The 7 Best Dog-Friendly Cities — Especially For Bigger Pups

by Carolyn de Lorenzo
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If you’re anything like me, you probably make all your major life decisions with your dog in mind. Dogs are unceasingly adorable, loyal, and charming, and many, if not most, of us feel that they’re ever so precious members of our families — even sort of like our children (OK not sort of, but for real), in their unique and dog-like way. So when making the decision to move, whether around the block or across the country, it’s so important to consider what’s best for our beloved four-legged friends. And while some cities work well for petite pups — think NYC, for instance — there are some dog-friendly cities that are best for big dogs.

Since pups love nothing more than spending time with their human, getting plenty of face time is pretty key to a pup’s quality of life and happiness. And some cities are more amenable to a pup’s needs than others. Smart Asset analyzed info from data metrics weighing everything from walkability, access to dog parks, and housing costs to determine the dog-friendliest cities. Given that big dogs need lots of room to walk and run, these are the cities that work best for larger pups — because you definitely want what’s best for your baby dog, while picking out a great place to live for you to live in, too.


Portland, OR

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Forever dear to my heart, Portland, OR is a great town. Seriously, go there for the outrageously good food scene, access to incredible natural settings, and all around lovely people. And according to Dogtime, Portland is a fantastic place for dogs of all sizes, but given that Portland more dog parks per capita than any other major U.S. city — and oodles of dog meetup groups, this is a wonderful spot for folks with big dogs. And according to Forbes, Portland is the 12th most walkable city in the U.S. with 32 off-leash dog parks — and with accessible hiking areas like the four-mile Powell Butte trail, there's ample space for big pups to run, exercise, and stretch their long legs. Think hikes and parks galore.


San Francisco, CA

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Ranking number one among the dog-friendliest U.S. cities per the Smart Asset report, San Francisco boasts the seventh most dog parks per 100,000 residents, and 174 dog-friendly restaurants. Not to mention glorious beaches, and a fantastic walkability score. And while the cost of living in the Golden Gate City can be challenging in terms of one's housing budget, quality of life here for humans and pups alike is pretty fabulous.


Seattle, WA

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As Smart Asset found, the west coast is pretty fab for dogs in general, and ranking number two in Dogtime's report, Seattle is no exception. And given that there are more dogs in Seattle than children, according to Dogtime, you might want to pack up your wellies and rain poncho, and hightail it out to the Pacific North West. If you and your pup can hang with the rainy climate, you can enjoy an indoor dog park, meetup groups galore, and lots of dog-friendly businesses — not to mention all the extraordinary natural beauty that the PNW has to offer.


Austin, TX

According to Dogtime, there are few cities as dog-friendly as Austin. Not only will most restaurants welcome your fur baby on the patio, but you can also find dog-inclusive yoga classes at Austin Doga, upwards of 35 pet photographers, and hikes and swimming galore. And with a long, hot summer season, and relatively low annual rainfall, you won't be dealing with wet paws and dripping fur on the reg.


Las Vegas, NV

Ranking number two on Smart Asset list of dog-friendliest cities, Las Vegas has loads to offer your four-legged best friend. According to the Smart Asset report, Vegas ranks fifth in number of dog parks in the city, and unlike the PNW, there are only about 15 days of full on rain each year — which is great for those who prefer a drier clime.


Chicago, IL

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Per Dogtime's report, Chicago ranks as one of the country's dog-friendliest cities, and if you can brave the elements — it is the Windy City, after all — you'll find ample dog-loving businesses, bars, and lakeside walking paths. Montrose Dog Beach is a great place for your pup to frolic and swim in the warmer months, and Dog Day with the Chicago White Sox baseball team is an annual opportunity for you to share America's favorite pastime with your beloved pup.


Boston, MA

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Ranking highly in Dogtime's report, Bring Fido notes that Boston offers upwards of 25 dog-friendly activities citywide. With dog-friendly cruises in Boston Harbor, myriad dog-loving neighborhoods and apartment buildings, and "Yappy Hours" where you can take along your canine as you jaunt off to grab a pint, there's more than enough to do to keep you and your pup amused for days on end. According to RealEstate, Boston also boasts a higher than average apartment size — ranking number 10 nationwide — so you and your larger pup have lots of room to stretch your legs while lounging at home. And with off-peak hour access to the subway, you can travel easily sans car, too.


If you're a parent to a larger pup looking to relocate, rest assured that you have plenty of options with various types of climate, dog-loving businesses and dog parks, and plenty of walkable neighborhoods for daily strolls with your lovable canine. With a little research and planning, you can find a great new home that both you and your fur kiddo will love for years to come.