Updated May 9, 2014

Study: Best Cities for Dog Lovers

Anyone who’s been alive for more than 10 seconds knows there are two kinds of people: cat people and dog people. According to a study published in Psychology Today, dog people are 15% more extroverted than cat people and 13% more agreeable. The study also showed that cat people are 11% more open-minded than dog people, but are also 12% more neurotic.

Whether or not you agree with those findings, there’s no question that dog lovers are passionate people. Almost 70% of all dog owners say their pooches are members of the family, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association . (Sorry, cats, only 56% of your owners think you’re part of the family.)

That’s why we decided to find out the best cities for pure dog lovers – those of you who believe “man’s best friend” can be only one kind of animal. These places have a few things in common:

  • Lots of places to run around
  • Lots of groomers and places to buy toys
  • Lots of vets
  • Few cat people

Study Methodology

Dogs love a good park. So we looked to the Trust for Public Land’s most recent (2012) report, where we obtained the number of park acres per 10,000 people for a host of cities. The highest-rated metropolitan area that made our final top 10 list was Kansas City, which has 37.9 acres of parkland per 10,000 people, far short of Anchorage’s 1,719 acres per 10,000 people.

Dog lovers also like to buy chew toys, grooming services, and treats, which is why we looked to the U.S. Census data on pet and pet supply stores. We also took into account the number of veterinarians per 1,000 people in each city, because dog people go to the vet a lot more than cat people, according to the AVMA. Between 2006 and 2011, for example, veterinary visits for dogs increased 9.2% while the number of veterinary visits for cats decreased by 4.4%. We found that Baton Rouge, LA, is relatively short on vets (just 0.07 vets per 1,000 people) while Madison, WI, on the other hand, is the highest in the country.

Finding towns that are dog-centric by definition requires rooting out those with a lot of cat people. Sure, cat people come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most popular demographics of cat owners is women who live alone (yes, we’re stereotyping a bit - but all stereotypes have some truth to them, and this is a tough one to dispute). So, we used U.S. Census data to determine what percentage of each city’s population is women who live alone (but we gave it half the weight of the other data). At 19.2%, Sarasota, FL, rated the highest on this metric, while domestically owned cats in Provo, UT, are definitely not as common as the other metro areas we evaluated.

10 Best Cities for Dog Lovers

10. Wichita, KS

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.27
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 12.1
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.038
  • Cat factor: 15.7

Toto is the most famous dog from Kansas, but with the lowest number of park acres per 10,000 residents on our list, it’s no wonder that he hit the yellow brick road with Dorothy. Wichita has a slightly above-average cat factor, too, but with above-average number of vets and pet stores, the dogs that are in Wichita are well-loved.

9. Nashville, TN

Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.17
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 37.8
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.03
  • Cat factor: 15.6

Nashville has the lowest number of pet stores per 1,000 people, but it has a lot more parkland than Wichita. A slightly lower cat factor and the fact that country musicians never sing about cats also pushed Nashville onto this list.

Did you know?
Nashville Lifestyles, a local magazine, had more than 230 entrants in its 2013 “cover dog search.”

8. Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.3
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 13.8
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.04
  • Cat factor: 16.3

Columbus is a dynamic town, but its relatively high number of cat people and relatively low amount of park acres per 10,000 residents keep it down a few notches on our list. Nonetheless, Columbus dogs can choose among a relatively high number of vets.

7. Kansas City, MO

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.2
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 37.9
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.03
  • Cat factor: 16.2

Kansas City has the highest number of park acres per 10,000 residents, and dog lovers treasure those wide-open spaces. A low number of vets keep this town from rising higher, though.

Did you know?
The Humane Society of Kansas City, founded in 1994, was the first no-kill shelter in the city.

6. Orlando, FL

Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.2
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 12.6
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.04
  • Cat factor: 14

What wouldn’t a dog love about Orlando? It’s pretty close to great beaches and has the lowest percentage of cat people on the list. Plus, it’s home to two of the most famous pups – Goofy and Pluto – that dog owners can meet in person at Disney World.

Did you know?
Disney characters are the only dogs allowed in the major amusement parks besides service dogs. However, Disney does run air-conditioned kennels outside its parks for patrons who can’t part from their beloved friends when they’re on vacation. If you’re willing to pay a higher price, your pooch will get walks, a bath, TV time, plus a bedtime story.

5. Madison, WI

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.51
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 23.2
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.04
  • Cat factor: 16.8

The mascot for the University of Wisconsin might be the badger, but Madison is really about dogs. The city ranks right in the middle of our top 10 list. It has the highest cat factor but also the highest number of veterinarians per 1,000 people.

4. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.21
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 20.2
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.03
  • Cat factor: 15.3

There are 167 hotels in North Carolina that allow pets, and that high number shouldn’t be a surprise. At number four on our list, this city offers dog lovers lots of parkland, lots of vets, and a lack of cat people. The city’s biggest downfall is a relative shortage of pet stores for grooming Fido.

3. San Jose, CA

San Jose, California
San Jose, California

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.13
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 16.9
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.15
  • Cat factor: 11.5

San Jose loves dogs, and it comes in at #3 largely for having the highest number of pet stores per 1,000 people in the country. While dog owners here can easily pamper and spoil their beloved four-legged creatures, they have to do some searching to get them good medical care: The city has the lowest number of vets per 1,000 people.

Did you know?
Take your pup’s well-being to another level with a drive to Pathways to Healing, a pet acupuncturist.

2. Omaha, NE

Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.24
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 23.4
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.03
  • Cat factor: 15.4

Turns out that Omaha is one of the best places in the country for dog lovers. The city has an above-average number of pet stores per thousand people, and Fido has a lot of parkland to roam under those big, Midwestern skies. He has plenty of options for vets, too.

1. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Vets per 1,000 residents: 0.38
  • Park acres per 10,000 residents: 31.1
  • Pet stores per 1,000 residents: 0.03
  • Cat factor: 14.8

At the top of the list of best cities for dog lovers, Raleigh has it all. Similar to Omaha in the number of pet stores, it has tons of parks, lots of vets, and fewer cat people.

Did you know?
There are 17 dog-lover Meetup groups in Raleigh. The Pug Lovers group has 358 members alone.

Not all dog people are alike, and not all cat people are alike. Some of them even mix. But if you’re looking for a new dog pack to run with, this list can serve as a helpful guide.

Tina O is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and financial education website. Write to Tina O at tina@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped families make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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