Want to Predict The Hot New Neighborhood? Follow The Dogs

published Feb 16, 2018
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(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

By analyzing every single dog registration in New York City between 2012 and 2016, a new report by the New York Times claims that in order to understand urban real estate trends these days — which neighborhoods are poppin’ versus which may have begun to bottom out — all we need to do is “follow Fido.”

To document New Yorkers changing dog preferences — and how those impact real estate prices and neighborhood preferences — the NYT analyzed the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s dog license registrations from 2012 to 2016, the most recent full year data were available. For methodology, they used the health department’s (not realtors’) definition of neighborhood boundaries, and the five-borough data sets included each dog’s breed and sex plus their name and their owner’s home ZIP code.

It may seem obvious in hindsight, but who would have thought that a rise in the number of poodles (and doodles), yorkies, rare breeds and rescue mutts could so accurately track rising and falling real estate markets across a single city?

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)
“New York’s dogs are as varied as its people, and their numbers can be just as telling. They can be a cipher for understanding gentrification, and sometimes predicting it — when the designer pups arrive, rising home prices may not be far behind.”

To most people, that would be sort of stating the obvious. But two factors — one, our increasing education about how some larger dogs like Greyhounds actually make better apartment dogs than the popular toy breeds; and two, our increasingly mainstream motivation to adopt rescue dogs, including pit bill mixes and other stereotyped breeds at high risk of being put down in city shelters — is actually leading people in the upper-middle to upper classes to move from neighborhoods they typically would have been drawn toward.

Say, from the Upper West Side co-ops with the equivalent of pup pre-nups near Central Park to new-build condos catering to all the doggo amenities in Hell’s Kitchen, or from the Upper East Side to the West Village — or even, from the historically more-popular boroughs to the outer boroughs, where their rescue mutts, Rotties, and pibbles have always been not just welcome but celebrated, like in the Bronx and Staten Island, according to the NYT analysis.

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

New York is not alone in taking dog ownership trends, and their impact on real estate, as an indicator of the shifting nature of neighborhoods, urban living — and home values. In December 2017, the LA Times took a similarly in-depth look at the most popular dog breeds in Los Angeles among its 100,000 licensed canines and what those “top dogs” said about their city. Density maps put together by the LA Times show which neighborhoods are most popular with owners of each of the city’s top six dog breeds.

Shocking probably to no Legally Blonde fan, Chihuahuas are now the most popular dog breed by a long shot, with a 15.5 percent rise in popularity between 2010 and 2016 (aka double the breed’s previous numbers in the city). Terrier mixes had a 118+ percent rise in popularity, and poodles’ stock went up by more than 50 percent, as well.

For a national look at dog breed trends and how they’re changing, not just on the two coasts, BarkPost has a cool map (along with analysis) of the most popular dog breeds by state.