Top-20 North American Cities for Dog Owners in 2019

Whether it is for vacation or you want to permanently move to a certain area, one of the important things that dog owners want to consider is “how dog-friendly is this city?”

We have compiled a list of the top 10 dog-friendly cities in North America plus 10 other honourable mentions that are very notable in their friendliness to dog owners.

top-20 north american cities for dogs

We researched over 300 North American cities. The criteria for our grading is the:

  • a number of dog parks or parks that generally allow leashed or unleashed pets to go out and play per capita (max score 100)
  • dog beaches or beaches that allow leashed or unleashed dogs per capita (max score 100)
  • a number of active veterinary service in the city, including cities that have 24-hour pet service available (max score 100)
  • dog-friendly activities such as hiking (max score 100)
  • a number of dog-friendly restaurants that allow pets to come in (max score 100)
  • a general climate of the city

Top-20 North American Dog-Friendly Cities in 2019

  1. Portland, Oregon

oregon dog park
A dog park at Revolution Hall (Washington High School), Stark Street & 14th Avenue, SE Portland, Oregon // Wikipedia

Hands down, Portland in Oregon is one of the best cities in North America for me. It has more dog parks per capita than any major city in the US. Most of its beaches, except a few ones, allow dogs as long as they are on a leash and a lot of them allow dogs without leashes. A quick google search would give you a lot of veterinary service in the area, but most of them do not list operating hours with a generous listing of clinics that are open for 24 hours and are very cheap. You will not have a hard time looking for dog-friendly activities in Portland from hiking, sips of coffee, drinking in bars and bringing them into trails. The restaurants are also dog-friendly with most of them even having doggy hours for your pets. Even the climate is more relaxed as compared to other cities in the Northwest. Plus the city is very walkable both for owners and dogs. Council Crest Park, Portland International Raceway Dog Park have great reviews and Wildwood Trail Forest Park is great for hiking.

  • Dog parks: 92.21
  • Dog beaches: 88.19
  • Health Services for dogs: 82.33
  • Activities for dogs: 90.17
  • Dog-Friendly restaurants: 64.2
  • Climate: 4.6/5 stars

Total dog friendliness score for Portland, OR: 83.38

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  1. Carmel-by-the-sea, California

dog beach at Carmel-by-the-Sea
The beach on a sunny afternoon at Carmel-by-the-Sea // Wikipedia

Carmel-by-the-sea in California is also one of the more known dog-friendly places in North America with more than a couple of dozen off leash and leashed dog parks. It is also known for Carmel Beach and Mission Trails parks which are very dog-friendly as long as you follow the rules. The veterinary service, especially the ones with 24-hour services needs a lot of boosts though. Although there are a lot of nearby clinics, an additional bunch in the Carmel-by-the-sea area would not hurt a bit. Despite that, there are an abundance of activities for dogs in Carmel-by-the-sea, from jogging and hiking in their famous beach and river-beaches to surfing and visiting the central business districts who have stores and shops that allow dogs inside. Carmel-by-the-sea is also known as a top tier dog-friendly restaurant city worthy of a five-star rating. The climate in the city is warm and temperate, perfect for most breeds of dogs. Mission Trail Park is a great hiking area in Carmel and William Pacchetti Dog Park earns some of the best reviews online for off-leash dog parks.

  • Dog parks: 90.27
  • Dog beaches: 85.5
  • Health Services for dogs: 85.3
  • Activities for dogs: 86.12
  • Dog-Friendly restaurants: 62.2
  • Climate: 4.5/5 stars

Total dog friendliness score for Carmel-by-the-sea, CA: 81.86

  1. Austin, Texas

austin texas no. 3 dog friendly city
Source: Wikipedia

Another notable dog-friendly city is Austin in the state of Texas. They have some of the highest rated on and off-leash parks in America like their famous Metropolitan Park at Walnut Creek and the Mary Moore Searight Metro Park. Austin has a lot of dog-friendly beaches, the only reason why it has such low grade is that the rules are sometimes confusing for their beaches especially when it comes to on leash or off leash rules. But there are tons of places where dogs can swim in. But their hiking trails are to die for with some of their trails perfect for off-leash activities and most have swimming spots for your pet. There are also more than 400 dog-friendly restaurants in the city with some dedicated to dogs alone. Climate, however, is very tricky especially in the winter time as some dogs have been reported to have suffered and even died mainly because of lack of monitoring from their owners. West Austin Dog Park and Red Bud Isle are great dog parks and Barton Greek Greenbelt Preserves is amazing with hiking trails near the water for your dogs.

