Getting fluffy company - Having a pet in Germany

Germany is big on pets and serious about animal welfare. Let us tell you about the different options for finding your furry friend, things to keep in mind, and the expenses and duties that this comes with. Subscribe with your email address to read this post. It's completely free!

Dr. Paras Mehta
Dr. Paras Mehta

No other European country loves pets more than Germany. Although Russia has the total highest number of pets, when you consider the sizes of the countries' populations, Germans are the front-runners. There are about 34 million pets living in German households, most of them are cats (14,7 million), followed by dogs (10,1 million), hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs. In fact, 45% of German households are home to a little furry friend.

So the question arises - how can you get a pet and what kind of rights and duties do you have as a pet owner?

First things first. It’s really nice to have a pet at home, especially for children or if you are alone. But it’s also a big responsibility and costs a lot of money. More than 300000 pets are abandoned in Germany every year, so it’s really important to be sure about getting a pet.

These are a good websites to check if you’re ready and what kind of animal suits you.

Bist Du bereit für ein Haustier? | Tierheime Helfen
“Should I Get a Dog?” 10 Signs You’re Ready for Pet Parenting | BeChewy
Think you’re ready for a dog? Time for a gut check to make sure. These 10 signs will help you know if you should get a dog.

‌The best place to find a pet

There are different options to find a little companion. Of course, like for everything, there is a big pet market on eBay. But not every ad is serious and sometimes it’s really hard to tell, where the pets come from and in what kind of conditions they were raised and how they were treated. So it’s highly recommended to choose a safer and ethically more justifiable way.

If you are looking for smaller animals, like rabbits, a bird or fish, you can find them in zoo stores or directly at an animal breeder. The latter option is also the safest way to find dogs or cats. There are trustworthy websites to find an animal breeder nearby. This is probably the most expensive option too. Depending on the breed, cats and dogs can cost about 500-2000 euro.

For cats:

Züchterverzeichnis - 1. DEKZV
Züchterverzeichnis - 1. DEKZV

For dogs:

Welpen- und Züchter-Suche »
Die Suche nach Welpen ist mit der Schnellsuche auf der VDH-Website denkbar einfach: Hier wählen Sie Ihre Lieblingsrasse aus, geben die PLZ und den Umkreis der Suche ein und starten die Welpensuche bzw. Züchtersuche. Jetzt testen!

‌If you already have some experience with a dog or a cat, you’re up for a challenge and you wanna do something good, you can also save a pet from an animal shelter. Almost every city in Germany has one. You can visit the place, get to know some of the animals and sometimes even take dogs out for walks. The pets from animal shelters already have a personal history. So it’s possible, that these pets have some behavior issues and need a lot of care and training. But of course it’s a great way of helping animals and it’s also not expensive. You only pay a protection fee of 150-300 euro.

For a couple of years, it became more popular to save dogs or cats from abroad, since many countries have a lot of problems with strays. There are some reliable organizations that bring animals from different, countries to new owners in Germany. The organization takes care of the transport, the medical care and the paper work. Of course, these animals have personal experiences with human beings and sometimes they are traumatized. But the organizations are really honest about the character of the dogs or cats and can give you the best advice, if one animal suits you and your family.

Here you also pay a protection fee between 150-450 euro.

Here are some examples for organizations like these:

Salva Hundehilfe – Hilfe für Hunde und Halter
Home | Ein Herz für Streuner
Ein Herz für Streuner e.V. leistet Tierschutz in Nordrumänien. Dazu gehören regelmäßige Kastrationskampagnen und die Ernährung hunderter von Hunden.
Tierschutzhunde Russland e.V.
Tierschutzhunde Russland ist ein eingetragener Verein. Straßenhunde aus Russland bekommen die Chance auf ein besseres Leben. Wir vermitteln russische Hunde in ein gutes Zuhause.

‌You got your new furry little friend. What expenses are you gonna face?

As already mentioned, having a pet brings responsibilities. And apart from taking the dog for a walk or cuddling the cat, there are of course expenses. Let’s have a quick overview on the example of what a dog costs in the first year:

  • Basic equipment (leash, bowl, basket etc.): 100-300 euro
  • Food: 200-800 euro
  • Vet: 200 euro
  • Dog tax: 40-80 euro
  • Liability insurance: 60 euro
  • Micro chip: 50 euro

Depending on your dog, the size, the needs, you have to calculate between 50-200 euro per month.

