What Are the Best U.S. Cities to Raise a Dog?

Mia Daniele

Every member of the family deserves to feel at home after a big move, whether it’s your husband looking for a new group of drinking buddies or your children itching to resume their weekend sports. But before you commit to moving the whole family to a foreign environment, you should also consider whether the place you’re moving to will be good for your dogs too.

While big cities have a reputation for their bustling social scenes, many of them do not have a place for dogs. If you’re a dog person, it’s important to make sure that the city that you move to is welcoming towards dogs and has plenty of areas where dogs can be dogs.

Dog playing catch in backyard

What Makes a City Pet Friendly?

If you’re not moving to a busy metropolitan area, it might be hard to find information online as to whether your new home is going to be pet-friendly or not. That’s why it’s helpful to be on the lookout for all of the signs of a dog lovers town, like:

  • Dog parks and other dog-specific spaces. Dog parks are a great way to socialize your puppy as well as for them to make friends with other canines in the area. While dog parks are easier to spot, also look at parks that allow your dog to go off-leash. Being able to run around freely, whether it’s in a park or just around your backyard, is important for your dog’s health. This is especially important if you live in an apartment or another place that does not allow your dog to go outside whenever they need to.
  • Plenty of parks and walking paths. Whether you’re moving into a new apartment or a new house, having readily available greenery means that there’s plenty of places to take your dog on an adventure to. They’re great for ensuring your dog gets plenty of exercise and, if you don’t have a lawn, a place to go to the bathroom.
  • Good climate. What makes for a good climate depends on what type of dog you have. If you have a husky made for deep winters, make sure you don’t move to a desert town in the middle of nowhere. Similarly, if you have a chihuahua or another short-haired dog, long New England winters are not going to be the best choice for them.
  • Pet-friendly establishments like restaurants and apartments. Research how many of the apartment complexes in your area allow pets and if they have restrictions on the type of dog you can have. The fewer people who are able to own pets in the area, the less dog-friendly the area will be. You can also research how many of the local haunts like restaurants and bars allow dogs to sit on the patio, but if you can’t find that information online, you can also look around and see how many dogs are invited to the outdoor seating at the local eateries.
  • Do you see dogs? Sometimes, the best way to tell if a city will be good for your dog is to look with your own eyes. When you drive around your new neighborhood, how many people have dogs? Do you see dogs tied to the pole in front of the store? Are they playing fetch at the nearest park? If you see a lack of dogs on a normal day around the town, then this might not be the best place to raise your pet children.
Two dogs sitting on an outdoor patio

What Are the Most Dog Friendly Cities?

Now that we know what to look for in a dog-friendly city, here are some of the best cities as determined by our dog advisors:

Portland, Oregon

Every dog-friendly list on the internet lists Portland as one of their favorite dog-friendly destinations, and with good reason. Portland has the highest ratio of dog parks to people in the United States, with 5.7 dog parks per every 100,000 residents. This means that there is plenty of space for your dog to run around in, and that’s without exploring the beautiful forests and mountains surrounding the city.

Plus, Portland is a walkable city, meaning that there is ample opportunity to take Fido out on a walk. There’s even plenty of bars and restaurants that are pet-friendly, some even allowing you to bring your dog indoors. If you have a dog, Portland is the place to be!

San Diego, California

Unlike some of our other choices on this list, San Diego is not the most walkable city. It’s hard to get anywhere without a car. But what dog doesn’t love a good car ride, especially when they get to go explore beautiful southern California beaches.

Many of San Diego’s beaches allow dogs either on leash or off leash, which means that your dog can spend a nice summer day playing frisbee on the sand or splashing in the waves. San Diego is home to one of the first dog-friendly beaches in the country, and that love is further shown in how many parks and dog-friendly restaurants the city also has to offer.

Dog sitting in middle of forest

Boston, Massachusetts

Considering New England’s infamously frigid beaches, Boston might not seem like a likely hub for dog lovers. Yet, BeanTown is a great place to raise a dog. The entire city is filled with great places to take your dog too, from the beautiful Public Gardens in the downtown area to the Esplanade along the Charles River.

Boston is also home to plenty of dog parks and off leash areas. Every evening, the dog owners of central Boston take their dogs to the Boston Common for some unleashed action, making it a great opportunity for you and your dog to socialize with other dog owners and their owners. It’s even a common activity for the local college students to take study breaks at the nearest dog park, which makes Boston a great city for social, adventurous dogs!

Austin, Texas

Like some of our other picks, Austin is a great city for anyone who wants plenty of chances to get your dog up and explore the great outdoors. Not only is it home to plenty of parks and walking trails, but it’s also home to Red Bud Isle, which is a dog-exclusive swimming spot. That’s certainly one way to beat the heat!

Austin is also famous for its food, and Fido won’t be excluded from this one. There are over two-hundred and fifty dog friendly restaurants you can take your dog to. At this rate, it’s a wonder as to how everyone hasn’t moved to Austin yet.

Asheville, North Carolina

What dog-friendly list would be complete without mentioning Asheville, also known as “Dog City, USA.” The people of Asheville love their dogs, so much so that there are nearly two hundred restaurants in the city alone that are pet-friendly. On top of that, there are more than enough dark parks and greenery for every single one of Asheville’s dog residents to have space to run around and have fun.

Asheville loves dogs so much that they have even opened up the first Dog Welcome Center in the United States. It features amenities like a pet potty-area, free goodybags, water fountains, and doggie ice cream. Plus it promotes the top 100 dog-friendly attractions in the city. Needless to say, Asheville is the home of the dog lovers.

While it’s important to make sure that your dog will feel at home in their new city, ultimately the best place for a dog to live is with a loving family. Whether they’re a small town gal or a city dog, if you have a dog at home, make sure they’re being fed the best food for them and that they get plenty of exercise throughout the day with fun activities like homemade obstacle courses and bike rides.
Mia Daniele

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Mia Daniele

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

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