City Weekend

Why owning a dog in Hong Kong is still harder than in many international cities

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 October, 2016, 8:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 October, 2016, 8:30am

Animal welfare groups say Hong Kong is falling behind other major world cities in how it caters for dog owners with the animals still banned from the city’s public transport, public housing, most restaurants and many public parks. This makes it hard for the city’s 166,500 dog owners to give their pooches adequate exercise and really enjoy the benefits of keeping a pet. By contrast, there are many dog-friendly policies in New York, Paris and London.

New York

There could be as many as 900,000 dogs in New York, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. But about 75 per cent of landlords are reluctant to let private housing tenants keep pets. New York City’s pet law states that if you have openly kept a pet for three months then the landlord cannot suddenly enforce the rule against you. Small dogs are allowed to travel on subway trains and buses, so long as they are in a container, and can travel in taxis at the driver’s discretion. Dogs are also allowed to dine at the city’s outdoor cafes.


There are an estimated 500,000 dogs in the city. They can be taken on public transport but smaller dogs must be kept in a basket or cage, while larger dogs must be muzzled and kept on a lead. Not all of the city’s parks allow dogs, but many do if they are kept on a leash. Restaurants and shops tend to be relatively dog-friendly. Some restaurants will even let you keep your dog on a chair at the dining table. Housing is where it gets little trickier; landlords are sometimes opposed to letting properties to dog owners.


Dog ownership has reportedly gone up, with at least 8 per cent of Londoners (about 690,000 households) now keeping at least one dog, despite private housing tenants facing increased deposit costs and cleaning costs by landlords. The city is well catered for in terms of parks, with the areas around Hyde Park, Regents Park and Green Park being particularly popular. Dogs and other small domestic animals are permitted to travel on trains, the Tube and buses. Some restaurants are dog-friendly.