Planning on moving your pack to the big cities in North America? Let’s face it - we all know that dogs are a person’s best friend. Their quality of life matters just as much, if not more so than your own. So if you’re planning on packing up and moving somewhere new, chances are you’ll want to know if your pooch will love the concrete jungle too.
And rest assured, you’re not alone - a recent study conducted by realtor.com found that almost 80% pet owners factored their pet when choosing which home or apartment to live in.
In today’s post we’ll be sharing our rankings for the best and least dog-friendly big cities in North America based on the ten most populated cities in the USA and in Canada combined.
Factors to Evaluate Dog-Friendly Cities
We based our rankings on several key factors that most pet owners looking to move cities would look for. To keep the data as objective as possible, we chose to only use key factors where data was readily available from publicly tracked sources for each of the cities too.
We ranked the cities based on the following criteria:
Number of dog parks per 100,000 residents (40%)
Number of dog-friendly restaurants per 100,000 residents (20%)
Number of dog-friendly shopping centres per 100,000 residents (20%)
Number of pet stores and veterinarians per 100,000 residents (20%)
See our full methodology for more information and insights on these pet-accessibility factors.
We’ll also go over other considerations like walkability, and temperature that didn’t make our criteria requirements, but might be useful for pet parents to consider when looking to move to a new city.
The 10 Most Dog-Friendly Cities in North America
Where’s the most dog-friendly city in North America to move to? If you’re looking to move to a big city, then be sure to put San Diego in California at the top of the list. With a high percentage of dog parks, pet stores, and veterinarian establishments within the city, this American city takes the top scores when it comes to pet accessibility features.
Planning on staying in Canada or moving up north (We’re friendly eh!?) ? You’ll also find Vancouver in British Columbia an exceptionally dog-friendly city too, ranking as the second best dog-friendly city in North America.
The 10 Most Dog-Friendly Cities in North America in 2023
|1||San Diego, CA||88.53|
|5||San Jose, CA||53.37|
|8||San Antonio, TX||49.00|
The most dog-friendly city in the US and across North America is San Diego, CA
San Diego has the highest concentration of pet stores, veterinarians, and dog-friendly restaurants per 100,000 residents - making this a perfect city for the social dog owner!
The most dog-friendly city in Canada is Vancouver, BC - which has the second highest overall number of dog-friendly restaurants across all 20 cities
Despite having 5 of the most populated Canadian cities in Ontario, the only city in Ontario that made it to the Top 10 list across North America was Ottawa
The Least Dog-Friendly Cities in North America (2023)
Between the 10 most populated cities in the US and the 10 most populated cities in Canada, 3 of the least pet-accessible cities are based in Canada.
|16||Los Angeles, CA||26.76|
|18||New York, NY||19.82|
If you’re a pet owner or someone planning on moving to one of these major cities in North America, it may be time to advocate for changes to make you and your pets feel more at home.
The least dog-friendly city overall is Brampton - with some of the lowest ratios of dog parks per 100,000 residents, dog-friendly shopping centres, and pet stores and veterinarians
The least pet-accessible city in the US is also the country’s most densely populated one too - New York. Ranking at number 18 of 20 for dog-friendliness in our scoring. With such a massive population, and dense area, New York has one of the lowest concentrations of dog parks and dog-friendly shopping centres for its population
Similar to New York, Toronto’s dense population brings it’s scoring factors down to lower end of the scoring with the city sitting at the second least dog-friendly city in our list
Note: While these cities are ranked the lowest from our studies, our ranking doesn’t reflect the various qualitative factors that go into the definition of pet-accessible cities too. Factors like the overall quality of pet care, or even the lengths pet parents are willing to go to for their animals aren’t covered in our rankings! Our rankings are only a fraction of the whole story and reveal some of the pet-accessibility factors you may face moving to a new city.
