2021’s Best Cities for Dog Lovers

Closeup of African American woman holding black dog

Our dogs love us unconditionally, but how well do our local communities reciprocate that warmth and devotion to our BFFs (Best Furry Friends)?

LawnStarter ranked the 200 biggest U.S. cities to sniff out 2021’s Best Cities for Dog Lovers. We measured the puppy love in each city based on 22 key factors — from access to dog walkers, groomers, and trainers to the share of canine-friendly rental properties to the favorability of dog laws.

Check out the leaders of the pack (and the runts of the litter) in our ranking below, followed by some highlights and lowlights.

This coming International Dog Day, Aug. 26, give your pup a special T-R-E-A-T to show how much their companionship means to you.

Table of Contents

  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Ask the Experts
  4. Surprising Findings
  5. Methodology

City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

OVERALL RANKCityOverall ScoreHousing RankCommunity RankCare RankServices RankBusinesses Rank
1Hollywood, FL47.6191121471
2Fort Lauderdale, FL47.331857926
3Orlando, FL45.65781256812
4Pasadena, CA43.21138253680
5Alexandria, VA41.231501192024
6Torrance, CA41.11793265122
7Orange, CA41.0813640321109
8Tempe, AZ40.6510118171147
9Fullerton, CA40.3513320444117
10Savannah, GA38.98548132381
11Baton Rouge, LA38.07314276735
11Fort Collins, CO38.073678311322
13Huntington Beach, CA38.04130111427106
14Lakewood, CO37.8156561122110
15Garden Grove, CA37.5215519648192
16Springfield, MO37.292616941310
17Murfreesboro, TN37.081180291931
18Bellevue, WA36.891458108845
19Clarksville, TN36.59513872955
20Richmond, VA36.414432741820
21Miami, FL36.061864240549
22Escondido, CA34.9351502341158
23Corona, CA34.17591052717156
24Cary, NC34.1512732110630
25Naperville, IL33.8715771811040
26Eugene, OR33.55121102132653
27Salem, OR33.138469245790
28Pomona, CA33.05144262658170
29Knoxville, TN33.021814914983
30Spokane, WA32.949263662321
31Salt Lake City, UT32.915244754525
32Syracuse, NY32.78120136961101
33Oceanside, CA32.55109336140111
34Tampa, FL32.548886971419
35Dayton, OH32.5393826215124
36Tallahassee, FL32.4253188521013
37Chattanooga, TN32.396130101538
37Vancouver, WA32.39116110561273
39Tacoma, WA32.3582594632137
40Scottsdale, AZ32.32237186695
40Rancho Cucamonga, CA32.32108352289126
42Rochester, NY31.951071014152102
43Peoria, AZ31.94241203633147
44Tucson, AZ31.8650621153115
45Las Vegas, NV31.1117106166661
46Olathe, KS30.98913433114120
47Thornton, CO30.89551781625125
48Gilbert, AZ30.5232923884151
49Glendale, CA30.4162174593171
50Providence, RI30.2916541308085
51Irvine, CA30.151315920101133
52Reno, NV30.0743994282103
53Sunnyvale, CA30.04169342513575
54Glendale, AZ29.97871004847130
55Greensboro, NC29.61111821091656
56Metairie, LA29.55182768129100
57Pembroke Pines, FL29.41151147767174
58Ontario, CA29.38129873470135
59Santa Rosa, CA29.211345230117116
60Modesto, CA29.09157576742143
61Pasadena, TX29.07961623534169
62Atlanta, GA28.6963135124464
63Kansas City, KS28.5742111599095
64Arlington, VA28.518059614252
65Palmdale, CA28.481141533728165
66Lubbock, TX28.2858126925128
67Chandler, AZ28.25451147071132
68Frisco, TX28.21161864950105
69Cincinnati, OH28.0899751275637
70Lancaster, CA28.071021405429177
71Hayward, CA28.041773828137184
72Miramar, FL27.951701161297189
73Lexington, KY27.9365458016338
74Buffalo, NY27.8514121102102134
75Fremont, CA27.83153865189149
76Pittsburgh, PA27.82176251008733
77Elk Grove, CA27.75856653124176
77Overland Park, KS27.7571895812029
79Macon, GA27.7121921367334
80McKinney, TX27.5940155557992
81Colorado Springs, CO27.57611511132459
82Birmingham, AL27.5562183813916
83Yonkers, NY27.41192308343185
84Portland, OR27.25154271321239
85Mobile, AL27.241841457250
86Mesquite, TX27.171121134394153
87Mesa, AZ26.921063714692140
88Grand Rapids, MI26.74471091149174
