National Dog Day
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National Dog Day: Why it Matters and How to Get Involved

Every year on August 26th, dog enthusiasts worldwide unite to celebrate National Dog Day. 

This day-long observance celebrates dogs' invaluable roles in our lives. They offer companionship and emotional support and serve as guide dogs and therapy animals.

National Dog Day underscores the significance of adopting dogs needing a loving home. Furthermore, it applauds the dedication of individuals in the canine industry and dog owners worldwide.

The event also recognizes the unique qualities of various dog breeds and advocates for responsible pet ownership, ensuring our furry friends lead healthy, happy lives.

Read on to learn more about National Dog Day and how to get involved. 

Featured in: August - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

National Dog Day History and Background

3 puppies on the street
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The National Dog Day timeline begins in 2004 when Colleen Paige, a respected pet and family lifestyle expert and animal behaviorist, created National Dog Day. She also founded the National Dog Day Foundation to administer and champion it. She chose August 26th, commemorating her connection with her first dog, Sheltie, whom she adopted on that date.

Over time, National Dog Day, also sometimes called International Dog Day, blossomed. It has since captured the attention of diverse organizations, celebrities, and influential figures.

Gaining recognition and championing animal welfare

A turning point occurred in 2013 when the New York State Senate formally recognized the special day through a proclamation emphasizing responsible pet ownership and dog adoption. This acknowledgment propelled National Dog Day into the limelight. It has been covered in prominent media outlets like The New York Times, CNN, and The Today Show.

National Dog Day has been instrumental in securing homes for countless dogs in need, inspiring a sense of global camaraderie among dog lovers. 

Year after year, more shelters and rescue organizations join the cause, hosting events on August 26th to champion Colleen Paige's heartwarming vision. Today, her dream has transcended borders, uniting dog enthusiasts worldwide. They all share her mission to create a brighter future for our beloved canine companions.

The Cause and Its Challenges

Dog at twilight
Photo by John Fornander on Unsplash

National Dog Day aims to debunk the myths surrounding shelter dogs. In particular, the belief that they are "damaged" or "untrainable." In truth, these dogs can become amazing companions, therapy animals, and even service dogs.

Moreover, misunderstandings and breed-specific legislation, which disproportionately target breeds like pit bulls, erect additional barriers to securing suitable families for these dogs and prolonging their stay in shelters.

Compounding the problem, the pet industry—particularly puppy mills and pet stores—fuels overpopulation by breeding dogs for profit in often deplorable conditions. This threatens the welfare of these animals and perpetuates misconceptions that purchasing from breeders is the superior option. 

National Dog Day aims to shift public opinion by heightening awareness and encouraging responsible pet ownership. Additionally, the event champions the adoption of shelter dogs, ultimately striving to overcome the obstacles these animals and their prospective adopters face.

  • Each year, around 3.3 million dogs find themselves in U.S. shelters, and adopting these loving animals is crucial in reducing overcrowding and saving lives.
  • One key factor contributing to the number of dogs in shelters is irresponsible breeding practices. By promoting responsible breeding and encouraging adoption, National Dog Day aims to tackle this issue, thereby decreasing the number of dogs that tragically end up homeless or abandoned.
  • The benefits of dog ownership extend far beyond companionship; research has demonstrated that having a dog can improve mental well-being3, reduce stress, and encourage physical activity.
  • The Labrador retriever is the most popular dog breed, followed closely by the Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Beagle, and Bulldog. 
  • Despite concerted efforts to increase adoption rates, the harsh reality is that nearly 670,000 dogs are euthanized yearly in U.S. shelters. This is primarily due to limited resources and overcrowding in dog shelters1.
  • Beyond being beloved pets, many dogs play critical roles in various fields, such as assisting people with disabilities. From therapy dogs to those participating in search and rescue operations during natural disasters, dogs offer essential support and even save lives.  

Read more: Essential Dog Facts for Every Dog Lover.

