Dog-Friendly Guide to Austin, TX

austin texas cityscape

Population: 950,807 (2019)
Off-leash dog parks: 12
Accommodation: 369
Restaurants, pubs, & cafes: 510
Most popular dog breed: Miniature Schnauzer


Austin consistently shows up on lists of top dog-friendly cities in the US. People in Austin love their dogs! Dogs are allowed in tons of places including parks, retail businesses, gyms and yoga studios, and bars and restaurants all over the city. In Austin, there’s approximately 1 dog to every 5-6 people, earning the city the moniker “Dogtown”. To accommodate the number of dogs in the city, Austin has around 365 vets, which is the most of any city in Texas.

Austin is home to multiple insta-famous dogs and tons of dog-centered businesses, including dozens of doggy daycares. The dog-friendliness of Austin is a perfect adaptation that allows for people to own dogs in such an urban city.

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Interesting Facts

  • At the Austonian, which is Austin’s tallest high-rise residence, 40% of the residents own dogs. There is a dog park on the 10th floor of the building and a room with professional-grade grooming equipment for resident’s use.
  • It’s currently estimated that there are more dogs in Austin than human children.
  • Austin Animal Center, which is the city-run animal shelter in Austin, is the largest no-kill animal shelter in the nation. They save over 18,000 animals annually and do not discriminate against animals of any age, breed, health status, or species.
  • The first beagle to ever win Best in Show at the Westminster dog show, Uno, is from Austin. Uno won his title in 2008.
  • If you know your viral internet dogs, you may be familiar with Huckleberry the roof dog and Sid the pizza-loving dog, both of whom are from Austin.
  • The city of Austin has an ordinance against dogs being kept on tethers, but they also offer assistance with building fences as an alternative to taking tethered dogs from their unfenced homes.

Leash Laws & Licensing

Unless specifically listed as off-leash, all public areas in Austin require dogs to be leashed. Austin’s leash law also requires the dog to be under the handler’s control at all times, even if the dog is being held and is leashed. These leash laws protect you and your dog from other off-leash dogs, as well as protecting dogs from things like cars and buses. Austin is a bustling, urban city, so dog hazards are everywhere to an unleashed dog!

All dogs of appropriate age are required to have an up-to-date rabies vaccine in Austin. Some veterinarians will provide a city registration with the vaccine, but this can also be picked up through the Austin Police Department or Animal Control.

goldendoodle in Austin Texas
Image Credit: Roschetzky Photography, Shutterstock

Living in Austin with a Dog

Most neighborhoods in Austin are extremely dog friendly, so finding a place you and your dog belong shouldn’t be too difficult. Just make sure to check HOA/POA rules prior to purchasing property if you own a breed of dog that may be restricted.

With almost 400 vets available to you around Austin, getting your dog established with a veterinarian shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, many neighborhoods have vet clinics within walking distance.

It has become relatively commonplace in Austin to take a trip home in the middle of the day to let dogs out for a bathroom break and lots of employers allow dogs in the office. This also means that many employers are understanding of you needing to step away from work to get your dog to an appointment. Dog walkers are easy to find, and doggy daycares seem to be on just about every corner.

Credit: david woodberry Pure Eye Photo, Shutterstock

Average Cost of Ownership

It’s estimated that the cost of dog ownership over the lifetime of a dog in Austin has risen from around $7,000 a few years ago to around $12,000 now. It’s important to note, though, that this cost increase is partly related to inflation and partly related to the “extras” that people are paying for when it comes to their dogs. Doggy daycare can run $200-300+ every month, dog walkers can be $30-50+ per visit, and things like dog birthday parties can run a high bill.

The current estimate for owning a dog in Austin is $1,000 annually for the bare minimum of vet visits, food, and medications. That estimate doesn’t account for pet fees for housing, which is usually paid up front as a deposit but may also include monthly pet rent, which can be anywhere from $15-50 or more per pet. Pet deposits usually start around $250, sometimes per pet.

lady bird lake austin texas

Shelters & Rescue Centers

The Austin Animal Center provides shelter for over 18,000 animals annually from all over Austin and surrounding Travis County. They are dedicated to placing animals into safe, healthy homes, and they do require an application be filled out to foster or adopt animals. Since they take in so many animals and do not euthanize for space, there are hundreds if not thousands of adoptable dogs at any given time. This large number of animals also means a large number of people attempting to adopt pets, so processing through adoption and foster applications can get backed up sometimes.

There are also rescues in and around Austin that take in breed-specific dogs and dogs the shelter may have difficulty adopting out, like older pets. Rescues and the Austin Animal Center participate in community events to raise awareness of their adoptable pets and they work with the community to improve the lives of pets.


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Does Austin sound like the city for you? It’s a busy city with plenty of things to do and see, but the people of Austin have worked hard to make a dog-friendly city so your dog can enjoy the city with you. There are dog-friendly activities for people and dogs of all ages, and many landlords and neighborhoods are happy to work with you and your dog in finding the perfect spot to live. Even if you just want to take a trip to Austin with your dog, you’ll have no problem finding lodging and activities for both of you.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay