Owning a Dog in Germany: All You Need To Know

a brown dog sitting on a quiet afternoon in Germany.

Dogs are very popular pets among Germans. In 2021, about 10 million people had one dog. 1,7 million had two fluffy friends. And about 350,000 Germans had three and more dogs.

Owning a dog in Germany requires a dog owner to be aware of and follow dog rules. One also needs to do extra planning and preparation when living with a pet. Getting familiar with the city’s dog laws, e.g., dog licenses, vaccination, and expected expenses, is essential for dog owners in Germany.

Owning a dog in Germany comes with the responsibility and education you will need to go through. Experienced dog owners will adapt quickly to life with a pet in Germany, while it might take a bit of time for newbies.

Whether you are looking to buy one or bring one from your home country, there are various rules and regulations to watch out for. Currently, about 12 million happy dog owners are living in Germany. If you want to become one, this article will be super helpful. You can also read our post about pet insurances in Germany.

Also read our guide on the cost of dog ownership in Germany.

Moving to Germany with a dog

The good news is that most dog owner can bring their dogs to Germany. Restrictions only apply to the banned breeds, such as Pitbulls.

Nonetheless, moving with a pet to Germany requires a good amount of preparation and planning. Here is the checklist of what your dog must have before traveling to Germany:

1. Microchip

Before bringing your dog to Germany, it must be microchipped. The chip must be ISO 11784/11785 compliant.

2. EU Pet Passport

If you are moving to Germany with pets from another EU country, you only need to show the official EU Pet Passport.

For travel within the EU, the EU pet passport is required. It must contain information on the pet owner, identification of the animal, rabies vaccination, and – depending on the country of travel – tapeworm treatment.

3. Rabies vaccination

Dogs must have a rabies vaccination for at least 21 days before traveling to Germany.

4. Rabies blood test

When arriving from a country with high rabies risk, you also need to show a particular blood test. See the full list of countries here. Contact your vet in case your dog needs such test.

5. Animal Health Certificate (for non-EU countries)

If you are bringing a dog from a non-EU country, you will need an additional certificate called AHC. This document is issued by an official veterinarian and essentially is a pet passport.

Similarly to the pet passport, an AHC includes information like the pet owner’s details, the dog’s description, rabies vaccination details, and a rabies blood test (if required). Keep in mind that AHC is valid only for 10 days after it was issued.

Keep in mind that the import of dangerous dog breeds is prohibited in Germany. These include:

  • Pitbulls
  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers
  • and Bull Terriers

Also read this article about owning a cat in Germany.

Buying a dog in Germany

There are few places you can get your new friend in Germany. These include:

  • Breeders
  • Dog shelters
  • Online marketplaces

Dog breeders in Germany

There are plenty of dog breeders you can buy a dog from. Always look out for a certified one.

Pay attention to the price of puppies that are offered. Usually, a good breeder won’t provide a dog for less than 500 EUR. Breeders invest money to raise a puppy properly, and to manage it under 500 EUR is very difficult unless the conditions are inappropriate.

To find a breeder close to you, google Züchter or visit this site.

Registered good breeders are usually interested in getting to know you as a person. They will allow visits to see the puppies, their mother, and the room they are growing up in. They will also have dewormed the puppies several times and provide you with a purchase contract and health & vaccination record. 

It’s recommended to visit several breeders and compare the conditions where they grew up before buying one.

Dog shelters

Dog shelters are also known as Tierheim or Tierschutzverein and can be found across the country. There are many dogs, including puppies and grown-ups, waiting for their new home. Adopting a dog is the best what you can do when getting a pet in Germany.

Online offers

Online marketplaces are a common way to get a pet in Germany. They usually connect a breeder or dog owner with a potential buyer.

Nowadays, the internet is full of dog ads. Some offers are legit, while some might be suspicious or even fraudulent.

Moreover, you can often see “mass-produced” puppies being sold online. They mostly come from breeders of Eastern European countries. Be careful with such offers and always check the detailed information of the seller.

Here are some popular and trusted websites in Germany:

Dog prices in Germany

If you are looking to buy a dog, it’s good to know how much it will cost. The amount you pay highly depends on the breed and the breeder.

If you buy your dog from a reputable breeder, you can expect a price of around 1,000 EUR. Depending on the breed, your dog may also cost 500 EUR and 2,000 EUR on the upper end.

A dog from the shelter is the least expensive option ranging from 150 EUR to a maximum of 400 EUR.

Dog breeders in Germany

Buying a dog through a certified breeder is the most popular way to get a dog in Switzerland. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when finding, visiting, and choosing the right one.

Firstly, you should always visit a breeder of your interest to get to know them personally, check the conditions and see the puppies.

You want to have an honest and open-minded breeder, ready to provide references from other families previously adopted from them.

