Petco vs PetSmart: Prices, Quality & Services (Key Differences)


Petco and PetSmart are both popular pet retail chains in the United States that offer a wide range of products and services for pets and pet owners. Let us talk in details about these two retail stores, by looking at their history, exclusive brands and in-store services to their community engagement efforts and beyond.


Petco Animal Supplies, Inc., commonly known as Petco, is a retail chain specializing in pet supplies, pet products, and services. It is one of the largest pet supply retailers in the United States.

It offers many products for various types of pets like dogs, cats, birds, small animals, reptiles and aquatic animals. Their product offerings include pet food, toys, bedding, cages, aquariums, grooming supplies among many others.

Petco has developed several exclusive brands, each catering to different aspects of pet care. Examples include “WholeHearted” for pet nutrition, “Well & Good” for grooming products, “Harmony” for pet bedding, and “SoPhresh” for pet waste management products.

Many Petco stores offer in-store services such as grooming, training classes, and vaccination clinics. They also partner with local veterinary clinics to provide comprehensive pet care services. It also has an online platform where customers can purchase products and have them delivered to their doorstep.

Petco has a long-standing commitment to animal welfare and community engagement. They host adoption events and partner with animal shelters to promote pet adoption. Their “Think Adoption First” program encourages potential pet owners to consider adopting pets from shelters.

Petco was founded in 1965 as a mail-order veterinary supply company out of San Diego, California. It was initially known as UPCO but changed its name to Petco in 1979. The company first expanded outside California in 1980, opening a store in Oregon.

In the late 1980s, Petco made a significant step toward expansion by purchasing two smaller pet store chains and spreading further throughout the country.  By 1992, they had reached the East Coast. Going public for the first time in 1994, the company had over 200 stores in 13 states.

In 2002, Petco expanded to over 600 stores in 48 states. Petco reached all 50 states by the end of the 2000s, opening stores in Alaska in 2005 and Hawaii in 2008. Petco now has stores in Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico.


Just like Petco, PetSmart is also a prominent retail chain for pet supplies, pet products and services in United States. It offers an extensive range of products for various types of pets like dogs, cats, birds, small animals, reptiles and fish. Their product cover pet food, treats, toys, habitats, aquariums, grooming supplies among other related things.

Similar to Petco, PetSmart has developed several exclusive brands catering to different aspects of pet care. Examples include “Top Paw” for various pet products, “Grreat Choice” for essentials like bedding and litter, and “Authority” for pet food and nutrition.

These retail store also has comprehensive in-store services. Many locations offer grooming services, pet training classes, pet adoption events and veterinary clinics. The company’s in-house “Banfield Pet Hospital” provides a range of veterinary care services. It also has an online platform that allows customers to browse and purchase products from the comfort of their homes.

PetSmart is also deeply involved in pet adoption efforts. Through its in-store adoption centers and partnerships with animal welfare organizations, it has helped facilitate the adoption of countless pets, including dogs, cats and small animals.

Petsmart was founded in 1986 under the original name Pet Food Warehouse by a husband and wife team. The first two stores opened in Phoenix in 1987 with the idea of offering a high volume of products for a lower cost.

In 1989, the company rebranded as PetSmart and revamped its shopping experience; it still offered a wide variety of products at a lower cost but made the stores more appealing and retail-friendly. They also began offering adoption, grooming, and vet services in-store. During the 1990s, PetSmart expanded aggressively across the country into Canada and even acquired a chain of stores in the U.K.

Unfortunately, the U.K. expansion failed and cost PetSmart a lot of money. In the early 2000s, the company focused on a streamlined shopping experience online and in stores. The final name change to PetSmart took place in 2005, with a new focus on the “pet parent” retailer.

PetSmart attempts to be a one-stop shop for pet parents, with many locations offering boarding and daycare along with the previously mentioned services. They have over 1,600 stores across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico

Petco vs PetSmart: Key Differences

Basis of Comparison PetcoPetSmart
Store Design and LayoutGenerally known for having a more straightforward and utilitarian store design.Often praised for a more colorful and visually appealing store layout.
Exclusive BrandsOffers a range of exclusive brands, such as “WholeHearted” and “Well & Good.”Features its own exclusive brands, including “Top Paw” and “Grreat Choice.”
Focus on AnimalsHistorically positioned itself as more focused on animal welfare, adopting out rescue animals and promoting adoption events.Also involved in animal adoption efforts, with their “PetSmart Charities” organization playing a significant role.
Aquatics and FishGenerally regarded as having a wider variety of aquatic products, fish, and aquarium supplies.Also offers aquatic supplies but might have a slightly smaller selection compared to Petco.
Store CountHas fewer stores than PetSmart.Has more stores nationwide.
In-Store ServicesKnown for offering grooming services, training classes, and veterinary clinics in some locations.Offers similar in-store services including grooming and training.
Online PresenceHas a robust online platform for purchasing products and pet supplies.Also offers online shopping, including options for in-store pickup.
Corporate StructureIn January 2021, Petco became a publicly-traded company once again after going private in 2006.As of 2023, it is still under private ownership.
Partnerships and AcquisitionsHas engaged in partnerships and acquisitions related to pet health and wellness companies.Also has a history of acquiring other pet-related businesses.
Store AtmospherePetco generally has a more relaxed and pet-friendly ambiance, often allowing pets to accompany their owners inside the store. PetSmart typically has a more structured layout and is known for its colorful signage and product displays.

Key Takeaways

  • Petco and PetSmart offer similar product selections, including pet food, toys, accessories, and supplies for various types of pets. While there may be some differences in specific brands or products available, both stores generally have a wide range of options for pet owners.
  • Petco provides dog training with certified instructors. They offer both puppy and adult group classes as well as private lessons. Virtual and in-person courses are offered, depending on location.
  • PetSmart provides puppy and adult group dog training classes, including beginner, advanced, and specialized options. In-person and virtual courses are available.
  • PetSmart usually has vets offices as part of the store, and still sells cats and dogs, which Petco does not. They don’t sell any animal that would be used as food, so no rats, mice, crickets or feeder fish.
  • Petco sells a variety of small animals, birds, reptiles, and fish in most retail locations. They partner with local adoption organizations for adoption events and feature adoptable pets in stores.
  • Both stores partner with local animal shelters and rescue organizations to facilitate pet adoptions. However, PetSmart has a longstanding partnership with PetSmart Charities, which helps facilitate adoptions through in-store adoption centers known as PetSmart Adoption Centers.
  • PetSmart sells an assortment of pocket pets, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds, depending on location. They feature adoptable pets (mainly cats) in-store and host adoption events year-round with local organizations.
  • Because the two companies are direct competitors, they feature many of the same products and services, allowing for head-to-head price comparisons in most cases. However, prices at individual stores may vary somewhat, depending on where they are located.
  • Both Petco and PetSmart provide grooming services for pets, including baths, haircuts, and nail trims. However, PetSmart tends to heavily emphasize its grooming services, with many locations having a dedicated grooming salon. Petco also offers grooming services, but the focus may be more on training and behavior services.