Dog in the City

Top 10 Dog Friendly Countries

There are many places in the world where animal rights are virtually non-existent and then there are countries where pets are considered first-class citizens. We’ve compiled a list of the top ten dog friendly countries in the world.

Which country requires that you take a test in order to own a dog? Where is there a law requiring all pets access to a “sunny window” while indoors?  Find out below and see if your country made the list.

10. United Kingdom

The UK is considered a dog friendly nation however there are some breed bans which are based purely on physical appearance. For example any dog that is reported to look like a Pit bull has to be evaluated and sadly has the potential to be euthanized (this is the same in neighboring Ireland).

On the positive side, in London’s parks dogs are allowed off leash and in the city the leash laws are lax and dogs are generally allowed in pubs and on public transit. There has been a boom in dog specialty shops in recent years offering more choices for grooming, accessories and other products.

In Wales, dogs are allowed on some designated beaches all year round, and most others between the beginning of October and the end of April. Although they are not allowed in restaurants, dogs can be taken on public transit and in most pubs.

9. Switzerland

Switzerland currently has a ban on Rottweiler’s, Doberman Pinschers, Pit bulls, Mastiff, Cane Corsos and many more. In some towns there are bans that don’t specify breeds but instead have a list of certain banned attributes. Unfortunately some people understand this to mean that there is a grey area that could possibly get any dog banned.

In most Swiss cities there are laws or guidelines on how to live with your dog (and all other pets) and it is common to have a pet lawyer.

A potential dog owner must also pass written and practical testing in order to own a dog, kind of like a driver’s license. Boutiques and doggie daycares are gaining more popularity.

8. Australia

In Australia there are many dog beaches and parks where dogs are allowed off leash but also lots of restrictions where dogs are not allowed. For example they are not allowed in national parks in order to protect wildlife. In some states dogs are allowed off leash in parks unless otherwise posted and they must be on a leash on all pedestrian paths. Most states have a restriction on how close dogs can be to playground equipment.

There are some breed specific bans in the country, for example in the state of Victoria recent legislation has banned Pit bulls after a Pit bull mix killed a young child.

For the most part restaurants and cafes will allow dogs to sit outside, but animals are not allowed inside restaurants, shopping centers or other public spaces. They can be taken on public transit if they are muzzled and/or in a crate or carrier.

According to the law dogs must have access to water at all times and crating your dog is perfectly legal.

7. Canada

Canada is considered part of the dog friendly countries due to the abundance of services being offered such as dog hotels, doggie bakeries, boutique shops and specialty grooming.

In most cities dogs are not allowed in stores, in many parks, or on public transit unless they are in a crate or carrier. Muzzles are not required but dogs should be on a leash while walking in the street or park. Some restaurants will allow a dog on the patio during the summer months. It is common to spot doggie bowls by doorways or doggie biscuits being offered at most convenience store counters or cafes.

In Vancouver, BC there are a few wooded parks where dogs are allowed off leash but if you want to play Frisbee with your dog on a playing field, you are out of luck. However, there are many fenced off dog play areas available in the city.

There are breed specific bans across the country but every municipality or province is different. For example, Ontario is the only province in Canada to ban Pit bulls, and they are also banned in Winnipeg, but not any other parts of Manitoba.

6. USA

The US has the world’s biggest dog population with one dog for every four Americans. They are considered a leader in dog services offering various therapies (e.g. autism and psychiatric treatment) doggie spas and restaurants.

In many States in the US there are restrictions and leash laws with the intention to protect people in public places. Maryland just recently passed a law to allow dogs on restaurant patios with the restaurant owner’s approval. In California dogs must be on a leash in most public spaces and allowed off leash only in some remote areas.

In Massachusetts dogs are allowed on public transit except during rush hour. In many cities across the country stores (typically non-food) are lax and will allow dogs inside. In Boise there are lots several dog parks where dogs can go off leash.

Many counties have specific breed bans but on the bright side training and dog psychology is very much built into American culture. Crating is legal and (usually) embraced.

5. Germany

In Germany certain breeds (e.g. Akbash, Staffies, Dogos) must be muzzled in public, unless they have been evaluated for safety. All other breeds are allowed without a muzzle on public transit and most of the time on the train. It is very common to see dogs in restaurants and pubs. Dogs are allowed of leash in many areas. “On leash” areas are marked in public parks. Off leash is everywhere else.

