Advertiser Disclosure

Ten Best Cities To Have a Dog

March 25, 2013
Personal Finance
Ten Best Cities to Have a Dog
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Many people love living in big cities, but what about our furry friends?  No dog lover wants to leave their dog in a cramped apartment all day without being able to let it run around every once in a while.  NerdWallet analyzed 50 cities to find places that are great for canines as well as humans.  Check out our list of walkable cities with low veterinary care costs and plenty of dog parks to see where your dog can get fresh air and playtime while you get to live in a big city.

NerdWallet calculated the best cities for dog owners according to the following questions:

  1. Can your dog easily play and socialize?  We included the number of off-leash dog parks per 100,000 residents.
  2. Can you afford to have a dog?  We proxied affordability by the cost of a vet visit.  Although there are other costs involved in owning a dog, such as food, toys and grooming, we used the cost of a vet visit to assess the relative cost of pet ownership between cities.
  3. Are there places to walk your dog? We included a walkability measure in the calculation to assess whether you could easily take your dog outside for walks.
For more information, check out our Cost of Living Calculator and City Life tool.

Ten best cities to have a dog

1.    Portland, OR

Portland has 32 off-leash dog parks, which is more than any other city except New York.  Vet visits are fairly cheap, and the city is walkable, so you can easily bring your pooch along on errands.  Portland dog owners have a variety of events available to them, including puppy romps and holiday parties.

2.    San Francisco, CA

San Francisco is a city for dog lovers.  With 27 total dog parks, there are plenty of options.  Many parks even have breed-specific events, such as Pug Sunday at Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights.

3.    Las Vegas, NV

Sin City is a great place for dogs, as evidenced by the city’s 4.4 dog parks per 100,000 residents and affordable pet care.  Desert Breeze Dog Park even has gated sections for small, medium and large-sized dogs, so you can let yours run off-leash in a safe environment.

4.    Miami, FL

Miami has well-priced veterinary care as well as a highly walkable layout, so you can easily fit walking your dog into your schedule, as a car is not necessary for many day-to-day activities in the city.  Miami’s Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department has 13 dog-friendly parks, and the Amelia Earheart Bark Park has five acres of walkways, benches and drinking fountains designed specifically for dogs.

5.    Washington, DC

DC is walkable, affordable for veterinary care and has plenty of dog parks, making it a great city for dog owners.  If your dog likes swimming, check out Shirlington Park or Glencarlyn Park, both of which offer clean streams for dogs who like to splash around.

6.    Seattle, WA

Seattle has it all—11 off-leash dog parks, somewhat affordable veterinary care and a walkable layout.  The 350-acre Warren G. Magnuson Park  includes an off-leash area, so you and your pooch can play on the shores of Lake Washington.

7.    St. Louis, MO

St. Louis has plenty of dog parks and a moderately walkable layout.  This pet-friendly city has plenty of restaurants and attractions that allow you to bring your dog, including the St. Louis Walk of Fame, Six Flags and Laumeier Sculpture Park.

8.    Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee has very low-cost veterinary care as well as a somewhat walkable layout.  Although there are not very many off-leash dog parks, the dog parks in Milwaukee are particularly good.  Granville Dog Park has plenty of wooded trails, a creek and hills for dogs to play on.

9.    Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis is a mecca for dog owners, with plenty of dog parks and affordable care.  There are plenty of events in the Twin Cities for dogs and their owners, including Doga (yoga with your dog!) and other gatherings.

10. Oakland, CA

Like nearby San Francisco, Oakland is also a great place to own a dog.  The city is sunny and walkable, with affordable veterinary care and several off-leash dog parks.  The East Bay has plenty of woods as well, so you can take your dog hiking in a Redwood forest.

Rank City Off-leash dog parks per 100,000 residents Walkability Score Cost of a vet visit Overall score for dog owners
1 Portland, OR 5.7 66 $51.03 78.7
2 San Francisco, CA 3.3 85 $56.06 74.3
3 Las Vegas, NV 4.4 49 $45.28 63
4 Miami, FL 0.7 73 $43.50 57.7
5 Washington, DC 1.2 73 $49.93 57.4
6 Seattle, WA 1.8 74 $63.50 54.7
7 St. Louis, MO 1.4 61 $45.00 53.3
8 Milwaukee, WI 0.5 61 $36.00 52.6
9 Minneapolis, MN 1.6 69 $59.35 52.4
10 Oakland, CA 0.7 68 $48.04 52.2


The overall score for dog owners was calculated from the following measures:

  1. Off-leash dog parks per 100,000 residents from The Trust for Public Land, 2011
  2. Cost of a vet visit from ACCRA Cost of Living Index
  3. Walkability Score from Walk Score

50 of the biggest U.S. cities were included in this analysis.