17 Best U.S. Cities for Dogs

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May is National Pet Month so for all the urban dog people out there in search of a home, we’ve compiled this list of the best cities in America for dogs. We scoured the country, factoring in weather, Walk Score, yard size, dog activities, Meetup groups, and the availability of dog sitters on Rover.com. After a lot of debate we settled on these 17 urban dog paradises.

#1—Portland, Oregon

The Rose City falls over itself to spoil its dogs. With 33 dog parks, Portland has the most per capita of any large city in the United States. It also boasts 19 pet massage therapists, its own social network for dog lovers, and it’s one of Rover.com‘s Top 20 Cities. The average household spends $32.38 per month on pets, which may include items off the Doggie Menu at Tin Shed Garden Café, the Kibbles-N-Bits breakfast at Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, or the Truffle Dog Training Seminar down the road in Eugene, Oregon.

Apparently no mention of Portland is complete these days without referencing the popular show Portlandia so here’s a dog-related clip. Now can we move on?

#2—San Diego, California

Great weather, dog-friendly beaches and 16 dog parks make San Diego a happy home for hounds. From dining out to surfing, there’s a vast array of activities dogs and people can share together. However, for those times when the humans have to go solo Rover.com says San Diego is one of the best cities to find a great dog sitter. There are plenty of restaurants with dog-friendly patios, a National Dog Party Day, and a strong dog-advocacy community.

  • The city is the dog surfing capital of the world and even hosts an annual dog surfing competition called Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon.
  • San Diego is moving to ban the sale of pets bred in commercial breeding facilities (article).

#3—Seattle, Washington

What Seattle lacks in sunny days it more than makes up for with a local culture committed to happy, active dogs. In recent years, Seattle’s dog population has grown rapidly, and even surpassed the number of children living in the city limits.

Unlike in many other cities, dogs are welcome on Seattle’s bus lines, ferries, light rail, and even local seaplanes. Unfortunately, local internet traffic is probably slowed by the many dog-themed Tumblr accounts, Facebook pages, and blogs, such as You Did What WIth Your Wiener?

#4—Austin, Texas

Even dogs who don’t love live music and delicious Tex-Mex will feel at home in the Texas capital. There are 11 dog parks in town, plenty of water to play in, and no shortage of activities to share with your dog. Austin offers a variety of pet boutiques, health food stores for Fido, and more than 35 pet photographers. Wow. But the best part is Austin is home to Kramer the Austin Famous Rock Dog (he fishes for rocks in local lakes and streams).

#5—San Francisco, California

San Francisco has the third most dog parks of any city in the U.S. with 27, and Walk Score has it ranked second nationally for walkability. Dogs are even allowed on trolley cars, which makes for a cute photo, but only if your dog enjoys waiting in line for an hour to go up a hill. For something more fun, The Stray Bar provides a dog-friendly watering hole that doles out free popcorn, something dogs love.

#6—Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque is a dog’s paradise. With 33,000 acres of public parks, that’s about a 1/4 acre for every dog, cat and bird! While the city’s walkability is average and heartworm is more common here, the upside is there are only 61 days of precipitation so dogs have the opportunity to spend a lot of time outdoors.

  • 100 restaurants either serve hot dogs or are named something with the word “dog” in it, and none of them actually serve dog.
  • The Mayor’s Dog Ball is held annually to raise money in support of a spaying and neutering program.

#7—Tucson, Arizona

With more than 350 says of sunshine each year, Tucson is the sunniest city in America. If lazily sunning oneself in a sizable yard or a restaurant’s outdoor patio isn’t exciting enough for your dog, got moving and enjoy plenty of outdoor activities in local parks, play facilities and trails. The city’s outdoor recreation opportunities are an energetic dog’s dream come true, with the exception of occasional rattlesnakes.

#8—Boston, Massachusetts

Despite having few off-leash dog parks, there are plenty of public spaces to walk your dog, as well as numerous pet-friendly activities. Boston is home to the first subway built in America and dogs are allowed to ride it during off-peak hours. Additionaly, there are cruises of Boston Harbor that include time for dogs to play pirate and explore an uninhabited island. Boston’s Liberty Hotel hosts a weekly “Yappier Hour,” a happy hour with food and drinks for both people and their four-legged friends.

  • Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed of dog in Boston. The other top dog breeds can be found here.
  • According to this Block Avenue article, Boston neighborhoods with high numbers of pet dogs can be a sign of high home ownership.
  • There’s no shortage of websites and blogs dedicated to Boston’s dogs. Check out Fido Loves—a great online source of information for all things dog-related in Boston, and they provide insight into dog-friendly neighborhoods and apartment buildings.
  • Boston is one Rover.com‘s Top 20 Cities
  • National Media:  This article is proof you don’t have to use the word “wicked” when writing about Boston.

#9—Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, as well as neighboring Tempe and Scottsdale, are positively littered with retirees with time to spend with their canine companions. Plus, with 85 percent of days free of precipitation, rainy days rarely keep dogs from being walked. The area is loaded with various pet amenities and a busy calendar of dog-themed events around town.

#10—Minneapolis, Minnesota

If you’ve ever seen a Corgi cheerfully plodding along through a two-foot snow drift then you know true happiness. If not, then perhaps it’s time you packed up and headed for Minneapolis. The city is blessed with a pooch-positive culture, a hefty serving of dog-friendly restaurants, and plenty of parks and hiking trails. The downside is harsh winters can leave dogs trapped inside for long stretches, but when the sun is out there are fun activities like the Canine Carnival, various breed-specific Meetups, and Beer With Your Buddy—the opportunity to drink a brew at the pub while your four-legged pal socializes.

