Dogs in France: A Guide for New Dog Owners

Let’s face it; as a new dog owner, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Whether you are new in France or just new to dog ownership, there are many things to learn. France is, no doubt, a dog-friendly country. In fact, it’s one of the most popular travel destinations for dog owners and their furry friends. From Paris to the French Riviera, there are plenty of places to take your four-legged friend in France. 

While living with a dog in France, it’s important to understand a few things about French pet culture and dog ownership. There are a few essential rules dog owners must keep in mind, e.g., dogs in France aren’t allowed in most public places.

While the rules and general cultural norms around dogs in France may be different than what you’re used to, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all that the country has to offer with your furry friend by your side. This article will be your guide to everything you need to know about dogs in France, from the basics of dog ownership to the rules around taking your dog out in public.

Is France dog friendly?

Dogs are very popular in France. There are about 17 dogs per 100 people, one of the world’s highest ratios. If you want to become a new dog owner in France, there’s a lot to know, including dog ownership rules and places that permit dogs.

The French are known to be dog lovers; France is the most dog-loving country globally. Research shows there are about 17 dogs per 100 people, one of the world’s highest ratios. Whether you’re touring France with your dog, immigrating, or you’re a local, France offers many dog-friendly opportunities.

The weather is also conducive for your dog. 40% of French residents list their dogs as their most priceless things. They spend close to €3 billion on dogs every year. 

Dog-friendly activities

  1. France has one ‘poodle parlor’ in each town. There’s also a canine pâtisserie in Paris where dogs are pampered and given cuisine cakes.
  2. Montpellier offers group walks for dogs and their owners every Thursday organized by the city.
  3. In Toulouse, several weekends are for dog fun activities, group walks, and educational courses.
  4. Nice had 46 green spaces and parks dedicated to dogs. It has beaches that allow dogs to swim, surf, and play. These include La Lanterne and Carras. 
  5. Toulon had several dog-friendly infrastructures and spaces. It founded the Animal Condition Delegation, which offers protection services for dogs.

Dog-friendly accommodation

Most accommodations in France are dog friendly. If on a road trip, most chain hotels on the outskirts of the cities allow dogs. Most pet-friendly accommodation in France provides you with contacts of local vets to complete all necessary health requirements before heading back home.

Some accommodations will ensure that your dog has enough water, food, and sleeping cushions, while others will let your dog sleep in the guest bedroom.

Dog-friendly camping sites

Provided your dog has a microchip, pet passport, and the necessary vaccinations, you can go camping with them in some of the country’s dog-friendly campsites. They include:

  • Camping Les Jardins de Kergal
  • Camping La Sténiole 
  • Camping Altéa
  • Camping Les Genêts

Transport

French public transport system is dog friendly. All dogs are allowed to travel on all types of trains except Eurostar. For dogs above 6kg traveling in TER, TGV, and Intercites, the fare is 50% of the 2nd class train rate, regardless of where you are seated.

Dogs weighing below 6kg must travel in a small container. There’s a standard fare of €7 for the dogs. In Bordeaux, dogs don’t require tickets. The only requirement is that they travel in baskets.

Dog-friendly holiday destinations in France

France offers many holiday destinations for you and your dog to explore. There’s countryside to roam freely and sandy beaches to surf. Some of the best dog-friendly holiday destinations include:

  • La Bergerie
  • Champs de Mars
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Oyster Farmers Bay
  • Loire Valley
  • Moreau – Le Pressoir
  • Park of the Palace of Versailles
  • Double-decker sightseeing buses

Dog-friendly parks

Some parks are dog friendly and allow dogs to roam and play inside. Big parks like Tuileries Gardens and Luxembourg Gardens have set aside small areas for dogs. These are some of the dog-friendly parks in France:

  • Jardin Nelson-Mandela
  • Square du Vert-Galant
  • Square de la Place-Dauphine
  • Square Marie-Trintignant
  • Square René-Viviani
  • Parc Monceau

Most popular dogs in France

French dogs come in various shapes, sizes, skills, and colors. Owners use them for hunting, herding, therapy, companionship, competitions, search and rescue. These are the breeds that stand out among the rest in terms of their skills and personalities:

1. English Setter

This breed is famous for hunting in France and is a great family companion. These dogs are affectionate towards family and other pets. They are energetic, making them ideal for homes with ample spaces to run around.

2. Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier is a small dog that is affectionate and acts as a good guardian. The French love this breed because its personality provides love, laughter, and companionship.

3. French Bulldog

Being the most popular of all breeds, the French bulldog has a history of being a travel companion for travelers from England to France. It’s a costly and rare breed. Their size makes them ideal for travel and snuggling.

4. American Staffordshire Terrier

These are muscular, strong dogs that make good guardians. They are intelligent, making them ideal for training.

5. Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever dogs have a history of being fishers’ helpers where they did chores like retrieving fish and hauling nets. They are kind, intelligent, playful, and great companions. Other than being pets, today, these dogs are used for assistance, search or rescue, and in competitive shows.

6. Australian Shepherd

This breed is famous for its athletic prowess. When they engage in dog sports and other activities, they are the happiest. 

7. Cavalier King Charles

The Cavalier King Charles breed is a good companion, affectionate and playful. They love running, hiking, flyball, and dog rally. Some are used for hunting, while others act as therapy dogs.

8. Belgian Malinois Shepherd

The Belgian Malinois Shepherd breed is protective and loving. It is intelligent and can learn fast. They work as sniffer dogs for police and the military. They’re not ideal for small spaces and apartments because of their high energy and physical activity.

9. Golden Retriever

Being the second most popular breed in France, the Golden Retriever is friendly and tolerant. They are good hunters and sniffers, perfect for sports, service, and therapy.

10. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a sporty, intelligent breed popular for police and firefighting work. They are courageous and excel when you train them in guiding the physically challenged, search or rescue, and herding.

11. Briard

Briard dates back to around the 8th century. In ancient Brie, France, these dogs helped in dairy farming by herding and protecting cattle from wild animals. They are full of love and are gentle, making them suitable for companionship. They are energetic and need regular exercise.

12. Beauceron

Although they’re not famous outside France, Beauceron dogs are loyal, brave, and intelligent. Police use them in their search and rescue missions. For a pet, they are affectionate and calm.

Where to buy a dog in France

When searching for places to buy a dog in France, avoid buying from websites and social media. Otherwise, you may become a victim of scammers. Below are ways you can buy a dog in France:

1. Registered breeders 

Go for registered breeders with SIRET numbers from the Chambre d’agriculture. Before buying a dog from a breeder, ensure that you get the following:

  • The dog’s microchip for identification. Although a puppy may use the label of the mother during the advertising, the seller must provide the puppy’s identification during purchase.
  • Contract/sales certificate containing the names and addresses of the seller and buyer, cost, date of purchase, and the name of the consulting vet.

For purebred dogs, you’ll need:

  1. Birth certificate
  2. Vaccination book
  3. Booklet indicating the dog’s tips on features, training tips, and needs

Buying a dog from a breeder is the most expensive option. Depending on the breed, the prices range between €500 and €5,000. Purebred dogs are more costly than mixed-bred ones.

2. Shelters

You can adopt a dog from a shelter since there are over 100,000 pets abandoned in France every year. They cost about €300.

3. Pet stores

The French government has introduced a new law against selling puppies in all pet stores by 2024.  There are orders to close all existing stores, including online shops.

Are dogs allowed in restaurants and bars in France?

The law doesn’t restrict having dogs in restaurants and bars in France. However, these places have individual policies concerning dogs on their premises. Fortunately, there are signs on the doors of restaurants and bars that don’t allow dogs.

Many restaurants and cafes allow dogs to dine inside and on the terrace. It’s, however, necessary to ask the management first before eating inside with your dog. 

There are rules to follow when dining with your dog in some of these restaurants that allow them. These rules include:

  1. Most sit-down restaurants allow dogs provided they don’t sit on the furniture and avoid disturbing the public. However, you will sit at the restaurant’s corner, away from other people.
  2. You should keep your dog on a short leash. The dog should stay out of the way or in your lap.
  3. Only well-behaved dogs are allowed. If your dog is likely to cause inconvenience to other people, best leave him at home.
  4. You must carry poop bags. 

Some known dog-friendly restaurants in France include:

  • Geppetto
  • Restaurant el Borini
  • Anna et Paul
  • Le Vieille Maison

Dog laws and rules in France

France has several regulations regarding pet ownership. Expats might find them hard to get used to, but it’s essential to respect the rules. Some of the most important laws and regulations dog owners must keep an eye on:

1. No household should have more than 9 dogs aged 4 months and above. The dogs must have daily access to water, food, and shelter.
2. To have more than 9 dogs aged above 4 months, you need to seek permission by taking a declaration.
3. Dogs shouldn’t roam anyhow. Guard dogs must be denoted and kept behind a 2m high fence. 
4. When walking in public areas, dogs must walk on the lead and be under control. If a dog is off-lead in acceptable regions, it must be within 100 meters.
5. If you don’t pick up poo, you’ll pay a fine.
6. An ‘ATTENTION CHIENS’ sign should be visible on your gate. If someone enters your gate without permission and your dog attacks them, your insurance protects you. If there’s no warning sign on the gate, you will be held liable.
7. Dogs above 4 months of age must have a microchip or tattoo identification. Owners must register them with I-CAD.
8. If you import a dog, you must register through a vet within one month of arrival.
9. Every dog owner is responsible for their dog’s physical wellbeing. You must feed, exercise, and provide medical attention to your dog.
10. It’s mandatory to vaccinate all dogs against rabies and give them a booster of the dose once a year. Other vaccinations include parvovirus, kennel cough, and distemper. A vet must record all these vaccinations in the dog’s passport.
11. Service dogs travel for free on all forms of transport in France. Small dogs should travel in bags or carriers for free. If traveling with large dogs, you must muzzle them in public transport. 

There are special rules governing Category 1 and Category 2 dog breeds. Category 1 dogs include Boerbulls, Pitbulls, and Mastiffs. Category 2 breeds include Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, and Tosa. The rules for these breeds are:

  • They should be muzzled and stay on the lead when in public places.
  • You must pay for civil registration insurance which covers attacks from dogs.
  • Owners must register the dogs at a local police station.
  • Children below 18 years and convicted criminals cannot own Category 1 and Category 2 dog breeds.

France prohibits the buying, selling, and importation of Category 1 dogs. For those that are in the country, owners should sterilize them.

Registering a dog in France

I-CAD is the most extensive database that handles carnivorous pets registration in France, including dogs. It stores all data related to these animals’ identification, including the microchips and details of the pet parents.

To register a dog in France, you visit your local vet for the necessary paperwork. The vet will fill it out, sign, and stamp it.  From the vet, you’ll have up to a month to mail it to I-CAD with a copy of the Health Certificate, proof of rabies vaccination, and a €9.23 fee.

After three weeks, you’ll receive a formal letter from I-CAD confirming the registration. This letter lists the ID details and gives you an online password to access your dog’s account on I-CAD. It also contains a detachable identity card for the dog that you can carry around for identification purposes.

Anna

Anna is an experienced expat and writer. She has been living abroad for over 6 years.

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