The Best Cities for Dog Owners in 2020

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 43 million households in the U.S. own at least one dog, making it the most popular pet choice in America. However, not all cities are created equal when it comes to the happiness of both pet and owner.

We at PetListed set out to find these top cities. To do this, we studied five different data sets that covered the 100 most populous cities across America. These metrics included city walkability, proximity to greenspace for residents, the abundance of parks in a city, median rent prices, and number of dog friendly restaurants. The result of our analysis was a comprehensive scoring system that ranked the best places to be a dog owner in 2020.

Top 10 Nationwide Results

best cities for dog owners 2020

1. St. Louis, MO

St. Louis topped our list as the best city for dog owners in the U.S., coming in strong across all metrics we tracked. St. Louis has 257 different parks to choose from, with over 95% of the resident population having access within a ten minute walk. Furthermore, affordable rent prices at $950 for a one bedroom, a highly walkable infrastructure, and an abundance of dog-friendly establishments added to its allure for dog owners.

2. Washington, DC

Washington DC came in second place on our list, scoring high in walkability, greenspace, and dog friendly establishments. The city’s 99.3 parks per 100,000 residents was the 6th highest of any city we studied. While landing strong in most metrics, DC was held back from the top spot because of expensive rent prices at $2,050 for a one bedroom.

3. Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque came in as the third best city in our study. Despite scoring average marks in walkability, over 87% of the resident population can actually reach a park within a ten minute walk. Where Albuquerque particularly shines in cost of living; median rent prices for a one bedroom apartment are an extremely affordable $740.

4. Chicago, IL

The Windy City came in fourth place on our list. Chicago landed in the 93rd percentile of all cities for walkability, 94th for greenspace proximity, and was the top destination for dog friendly restaurants. While rent prices have increased over the past few years, a median rent of $1,500 for a one bedroom remains relatively affordable compared to other major American cities.

5. Seattle, WA

Seattle came in strong across all of our metrics, with the exception of rent prices at $1,700 for a one bedroom. 96% of residents have easy access to one of the city’s 508 parks. Looking to grab some food with your dog? Seattle has 347 dog-friendly establishments, ranking in the 90th percentile of all cities we tested.

6. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh ranked in sixth place on our list, scoring high marks in particular for parks and greenspace proximity. In fact, 91% of the city’s residents have access to a park within a ten minute walk of their home. Pittsburgh also has 127 restaurants that are happy to accept pets along for dinner.

7. Boston, MA

Boston offers an incredible mix of bustling city alongside plentiful greenspace. This dog friendly city scored in the 97th percentile for walkability, 99th percentile for greenspace, and had the most parks per 100,000 residents of any major city in the country. The city slipped down our list slightly due to having one of the highest median rent prices in the country at $2,300 for a one bedroom. Still, Boston remains a great option for dog owners at seventh place.

8. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis was the eighth best city for dog owners this year. Though the city has slightly higher than average rent prices at $1,330, residents have many outdoor options to outweigh this. In fact, Minneapolis scored on the top end in overall walkability, resident greenspace proximity, and dog-friendly restaurants.

9. Buffalo, NY

Buffalo came in ninth on our list of the best cities for dog owners. This Upstate New York gem has 346 total parks, one of the highest amounts per resident of any city in the country. It also scored in the 84th percentile for walkability.

10. Cincinnati, OH

Rounding out the top ten our list is Cincinnati, Ohio. The city received an overall A grade in our study, scoring solid marks across all of the metrics we tested. One particularly shining spot was Cincinnati’s abundance of parks, as well as its affordable rent prices at $950 for a one bedroom.

Methodology

Our study drew datasets from multiple government and commercial sources in order to produce our ranking. The five ranking factors were:

  • Walkability
  • Greenspace Proximity
  • Parks per 100,000 residents
  • Rent Prices
  • Dog Friendly Restaurants

For each category, an index was derived based on the whole dataset and then weighted according to the importance of each column. That final weighted score was then sorted to find the top cities for dog owners. Below are the specific sources for each dataset.

Walkability Index

To better gauge the walkability of each city, WalkScore data was gathered in September 2020.

Greenspace Proximity Index

The underlying statistic to this index is the percentage of residents in a city that can walk to a park in 10 minutes or less. Data was taken from The Trust for Public Land.

Parks Per 100,000 Residents

The metric represents the amount of parks in a city per 100,000 residents. Park data was gathered from The Trust for Public Land, while population data was recorded from the most recent U.S. Census estimates.

Rent Prices

To understand the potential rent burden for a resident, data was gathered from Zumper’s most recent September 2020 National Rent Report, which analyzes 1 million active rental listings per month in the United States. Higher rent prices were weighed as a negative in our index calculation.