#11—Colorado Springs, Colorado

If a dog loses its paws to frostbite in Colorado Springs it gets four new prosthetic paws and the name Naki’o the Bionic Dog because the city is home to an awesome veterinarian assistant named Christie Pace—(related article).

In addition to dog heroes, Colorado Springs has an abundance of affordable vets, plenty of dog amenities, and households that spend a whopping $35.75 per month on their pets—perhaps at the cleverly named Republic of Paws or Ruffing It? With only 90 days of precipitation, the weather provides plenty of opportunity to explore the city’s parks and nearby hiking trails with four-legged friends.

#12—Chicago, Illinois

What Chicago lacks in dog parks—just 0.6 parks per 100,000 residents—it makes up for in walkability, dog-centered activities, and ample dog boarding opportunities as one of Rover.com‘s Top 20 Cities. Chicago law understandably forbids serving whiskey to dogs, but its prohibition on dogs at the opera runs contrary to the city’s reputation for dog inclusivity. Overall, Chicago does right by its dogs with strong anti-cruelty campaigns, dog-friendly beaches, and an annual Chicago White Sox Dog Day where dogs are allowed at the stadium.

#13—Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas has a whopping 25 off-leash dog parks—a per capita third best in the nation. Sin City doesn’t get much respect for walkability with a Walk Score of 49.2, but 85% of days are sunny so only extreme heat is an excuse for not walking the dog. Vegas is home to a dog-themed radio program called The Las Vegas Hot Diggity Dog Show, and a Dachshund rescue group with the slogan “Saving the World One Wiener at a Time.”

#14—Miami, Florida

For dogs with the right look, Miami is the perfect city to strut their stuff. However, if your pooch is a droopy, insecure Basset Hound with body issues then strolling a beach teeming with glamorous Chihuahuas and muscle-bound Bull Mastiffs is cause for pause. Regardless, great weather and plenty of sandy beaches mean recreation opportunities abound for dogs who like to romp on the beach, and dining with dogs is easy thanks to seemingly limitless patio space at city restaurants. The downside is that exotic birds like parrots are welcome as well, and everyone knows dogs love to chase noisy birds, even if they’re tethered to an attention-craving eccentric.

Shop for your furry friend in dozens of boutique shops offering upscale grooming, designer dog apparel, and fashionable collars and leashes.

#15—Washington, DC

Only 21.9 percent of the city’s households own a pet, but the capital is still a great city for dogs. Washington, D.C. is the 7th most walkable large city in America according to Walk Score, and there are seven dog parks for locals to use. In addition, there is ample public space and parks to walk a dog, including some of our nation’s most cherished monuments.

  • Good dogs get rewarded with pupcakes, canine cookies, and Mutt Licks ice cream at the Doggie Style Bakery, Boutique & Spa.
  • There are plenty of festivals and outdoor celebrations that welcome dogs.
  • On occasion, local puppies adorably travel about in a rolling cooler. Here’s proof.
  • Washington, DC is one of Rover.com‘s Top 20 Cities.

#16—Denver, Colorado

Regardless of whether Denver (the dog in the video) got into the kitty cat treats, Denver (the city) has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to being a great town for dog lovers to buy a home.

With nine off-leash dog parks, 111 pet-related stores, and sunshine 69% of days, Denver is a hot spot for happy hounds. Skoops Ice Cream and More serves up specially-made frozen treats for dogs, and Golden Triangle Liquors on 12th allows dogs to stroll their booze-filled aisles, and even doles out non-alcoholic treats to pooches.

  • For a field trip, there’s a Purina dog food production factory on the outskirts of town.

#17—Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland isn’t blessed with many dog parks, but the city on Lake Erie respects the hound more than most. FirstEnergy Stadium is home to the legendary Dawg Pound—the bleacher section reserved for the Cleveland Browns’ most rabid fans. This is not to be confused with the Long Beach-based hip hop duo Tha Dogg Pound. Not only does the city use a dog as the mascot for both the Cleveland Browns (Chomp) and Cleveland Cavaliers (Moondog), but it also houses the taxidermied body of legendary sled dog Balto in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Balto is a true American hero.

  • Cleveland has lots of dog-friendly parks, including Holden Arboretum, which has 20 miles of hiking trails.
  • The annual Woofstock is just one of many events that raises money for pet causes.

The following cities didn’t make the cut…

Hartford, Connecticut:  It’s illegal to educate a dog in Hartford. Also, dogs bearing tattoos must be reported to police. Why does Hartford’s big-brother mentality concern itself with a dog’s choice of skin art?

Madison, Wisconsin:  It’s illegal for dogs to chase squirrels even if the squirrel is baiting the dog by climbing down from the tree, swishing its tail, and chattering noisily. 

Los Angeles, California:  The lack of dog parks is bad enough, but no city that allows Paris Hilton to own multiple dogs and keep them in her purse should ever be included in a list of Top Cities for Dogs. Period.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:  With an average of 2,354-square-feet, Philly’s homes have some of the smallest yards in the country. Dog claustrophobia can be cured with an occasional cheesesteak though.

Ryan Nickum