Full Ranking of the Most and Least Dog-Friendly Cities in North America 2023
Here is the full table below to see how each of the cities rank in this year’s analysis.
|1||San Diego, CA||USA||88.53|
|5||San Jose, CA||USA||53.37|
|8||San Antonio, TX||USA||49.00|
|16||Los Angeles, CA||USA||26.76|
|18||New York, NY||USA||19.82|
Other Factors and Considerations for Dog-Friendly Cities
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to finding the most dog-friendly cities for your pet companion. We’ve highlighted some of the key components where we could obtain shared, quantitative data with you, but there are also plenty of other qualitative factors you should consider before deciding whether or not a city is pet-accessible.
Here are some other factors that are worth looking into - whether it’s asking friends or family in the city or even asking public forums to help you determine if the city is right for you and your canine friend:
Walkability - How easy is it to walk your dog in the city? Are there accessible pedestrian sidewalks that connect most of the city to get you from where you live to your destination? Are there parks and recreational trails nearby that you can enjoy with your dog on a leash?
Public Transportation - Is the public transit system pet-friendly?
Climate - Does it rain a lot in the year? How hot does the summer get? How cold are the winters? These are all factors that can affect how frequently you take your pet out with you in the city and whether your pup will enjoy it’s time in the city too.
Quality of Pet Care - Do the people in the city care about their pets like family? Are there affordable and quality veterinary services where you plan to move to? What about emergency vet clinics?
Pet-Friendly Rentals and Homes - How difficult is it to move to the city and rent an apartment or home if you’re bringing pets? Are there size restrictions, breed restrictions that could affect your ability to move to this city?
Data and Methodology
We ranked each city on the dog-friendly factors below.
The data was normalised by 100,000 residents for each city population. The higher the number, the more concentrated that factor is.
We added these factors together based on their different weights to obtain our overall score for each city for ranking purposes.
Base City Selection
To determine the cities used in our ranking system, we selected the ten most populated cities in the US and in Canada respectively.
US city populations were based on data found from The 200 Largest Cities in the United States by Population 2023 by World Population Review - accessed in January 2023.
Canadian city populations were based on data found on the Canadian City Population and Dog Parks - accessed in January 2023.
Number of dog parks per 100,000 residents (40% score)
This metric has double the weight as other factors as densely populated cities are tight on space and off-leash space is likely one of the most looked for features for dog owners moving to a new city.
Dog park data for US-listed cities were collected via Trust for Public Land’s 2022 Amenities and Facilities Report - accessed January 2023.
Dog park data for Canadian-listed cities were collected via the Canadian City Population and Dog Parks
The top 5 cities for having the most dog parks per 100,000 residents went to all Canadian cities:
|Rank||City||Dog Park / 100,000 Residents Score|
Number of dog-friendly restaurants per 100,000 residents (20% score)
This is the number of restaurants that allow dogs in outdoor seating areas. Data for all cities comes from BringFido.com and was accessed in January 2023
US cities take the top 10 spots for having the most dog-friendly restaurants in their cities - here are the top 5 results
Vancouver has the most dog-friendly restaurants for its population, followed by Ottwa, Calgary, and then Edmont
|Rank||City||Dog-Friendly Restaurants / 100,000 Residents Score|
|1||San Diego, CA||40.69|
|5||San Antonio, TX||20.58|
Number of dog-friendly shopping centres per 100,000 residents (20% score)
This is the number of shopping centres that allow dogs. Data comes from BringFido and was accessed in January 2023.
Ottawa has the most dog-friendly shopping centres across all the populated cities in North America
Philadelphia has the most dog-friendly shopping centres in the US
Brampton, Hamilton, and Vancouver all tied for last place with 0 dog-friendly shopping centres in their cities
|Rank||City||Dog-Friendly Shopping Centres / 100,000 Residents|
|4||San Jose, CA||0.77|
Number of pet stores and veterinarians per 100,000 residents (20% score)
Both of the most populated cities in US and Canada respectively ranked for the lowest number of pet stores and veterinarians per 100,000 residents - with Toronto’s score of 11.95, and New York’s score of 11.98
Comparatively, Vancouver offers a significantly higher ratio with 67.04 pet stores and veterinarian establishments available for every 100,000 residents
|Rank||City||Pet Stores and Veterinarians / 100,000 Residents Score|
|2||San Diego, CA||44.16|
|4||San Jose, CA||36.67|
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