/year). In the previous 12 months, 90% of the 109 deaths were dogs aged 0–2 years old.
ConclusionThis study demonstrated that most of the dog population in the NPA is free‐roaming and that the population has increased, likely because of a lack of population management strategies such as sterilisation. This information will be used to develop population and disease management strategies in the NPA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-494
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Issue number12
Early online date26 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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