It's Heaven for Pets in Germany!

Germans in general love pets, particularly dogs! You will see Pets in Germany everywhere: on the train, in the restaurant, in the bookstore, everywhere! From the tiny tea-cup of a dog with little pink bows in its hair, shivering in the arms of his/her owner, to the big strong full-of-energy Bouvier pulling its master! There are even some lucky ones that travel in the front baskets of bikes.

German Shepherd playing in a park

In brief, Germany is a dog paradise on earth! They even have their own public swimming pools!

But, as for everything else, there are a few rules to follow if you want to bring your Pets to Germany.

First of all, your dog or cat must have had its vaccination against rabies at least 30 days before departure and NO EARLIER than 12 months before entering German territory. You will of course need proof of all vaccinations, to be presented at the border on your arrival. So, best to have them with you at all time during the trip.

Bouvier in Cafe, Heidelberg Also, it is now a requirement in all European Union countries that cats and dogs have an identification number, either as a tattoo that can be easily seen or as a microchip.

This identification number must correspond to the identification number of your proof of examination or vaccination.

To avoid any problem at the border, you might want to have this identification done on your pets before entering the European Union and have this number also registered on your proof of vaccination by your vet.

Another important point: Pets must now have their own "passport" issued by a vet to travel between countries inside the European Union.

Two Cool Dogs, Heidelberg Rathaus

If you live in a rented house or apartment, you must ask first your landlord if it is permissible to have a pet. You will also need a licence for your dog, but probably not for your cat. Ask your local municipal office (Rathaus) for more details about the by-laws regarding pets in your city.

As in many other parts of the world now, certain breeds of dog are NOT welcome in most German states. These breeds include: Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers. They are considered to be too dangerous. Their import to Germany is banned.

Some states, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Brandenburg, also have a second category of dangerous dogs, called Kampfhund (combat or battle dogs), such as Rottweilers. These dogs are not banned altogether, but they must go through a test for viciousness. If they pass, then they are treated the same as any other breed of dog. But if they fail, they fall under the same rules as the category 1 of dangerous dogs, such as Pit Bulls.

Even if the category 1 dogs are not completely banned by your German state of residence, they (and you) will have to comply with strict rules: they must be neutered, muzzled and kept on a leash each time they are off your property, and the owner must pay a hefty licencing fee.

Two Dogs wagging tails, somewhere in Germany

If you decide to bring your Pets in Germany, choosing the right airline company might alleviate your worries about their conditions during the flight. A good way to find out about this is to ask the company what are their standard regulations regarding the transport of pets. Some airlines do a lot more than others to make your pets comfortable. Most airlines will put the animals in a pressurized cargo bay, but some will allow clients to bring their pets with them IN the plane if the carrying crate can fit under the seat. Also, some airline companies keep the animals in a warmer cargo bay than the usual one for luggage. Above all, keep in mind that Germans generally really love animals, and they won't accept bad treatment of their pets from airlines!

For travelling, you will need a carrying crate. This crate should be free-standing, have good ventilation and be big enough for your animal to stand up and turn around before lying down. You can purchase it in advance in a pet shop, or the airline might have some. Be sure to ask when you book your tickets.

If your pet is going to travel alone and you are worried about it, there are even travel service companies for pets in Germany! They can also inform you about possible quarantine requirements of the country into which the pet will be flying.

When travelling outside of Germany in other European countries, in most cases, the proof of vaccination against rabies (older than one month but less than 12), a certificate of good health from your vet in the last 30 days, and the pet's identification number is all that is required to enter their borders. If you are unsure about the rules, ask the country's consulate or embassy or your local German car club for info.

As for Great Britain, even though their laws have changed a bit (e.g. no more lengthy quarantine for all animals), they still ask for some stricter procedures, such as an embedded microchip and vaccination against rabies less than 6 months prior to entry. For more details, go to this British government web-site UK animal welfare.

This site is about animal health and welfare, and what to do to bring your pet (dog, cat or ferret) to the UK. It is a government site and should be up to date!

Pets in Germany are the complete responsibility of their owner and any damage caused by your animal is your legal responsibility. If, for example, your dog runs after a cyclist who falls and hurts himself, you are responsible. This could involve a very expensive law-suit, especially if the person ends up disabled. So, it might be a good idea to get a personal liability policy for your dog. This insurance costs around 70 Euros per year. On the other hand, if your dog weighs 2 ounces, it might not be so necessary.

Dog must stay outside, Germany

As I said earlier, you can see pets in Germany everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. There are a few places where dogs are not allowed for obvious reasons, such as butchers and grocery stores, where the food can be a bit too easily accessible to a curious snout!

Some Pastry shops, Konditorei in German, and Cafés won't allow them either. If unsure, look in their front window or on their door for a picture of a dog with a cross through it, or a dog with an inscription underneath that says: Wir müssen leider draussen bleiben, which means; Unfortunately, we must wait outside.

Dog in train, Deutsche Bahn, Germany

On the other hand, Pets in Germany are welcome in all public transport : trains, trams, subways and buses. And because these dogs are used to be among other dogs and humans, they are generally quite calm about it! As to whether Pets in Germany need their own ticket on public transport, that is a tricky question. Officially, Deutsche Bahn asks you to pay a bit extra for your ticket if you have a pet with you. But, unofficically, we are reliably informed that conductors never ask! Maybe best to ask whenever you are buying your own ticket. After all, Pets in Germany like a ride as much as the next person!

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