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How to adopt a dog in Germany as an expat?

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

As a dog owner in Germany, it is important to be aware of the legal requirements and regulations that apply to owning a dog. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about registering your dog, obtaining dog liability insurance, obtaining a dog license, obtaining a dog passport, and adopting a dog in Germany.

How to adopt a dog in Germany as an expat?

Firstly, an expat adopting a dog is no different from a German adopting a dog. The process and legal compliance are similar.

How can I adopt a dog in Germany?

If you are interested in adopting a dog in Germany, there are several options available. You can adopt from a shelter or rescue organization, or you can purchase a dog from a breeder. It is important to do your research and find a reputable organization or breeder.

When adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization, you will typically need to fill out an application and may undergo a screening process. This could involve an interview, a home visit, or a background check. The purpose of the screening process is to ensure that the dog is placed in a safe and loving home.

When purchasing a dog from a breeder, it is important to choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs. You should ask to see the breeder's facilities and meet the dogs in person before making a purchase.

In order to adopt a dog, you could reach out to places like, or, etc.

If you are looking for a breeder, you could google the breeder next to your town or city. Alternatively, you can look for breeders in your area via the official German dog breeder association (VDH). Only breeders who are official members of the VDH can legally sell dogs.

Some good to know facts about owning a dog in Germany

Registering Your Dog in Germany

In Germany, it is mandatory to register your dog with the local government authorities. This is done at the local town hall, or "Einwohnermeldeamt". When registering your dog, you will need to provide information such as your dog's breed, age, gender, and proof of ownership, such as a sales contract or vaccination record. The registration process usually involves paying a fee, which varies depending on the local regulations.

Registering your dog is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it ensures that your dog is identifiable and traceable if they go missing. Secondly, it helps to prevent dog theft, as registered dogs can be traced back to their owners.

Finally, in Germany it is a legal requirement to register your dog, and failure to register your dog can result in a fine.

  • If you move to a new address in Germany, you need to register your dog within 2–4 weeks. In most cases, you can do this in person at the Bürgeramt. You can find out how it works in your region by contacting your local Burgeramt.

  • Additionally, dog owners must pay an annual dog tax of €90-150 per animal.

  • You may receive a fine if you fail to have your dog's Steuermarke when walking.

  • Whenever your dog is in public, it must wear its dogtag (Hundesteuermarke).

  • You could get fined if your dog is not registered

Dog Liability Insurance

In Germany, it is mandatory to have dog liability insurance. This insurance protects you if your dog causes injury or damage to others. If you own a dog in Germany without liability insurance, you could be subject to hefty fines. The cost of dog liability insurance varies depending on the breed of dog and the insurance provider. It is important to shop around and find the best deal for you and your furry friend.

Dog License

A dog license is required in Germany, and the process varies depending on the state or region in which you live. In some areas, a dog license is obtained by registering your dog with the local authorities. In other areas, you may need to take a test to prove that you are a responsible dog owner. The cost of a dog license also varies depending on your location.

The purpose of a dog license is to ensure that dog owners are responsible and that their dogs are well-behaved. The license may require proof of vaccination, training, or other evidence of responsible dog ownership. Some areas also have breed-specific regulations that apply to dogs, such as restrictions on certain breeds or mandatory muzzling.

Dog Passport

If you plan to travel with your dog outside of Germany, you will need a dog passport. A dog passport is an official document that lists your dog's identification, such as microchip or tattoo number, as well as vaccination records. To obtain a dog passport, you will need to have your dog microchipped or tattooed, and then visit a veterinarian to have them fill out the necessary paperwork.

The dog passport is important for traveling with your dog because it allows you to prove that your dog has received the necessary vaccinations and is in good health. Without a dog passport, you may not be able to bring your dog with you on your travels.

Banned dog breeds in Germany

In Germany, there are certain breeds of dogs that are considered to be potentially dangerous due to their size, strength, and temperament. As a result, these breeds are either completely banned or restricted in some regions of the country. The German government and animal welfare organizations believe that these regulations are necessary to protect public safety and prevent dog attacks. The most commonly banned breeds in Germany include :

  1. Pit Bull Terrier

  2. American Staffordshire Terrier

  3. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

  4. Bull Terrier

  5. Tosa Inu

  6. Dogo Argentino

  7. Fila Brasileiro

  8. Akita Inu

  9. Mastiff

  10. Bullmastiff

These breeds are often associated with aggression and have been involved in several high-profile attacks in Germany and around the world.

However, it's important to note that not all regions in Germany have the same restrictions and regulations when it comes to these breeds. Some regions may have stricter laws than others, while some may have no restrictions at all. Additionally, some regions may have different rules for mixed-breed dogs that include one of the banned breeds.

Overall, it's important for anyone considering owning a dog in Germany to be aware of the laws and regulations in their specific region. It's also important to note that even if a breed is not officially banned or restricted, owners are still responsible for ensuring that their dog is well-behaved and does not pose a threat to public safety.

Finally, it is expected that dogs in Germany adhere to the Ruhezeiten, which are designated quiet times during the day. During these periods, dog owners are expected to limit their dogs barking. Additionally, outside of the quiet times, dogs should not bark continuously for more than a certain amount of time. This might sound surprising, but it is a real regulation. In fact, neighbors have the legal right to take action against owners whose dogs do not comply with these rules.

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