  • Dog parks: 90.41
  • Dog beaches: 80.55
  • Health Services for dogs: 86.31
  • Activities for dogs: 87.19
  • Dog-Friendly restaurants: 60.2
  • Climate: 3.7/5 stars

Total dog friendliness score for Austin, TX: 80.9

  1. Cannon Beach, Oregon

dog walking at cannon beach
Source: daveynin / flickr

Cannon Beach in Oregon might not have that much number of dog parks and dog beaches as compared to other cities in this list, but they have some of the most relaxed rules, most of the parks are off leash and most of the beaches require a six-inch leash at least, and dogs are off leash in the water provided they are under voice command. They have a lot of veterinary services, but none has been listed as 24/7 open. And the few dog-friendly restaurants that they have seems to enjoy very, very high ratings. Hiking and eating seem to be the top activities for dogs in Cannon Beach and the climate tends to be on the wet and rainy side most of the time. The Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach is a great dog park and hiking beach for you and your pets.

  • Dog parks: 73.41
  • Dog beaches: 91.51
  • Health Services for dogs: 86.3
  • Activities for dogs: 89.12
  • Dog-Friendly restaurants: 64
  • Climate: 4.2/5 stars

Total dog friendliness score for Cannon Beach, OR: 80.9

  1. Tampa, Florida
dog beach in Florida
Source: KarstenBergmann / Pixabay

Florida generally is a great place for dogs, and that is the same with Tampa. They have an abundance of great dog parks and beaches. The best ones are Davis Island Dog Beach and Picnic Island Beach Dog Park. Tampa is also in dire need of additional veterinary services especially the 24-hour open kind. Being that Tampa is generally dog-friendly, there are also a lot of activities available for dogs in the area including trail hikes, visiting vineyards and biking. The Rowlett Dog Park is also a great place where you can let your pets roam around free from a leash, it is both a park and a huge nature preserve.

  • Dog parks: 92.4
  • Dog beaches: 85.5
  • Health Services for dogs: 66.3
  • Activities for dogs: 85.1
  • Dog-Friendly restaurants: 65.5
  • Climate: 4.3/5 stars

Total dog-friendliness score for Sonoma County, CA: 78.96

  1. Vancouver, BC, Canada
crab park for dogs vancouver
Crab Park. Source: GoToVan / Flickr

It was hard to rank Canadian cities in this rating due to the harsh Canadian climate. Not for Vancouver though! This city is almost a dog owner paradise, but it is extremely hard to find a dog-friendly rental property or find a dog-friendly restaurant. Vancouver offers a wide array of off-leash and on leash parks. And while some beaches are closed for dogs, there are tons of other choices like Crab Park, Hadden Park or Buntzen Lake. Although they have a lot of vets and health services, they could use a few more that are open 24-hours a day parks and national reserves are generally dog-friendly so activities are sure to abound, while restaurants inside parks generally allow dogs. The weather is rainy for the most part of the year.

  • Dog parks: 92.4
  • Dog beaches: 88.5
  • Health Services for dogs: 81.3
  • Activities for dogs: 89.1
  • Dog-Friendly restaurants: 35.5
  • Climate: 4/5 stars

Total dog friendliness score for Vancouver, Canada: 77.36

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  1. San Diego, California

san diego is dog friendly city
Source: Wikipedia

Another California city, San Diego has no shortage of great dog parks, and its dog-friendly beaches both in the city and nearby areas provide great relief for water-loving canines. 24-hour animal centers and veterinarian clinics are also abundant and there is no wanting when it comes to activities that are friendly for dogs from hiking to dog bakeries, aqua sports, and recreational areas. The climate is pretty solid and stable in San Diego in the past years, but with the effects of climate change, the San Diego Humane Society even issued a warning for pet owners during the cold weathers. All in all, it is a great spot for dogs. There is no shortage of dog parks in San Diego like the Doyle Community Dog Park and the Kearney Mesa Dog Park. Personally, we like the Balboa Park for our hiking fix.

