In the contest between dogs versus cats, the nation has spoken and it prefers dogs. New research by Churchill Pet Insurance reveals that almost half (45 per cent) of UK adults prefer dogs over cats. Just a quarter (23 per cent) of people prefer cats over dogs and another quarter (23 per cent) like both equally. Controversially, nearly one in 10 (nine per cent) do not like either dogs or cats.

When asked which personality traits they associate most with dogs and cats, dogs are seen as loyal (77 per cent) and protective (63 per cent), while being friendly (62 per cent) and giving owners unconditional love (61 per cent). Cats on the other hand are seen as territorial (54 per cent) and intelligent (54 per cent) but also independent thinkers (49 per cent) and aloof (43 per cent).

The preference for dogs over cats is consistent across gender, although men like them slightly more than women (48 per cent vs. 41 per cent). On a regional basis, those living in Belfast (67 per cent) and Newcastle (55 per cent) like dogs the most. Those living in Southern cities were the closest in choosing between dogs and cats, as just eight per cent more people living in Plymouth and 11 per cent more living in Brighton preferred dogs to cats.

Dan Streets, Churchill Pet Insurance manager commented: “We are officially a nation of dog lovers - a preference which transcends age, gender and location. Our friendly pooches give us unconditional love and protection, so have earned the top spot as our loyal companion. It’s not all doom and gloom for cats though, as our research clearly shows that many see them as the pet of choice, as their independent thinking and intelligence in looking after themselves means they are often the perfect pet.”

It’s not all bad news for cats though. While those living in all regions clearly prefer dogs, this is not always reflected in ownership levels. In fact, more people living in Southampton, Plymouth and Norwich own cats than own dogs. Whilst dogs are the preferred choice, the practicalities of owning a dog may be the reason why cats win out in the ownership contest.

The same is true for those living in London. While adults in the capital prefer dogs (42 per cent) to cats (25 per cent), the lack of available gardens and outdoor space may account for more people owning cats (19 per cent) compared to dogs (18 per cent).