Here is the checklist when picking the right breeder in Germany:

  1. The mother looks healthy and happy.
  2. Puppies are healthy, lively, playful, and fearless.
  3. A kennel is clean and well-maintained.
  4. Dogs have contact with the family, opportunities to run, and have their own areas.
  5. Breeder asks potential buyers whether they can and have the capacity to raise a dog.
  6. Breeder knows their breeds’ genetic conditions.
  7. Dogs are verifiably vaccinated and dewormed.
  8. Breeder belongs to a German breeding association.
  9. Breeder willingly answers all your questions.
  10. Breeder has a VDH seal of approval – this sign controls a breeding quality.
  11. Breeder provides a legally correct buying contract.

Also, pay attention to the age of puppies. In general, they shouldn’t be separated from their mother and siblings until they are 10 to 12 weeks old.

How to adopt a dog in Germany

A dog in the midst of rushing streets in Germany.

Adopting a dog is always a good idea. You can choose between hundreds of rescue animals in one of the animal welfare shelters. Getting a dog from the shelter requires some research and planning. You will also need to make time for several visits to several shelters.

If you adopt a dog from a German animal shelter, you will probably need to pay a fee and sign a contract. You’ll also get advice on dog care, education, and housing.

Don’t expect to leave a shelter with a dog on the first day. Good shelters may require several visits – especially with more nervous dogs that take a while to warm up to strangers.

You may be asked questions about your working habits, living arrangements, plans for the future, and experience with dogs or that particular breed of dog.

So the shelter can ensure that your lifestyle is a good fit for the dog. It also minimizes the chance of you having to give the animal back in the future. 

Adopting a dog isn’t a financial burden compared to buying one. A good shelter covers the cost of medication and medical treatment for elderly animals that are adopted, and you can get free food for the dog if you pick it up yourself.

How much does it cost to adopt a dog in Germany?

The adoption fee varies from shelter to shelter. Nonetheless, getting a dog from the rescue home is the most inexpensive alternative. Expect to pay between 150 EUR and 400 EUR.

As an example, in the Berlin tierheim, you can expect to pay up to 205 EUR for a dog.

Renting with a dog

Before you get a dog in Germany, you must ensure your living situation allows you to do so. The first thing is to ask your landlord for permission.

Generally, the landlord can not forbid you to keep a dog, but they might cancel your rental contract if it states that pets aren’t allowed. You basically break the conditions of the agreement.

If you keep a dog in a rented apartment without letting a landlord know it, you may face a termination without notice.

Besides, if your neighbors are disturbed by the dog, your landlord can revoke your permission to keep the dog, and you will need to leave the apartment.

Overall, finding a dog-friendly apartment is challenging in any country, Germany including. Many landlords refuse tenants with any pets since they have a wide choice of potential candidates.

However, finding a pet-friendly house in Germany isn’t impossible. You can increase your chances by offering a higher rent, higher deposit, and securities. You should also agree with a landlord on reimbursement of any damages if your dog does any harm to the apartment.

It might take a while before finding a suitable accommodation that also allows pets. The following tips will help you find a rental with a dog in Germany:

1. Ask for references from previous landlords, trainers, or veterinarians

Having proof that you were previously a great tenant with a dog might help your prospective landlord consider your case. Even if they do their research, it will show you are responsible enough to have the information they need in advance.

Having a reference from your veterinarian showing that your dog has all the latest vaccinations might alleviate fears that it can be a threat to other tenants. 

2. Show your dog liability insurance

You can also try to convince a landlord by providing proof of a dog liability insurance. This insurance makes sure that any damage in the apartment is covered. Completing dog training might also help to position yourself as a confident dog owner with a well-trained dog.

3. Offer higher rent

When all fails, and the only property that is appealing to you has multiple offers from non-pet owners, offer to pay more rent to be given an audience. Money might just save the day and afford a favorable tenancy agreement. 

Dog rules in Germany

A dog drinking on a flowing faucet.

The rules for pets in Germany might restrict you and your dog in some way. But following them is essential to keep order in the country.

Moreover, dogs aren’t allowed in grocery stores, post offices, or other public buildings.

In addition to the national animal regulations, almost every German federal state has its rules and guidelines. Consequently, when entering or moving to another state, you need to check their requirements and rules.

1. Mandatory registration

All dogs must be registered within Bürgeramt within 2-4 weeks after buying or bringing your dog to Germany.

Dog owners who, for some reason, don’t register their dog might face a fine of 10,000 EUR.

2. Microchip

Each federal state has its guidelines on whether a dog must have or doesn’t have a microchip. Dogs of dangerous breeds must be microchipped in all German states.

At the same time, a microchip is required if you want to travel abroad with a dog.

Additionally, you could register your dog with TASSO, Europe’s biggest pet register. They help find your dog in case you ever lose them. You will receive a TASSO dog tag. 

