The Rise of DINKWADs: The Dual Income Couples Who’ll Do Anything For Their Dogs · The Wildest

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The Rise of DINKWADs: The Dual Income Couples Who’ll Do Anything For Their Dogs

Life is sweet for the pups of these pet parents...

by Emma Stenhouse
18 June 2024
Sidney Scheinberg / Stocksy

Move over DINKS – there’s a new kid in town. The acronym DINK, aka Dual Income No Kids, has existed since the 1980s. But recently it’s been overshadowed by DINKWADs: Dual Income No Kids With A Dog. 

There can be all sorts of reasons why couples choose the DINKWAD life – from the freedom to travel whenever they want, to more disposable income or knowing that kids don’t feature in their life plan.  

On TikTok, #dinkwad now has over 4.1 million views, as pet parents embrace the lifestyle – and the label. 

For families with kids, dogs are sometimes expected to slot into daily life. But DINKWADs will happily plan their lives – and where they live – around their dogs. “We moved a year ago to a village in the countryside so that Albus could have off-lead walks,” says Amy Killingbeck, a writer from West Lancashire. Albus is her and her husband Phil’s two-year-old Golden Retriever, who Amy describes as “the best thing that’s ever happened to us”.

Marie Rabe, a jeweller from London, and her fiancé, Ben, also based their property search on the needs of Poppy, their six-year-old Boston Terrier. “When we were looking to buy a flat, we were limited in where to look because we wanted to be close to great dog walking spaces... anything without a back garden was out, too. It definitely took us a lot longer and more money to find somewhere because we wanted it to work well for Poppy.”

Even though the cost of living in the UK continues to rise, pet parents are still willing to spend money on their pets, with 29 percent of dog parents even saying they would cut back on their own food expenditure to put their dog first, if necessary. In fact, research shows that spending on pets is actually up, with a third of Brits spending more on their pet at the end of 2023 than the year before.

Without the costs associated with having (human) children, DINKWADs can have more disposable income than their parent pals, which can lead to some extravagant purchases.  Ellie Chipchase, an account executive from London, notes that the most extravagant purchase she and her husband Ashley have made for their four-year-old Cavapoo, Reggie, is his collection of toys: “He has three different toy baskets filled with countless toys dotted about the house.” Ellie and Reggie also splashed out on an adorable photoshoot, dressed in matching outfits. 

A blonde woman sitting cross-legged in front of a white backdrop wearing tie-dye pyjamas with a Cavpoo dog on her lap wearing a matching tie-dye hoodie.
Ellie and Reggie at their photoshoot

Sometimes, the most extravagant purchases are simply linked to the everyday costs of having a dog. Hatti Apps and her fiancé Pat, also from London, say that the biggest expense of Roux, their two-year-old Cocker Spaniel, has been replacing chewed items. “The biggest costs were in the puppy stage as she ate, chewed and destroyed all her toys, beds and our carpets and clothing. I think we’re currently on her 7th(!) bed…”

And sometimes, vet bills end up on the extravagant purchase list as well. Roux has a strong food drive and over Easter she ate a chocolate egg, which resulted in a trip to the emergency vet. “Thankfully, she was absolutely fine as it was small and white chocolate, with very low levels of the chemical in chocolate that’s bad for them,” says Hatti. 

A brown Cocker Spaniel sitting on a wooden floor
Hatti and Pat’s dog Roux

​​For many DINKWADs the spending continues when it comes to travel. Emma Kemsley, a freelance travel PR and editor, and her husband James, who moved from the UK to San Sebastián in Spain, plan where they go on trips around their 10-year-old Cocker Spaniel, Fletcher. “His love for swimming means we plan our holidays around water locations for him,” explains Emma. “Over the years, we’ve travelled with Fletcher around the Balearics, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy.”  

A black Cocker Spaniel standing on a beach in front of cliffs with his name – Fletcher – written in the sane behind him.
Fletcher living his best life

For others whose dogs don’t have a passport, they’ve chosen to holiday in the UK. “I don’t really want to go abroad much anymore as Reggie can’t come with us,” says Ellie. The freedom to travel outside the school holidays is one reason declared autumn as DINK season, with searches for quiet, cost-effective and adult-only trips up a whopping 1,170% compared to searches for family holidays. 

Inevitably, plenty of DINKWADs get unsolicited questions about their decision not to have kids. But the reasons are the same as anyone else. From knowing they didn’t want kids to fertility, concerns about the cost of living or just not being there… yet, it’s all relatable. Whatever the reasons, the latest government data shows that the birthrate in the UK has been steadily decreasing, and is now at the lowest rate since 2002. In contrast, the number of dog parents in the UK has increased from 9.6 million in 2022, to 11 million in 2023.   

“The current state of the world makes the thought of having kids a little scary,” says Marie. “We’ve talked a lot about if it’s fair to them. It’s also only in the last couple of years that we’ve been in a housing situation where kids could even be an option.”

A Boston Terrier in a maroon coat standing in a large field
Marie and Ben’s dog Poppy

For some DINKWADs, getting a dog is a test run for parenthood. “Reggie is our first child,” explains Ellie. “However, I am now pregnant with a human child. I hope Reggie will get on with his new brother or sister, and become best friends and not get too jealous.”

They do of course receive some backlash. Amy explains, “We actually get a few comments now about how having a dog restricts our life and it would be better if we had kids as we could bring them with us to family events!”

But often, friends and family are supportive of DINKWAD choices. “Everyone adores Fletcher, and treats him as our child,” says Emma. “They buy him birthday presents and treats and even make special dinners for him during BBQs or Sunday lunches.”

For DINKs looking to add a dog to their family, Emma advises choosing a breed that’s suited to your lifestyle: “Get a Cocker and it’s probably harder work than a child – friends have actually told me Fletcher is harder work than their baby.” But the trade-off is worth it. “Fletcher gives us everything we need,” says Emma. “Happiness, laughter and love.” And for any pet parent, that’s all that really matters.  

Emma Stenhouse

Emma is a freelance writer whose work has been published by Rover, Vetstreet, Petplan, BeChewy, and more. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, daughter and 15 animals (including dogs, cats, horses and chickens) on their small farmstead in Spain. There’s always a fence to be fixed, trees to plant or animals to be fed!