Contributors – Drs Edward Olajide and Kikiope Oluwarore

Pet animals or “pets” according to the Cambridge dictionary refer to animals that are kept in the home as a companion and treated kindly. They are commonly considered as companion animals since they may assume the position of a close friend, family, or acquaintance to a human who spends quality time with them and is often given favorite names. They can be categorized as indoor pets (eg dogs, cats, birds), or outdoor pets (eg horses, etc).

Around the world, different types of animals are kept by humans as pets. The choice of pet for each human is dependent on factors such as:

  • The personality of the keeper
  • The purpose of keeping the pet (e.g for security, companionship, guidance, health purposes, etc)
  • Physical characteristics of the animal such as size, species, and breed
  • Availability of the pet animal
  • Socio-cultural and religious factors


Some Animal Pet Species Commonly Kept in Nigeria include the following;

Dogs: This tops the list not only in Nigeria but all over the world as they are widely regarded as “friends of man”. The growing trend of having a dog as a pet, especially the exotic breeds, remains to date mostly due to the numerous roles they play for their owners, as earlier outlined above. Dogs are generally are easy to adapt, train, and are readily available. Common breeds found in Nigeria include the local dogs (Mongrel), German Shepherds (Alsatian), Boerboels, Rottweilers, Russian Shepherds (Caucasian), Eskimos, Mastiffs, and St. Bernards. Most of the above-listed serve dual purposes as guard and companion animals. However, dog breeds like Lhasa Apso and the Samoyeds are commonly kept among Nigerian pet lovers strictly for companion purposes.

Cats: Cats, though ubiquitous are less common in Nigeria than Dogs. A key factor that makes them less socially acceptable among the public is the widespread sociocultural myths and beliefs about these feline creatures. However, this does not make them less endearing to those who love and keep them. Some exotic breeds are kept as pets in many middle to high-income households while local breeds seen in peri-urban and rural areas to are usually kept for the dual purpose of companionship and control of rodents and reptile populations (eg lizards) in homes and neighborhoods. In comparison with dogs in terms of maintenance and feeding, owners tend to spend less because they do not eat as much as dogs do, they tend to self-groom and also require less training.

Rabbits: Rabbits (also sometimes referred to as Bunnies) are short, cute, furry, and friendly most especially when they have gained trust and confidence in their keeper/owner. The cost of providing adequate care for rabbits is relatively high, as they require special attention in terms of feeding, training, and grooming. Many breeds have also been found to easily susceptible to infections and harsh conditions in the typical Nigerian setting – a possible reason some section of pet lovers tend to shy away from keeping them.

Parrots: These small and colorful birds can be mostly found in the Northern parts of Nigeria, and are often kept in cages. Popular and notorious for mimicking human voices and speech sounds, they are very fun to be with. They are also kept to beautify the home.

Ornamental Fish: Fishes like corals are kept in the aquarium as pets, mostly in the reception area of houses and organization, or the living room in homes. Sadly, however, an increasingly downward trend has been observed in the number of individuals keeping ornamental fish because maintenance costs for aquarium is quite high. This has restricted aquariums and ornamental fish-keeping to affluent homes and highbrow urban and city areas.

Horses: Horse keeping and grooming is an elitist hobby and/or sport common amongst the royals and elites in Northern Nigeria and some parts of south-western Nigeria. As expected, it comes with a very high cost of maintenance. Horses are categorized as outdoor pets and are kept for numerous purposes such as polo sports, ceremonial occasions (Durbars), and breeding, etc. they are also utilized by some law enforcement agencies for parades, mobility, and crowd control. Notable horse breeds include the Sudanese, Arewa, and the Argentine breeds.

Monkeys: The Rhesus, Monas, and Green monkeys are common when it comes to keeping monkeys as pets. With good training, they do associate well with individuals around them, often communicating and playing with their owners.

Peafowl: These are beautiful “show-birds” with uniquely colorful feathers. The males are referred to as “peacocks”, while the females are called “peahens”. They are kept for beautification purposes and also for tourism benefits. Although not so common compared to parrots, there are still notable numbers of peafowls found around the country, especially in highbrow neighborhoods.


Are you an animal health service provider in Nigeria? Get enlisted on the OHDI Directory of Animal Health and Welfare Services.

Having issues with your pet or need quality information and referrals to animal health service within your area? You can send a whatsapp message to 08055993123 to get all the information you need. 


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