3. Dog tag

After registering your dog at Bürgeramt, you will receive a dog tag (Hundemarke) from your municipality. A dog must wear it when outside.

4. EU Pet passport

In Germany, your dog needs a pet passport if you want to travel with them in the EU. This passport is issued by the vet and is valid in the entire EU.

The pet passport is a small booklet that provides all of the essential information on your dog, including an identification number and proof of all relevant vaccinations. It’s valid for a dog’s entire life.

5. Leash

In some German federal states, keeping a dog on a leash is mandatory, particularly in Hamburg and Berlin. There, dogs must always be leashed.

In Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia, on the other hand, there are no general regulations on mandatory leashing.

In the state of Bremen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein, and Saarland, dogs must be on a leash only in certain places.

These include:

  • restaurants
  • forests
  • public green spaces
  • cemeteries
  • pedestrian zones
  • offices
  • administrative
  • commercial buildings

For example, states of Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Hesse, Thuringia, and Schleswig-Holstein, the maximum leash length for dangerous dogs is limited to one or two meters.

Depending on the state, some additional leash requirements apply for dangerous dog breeds. Generally, you must keep a dog on a leash in all public areas – except in Bavaria. The only exception to this rule are dog parks. There they can more freely.

Furthermore, dangerous dog breeds must wear muzzles in all states, except Bavaria and Hesse.

6. Picking dog’s poo

As a dog owner, you are responsible for what your dog leaves behind; hence, the poo must be picked regardless of the location.

One should carry a poop bag on every walk. If you get caught leaving your dog’s waste in the park or on the sidewalk, expect to pay a fine up to 100 EUR, which increases to 200 EUR if you are caught a second time.

7. Dogs in public places

Many places are free for dogs to enter, yet, there are many restrictions too. For example, you can’t take a dog inside of:

  • grocery store
  • restaurant with an open kitchen
  • playgrounds for children
  • public beaches

8. Dogs in public transport

Depending on the dog’s size, you can take them on the train or bus with or without a carrier. The rule is that dogs of the size of a regular cat can travel for free inside a carrier. For larger dogs, you don’t need a carrier but must purchase a ticket.

For trains operated by the Deutsche Bahn, you pay the price for a child ticket. Besides, your dog needs to be leashed and wear a muzzle at all times.

However, your dog of bigger size can also travel for free if:

  • You have a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly pass
  • A dog is a guide dog
  • You have a student ticket
  • You have an apprentice ticket

9. Dog handler certificate

Depending on the state and dog breed, you might also need a dog handler certificate (Hundeführerschein). In Lower Saxony, Hamburg, and Bremen, it’s a must-have for all dog owners.

What is a dog handler certificate? A dog handler certificate is evidence of competence for dog owners. To obtain it, the owner must pass an examination together with his dog. Since there are no uniform nationwide guidelines, clubs and associations determine the contents of the test individually.

In the following federal states, a dog handler certificate is only obligatory for dogs of dangerous breed or if a dog’s hight is 40 cm+:

  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia

You can get a dog handler certificate at certain dog schools. It costs between 80 EUR to 100 EUR. To get this paper, you need to take a theory and a practical exam.

Rules for dangerous breeds

Additional rules and requirements apply to the owners of so-called dangerous breeds. There include Pitbulls, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Bull Terriers. You should check with your states what guidelines they prescribe.

Insurances for your dog

A Siberian husky owned by a German citizen.
“My 5 months old husky Benni”

Similarly to humans, dogs in Germany also might have insurance. These include liability and health insurance. The second one is up to you; the signup isn’t mandatory. At the same time, many states will require you to purchase liability coverage for your pet.

States where dog liability is mandatory for all dog breeds: 

  • Berlin
  • Hamburg
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Lower Saxony
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia

Besides that dangerous dog breeds must have insurance in these states: 

  • Baden-Wurttemberg
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hesse
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxons

Additionally, you should consider getting pet health insurance to cover your vet bills and potentially any needed surgeries. Purebreds tend to have more varying health problems that occur more frequently.

Visiting a vet can be pricey in Germany, especially when it comes to operations. Therefore, having health coverage for your dog is highly recommended but not obligatory.

What about the cost?

Depending on the provider, a dog owner’s liability insurance cost is around 50 EUR per year. Insurance from Getsafe starts from 2,5 EUR per month.

Use Tarifcheck to compare prices.

The cost of dog health insurance range significantly among providers, but you can expect to pay between 20 and 50 EUR per month. Check out Luko (ex Coya) or Getsafe insurance for that. See full review on coverages from Luko.

Read more about pet insurance in Germany.

Dog liability insurance (Hundehaftpflichtversicherung)

Every year, dog owners in Germany report an average of 100,000 claims for damages caused by their dogs.

