Dog-Friendly Guide to Seattle, WA

Seattle skyline and Mt Rainier on a clear day

Population: 724,305
Off-leash dog parks: 14
Accommodation: 162
Restaurants, pubs, & cafes: 354
Most popular dog breed: Labradoodle

divider 10


Seattle is a beautiful city that offers plenty of eateries and activities for you and your dog. The public bus system is dog-friendly for well-behaved dogs, so even without a car, your dog can go on adventures with you. There are over 350 dog-friendly bars and restaurants in Seattle, and some of the restaurants even allow dogs indoors, which makes a big difference on rainy Seattle days. The most popular pup in Seattle is the Labradoodle, which goes to show how active the people of the city are. There are multiple off-leash dog parks, including one with beach access, and there are multiple parks that offer urban hiking within the city.

Schnauzer dog in pub
Image Credit: Naraoneil, Shutterstock

Interesting Facts

  • There is an annual “Dog Day on Elliott Bay” event that takes you and your dog on a cruise out to Blake Island, which is a Washington State Park. You can wander the beaches with your dog and enjoy the island together.
  • There are approximately 153,000 dogs in Seattle but there are only around 107,000 children.
  • “Lucy” is the most popular dog name in Seattle. There are also multiple dogs with names from fantasy series, like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. In fact, “Frodo” is a more popular name in Seattle than the classic “Fido”.
  • A black Labrador and Mastiff dog by the name of Eclipse rides the bus by herself to the dog park every day. Technically, she should be leashed and accompanied by her owner, but at the discretion of the bus drivers, Eclipse is allowed on the bus, rides it four stops, and knows when to get off at the park. Her owner always catches up to her.
  • The number of dog owners and bike owners in Seattle are almost the same, they are only different by a few thousand. There are about 5000 more bikes in Seattle than dogs.

Leash Laws & Licensing

Dogs must be leashed in Seattle except in designated off-leash areas. Part of the complaint process for a dog running loose is to attempt to notify the owner before notifying animal control, unless the dog is a danger or causing damage. This allows for people to catch their dog and remedy the problem before potentially being charged fees.

In Seattle, all dogs must be registered with the city. If a dog is found without city licensure, a $125 citation will be charged to the owner. Licensure fees are directly applied to the city’s animal control efforts. Seattle animal control officers make every effort to get licensed dogs that are caught running at-large home without having to make a trip to the shelter. Also, if you are going to be out of town and someone else will be caring for your dog, you can notify the Seattle Animal Shelter so they know who to contact if your dog is found loose.

A couple walking their dog along the West Seattle waterfront park with the skyline illuminated in the background on a lovely spring day.
Image credit: Edmund Lowe Photography, Shutterstock

Living in Seattle with a Dog

In Seattle, there are veterinarian clinics all across town, including multiple low-cost options. The city also offers vouchers and a low-cost spay/neuter clinic to help residents get their pets fixed. Dog walkers and doggy daycares are also very accessible in Seattle, which can be especially helpful for people who do not have dog-friendly employers. There are multiple dog-friendly employers in the Seattle area, including the sales titan, Amazon. The fact that dogs can be taken on public transit makes it extremely easy for people without vehicles to get their dogs to a daycare or a vet visit. To make life with a dog in Seattle even easier, there are thousands of dog-friendly rentals, so finding a place to live shouldn’t be too difficult.

Average Cost of Ownership

The average cost of owning a dog in Seattle can cost as much as $1500 for the basics for one dog, including food and basic veterinary care. Extras, like doggy daycare and dog walkers, can easily add hundreds to thousands of dollars to this total depending on how frequently you need the services. Pet rent and pet deposits can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars and emergency veterinary visits can easily exceed $1000-5000, depending on the situation. The Seattle Animal Shelter says that 1 out of every 10 animals surrendered to the shelter are surrendered due to the owner no longer being able to afford the needed care of the dog. Understanding all the costs associated with a dog before bringing one home can help you not become one of those statistics.

Labradoodle and woman outside at the park
Image Credit: Lopolo, Shutterstock

Shelters & Rescue Centers

The Seattle Humane Society has a 98.6% save rate, which is one of the highest rates in the country for a shelter of their size. They also work to educate the public on pet ownership and have volunteer opportunities as well. It may take multiple days to get set up to meet a pet you’re interested in and involves an application and appointment process. If there’s a specific dog you’re interested in, you can place a hold fee for the shelter to hold adoptions on that dog until you’re able to have an appointment. The Seattle Animal Shelter has a similar adoption system, and there are also many rescues in the area that provide adoption and foster opportunities.

Divider 3


Seattle is a lovely city that offers multiple unique dog-friendly opportunities, like dogs of all sizes being allowed in buses and some restaurants allowing dogs indoors. The adjustment to the weather of Seattle may be difficult, but you and your dog will have plenty of things to explore, even if it’s cold or rainy. Seattle does have a high cost of living and the cost of owning a dog can be high in the area, so make sure to plan ahead for unexpected expenses if you’re considering a move to the area.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: Agnieszka Gaul, Shutterstock