89Newport News, VA26.687314639113104
90Paterson, NJ26.581732812859198
91Rockford, IL26.56137124636663
92Norfolk, VA26.421157211768129
93Fayetteville, NC26.32381711183091
94Nashville, TN26.18312318318041
95Oakland, CA26.15181687181154
96Amarillo, TX26.13801671233527
97Riverside, CA26.12708813863179
98Plano, TX26.04331367911677
99Tulsa, OK26.02228915710779
100St. Petersburg, FL25.95143745714481
101Boise, ID25.9249148859642
102Huntsville, AL25.913190897844
103Jersey City, NJ25.83198158285172
104Denver, CO25.821196712611248
105Killeen, TX25.8901756055119
106Santa Ana, CA25.621664171122181
107Hialeah, FL25.571959715100194
108Sacramento, CA25.52123841227587
109Austin, TX25.5179316416514
110Newark, NJ25.481494616354196
111Durham, NC25.41209814015064
112Minneapolis, MN25.391402415314770
113Midland, TX25.33681615113362
114Jackson, MS25.268194789886
115Shreveport, LA25.182713311112182
116Garland, TX25.1712411510662138
117Madison, WI25.07941377715011
118Oxnard, CA25.041564399146164
119San Bernardino, CA25.0212636135139173
120Albuquerque, NM24.892112715011846
120Joliet, IL24.8910310850169142
122Omaha, NE24.86695416713984
123Bridgeport, CT24.77175839164188
124Moreno Valley, CA24.769811712960191
125Salinas, CA24.671746447160190
126McAllen, TX24.62142954418268
127St. Louis, MO24.61322914719117
128Seattle, WA24.541611614318560
129Long Beach, CA24.461834710499123
130Akron, OH24.4212812214849157
131Worcester, MA24.341395315595168
132Winston-Salem, NC24.331015012017539
133Aurora, CO24.266012913186161
134Little Rock, AR24.1791631421117
135Lincoln, NE24.0311012310813026
136Santa Clarita, CA23.971048073178166
137Grand Prairie, TX23.87711688874167
138Aurora, IL23.867410494149183
139Augusta, GA23.854614312112851
140Sioux Falls, SD23.72661788413218
141Springfield, MA23.716448152109182
142Louisville, KY23.54914917416869
143Henderson, NV23.478316511076152
144Columbus, GA23.2325195987783
145Cape Coral, FL23.191481976437114
146Irving, TX23.049615810711565
147Chesapeake, VA22.973715912514867
148Raleigh, NC22.832814515915343
149Boston, MA22.691841416518789
149Toledo, OH22.6911194134138186
151Corpus Christi, TX22.621131571518357
151Virginia Beach, VA22.627713915810878
153Chula Vista, CA22.52118103119141180
154Fresno, CA22.2114565168131150
155Bakersfield, CA22.151591211568199
156New Orleans, LA22.1188919316223
157Baltimore, MD21.9512770162164128
158Charlotte, NC21.934113117615858
159Paradise, NV21.664810713319312
160Kansas City, MO21.533915617015466
161North Las Vegas, NV21.3399152112127195
162Anaheim, CA21.261609616911998
162Indianapolis, IN21.263516619012532
164Des Moines, IA21.2310515495166113
165San Diego, CA20.921466118617654
166Phoenix, AZ20.918185188170146
167Fontana, CA20.6152118116156197
168Arlington, TX20.5989164173103121
169Stockton, CA20.45163101105173175
170San Francisco, CA20.431899195197115
171San Antonio, TX20.3919173189143107
172Wichita, KS20.257617716012694
173Washington, DC20.221935116117736
174Cleveland, OH20.0617855184159148
175Montgomery, AL20.053019113716788
176Oklahoma City, OK19.996717217513672
177Fort Wayne, IN19.653419317910593
178Jacksonville, FL19.4475187182104127
179St. Paul, MN19.2115879138194162
180Houston, TX19.119514119814596
181Philadelphia, PA18.8619631181184159
182Milwaukee, WI18.77168112180157141
183El Paso, TX18.69125174154134136
184Memphis, TN18.675716019617297
185Dallas, TX18.4786144177186108
186Fort Worth, TX18.4572176187161112
187Anchorage, AK18.396419890171145
188Chicago, IL18.2519039191192139
189Columbus, OH18.05135132185174118
190San Jose, CA17.2916790171195144
191Honolulu, HI16.8919412814417976
192Los Angeles, CA16.8317168193196177
193Laredo, TX16.44172170172155160
194Brownsville, TX16.31147185178152163
195Enterprise, NV15.9829181192190131
196Port St. Lucie, FL15.71122196103188155
197Detroit, MI14.94187119194183193
198New York, NY14.9119722197198187
infographic showing best cities for dog lover