The veterinarian is a really important contact person for a pet owner. But what kind of care does your pet really need?

There are no mandatory vaccinations for pets in Germany, but some are highly recommended, such as rabies or hepatitis. Without a rabies vaccination, your animal is not allowed to travel inside of the EU.

In addition to vaccinations, your pet may need special treatment like a worm treatment, a castration or the insertion of the micro chip. What is the micro chip? The micro chip is a way of registration of your animal. It’s only for cats and dogs and it’s not mandatory in Germany, but necessary if you want to travel with your pet. The insertion is really easy, comparable with a vaccination and not painful for the animal.

There is a possibility of getting health insurance for your pet. Sometimes it really make sense, since some costs can explode real fast, for example if your pet needs surgery or gets chronic diseases like cancer. The health insurance is about 7-25 euro a month, depending on your type of pet and the services you choose.

Duties :)

Of course you need to feed your pets and take good care of them. But there are also some duties, especially for dog owners that are set by the law. We already mentioned the dog tax but there are also some other things you need to be aware of when having a dog in Germany.

Remove the poop. We all know it can be pretty disgusting, but if you decide to have a dog in Germany, you are responsible to keep the streets clean. Therefore it’s good to always have a little bag with you. In some parks there are also bags for free.

One of the big questions for dog owners is: Do I have to put on a leashor is my dog allowed to run freely. This depends on the Bundesland you are living in. Please check the special regulations individually.

Generally the dog has to be on a leash on streets with a lot of traffic, close to children and in forest areas, where hunting is allowed. In the nature, when there are no other people around and  if your dog is very well trained and listens to your command, it’s also possible to let him or her run without a leash.

In bigger cities there are a special marked areas, where the dogs can run freely and play with each other.

For some dogs it is mandatory to wear a muzzle when you are in public. This law has a history. In the 90’s there were some severe cases, where dogs injured children badly or even killed children. As a consequence and since it can be assumed that some dog races have a different kind of impulse control, wearing a muzzle became mandatory for the following dog races:

  • American Staffordshire Terrier.
  • American Pitbull Terrier.
  • Bullterrier.
  • Staffordshire Bullterrier.
  • Rottweiler.
  • Tosa Inu.

Dog school - mandatory, fun, useful?

If you want special training you can visit a dog school with your furry friend. This is not mandatory but it can be really helpful, since a well trained dog makes your life easier and also protects him/her and others. There are some common commands in Germany, that almost every dog listens to. Germans love to have everything under control. Also their pets :)

Here are the most popular commands for dogs:

  • Sitz (sit) - dog sits —> can be extremely useful in road traffic
  • Platz (down) - dog lays down
  • Bleib (stay) - dog waits, while the master moves away
  • Nein (no) - no explanation needed here ;)
  • Aus (drop) - dog has to let go of something that’s in his or her mouth
  • Bei Fuß (heel) - dog walks by the owner
  • Hier (here) - dog comes back to the owner

Going to dog school can also be great fun and strengthens the connection between master and dog. One hour with a group of others is about 20-25 euros.

Animal welfare

Animal welfare is a big thing in Germany. Some pet owners value animals more than human beings ;) So once again, it’s really important to know about the responsibilities and to check, if a pet really suits you, your family and your lifestyle.

By the way, if you wanna go on holiday and you need a place to stay for your pet, it’s not a problem. In Germany, there are so called Tierhotels (animal hotels). You can send your dogs or cats there, they will have a great time there with other fellas and you get to spend a relaxed holiday. There are also ways to find a sitter for your little one. For example the app Pawshake.

Dog Sitting and Pet Sitting with Trusted Local Sitters
Pet sitters near you who offer dog sitting, cat sitting and dog boarding for your furry friend. The Pawshake Guarantee included.

Important: If you see someone in your surroundings who isn’t treating her or his pet right, there are always ways to inform the animal welfare.

This is the hotline, you can call, if you see animals getting tortured:

0700 - 58585810

Hopefully you got an impression of how popular pets are in Germany and whether having a pet could be an option for you.

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Dr. Paras Mehta

Software developer and data scientist PhD FU Berlin | Marie Curie and Erasmus Mundus fellow | BTech DTU | Visiting Researcher Cambridge

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