  • Dog parks: 86.2
  • Dog beaches: 87.9
  • Health Services for dogs: 85.1
  • Activities for dogs: 75.1
  • Dog-Friendly restaurants: 52.1
  • Climate: 4.4/5 stars

Total dog friendliness score for San Diego, CA: 77.28

  1. Lake George, New York

lake george great place for dog owners
Source: Wikipedia

It’s hard not to make it in this list if you have a Lake George Dog Park and a separate Lake George Dog Beach, and that’s what makes Lake George in New York stand out. What it lacks in numbers it makes up for in quality. Sadly there’s no animal care facility immediately in the area, but there are a lot of them surrounding Lake George. Kayaking, trail hikes and runs in the park are a great pastime for your dogs in Lake George, and there is no shortage for dog-friendly restaurants. The Canalway Trail-Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trail is a perfect New York dog trail for hikes and the Lake George Dog Park is the main park to be in when in Lake George.

  • Dog parks: 90.1
  • Dog beaches: 92.5
  • Health Services: 39.5
  • Activities: 91.9
  • Restaurants: 69.2
  • Climate: 3.7/5

Total dog friendliness score for Lake George, NY: 76.94

  1. Chicago, Illinois

chicago city
Source: quinntheislander / Pixabay

Chicago is a fan favourite when it comes to dog-friendly cities, it has great dog parks and the city parks office allow off-leash dogs in most areas. Most of its beaches are generally off-limits but areas that allow dogs on and off leash are amazing like the Montrose Harbor, Belmont Harbor, and Foster Avenue dog beaches to name a few. Take note they have a members-only beach in Evanston Dog Beach (Google Page recently stated that park is closed). Be careful though, this year climate has been very rough and cold in Chicago. Jackson Bark is the main dog park while people love the old railways turned hike trails, we love the Chicago Riverwalk for as our preferred hike path.

  • Dog parks: 84.4
  • Dog beaches: 81.9
  • Health Services: 84.3
  • Activities: 69.4
  • Restaurants: 58.21
  • Climate: 3.2/5

Total dog friendliness score for Chicago, IL: 75.64

  1. Tucson, Arizona

Archie Running Dog Park in Tucson
Archie Running Dog Park in Tucson. Source: Donna Sutton / flickr

Tucson has some of the best dog parks in North America, wide open spaces that have high ratings and a lot of varieties you can choose from. And the Arizona River provides a great backdrop for possible hidden beaches and off-leash swimming spots for dogs, especially while hiking. Great distribution of animal care clinics and a whole lot of them are open 24-hours a day. You can bring your dogs to the Pima Air and Space Museum or hikes at the Catalina State Park or go to Barrio Brewing Company. Heat can be bad for your pets especially when it reaches triple-digit temperatures in Tucson. Agua Caliente Hill and Sweetwater Preserve Trailhead are great trails for me and my dogs while the Agua Caliente and the McDonald Off-leash Park are great dog parks to visit.

  • Dog parks: 85.49
  • Dog beaches: 73.12
  • Health Services: 77.33
  • Activities: 71.12
  • Restaurants: 58.99
  • Climate: 2.8/5

Total dog friendliness score for Tucson, AZ: 73.21

Other notable mentions as top cities for dog owners are:

  1. Sonoma County, California – Oat Hill Mine offers a great view of the California wine country pets are allowed off-leash if under voice command. The Alston Park is also a great place where you can let your pets roam around free from a leash, it is both a park and a huge nature preserve. (Total dog friendliness score 73.12)
  2. Lexington, Kentucky – great walking potentials for dogs, low-cost deposits for homes (73.01)
  3. San Francisco, California-Known for their DogFest and large dog meetup groups (72.91)
  4. New York, New York – Tons of dog-friendly restaurant and 800 acres of Central Park (72.88)
  5. Albuquerque, New Mexico – Tons of public parks, nice dry weather, great hike trails (72.59)
  6. Las Vegas, Nevada – dog-friendly restaurants and hotels, outdoor dog-friendly (71.25)
  7. Denver, Colorado – dogs are allowed in most cinemas, great for dog wellness and health (70.91)
  8. Minneapolis, Minnesota – White Dog Beach, Dog Yoga and lots of dog attractions (70.75)
  9. Sacramento, California – Dog bakeries, dog-friendly hotels (70.04)
  10. Sedona, Arizona – Pet-friendly trails and dog-friendly parks (69.88)

READ ALSO: 17 Best Interactive Dog Toys under $30 In 2019

Author: Mark Braeden

Mark is the dog breeder for 16 years. Mark also has 4 dogs: Alaskan Malamute, Clumber Spaniel, Irish Terrier and Mutt. Mark also into latest technologies and he is trying all the latest dog gadgets on the market and sharing his experience.

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