Best Cities for Dogs

The best cities for your four-legged friend

    Best Cities for Dogs

    We’re so obsessed with dogs at Luko, that our furry friends even have their own Instagram page. Having a canine companion during the Covid-19 crisis has been invaluable. A dog offers much-needed affection and the perfect excuse to go for a walk. With a record number of adoptions during the pandemic, it’s clear that we’re not the only ones who’ve realised the value of a puppy pal.

    However, as the economy begins to feel the true impact of the crisis, some animal owners are just one accident away from being unable to afford their pet if they don’t have dog insurance. Rescue centres worry about a sharp increase in returning pups because the owner is unable to pay for the pet or circumstances surrounding the care of the animal have changed when moving jobs or getting back to work after unemployment. Dog ownership is no simple or easy responsibility - even in the best of times. But we want to help our fellow dog owners and lovers by providing as much data about the world of dogs. That is why we commissioned this study.

    The study aims to reveal not only those cities which are best catered for dog owners, with superior pooch-friendly infrastructure, but also those where dogs are treated better according to the abandonment rate. The data also looks at where dog owners do and don’t follow the rules (and yes, we do mean picking up poop), and which cities are committed to keeping the streets clean and safe for pooches by penalising misbehaviour.

    Where did our study start? We took a list of cities around the globe previously cited as a good location for dogs. We finalized the list of 50 locations with comparable and available data. We then considered what makes a city perfect for a pooch: Plentiful parks, pet stores, vets, and dog-friendly establishments such as hotels and restaurants. These all contribute towards a paw-fect dog infrastructure in a city. As any pet owner knows, as much as we love them, doggos can cost a bundle, so the lifetime cost of keeping a dog was also taken into account.

    To paint a picture of how many pups live in each city, we calculated an estimate of dogs per capita for every location. And to determine how responsible dog owners are in each city, we investigated how many dogs are abandoned each year and the official fines for not cleaning up dog mess. To complement our findings, we also asked residents in each city to rate responsible dog ownership in their area with regards to how responsible dog owners are in cleaning up their pet’s poop. The final results reveal which cities are home to the happiest hounds. 

    Each column in the below table is filterable, from highest to lowest and vice versa. Where columns are scored out of 100, the higher the score, the better. The default ranking for the table is the total score.

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    Legend

    Methodology

    The 2020 Best Cities for Dogs Index compares and analyses the conditions for dogs in 50 major dog-friendly cities around the world. The study does not reflect ‘the best and worst’ cities for dogs but instead evaluates the dog-friendly environment of these cities based on factors related to dog ownership.

    The study focuses on three main categories - Infrastructure; Cost; Regulation and Ownership. The following ten factors contributed to our rating of what makes a city dog-friendly.

    Infrastructure

    • Dogs/capita (1,000 inhabitants)
    • Number of Vets/Dog (Score)
    • Number of Pet Stores (Score)
    • Dog-friendly Restaurants (Score)
    • Dog-friendly Hotels (Score)
    • Dog Parks (Score)

    Cost

    • Lifetime Costs (USD)

    Regulation and Ownership

    • Abandoned Dogs/Year (Score)
    • Dog Waste Fine (Score)
    • Dog Waste Survey (Score)

    The methods used to find each factor are described in detail below. All of the information collected is based on the latest data available.

    SCORING

    In cases where a factor consisted of one or more indicators, these were scored and averaged. The equation for scores is as follows:

    z-Score = (x - mean(X)) / Standard deviation(X) in short (x - μ)/σ

    For columns where a low value is better, for example, a low number of abandoned dogs, the score is inverted such that it is attributed a higher score:

    z-Score inverted = -1 * (x - mean(X)) / Standard deviation(X) in short  -1 * (x - μ)/σ

    Where present for a factor, scores are normalised such that 50 equals the lowest value in the final dataset and 100 the highest value in the final dataset. Therefore, the higher the score, the better the city ranks for that factor in comparison to the other cities in the index. The equation for normalization is as follows:

    score = (100-50) * (x - min(X)) / (max(X) - min(X)) + 50

    Survey

    A web-survey of residents of the cities in this index was run between 10 and 17 August 2020. The responses were used to calculate the entire score for the factor “Dog Waste Survey (Score)”. 

    Furthermore, the responses were used in conjunction with other indicators in the calculation of two other factors:

    • Dog-friendly restaurants (Score)
    • Dog Parks (Score)

    Details are provided below within the Factor descriptions.

    FACTORS

    Dogs/capita (1,000 inhabitants)

    Estimated number of owned dogs per 1,000 inhabitants. Refers to the total number of dogs owned in each city.

    • The data utilises household surveys, the number of registered dogs from local authorities, and estimates from local media. 
    • In most cases, the data was collected for the city area. In some cases, data was collected for the broader metropolitan area (e. g. Greater London). In a few cases it was collected for the state (e. g. Canton of Geneva) and in three cases it is referring to the country as a whole (Lisbon, Dublin and Oslo).
    • In instances where data was not available from a household survey or an estimate, linear regression (Regression Analysis) was applied to estimate the total number of dogs. In these cases, the number of registered dogs was utilised to predict the total number of dogs. Further details of the regression calculations can be provided upon request.

