Dog running with stick in water.

15 Most Dog-Friendly Cities

Lauren Nowacki8 minute read
UPDATED: November 08, 2022

Of the 90.5 million American households that own a pet, 69 million own a dog. And for many households, dogs aren’t just a pet – they’re part of the family, they’re fur babies, they’re best friends. It’s no surprise that dog owners want to provide the best life for their pup – and these 15 most dog-friendly cities may be the best places to do it. 

Finding The Most Dog-Friendly Cities

The researchers at used the following metrics to determine the rankings for the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S.:

  • Number of local pet stores
  • Number of local off-leash dog parks
  • Number of local veterinarians
  • Number of local parks and green spaces
  • Number of local walking/hiking trails
  • If there are local restrictions on certain breeds
  • If the state has legislation to restrict local breed bans

Metros with cities banning specific breeds were filtered from our study. Points were awarded to the 18 states that restrict cities from banning specific dog breeds. The number of local resources including off-leash dog parks, veterinarians, parks and green spaces, pet stores and hiking trails are ranked by number per 100,000 residents.

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1. Portland, Maine

Portland Maine skyline

Portland has more pet stores per 100,000 residents than any other metro area in the country. The city has plenty of other ways for pet parents to spoil their pooch, too. There are more than 60 dog-friendly restaurants, cafes and breweries in the area where pups can hang out on a patio or enjoy a meal with their owner. Meanwhile, adventurous animals will love exploring the city on one of its pet-friendly trolley, train or boat tours.

2. Eugene, Oregon

Eugene Oregon offices.

Resident dog owners have plenty of space to let their dogs expel energy in Eugene, which is also our best place for hikers to live. The city ranks in the top 15% of the country for its number of parks, green spaces and hiking trails, with various terrain and habitats, including forests, wetlands and grasslands. Four-legged friends are also welcome at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum, Saginaw Vineyard and the historic homestead, Wayne Morse Family Farm.

3. Fort Collins, Colorado

Fort Collins, Colorado plaza.

A little over an hour from Denver is Fort Collins, a city that ranks in the top 1% of the country for walking and hiking trails per 100,000 residents. Hikers can opt for any type of trail, from beginner to expert, secluded and off-the-leash to public, on-leash trails and everything in between. For less intense outings, residents can bring their pets to several dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, stores, banks, boutiques and even a putt-putt place.

4. Ventura, California

Ventura California ocean view.

Ventura is so dog-friendly that resident pups have their own city reps known as “Ambassadogs.” The representation may be one of the reasons the city ranks in the top 5% of the country for number of dog parks. Along with the eight off-leash parks in the area, the dog-friendly city welcomes canines at many of its public parks and shopping areas and most of its beaches and piers. And Ventura County as a whole allows pets in all of its downtown areas.

5. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina city view.

Ranking in the top 5% for the number of local veterinarians and pet stores, Asheville prioritizes pet care and ensures dogs are happy and healthy – and feeling welcomed. Nicknamed “Dog City, USA,” Asheville even hosts a Dog Welcome Center, the first of its kind in the United States. There, dog lovers can find free goody bags, doggy ice cream and information on all the dog-friendly features, attractions and amenities in the city.

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6. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon in the fall.

Each of the 49 off-leash parks in Portland’s metro area has something different – from fenced-in spaces and agility structures to indoor and outdoor areas and bars serving beer, wine and cider to human visitors. Along with trips to the park, there are many activities for dog owners and their best friends, including a monthly pit bull parade, movies in the park, a Doggy Dash around Portland’s waterfront and a holiday light show with a pet holiday costume contest.

7. Canton, Ohio

Canton Ohio pond.

With more than 100 independent and chain pet stores, the Canton metro area ranks in the top 5% of the country for its number of local pet shops available to residents. Of the independent pet stores, you’ll find local favorites that have been around for decades and offer great service, quality products and even delivery, boarding options and rescue services to animals in need.

8. Ormond Beach, Florida

Ormond Beach, Florida beach.

The Ormond Beach metro area has more dog parks per 100,000 residents than 93% of the country. The parks offer acres of open space, along with shaded shelters, agility courses and water stations. And while Volusia County doesn’t allow pets on the ocean-fronting beaches, they are allowed on the nearby Daytona Beach Boardwalk and there are two dog-friendly beaches within 20 miles of the city.

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado mountain scene.

Colorado Springs is home to the state’s only restaurant where dining indoors with your dog is legal. Pub Dog is a restaurant, dog park and bar all in one, where dogs are welcomed both indoors and outside. The unique restaurant isn’t the only testament to how dog-friendly the city is. Colorado Springs ranks in the top 5% for the number of local veterinarians and also has a ton of trails and national parks, including the Garden of the Gods, where dogs are invited to roam.

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10. Stamford, Connecticut

Stamford Connecticut stream.

