Derek Hough Talks Rescuing Pets, How Girlfriend Hayley Erbert Changed His Views on the Cat Vs Dog Debate

Derek Hough Hayley Erbert

Getty Derek Hough and girlfriend Hayley Erbert

Derek Hough is a six-time Mirrorball champion-turned judge on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” and he’s also a pet dad to two dogs and two cats alongside his longtime girlfriend, professional dancer Hayley Erbert.

The award-winning choreographer has teamed up with Purina ONE to help adoptable pets find their forever homes over the summer by taking part in and promoting their 28-day challenge. The company is challenging pet owners to feed their dogs Purina ONE dry dog food for 28 days.

Hough recently sat down with Heavy to talk more about being a pet owner and the Purina ONE 28-day challenge.

Hough Got Involved With Purina ONE Because He is an Animal Lover

Hough told Heavy that the reason he got involved with Purina ONE and their 28-day challenge is that he has always loved animals.

I’ve just always been a huge animal lover, and all my animals are adopted and rescued,” he said. “I have two dogs and two cats who I love dearly. They’re all over my social media and my life, and I just love them so much. And that’s what I love about Purina ONE. That’s what drew me to them.”

He added, “They’ve been supporting shelters for years. Just since 2018, they’ve donated about 8 million pounds of dog and cat food worth over 11 million dollars to animal shelters, and that’s why I’ve teamed up with them for this 28-day challenge, which is going to help animals find their forever homes.”

For every one person who signs up to take the 28-day challenge between now and August 31, Purina is set to donate $1 to the Petfinder Foundation to help waive adoption fees. The donation is capped at $28,000.

“This will be fantastic for rescue groups and really help people rescue these pets and help the pets find their forever homes,” Hough told Heavy. “For more information about the PurinaONE 28-Day Challenge, visit”

Hough Revealed He Was a Cat Person Growing Up

When asked if he is a cat person or a dog person now, Hough said that his reply has changed throughout the years, and Erbert has something to do with that. The couple share four pets: an older German shepherd and husky mix named Palo, their orange cat Luna, their one-year-old German shepherd and husky mix Luna, and their grey cat Lily.

“I would say I grew up being a cat person when I was a kid,” Hough said. “We had a cat named Rascal and a cat named Barbara, but then as an adult, I rescued Romi and I was definitely a dog person for sure! But then my girlfriend (Erbert), she’s a cat person. So she brought in Lily and we rescued Palo. So now, I’m torn. I love them so much now. I legitimately don’t know if I could choose one or the other.”

There Are More Projects From Hough Coming in the Near Future

Hough previously teased a new show with Variety, but he was not able to say much more about the upcoming project at the time of the interview. He did, however, give a tiny update about some new projects.

“There’s definitely some really fun projects in the works, but there’s definitely one been confirmed that will be starting in the fall,” Hough told Heavy. “One thing I can say is that ‘Dancing With the Stars’ will be back in September and it’s gonna be an amazing huge season that I can’t wait for people to see. It’s gonna be good. I just can’t wait to see if we have an audience!”

As for what he’s most excited about for the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars,” Hough had two different answers.

“Honestly, I’m just excited about the cast! I’m always curious. I’m always like, ‘I wonder who it’s gonna be?’ Because that’s such a huge part of the season, what the cast is going to be like,” he said. 

Hough added, “And, I’m looking forward to having Len be back, it’s gonna be good to see him and sit next to him in the ballroom. That’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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