Dog-Friendly Guide to Sacramento, CA


Population: 500,930
Off-leash dog parks: 14
Accommodation: Good
Restaurants, pubs, & cafes: 136
Most popular dog breed:  Border Collie

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Sacramento, California is ranked as the 12th most dog-friendly city in the US. The city is packed with parks you can take your pet to, including one that offers 32 miles of paved trails for you and your dog to enjoy. Pet events are also common in this city, attracting thousands of visitors and dog fanatics each year.

Compared to some of the top dog-friendly cities in the country, Sacramento is a bit expensive. If you want to live here with your dog, you’ll have plenty of options, ranging from hotels, to apartments of all types, and even including many rental properties. But pet rents and deposits in this city can be far pricier than in other places. Luckily, licensing fees are affordable and can be purchased in three-year increments, making up some for the additional cost of pet housing.

Blue Merle Border Collie Laying On The Bench
Image Credit: xkunclova, Shutterstock

Interesting Facts

  • Though registering your dog is a legal requirement in Sacramento, city officials estimate that 87% of pets remain unregistered and unlicensed.
  • Despite most dogs remaining unregistered, 86,000 dogs are registered within Sacramento. Of those, slightly more than 11,000 are Chihuahuas.
  • Sacramento has multiple parks for dogs, including 14 off-leash parks. But one of the best parks you can visit with your best friend isn’t actually a dog park. The American River Parkway is a multi-use trail that spans 32 miles, stretching through the heart of Sacramento. This paved trail is the perfect place to take your four-legged friend on a walk, jog, or run, without even leaving the city limits.
  • Each year, Sacramento hosts a dog event known as the Doggy Dash, which is sponsored by the Sacramento SPCA. More than 5,000 dog lovers attend this event each year, where dogs get to meet each other in mass. The Sacramento SPCA also has a pup-friendly thrift store that’s dog-focused in downtown Sacramento.

Leash Laws & Licensing

Licensing is different, depending on if you live within Sacramento city limits or Sacramento county limits. In Sacramento city, licenses are issued by the Front Street Animal Shelter. You’ll know you’re in Sacramento city if the street sign on your street is green. If it’s white, then you’re actually in Sacramento county, and you’ll get your license with the Bradshaw Animal Shelter.

All dogs within Sacramento are subject to an annual licensing fee, though fees here are quite affordable, starting at just $15 annually. Licenses are available for one, two, and three-year periods, with different prices for fixed and unaltered dogs.

When your dog is out with you in public, it must be 100% under your control and attached to a leash that’s no longer than six feet. You cannot tie the leash to any inanimate object like a fence post or cart; it must be under your personal control.

Living in Sacramento with a Dog

Sacramento is more liberal when it comes to pet ownership than many American cities. If you’re a dog lover, you can own more legally in Sacramento than in the rest of the country. Three dogs are allowed per household. Amazingly, seven cats can be kept in a single household, but you might not want to mix those two maximums! If you want to keep more than three dogs, you’ll need a kennel license.

Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

If your pet needs healthcare, there are plenty of options. Throughout the city, more than 15 veterinary clinics and animal hospitals are available, though they’re more spread out than in other cities, so you might have to drive farther. While this isn’t usually an issue, in the case of an emergency, it could pose a problem.

On the bright side, pet accommodations are easy to find. Many hotels in this city allow dogs, including a few that don’t even charge a pet fee. Some of these awesome establishments allow two or more pets, and some of the best even allow big dogs. Hotels like The Citizen Hotel and Kimpton Sawyer Hotel allow big dogs, two or more pets, and charge no pet fees.

Average Cost of Ownership

One of the ownership costs associated with dogs in Sacramento is licensing fees. For a dog that’s fixed, a one-year license costs just $15. Or, you can pay $30 for a two-year license, or save yourself a small bit by purchasing a three-year license for $40. If you’re a senior citizen, you can save even more with one, two, and three-year licenses costing $10, $20, and $25 respectively.

Granted, dogs that haven’t been spayed or neutered are much pricier. For a one-year license on an unaltered dog, you’ll pay $50. A two-year unaltered license is $100, and a three-year costs $150.

Though Sacramento is more affordable than some California cities, it’s still a rather expensive place to live, and this goes for pets as well as people. Pet deposits tend to be pricier here than other major cities, often costing as much as $400 per deposit, per pet, which could come to four total payments of $400 if you have two dogs. Don’t forget to add on the monthly pet rent, which is similarly expensive here. Most apartments are charging $40-$50 per month on pet rent, which is far pricier than the $25 pet rent found in many other major cities.

When it comes to pet care, Sacramento is similarly expensive. For pet sitters and walkers, the average cost is $13.50, which is nearly two dollars more expensive per hour than major cities like Pittsburgh.

Credit: Belyay, Shutterstock

Shelters & Rescue Centers

Compared to other US cities, Sacramento is lacking when it comes to pet adoption facilities. There are a few, such as Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary, but the main place to adopt a dog in Sacramento is through the few pet shelters associated with the city, including the Sacramento SPCA, the Front Street Animal Shelter, and the Sacramento County Bradshaw Animal Center.

While pet care costs in Sacramento seem to be higher than the national average, the cost of adopting a dog is lower. You’ll spend just $100-$200 to adopt a dog here, and that dog will likely be licensed, vaccinated, and even microchipped. So, even though you don’t have as many options, the price is right.

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If you’re determined to keep as many pets as possible legally, then you’ll Sacramento’s laws that allow up to three dogs and seven cats in a single household. For those living in Sacramento, the good news is that pet adoption is very affordable, as is licensing. On the downside, you can expect to pay more here for pet rent and deposits on housing than in other cities. But traveling here with dogs is great since many hotels in the city allow big breeds, multiple pets, and don’t even charge pet fees!

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Featured Image Credit: Always Wanderlust, Shutterstock