Along with being named one of the best places to raise a family due to its magnitude of parks and green spaces, the Stamford-Norwalk-Bridgeport metro area also ranks as one of the best places to own a dog due to the number of dog parks per 100,000 residents. At one of the many parks and beaches, dogs can run free, and owners can enjoy scenic views of harbors, gardens, rivers or urban forests. Connecticut is also home to many dog-freindly businesses, like hotels and restaurants.

11. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan cityscape.

Home to the University of Michigan and the Waterloo State Recreation Area, Ann Arbor has plenty of paths for dogs to wander – so much so that the metro area ranks in the top 10% for its abundance of walking and hiking trails per 100,000 residents. After a nice jaunt through campus or the thousands of acres of wetlands and forests, pups can visit Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. and pick from a menu curated just for canines – with such entrees as bacon bites or the Pup Patty cheeseburger.

12. San Diego, California

San Diego, California cityscape.

Dogs that love to feel the sand between their paws may live their best life in San Diego, where dog-friendly beaches abound. There are plenty of on-leash and off-leash beaches to choose from, including one of the first official leash-free beaches in the United States, Ocean Beach Dog Beach. At Del Mar Beach, pups can hang ten at the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon, an annual surfing competition for dogs that raises money for orphan pets and programming at Helen Woodward Animal Center.

13. Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara, California mountain view.

Santa Barbara ranks in the top 5% of the country for number of walking trails and dog parks per 100,000 residents. Pets can get their exercise on miles of trails, go on an architectural walking tour or run alongside the waves on Butterfly Beach. Along with parks, harbors, botanic gardens and downtown cafes, Santa Barbara canines are also welcome at many of the wineries within the city and out in wine country.

14. Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota, Florida city at sunset.

Sarasota offers so many dog-friendly activities, resident pups will never get bored. From renting dog-friendly kayaks or standup paddleboards to partying on the Hawaiian-themed, dog-friendly Sarasota Minibus, dogs can have a unique experience in the city. On Saturdays, pooches can peruse the stands at the Sarasota Farmers Market, an open-air farmers market that welcomes dogs and is open every Saturday, 52 weeks a year.

15. Port St. Lucie, Florida

Port Saint Lucie, Florida sky view.

Located between Orlando and Miami, Port St. Lucie ranks in the top 10% of the country for its abundance of veterinarians per 100,000 residents. That means residents will be able to offer their dog quality pet care that keeps them healthy. Also enhancing their quality of life are the many amenities the city has to offer, like pet-friendly parks, restaurants and breweries. And just outside of town, on Hutchinson Island, Walton Rocks Beach and Dog Park invites four-legged friends to frolic off the leash on its 24 acres of beach dedicated to dogs.

Summary: The Best Dog Places Have the Best Dog Amenities

Many will notice that the cities where dogs are most loved have many of the same amenities, including dog-friendly restaurants, multiple dog parks and an abundance of places to care for your pet. Many also have pet-friendly hotels and rentals for out-of-town visitors who are not necessarily looking to buy real estate or live in the area. Just like humans, a dog’s quality of life is highly influenced by its surroundings, and these cities make a great effort in ensuring a positive experience for dogs and their owners.

Methodology: Finding The Most Dog-Friendly Cities

In this study, we celebrate the metropolitan areas where people have the resources to care for their furry friends and live their best lives together.

The places analyzed in our study are all the U.S. metropolitan areas greater than one million in population. These 150 metro areas are home to nearly three-quarters (74%) of all U.S. residents. Metropolitan areas are particularly useful for our rankings because they include not only each area's major cities but also the surrounding counties which include the suburbs.

The team at collected and analyzed statistics in seven key measures which give insights into resources available for residents to ensure their dog is happy and healthy. We chose metrics that are as current as possible and as detailed as possible to provide the most relevant insight. In one case, we used state-level data because policies are made at the state level and affect the entire state.

Each data metric is normalized and transformed to a common range of 0-100 points for scoring and comparison. Weights are applied to each metric, which reflects its importance in the study.  The weighted scores for each metric are summed to create the overall dog-friendly score for each place. The final scores are sorted to produce the final rankings.





Local pet stores



Factual Data Inc, Points of Interest (POI) data set, 2020

Local off-leash dog parks


Metro, Factual Data POI data set, 2020

Local veterinarians



Factual Data Inc, Points of Interest (POI) data set, 2020

Parks/green space



Factual Data Inc, Points of Interest (POI) data set, 2020

Walking/hiking trails



Open Street Map 2021 - BestPlaces analysis

Local restrictions on certain breeds



U.S. Cities, Counties with Breed-Specific Laws, December 2019,

State legislation to restrict local breed bans



Map, States Prohibiting Breed-Specific Legislation, April 2020,

Number of local dog-friendly establishments



Number of American households that own a dog



2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey

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Lauren Nowacki

Lauren is a Content Editor specializing in personal finance and the mortgage industry. Her writing focuses on reporting the best places to live in the U.S. based on certain interests and lifestyles. She has a B.A. in Communications from Alma College and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.