    Sources: Local Authorities, local media, as well as NGOs and pet food companies

    Number of Vets/Dog (Score)

    Ratio of the number of veterinarians and veterinary institutions to the estimated number of dogs.

    • The number of veterinarians and veterinary institutions was determined using Yelp, Google maps, as well as other sources like Yellow pages.
    • The number of veterinarians and veterinary institutions was divided by the estimated number of dogs (Dogs per 1,000 inhabitants).
    • The data was scored according to the methodology in section “Scoring”. A high score indicates a high ratio of the number of veterinarians and veterinary institutions to the total number of dogs.

    Sources: Yelp, Google maps, Yellow Pages among other local sources

    Number of Pet Stores (Score)

    Number of pet stores per capita.

    • The number of pet stores was determined using Yelp, Google maps, as well as other sources like Yellow pages.
    • The number of pet stores was divided by the city population.
    • The data was scored according to the methodology in section “Scoring”. A high score indicates a high number of pet stores per capita.

    Sources: Yelp, Google maps, Yellow Pages among other local sources

    Dog-friendly restaurants (Score)

    A combination of the number of restaurants where dogs are allowed divided by the city population; and results from a survey of city residents.

    • The number of restaurants where dogs are allowed was determined using Yelp as well as other sources like Tripadvisor and local authorities.
    • Includes results from a survey of residents in each city who were asked the following question: “How easy is it to find restaurants in your city that accept dogs? (Easy/Difficult on a scale from 1-7).”
    • The data was scored according to the methodology in section “Scoring”, with the survey responses contributing 10% to the score. A high score indicates a high number of dog-friendly restaurants per capita.

    Sources: Yelp, Tripadvisor, local sources, survey results.

    Dog-friendly hotels (Score)

    Number of hotels where dogs are allowed divided by the total number of hotels.

    • The total number of hotels and the number of hotels where dogs are allowed was determined using Booking.com.
    • Share of hotels where dogs are allowed was calculated by dividing the number of hotels where dogs are allowed by the total number of hotels.
    • The data was scored according to the methodology in section “Scoring”. A high score indicates a high number of dog-friendly hotels.

    Sources: Booking.com

    Dog Parks (Score)

    A combination of the number of parks marked as dog parks; and results from a survey of city residents.

    • The number of parks which are tagged as “Dog Parks” was determined using Yelp.
    • Includes results from a survey of residents in each city who were asked the following question: “How would you rate the availability of parks, green spaces and/or beaches in your city that welcome dogs? (Score, 1-100).”
    • The data was scored according to the methodology in section “Scoring”, with the survey responses contributing 10% to the score. A high score indicates a high number of dog parks as well as positive survey results.

    Sources: Yelp, survey results.

    Lifetime Costs

    Accumulated cost of owning a dog throughout its entire life (in USD).

    • The lifetime costs were estimated using country-level survey data and city-level cost of living.
    • In instances where country data was not available, linear regression (Regression Analysis) was applied to estimate the missing values using Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index (Country). Further details of the regression calculations can be provided upon request.
    • City-level estimates were calculated by extrapolating the country level values across cities using city-level cost of living data:

    Cost Estimate (City) = Cost Estimate Country * (Numbeo Cost of Living Index (City) / Numbeo Cost of Living Index (Country))

    Sources: Finty (Pet Ownership Costs Around the World), Numbeo

    Exchange rate took place from EUR to USD on 18th August 2020.

    Abandoned Dogs per Year (Score)

    Estimated number of abandoned dogs per year.

    • Numbers of shelter intakes per year according to local authorities, media reports, and NGOs.
    • Shelter intake numbers were collected for each country, divided by the total number of dogs per country and then multiplied by the estimated number of dogs per city.
    • The data was scored according to the methodology in section “Scoring”. A high score indicates a low ratio of the number of abandoned dogs to the total number of dogs.

    Sources: Local Authorities, animal shelters, local media as well as NGOs

    Dog Waste Fine (Score)

    Score based on the minimum fine a dog owner would need to pay for not removing dog waste.

    • Fine information was collected from local authorities and media reports for each city.
    • The data was scored according to the methodology in section “Scoring”. A high score indicates higher fines.

    Sources: Local Authorities, media reports

    Dog Waste Survey (Score)

    Score is calculated from the responses to a web survey run in August 2020, in which residents were asked about dog owners and dog waste in their city.

    • Respondents were asked the following two questions:
    • How responsible would you say dog owners in your city are when it comes to cleaning up their dog mess? (Score, 1-100)
    • In my city, dog waste left lying around is a significant problem (Agree/Disagree on a scale from 1-7)
    • The final score was calculated by averaging the Z-Scores computed from both responses, according to the methodology in section “Scoring”.