Efforts and Initiatives

Around the globe, various organizations, governments, and communities come together to celebrate and support National Dog Day through numerous initiatives. Take the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), for example. They raise awareness about responsible pet ownership and animal adoption by launching educational campaigns and reaching out to local communities.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) works with governments to implement rabies vaccination programs. These efforts protect the health of dogs and humans alike. In the process, they create safer environments for everyone involved.

Other essential initiatives worth noting include Humane Society International's (HSI) fight against the dog meat trade in countries such as China and South Korea. Their work involves pushing for stronger animal welfare legislation. 

Every October, the ASPCA launches its yearly "Adopt a Shelter Dog Month" campaign. This initiative encourages people across the country to adopt dogs from shelters and rescue groups. This effort thereby decreases the number of dogs that require help. 

Through these powerful initiatives, organizations worldwide are putting in the hard work and dedication to ensure a brighter future for our cherished canine friends.

Related: National Pet Day: Why it Matters and How to Get Involved.  

How to Get Involved and Support National Dog Day

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash.

There are loads of ways to support National Dog Day, honor our furry friends, and advocate for responsible pet ownership. 

Volunteering at your local animal shelter or rescue organization is the first way to make a difference. Your time and energy will be invaluable to your often overstretched local shelter, and the dogs waiting for their forever homes will appreciate the love and care you provide.

You can also spread the word about National Dog Day on social media using popular hashtags like #NationalDogDay and #AdoptDontShop. Our compilation of dog quotes is a great place to start and seek some inspiration. Doing so will extend the reach of this cause and inspire others to join in.

Education is the cornerstone of National Dog Day. You become a well-informed animal welfare advocate as you learn about responsible pet ownership, proper dog care, and the significance of spaying and neutering. Sharing your dog lover knowledge with friends, family, and the local community helps raise awareness for change. 

And, of course, what better excuse to provide your pet dog with some extra TLC? The country's cherished family dogs will no doubt love an extra long walk, a few treats from the pet store, or a new toy! And why not treat yourself at the same time by looking up dog holidays, complete with human accommodation, too?

Read more: Tips for sustainable pet care and our selection of sustainable pet products.


With their boundless joy, unwavering loyalty, and unconditional love, dogs brighten our days and enrich our lives immeasurably2. National Dog Day serves as a poignant reminder to cherish, appreciate, and advocate for the well-being of these wonderful creatures.

You may consider adopting a loving dog from a shelter or volunteering at a local rescue organization. You can become an animal advocate and spread the word about responsible pet ownership and championing the adoption of dogs in need. 

Together, we can help ensure all dogs live abuse-free lives. Together, we can make a tangible difference in the world of our cherished four-legged companions. And what better day to affirm the unique bond we share with them?

National Dog Day FAQs

1. When is National Dog Day celebrated?

National Dog Day is celebrated on August 26th every year.

2. Why was National Dog Day created?

National Dog Day was created to celebrate dogs, recognize their loyalty and love, and encourage adoption.

3. How can I celebrate National Dog Day?

You can celebrate National Dog Day by adopting a dog, volunteering at a local shelter, donating to a dog-related cause, or spending quality time with your furry friend.

4. What are some dog-related causes that I can support?

Some dog-related causes that you can support include animal shelters, rescue organizations, and organizations that provide service dogs to people in need.

5. Can I celebrate National Dog Day if I don't have a dog?

Absolutely! Even if you don't have a dog, you can still celebrate National Dog Day by donating to a dog-related cause, volunteering at a local shelter, or spreading awareness about the importance of adopting dogs.


Lepper, M., Kass, P. H., & Hart, L. A. (2002). Prediction of adoption versus euthanasia among dogs and cats in a California animal shelter. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 5(1), 29-42.


McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239-1252.


Wells, D. L. (2009). The Effects of Animals on Human Health and Well-Being. Journal of Social Issues, 65(3), 523-543.

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