Dog Friendly Restaurants

The number of dog friendly restaurants was taken from BringFido.com in September 2020.

Full Dataset

RankCityStateWalkability IndexGreenspace Proximity IndexPark IndexRent IndexDog Friendly Restaurant IndexTotal ScoreGrade
1St. LouisMO809087766780.0A+
2WashingtonDC92949579175.7A+
3AlbuquerqueNM507779917574.1A+
4ChicagoIL9394532010074.0A+
5SeattleWA919280119073.3A+
6PittsburghPA778585545871.6A+
7BostonMA979910035971.5A+
8MinneapolisMN859275247771.3A+
9BuffaloNY848199623270.6A
10CincinnatiOH666592845370.3A
11PortlandOR808161299469.9A
12San FranciscoCA98996607669.4A
13PhiladelphiaPA949035278168.2A
14LincolnNE508586932367.2A
15New YorkNY100981519866.6A
16BaltimoreMD857757406966.5A
17DenverCO768363178565.7A
18ClevelandOH757358823465.0A
19MilwaukeeWI778344634964.9A
20ArlingtonVA85948465364.7A-
21St. PaulMN749493282963.7A-
22OmahaNE576974784263.6A-
23MadisonWI628997383163.0A-
24DetroitMI726965100862.9A-
25RichmondVA686582555062.8A-
26AtlantaGA625391269262.7A-
27New OrleansLA736969228062.4A-
28TucsonAZ463847968662.1B+
29MiamiFL947638137861.7B+
30Las VegasNV375470628360.2B+
31San DiegoCA686841149959.3B+
32SacramentoCA617364326258.6B+
33HonoluluHI794998166358.3B+
34NorfolkVA575781832058.2B+
35Long BeachCA897537195957.6B+
36OrlandoFL463890329357.2B+
37TampaFL663462508157.0B+
38St. PetersburgFL505777475756.2B+
39NewarkNJ96872347254.1B+
40Kansas CityMO174994655553.5B+
41Colorado SpringsCO235456676753.0B+
42AuroraCO508068392452.7B+
43DallasTX594927348952.6B+
44OaklandCA90774044252.5B+
45ColumbusOH372959915151.9B
46San JoseCA68675126651.3B
47BoiseID334976644151.2B
48GreensboroNC53888894650.8B
49Corpus ChristiTX375778761150.7B
50FresnoCA594460583550.4B
51HoustonTX622813479750.1B
52Jersey CityNJ998721101650.0B
53Virginia BeachVA144189526449.6B
54RenoNV285773702449.5B
55MesaAZ244272704449.0B
56RaleighNC92683548448.5B
57TulsaOK332950944048.3B
58AustinTX332942389647.2B
59GlendaleAZ335743741845.8B
60Los AngelesCA8333469545.7B
61AnchorageAK12579667645.5B
62Baton RougeLA372049814645.1B
63IrvineCA55695483645.0B
64BirminghamAL201667736144.8B
65El PasoTX372546962244.3B-
66MemphisTN241222897042.9B-
67San AntonioTX2897738741.0B-
68PlanoTX315730423740.9B-
69LubbockTX282431981939.8B-
70WichitaKS2020331002839.7B-
71LexingtonKY172032864639.6B-
72IrvingTX503448481738.5B-
73Oklahoma CityOK14628925638.1B-
74PhoenixAZ37152587237.4B-
75StocktonCA46541758337.2B-
76JacksonvilleFL3255687137.0B-
77Fort WorthTX173226436436.9B-
78IndianapolisIN9214867336.2B-
79LouisvilleKY14619717436.1B-
80HialeahFL8547133336.0C+
81ArlingtonTX242610813335.8C+
82Santa AnaCA8257513935.7C+
83AnaheimCA71438152935.1C+
84Fort WayneIN51439982034.1C+
85LaredoTX37232478132.7C
86BakersfieldCA24139892432.1C
87NashvilleTN4925427931.1C
88GarlandTX313416591031.0C
89DurhamNC51652513830.6C
90Winston-SalemNC1436813830.5C-
91Chula VistaCA46443418530.0C-
92FremontCA55472091229.8C-
93ChesapeakeVA0971621428.0C-
94CharlotteNC2512308827.1C-
95ChandlerAZ20342936625.5D
96HendersonNV91918501522.3D
97RiversideCA371611231320.5D
98ScottsdaleAZ1286225220.1D
99ParadiseNV620025017.4F
100GilbertAZ513362714.5F
Devin O'Brien
Devin O'Brien is a data science contributor at PetListed, and graduate of Cambridge University and the University of Connecticut. His data studies have been previously covered by The New York Times, Financial Times, NBC, CBS News, and Time. Devin is an avid pet lover, having grown up with two dogs and a cat.