Dogs have been called man’s best friend for what seems to be forever — and with good reason, as that dictum is apparently universal with the domesticated friendly and loyal canines employed as pets in virtually every country and culture around the world…
The Best Cities for Dog Lovers in the World
…but what are the best cities for the lovers of dogs worldwide?
The number of registered dogs — strays were not counted — were searched in capital cities and major cities using academic reports and official government statistics, as well as news stories from respected sources. The figures were then divided by the area in both square kilometers and population of each city.
I have been given express written permission to use the illustrations and the verbatim text from this article — which was written by G. John Cole from Protect My Paws — of the best cities for lovers of dogs around the world. While Protect My Paws has endeavored to ensure the information provided is accurate and current, it cannot guarantee it. Neither Protect My Paws nor The Gate accept liability for the information which is presented in this article.
Which Cities Are the Dog Petting Capitals of the World?
Do you get your daily vitamin D(og)?
Nothing brings sunshine to your day like a dog. If you don’t have your own dog, a furry encounter in the street brings a smile to your troubled heart. (More specifically, it gives you a shot of beta-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine.)
If you do have a dog, you can multiply your shared joy at a well-attended park, dog-friendly gym, or just sitting at your front window together yelling at all the dogs that pass.
But these sightings are more common in some cities than others. Having researched the video games where you can pet the dog, Protect My Paws has now identified the cities where you’re most likely to find a dog to pet*: the places with the most dogs per km2 and per 100 people.
(*Disclaimer: always ask the owner before you pet the dog.)
Paris, France, has 2,857 dogs per km2, the highest dog density in the world.
Houston in the US is home to 52.1 dogs per 100 humans, the highest ratio in the world.
Chicago is the major US city with the highest density of dogs (1,037 per km2).
Budapest, Hungary, is the European city with the highest dog:human ratio (22.8:100).
There are 54 world cities in our study. In the interactive below, you can choose any two of them to compare their dogs per km2 and 100 people and see heat maps illustrating the density of dogs in the area.
Take Buenos Aires and San Diego, for example. The Argentinian capital is practically paved with dogs, and you’ll find 2,463 per km2. This is nearly five times as many as San Diego. But whether you’ll get a turn to pet one in Buenos Aires is another matter. There are only 17.3 dogs for every 100 people, compared to San Diego, where the figure is 36.1.
Paris, France, is the City with the Most Dogs Per KM2
It’s the ultimate accessory: one that will love you back just as much as you love it. The Parisian dog is a ubiquitous sight, with 2,857 chiens wandering gracefully around every square km. But finding a dog in ‘play mode’ was difficult until recently, as dogs were banned from 84% of the city’s parks.
Thankfully, this legal leash was loosened just before the pandemic, so the only thing stopping dogs from enjoying a little more space to social distance is that dogs don’t social distance.
Buenos Aires is the only city to come close to Paris’s dog density. The top 10 has a good mix of European, Latin American, and US cities, with Taiwanese capital Taipei thrown in for good measure.
You’ll often spot Taipei dogs coddled and pushed in prams since many locals now choose to have a ‘fur baby’ rather than human offspring. In fact, the number of pets in Taipei has recently overtaken the number of children under 15. Taipei is also home to 11,000 stray dogs, who don’t figure in our calculations.
Houston, Texas, Has the Highest Dog: Person Ratio in the World
If you’ve ever shared a family dog, you’ve probably been told your quarter is ‘at the back end.’ Ha ha. But on a citywide scale, very few people get even as much as a quarter of a dog. And Houston in the US is the only city where you get over half a dog (0.521 to be precise) each. Still, 12 hours a day with your allotted dog would be reasonable, if only Mayor Sylvester would roll out Borrow My Doggy as a matter of council policy.
All of the cities in our top 10 ‘per person’ table have more than 21 dogs per 100 people. But, overall, 55.6% of the cities in our study have a ratio of fewer than 10 dogs per 100 humans. This is concerning for dog-lovers since the US cat population is rising faster than its canine equivalent – and it’s much harder to get that ‘ray of sunshine’ feeling from a cat.
Let’s give a special mention to Bern, Switzerland, which has the second-highest dog:person ratio in the world and the third-highest density. And why wouldn’t you be infatuated with dogs in the region that gave us the Bernese Mountain Dog and a country that voted the Saint Bernard to be its national animal?
City of Dogs
“Dogs are everywhere,” sang Jarvis Cocker with Pulp in their 1986 single, Dogs Are Everywhere. And Jarvis was right, even if the song gets pretty weird after the opening lines.
However, to paraphrase William Gibson, dogs may be everywhere – but they’re not evenly distributed. If you would like to immerse yourself into a thicker density of dogs, check out our full data below to find a dog-saturated city near you.
Final Boarding Call
I like dogs in general; but I am not an owner of any pet and have not been one in years by personal choice.
When I first was notified of this article, the first thought which occurred to me was how many stray dogs were in Bucharest in Romania. The problem was purportedly the result of systematization, which is a policy that was imposed during the Communist regime which ruled Romania for decades and forced people to move into apartment blocks while simultaneously abandoning their dogs.
Before my visit to Bucharest in September of 2007 as part of a trip while earning my Master of Business Administration degree — go ahead, poke fun at the fact that I earned an MBA degree — I was told by the professors at the university at which I was matriculated that the massive Palace of the Parliament displaced Romanian citizens where dozens of homes were razed. For years, stray dogs which were once pets of the displaced people supposedly roamed the streets of Bucharest in packs, sometimes biting people — such as one of the professors who exclaimed during class that one dog bit him in his posterior.
That was one of those rare moments where I could not stop laughing. The way he said that — coupled by the thought of a dog biting him on his rear end — sent me into an uncontrollable fit to the point where fellow classmates asked if I was okay, as I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.
You had to be there to understand.
Anyway, the number of stray dogs in Bucharest has been significantly reduced since 2014 following the tragic death of Ionuț Anghel, who was only four years old when he was attacked by a stray dog near a park in the city on Monday, September 2, 2013.
Do you have a pet dog? What is your favorite breed of dog and why? Please feel free to brag about your pet dog — or dogs — in the Comments section below.