Highlights and Lowlights

Hollywoo(f), Florida: The Alpha

Every dog has its day, and for Hollywood, Florida, that’s today: The Diamond of the Gold Coast earns a gold star as 2021’s Best City for Dog Lovers. This Miami suburb gives a tail-wagging performance in three categories: Care (No. 1), Services (No. 4), and Community (No. 12). 

No dog? Hollywood boasts the most shelters per 100,000 residents. Constantly sick pup? This city also prioritizes hound health, taking third place in vets and animal hospitals and seventh for emergency care.

Where the city needs training: Dog-Friendly Housing (No. 191) and Businesses (No. 71). Hollywood beats out only three other cities when it comes to canine-friendly rental properties.

But Hollywood is not the only Sunshine State city that’s best in show. Neighboring Fort Lauderdale takes spot No. 2, while Orlando is the third most ideal city for fetching with Fido. 

California: The Golden (Retriever) State

Florida’s biggest cities might lead the pack, but California gives the Sunshine State a run for its money in this race. The Golden State claims more winning spots in the top 10 and 20 than any other state. 

At No. 4 overall, Pasadena trails Florida’s three top dogs, while Torrance and Orange trot along at Nos. 6 and 7, respectively. Fullerton, at No. 9, rounds out the California cities in the top 10.

The race slows down with Huntington Beach at No. 13, while Garden Grove finishes at an honorable 15th place. These rankings come at no surprise, considering The Golden State also dominated our ranking of the Best Dog Park Cities

If you’re looking to date someone who must love dogs, California will make your dog lover dreams come true.

New York City: Runt of the Litter

At No. 198 overall, New York City is the weakest of the pack in our ranking and one of the weakest when zooming in on individual categories and metrics.

The Big Apple ranks at the very bottom of Services and second to last in both Housing and Care. There’s no room for Spot to run around when you’re home — New York has the smallest average home square footage. And don’t count on restaurants and shops welcoming your pup — New York lands at a cold 187th place in Businesses.

Where the Big Apple (bow)wowed us: The city boasts a loyal dog community (No. 22) and the most dog-friendly laws in the nation. At No. 10, it’s one of the most walkable cities, too. Heel, Spot, heel.

Surprising Findings

Texas on a Tight Leash

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and that’s certainly the pattern in Texas. In an earlier LawnStarter ranking of the Best Dog Park Cities, The Lone Star State stood out for all the wrong reasons: Five of its biggest cities landed in the bottom 10, with Laredo coming in last place.

We hoped that was an isolated result, but our Dog Lovers ranking proved otherwise. Sixteen of the 23 Texas cities in our ranking finish in the bottom half, including the biggest: Austin at No. 109 and Houston in 180th place. 

Sisters Dallas and Fort Worth are also siblings in our ranking at Nos. 185 and 186, respectively. Laredo and Brownsville land in the bottom 10. Most up to snuff is Pasadena at No. 61. 

It’s clearly the state — not the dogs — that need training. Get your act together, Texas!

Tennessee Pride of Dogs

Tennessee is a rare breed when it comes to pup-friendly homes. Three Volunteer State cities claim the top 10 in the Housing category, with Murfreesboro in first place. Clarksville takes fifth, and Chattanooga lands at No. 6. 