A dog owner liability insurance protects you against damages and followed by it financial burdens caused by your dog.

Without this insurance, you are liable for the damages with all your assets. If your dog injures another person, costs can go into many thousands of euros.

In some German states, liability insurance is mandatory for all dogs; in others, only for specific breeds.

If you travel with your dog, make sure your insurance also covers you in other countries. If your dog is a dangerous breed, make sure your insurance covers dangerous breeds.

The best and cheapest providers for dog liability insurance in Germany are Luko (ex Coya) (ENG), Getsafe (ENG) and PETPROTECT (DE).

Dog health insurance (Tierkrankenversicherung)

Health insurance for pets (Tierkrankenversicherung) works almost the same way health insurance for humans does. It pays for your visits to the vet.

Be aware that standard routine treatments such as vaccinations, castrations, or sterilizations are often not covered by insurance. However, it’s helpful if your pet needs some serious treatment like surgeries, where costs can go quickly into thousands.

If you don’t want to pay for your dog’s visits to the vet from your pocket, it’s better to take out pet health insurance.

The best and most adorable dog health insurance in Germany is provided by Luko (ex Coya) (ENG) and Getsafe (ENG).

Coverage of the dog health insurance includes:

  • veterinary and surgical costs for outpatient, inpatient, and surgical treatments, medication, accommodation, and diagnostics for your pet.

It usually covers:

  • Necessary operations and treatments
  • Dental treatments
  • Hospital stays up to 20 days after surgery
  • Necessary medication
  • Treatments and emergencies while abroad

Dog tax in Germany

Dog owners in Germany are also taxpayers. When you register your fluffy friend, you automatically become liable for a dog tax (Hundesteuer).

The current tax rate differs from state to state and comes to around 50 EUR and 100 EUR per year. You can see the difference in the table below (as of May 2020). Generally, the dog tax is higher in large cities and lower in small towns and villages.

CityFirst DogSecond DogAdditional Dogs
Berlin120 €180 €180 €
Bremen150 €150 €150 €
Chemnitz100 €135 €165 €
Dortmund156 €204 €228 €
Frankfurt90 €180 €180 €
Hamburg90 €90 €90 €
Hannover132 €240 €240 €
Cologne156 €156 €156 €
Munich100 €100 €100 €
Stuttgart108 €216 €216 €
Source: mademoisellein.de

Cost of owning a dog in Germany

Another essential factor all future dog owners need to be aware of is the cost of having a dog in Germany. One needs to ensure an appropriate budget that is available each month to cover all necessary and incidental pet expenses.

The food costs and insurances are the most significant expenses. With that said, owning a small, healthy dog costs at least 50 EUR per month. For a large dog, you should expect up to 300 EUR.

Read the full guide on how much does it actually cost to have a dog in Germany.

The exact number depends on the dog breed. You can expect to spend between 1,000 EUR and 3,000 EUR on your dog per year.

Regular dog’s expenses are:

  • Dog food
  • Healthcare, e.g., vet visits, medicaments
  • Insurance premiums
  • Dog tax
  • Grooming and other care products
  • Toys

However, you can decide not to take out health insurance by saving some money that way.

Food costs vary. You can choose between dry food, wet food, fresh meat, or cook regular meals yourself. In general, you should plan at least 25 to 50 EUR per month for food.

You also need to visit a vet regularly to ensure your pup is doing well. Here are some typical medical expenses:

  • Deworming, once a year: 25 to 50 EUR
  • Vaccinations per year: 35 to 60 EUR
  • General examination once a year: 30 to 50 EUR

For special examinations such as blood tests, X-rays, ultrasound, or surgery, veterinary practices charge from 100 EUR and upwards.

Costs (EUR) Things you need for a dog
Dog’s purchasing price150 – 2,000Purchasing price will depend on the place where you buy it, breed, etc.
Initial expenses 500 – 1,000 Food and water bowl, leash, collar, basket, transport box, veterinary costs for castration, vaccinations, deworming, chipping, registration, and optional courses (e.g., puppy training)
Annual expenses1,000 – 2,000 Depending on the dog’s size and your choice: food, accessories, dog tax, liability and health insurances, regular veterinary expenses for vaccinations and parasite treatments, stay in daycare centers, etc.
Monthly expensesapprox. 165

The breakdown:

  • Purchase costs – 150 to 450 EUR one time
  • Essential equipment (bed, food & drink bowl, bed, leash, collar, etc.) – 200 EUR one time
  • Dog food – 20 to 200 EUR monthly
  • Healthcare (vaccines, etc.) – one time 250 EUR
  • Insurances – 30 to 150 EUR monthly
  • Dog tax –  30 to 100 EUR annually
  • Total expenses monthly: approx. 165 EUR

Besides, you might need to leave your dog in the care center from time to time. This will cost between 20 and 30 EUR per day.

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