Dog-Friendly Guide to Cincinnati, OH


Population: 301,394 (2019)
Off-leash dog parks: 9
Accommodation: 40
Restaurants, pubs, & cafes: 123
Most popular dog breed: Labrador Retriever


Whether you’re a baseball fan, a beer fan, or just a dog fan, you’ll find something you like in Cincinnati. Home of the Cincinnati Reds, this mid-sized Ohio city has a population of over 301,000 people and an estimated dog population of 52,000, meaning approximately 1 out of every 6 Cincinnatians has a dog. There are over 100 dog-friendly bars and restaurants and the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood’s Washington Park holds Yappy Hour for dog owners to have quality time with friends and their pups after the workday ends. Maybe outdoor activities or America’s favorite pastime are more up your dog’s alley, in which case Cincinnati can accommodate that as well. Cincinnati has no shortage of offerings for you and your dog to enjoy together.

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Interesting Facts

  • Arguably, the most famous dog in Cincinnati history was a Saint Bernard named Schottzie. Schottzie was owned by Marge Schott, who was the owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team from 1984-1999. Schottzie, and her successor, another Saint Bernard named Schottzie 02, had run of the stadium and was even spotted on the field during games running off with equipment and leaving behind stinky gifts.
  • The Great American Ball Park holds four Bark in the Park games annually where people can bring their dogs to watch the baseball game with them.
  • The Cincinnati Zoo has an exhibit featuring African Painted Dogs, the most endangered carnivore in Africa with somewhere between 5,000-7,000 left in the world. They currently have one alpha female and 7 of her 10 adult offspring. The other 3 pups from the litter were transferred to a zoo in Utica, New York. This is part of a worldwide breeding and conservation effort to save these dogs.
  • Starting in 1981, the Cincinnati Zoo began pairing domestic dogs with young cheetahs. This program has worked to socialize cheetahs into “ambassador cheetahs” that are able to be used for educational purposes and are less wary of humans than other cheetahs may be. These dogs and cats are separated around 2 years of age to prevent aggression problems and keep both animals safe. The dogs are adopted by zoo staff members. The most recent pairing was a scruffy dog named Remus and a cheetah named Kris. These two were even featured on a Disney+ show.
  • Cincinnati’s most famous cemetery, the Spring Grove Cemetery, has at least one dog buried there, even though animal burials are against the cemetery rules. However, when George E. Turner was on his deathbed, his friend William Salway, who was the cemetery’s superintendent, promised he would bury Turner’s beloved dog, Old Man, next to Turner when the dog passed away. Old Man was said to be able to count, do basic math, and even sort change.

Leash Laws & Licensing

Cincinnati has a city ordinance banning dogs running at large. Dogs must be leashed and under the handler’s control except in areas that are marked for off-leash use. Females in heat must be kept leashed or securely indoors or in a fenced yard to prevent unwanted pregnancies. There are fines associated with dogs at large and those fines increase when the dog is an in-heat female or a dog with a history of bites or aggression.

Cincinnati is located in Hamilton County and all pet registrations go through the county. Pet licenses must be renewed annually. New licenses and renewal licenses are the same price at $19. To renew online, there is an additional $2 fee. Late fees may apply and can run as high as double the base renewal cost. There are additional fees associated with registering an intact dog over the age of 6 months, and this requires a kennel/breeder’s license. Licensure processes through the Hamilton County auditor’s office.

pembroke corgi in cincinnati
Image Credit: Cory Woodruff, Shutterstock

Living in Cincinnati with a Dog

Since Cincinnati is so dog-friendly, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding veterinary care. Every neighborhood in Cincinnati has at least a handful of vet clinics in the area, some even within walking distance. There are some low-cost vet services available as well, which can be a big help for things like vaccines and spay/neuter if you’re on a tight budget.

There are dozens of boarding facilities and dog hotels in Cincinnati, and finding a doggy daycare isn’t difficult at all. There are facilities available for most budgets and many of the daycares also offer other services like grooming and carefully selected play groups to keep dogs safe and match them with compatible dogs.

Average Cost of Ownership

The cost of owning a dog in Cincinnati runs around the national average of $1000-1200 annually per dog, or around $12,000-15,000 throughout the lifetime of a dog that lives to the age of 11 years. These averages cover basic veterinary care, food, medications, and pet insurance. These costs don’t necessarily take into account the cost of emergency care, unexpected costs for non-emergent injuries and illnesses, toys, dog walkers, doggy daycare, boarding, and other “extras”. You do have the option of some low-cost veterinary services in Cincinnati, but these are usually income-based and rarely cover anything beyond the basic vaccines, spay/neuter, and flea/tick and heartworm medications.

Doggy daycare will cost you $20 per dog per half-day, at minimum. Daycare can run upwards of $40 per day. Some businesses will offer pricing discounts for memberships and they may reduce fees for additional dogs as well. Dog walkers generally cost around $20-30 per visit and usually offer discounts for each additional dog. All of these extras can easily add up to hundreds if not thousands of dollars annually.

cincinnati ohio river

Shelters & Rescue Centers

Cincinnati’s SPCA is the main entity responsible for taking in and adopting out animals in the city. They have the goal of providing an answer on adoption application requests within 3-5 business days, but it may take slightly longer at this time. All adoptable animals are listed on their website and you can apply directly from the website. If there’s a dog you’re interested in adopting or meeting, you can set up an appointment to visit the shelter and have a staff member assist you with the dog. Cincinnati doesn’t have BSL or breed restriction laws, so there are frequently many bully-type dogs available at the shelter.

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If you’re considering a move or just a trip to Cincinnati, you’ll be happy to find that your pup will be able to go on lots of adventures with you. Baseball and a beer or just a nice long walk, the two of you will have a blast together. If you need to leave your dog for a bit, you’ll have no shortage of daycares and dog walkers to choose from.

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Featured Image Credit: sean pavone, Shutterstock