Murfreesboro offers more pooch-welcome rental housing than another city in our ranking, as well as plenty of green space for Spot to rove about: It’s No. 7 for average yard square footage. Clarksville and Chattanooga also excelled in this metric, ranking fourth and fifth, respectively. Other Tennessee cities weren’t far behind. Knoxville takes 13th place and Nashville 24th.

Whether you’re giving your dog a home for the first time or rehoming them, Tennessee’s doors will be open.

Ask The Experts

It’s not exactly raining cats and dogs in America right now. Demand for “pandemic pups” continues to outpace supply as the Delta variant pawses daily life once again.

For insight into the future and helpful care tips, we asked the dog whisperers to weigh in.

  1. The shortage of “pandemic puppies” in the U.S. continues. When can Americans expect the dog supply to return to normal?
  2. With the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading, how can dog owners who rely on professional dog walkers and sitters keep themselves and their pups safe?
  3. What are your top three tips for helping dogs avoid separation anxiety as their owners’ pre-pandemic routines return to normal?
  4. What are your top three tips for caring for dogs while working from home?
  5. The surge in dog ownership during the pandemic has strained veterinary clinics. What alternative options are available to dog owners if their pup needs care?
Kris Hiney
Associate Professor
Molly H. Sumridge MS CDBC
Instructor of Anthrozoology
Kris Hiney
Associate Professor
Oklahoma State University

The shortage of “pandemic puppies” in the U.S. continues. When can Americans expect the dog supply to return to normal?

I wouldn’t say we have a shortage of dogs, we still have dogs in shelters from irresponsible owners. People that buy purebred dogs from quality breeders should expect to wait until the right dog is born.

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading, how can dog owners who rely on professional dog walkers and sitters keep themselves and their pups safe?

There has been very little evidence of transmission to dogs from humans. The best way to stay safe is to get vaccinated. Otherwise, outdoor activities like dog walking are very safe with much reduced risk of exposure.

What are your top three tips for helping dogs avoid separation anxiety as their owners’ pre-pandemic routines return to normal?

Establish a routine and practice leaving the dog for periods of time. Even when working from home, having the dog spend some alone time, in a separate room, is a great way to practice for going back to work. Crate training properly can go along ways too.

What are your top three tips for caring for dogs while working from home?

Keep a routine and separate work time from play time. Have some clear cues when you transition from working to being able to engage with the dog, such as organizing your desk, packing up the laptop etc. Dogs thrive on predictable routines.

The surge in dog ownership during the pandemic has strained veterinary clinics. What alternative options are available to dog owners if their pup needs care?

I highly encourage people to create a positive veterinary client-patient relationship. Be sure your dog continues to receive regular checkups and don’t wait until the dog is desperately ill before seeking an appointment.

And remember, if your dog has symptoms of illness, sending in photos or videos can let the clinic know if it is an emergency or if it can wait a day or two.

Besides lots of dog parks and vets, what makes for a great city for dog lovers? How can local governments make their cities more attractive to dog owners?

Green space and poop bags! I also greatly enjoy outdoor dining facilities that allow well mannered dogs to dine with the owner.

Walking trails and lots of dog activities. I’m really into dog sports and would now only move to a city that has an active dog training community.

It’s said that a dog is a man’s or woman’s best friend. What are three ways you can mark International Dog Day with your BFF (Best Furry Friend)?

Go for a walk in a new location, take lunch at an outdoor restaurant that allows dogs, and watch a dog movie with your best friend on the couch beside you.

Molly H. Sumridge MS CDBC
Instructor of Anthrozoology
Carroll College

The shortage of “pandemic puppies” in the U.S. continues. When can Americans expect the dog supply to return to normal?

As Americans return to busy lives, some owners will find that their new companion is not the right fit for them and there will be a (hopefully) brief influx of dogs into local animal shelters over the next 6 months to 1 year.

This will likely even out demand in some areas. In other areas, shelter populations were low to begin with and will likely continue to bring dogs in from higher population areas when demand is high.

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading, how can dog owners who rely on professional dog walkers and sitters keep themselves and their pups safe?

Communicate with your professional about how they will come into contact with you and your home and what preventative measures you need to stay safe. Only work with professionals that will communicate with you about their current procedures and are willing to work with you if you have special concerns.

Luckily confirmed cases of COVID-19 in dogs is extremely rare, as is the risk of transmission from dog to person.

