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Size and demography pattern of the domestic dog population in Bhutan: Implications for dog population management and disease control

Rinzin, Karma, Tenzin, Tenzin, Robertson, Ian
Preventive veterinary medicine 2016 v.126 pp. 39-47
breeds, demography, disease control, dogs, females, household surveys, households, humans, males, monitoring, planning, rabies, rural areas, towns, urban areas, Bhutan
Understanding the demography of domestic dogs is essential to plan the dog population management and rabies control program. In this study, we estimated the owned and stray dog population and the proportion of owned dogs that are free-roaming in Bhutan. For this, a cross-sectional household surveys were conducted in six districts (both urban and rural areas) and two border towns in southern Bhutan. The population estimation was done by extrapolation of the mean number of dogs per household and dogs per person, whilst mark-resight survey was conducted to estimate the proportion of owned dogs that were free-roaming. A total of 1,301 (rural:585; urban:716) respondents (one per household) were interviewed of which 173 households (24.4%) in urban areas owned 237 dogs whilst 238 households (40.8%) in rural areas owned 353 dogs. The mean number of dogs per dog owning household was estimated to be 1.44 (urban:1.37 dogs; rural:1.48 dogs) and dogs per household was estimated to be 0.45 (urban:0.33; rural:0.60). The dog: human ratio was 1:16.30 (0.06 dogs per person) in urban areas and 1:8.43 (0.12 dogs per person) in rural areas. The total owned dog population based on the mean number of dogs per household and dogs per person were estimated to be 65,312 and 71,245 in the country, respectively. The male: female ratio of the owned dog was 1.31:1 in urban areas and 2.05:1 in rural areas. Majority of the dogs were local non-descript breeds in both urban (60.8%) and rural (78%) areas, and the most common source was acquisition from friends or family (44.7%). The stray dog population in Bhutan was estimated to be 48,379 (urban:22,772; rural:25,607). Of the total estimated owned dog population in the two border towns, the proportion that were found free-roaming was estimated to be 31%. The different dog population estimation methods were compared and discussed in this paper. This study generated baseline data on the demographic patterns of the owned and stray dogs in Bhutan which will be useful for planning and monitoring dog population management and rabies control program in the country.