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The Effectiveness of Dog Population Management: A Systematic Review

By Lauren M. Smith, Sabine Hartmann, Alexandru M. Munteanu, Paolo Dalla Villa, Rupert J. Quinnell, Lisa M. Collins

Category Journal Articles

The worldwide population of domestic dogs is estimated at approximately 700 million, with around 75% classified as “free-roaming”. Where free-roaming dogs exist in high densities, there are significant implications for public health, animal welfare, and wildlife. Approaches to manage dog populations include culling, fertility control, and sheltering. Understanding the effectiveness of each of these interventions is important in guiding future dog population management. We present the results of a systematic review of published studies investigating dog population management, to assess: (1) where and when studies were carried out; (2) what population management methods were used; and (3) what was the effect of the method. We evaluated the reporting quality of the published studies for strength of evidence assessment. The systematic review resulted in a corpus of 39 papers from 15 countries, reporting a wide disparity of approaches and measures of effect. We synthesised the management methods and reported effects. Fertility control was most investigated and had the greatest reported effect on dog population size. Reporting quality was low for power calculations (11%), sample size calculations (11%), and the use of control populations (17%). We provide recommendations for future studies to use common metrics and improve reporting quality, study design, and modelling approaches in order to allow better assessment of the true impact of dog population management. 


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 12
Pages 30
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9121020
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Dogs
  3. Mammals
  4. open access
  5. Pets and companion animals
  6. population control
  7. stray animals
  8. trap-neuter-release
  1. open access