What are your top three tips for helping dogs avoid separation anxiety as their owners’ pre-pandemic routines return to normal?

Consider daycare or a pet sitter on long days away from home. Start now by leaving your dog for smaller increments of time before you return to work. Leave your pet with safe toys and puzzles to keep their mind occupied.

What are your top three tips for caring for dogs while working from home?

Exercise them before you clock in so they will be comfortable and resting while you’re working. Take breaks that include a quick potty and play session with your dog.

If you have an important call or something you can’t be interrupted during, give your dog a toy, chew, or puzzle so they will stay occupied and quiet while you’re working.

The surge in dog ownership during the pandemic has strained veterinary clinics. What alternative options are available to dog owners if their pup needs care?

Be careful about treating your pet at home. Many suggestions found on the internet are not appropriate for owners to try and diagnose or self administer on their own.

Instead, call your vet and discuss with them what requires a visit to their office and what you might be able to do for your pet at home. You can also forward your records to a backup vet if your preferred hospital is overstrained.

Besides lots of dog parks and vets, what makes for a great city for dog lovers? How can local governments make their cities more attractive to dog owners?

My city, Helena in Montana, is a special place for dog lovers. It’s obvious from it’s majestic mountains that it is a hiking paradise but there is so much more to Helena for dog and owner alike.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Montanans were able to enjoy some semblance of normal–out walking their dogs on quiet countryside roads, outdoor shopping malls, and up gorgeous mountain trails. Dogs helped their Montana owners stay active, engaged, and grounded.

The more a local government can think about human/canine accessibility and make their outdoor spaces, walking malls, and community areas dog friendly, the more socialized community dogs become and spaces can be more successfully shared together.

It’s said that a dog is a man’s or woman’s best friend. What are three ways you can mark International Dog Day with your BFF (Best Furry Friend)?

Try something new together! Visit a new park, trail, outdoor restaurant, or dog specific business.

Learn a new trick! Training your dog increases your bond and understanding of one another, and what better way to celebrate your relationship?

Try a new recipe! Most owners don’t realize that they can make safe, tasty, exciting dog treats at home for their dogs. Many of these recipes are cheap and easy to make, and the best part… your dog can lick the bowl!

Methodology

We ranked the 198 biggest U.S. cities from best (No. 1) to worst (No. 198) based on their overall scores (out of 100 possible points), averaged across all the weighted metrics listed below.

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Housing
Average Home Square Footage28503048Max. Value
Share of Dog-Friendly Rental Properties28.54%75.52%Max. Value
Average Yard Size3274423951Max. Value
Community
Dog Events per 100,000 Residents205.5Max. Value
Dog Meetups per 100,000 Residents206.79Max. Value
Animal Shelters per 100,000 Residents305.9Max. Value
Walk Score31398Max. Value
Dog-Friendly Laws2212Max. Value
Care
Pet Stores per 100,000 Residents2033.68Max. Value
Veterinarians per 100,000 Residents30.4862.19Max. Value
Emergency Veterinary Clinics and Hospitals per 100,000 Residents203.2Max. Value
Animal Hospitals per 100,000 Residents104.45Max. Value
Services
Dog Walkers per 100,000 Residents24.681161.55Max. Value
Pet Trainers per 100,000 Residents10.4398.4Max. Value
Median Per-Visit Dog Sitter Rate1$8.00$25.83Min. Value
Dog Sitters per 100,000 Residents21.28202.26Max. Value
Pet Groomers per 100,000 Residents21.17252.46Max. Value
Dog Boarding Offers per 100,000 Residents20.58179.82Max. Value
Kennels per 100,000 Residents21.93155.62Max. Value
Businesses
Pet-Friendly Hotels per 100,000 Residents1036.68Max. Value
Dog-Friendly Restaurants per 100,000 Residents11.37134.96Max. Value
Dog-Friendly Shopping Centers per 100,000 Residents109.63Max. Value

Sources: BringFido, Emergency Vets USA, Homes.com, LawnStarter, Meetup, PetSitter.com, Rent.com, Sittercity, TripAdvisor, VCA Hospitals, Yellow Pages, and Yelp

Main Photo Credit: Lua Pramos / www.flickr.com / (CC BY 2.0)

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