Shelters don’t put dogs to sleep. Most shelters have acceptable living conditions for the dogs staying there (two dogs in one kennel if possible, daily walks, heated indoor area, behavioral training, working with volunteers) and try their best to make adoptions happen. Citizens in Germany pay a dog tax in order to avoid having to put dogs down and they usually accept strays from nearby countries like France.

Most people consider it a bad idea to have a dog if you are working all day long. Leaving a dog alone for 8 hours a day is generally not accepted. Neither is crating. Dogs stay loose in the house when left alone.

4. Hungary

In Hungary dogs are allowed in cafes, restaurants and other public places. Many dogs walk off leash with owners, even along crowded Budapest streets. It is common to see people walking their dogs for hours at a time in the parks or in the city on errands.

Registration and microchips are mandatory and spay/neutering is commonplace but not compulsory. There is a long list of legal requirements for exercise and medical checkups for all pets. Docking ears or tails is not allowed.

Like many of the other dog friendly countries, in Hungary it is considered bad to leave a dog for many hours in the day.

3. Sweden

In Sweden dogs are allowed off leash in many areas but you will find dogs are not allowed inside most restaurants and shops. In buses and on trains there most often is a part declared for pets.

There are no country-wide breed specific bans, however there was a time in the 90’s when Pitt bulls were illegal but the ban was revoked since authority figures determined it was an owner problem and not a breed problem. Sweden officials estimate less than 1% of dogs are Pit or Pit mixes. 10% of dog bites reported to police are Pit or Pit mixes. Often dog owners will pay off victims to keep bites from being reported because they know they will lose their dog.

Keeping a dog in a crate is generally unacceptable unless it is for training or traveling and even then there must be breaks every 2 hours. In doggie daycare it is required that all animals must be able to see out a “sunny window”.

Dogs aren’t allowed to be left alone for more than six hours per day, although this is more a guideline than an absolute rule. It is required by law that dogs must be taken for walks outside the house.

Spaying and neutering is normal, unlike in neighboring Norway where it is illegal unless they are overly aggressive.

2. Netherlands

In Amsterdam the leash laws are lenient allowing dogs in most restaurants, cafes, and shops. Many hotels and establishments are dog friendly and dogs are off leash in most parks (there are hardly any with only dog-specific fenced areas) and often on the street as well.

In order to take your dog on public transit you have to pay for a dog ticket which costs just a few Euros to go anywhere in the country. Crating is legal but used only when necessary (travel, training etc.)

In the Netherlands, many people cannot own dogs if they have any convictions (e.g. for drugs or shoplifting) on their record.

1. France

France is the friendliest in our list of dog friendly countries in the world. Owners can bring their pets into supermarkets (outside the food area), shopping centers, and they are welcomed in almost all restaurants. It is common for dogs to be served a bowl of cool water before even getting the menu, especially in summer, and often times they are offered a treat.

In many towns and villages in France there are dog “loo” points where bags are provided free of charge to pick up after your pets, and there are bins for disposal, so there really is no excuse not to clean up. There are no leash or muzzle laws unless you have an “attack” or “guard” dog like a Pit bull or Mastiff.

Overall France has 61 million domestic animals and nearly half of all households have a pet member. With the most dog ownership in Europe, there are countless dog services, pampering and boutiques in France.

Honorable mention:  Belgium, Estonia, Finland and Poland.


Do you live in a dog friendly country? Tell us in the comments below.


13 Responses to Top 10 Dog Friendly Countries

  1. Anna May 19, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    I live in Germany and have to make some corrections to what you said. Especially about “on leash” and “off leash” areas. Many cities have designated “off leash” areas, that are sometimes marked by signs, but very often you have to find a map online that shows these areas, this map then is mostly provided by local authorities. Areas that are not specifically marked as “off leash” are “on leash” areas and getting caught with your dog running free in such an area can be quite costly. Furthermore, many public transport and the train company do require dogs to wear muzzles, not doing so, and not being able to show that you carry a muzzle with you to put on the dog when asked can again be pretty expensive. It depends on the city how strictly these laws are enforced, but this is the general rule. Also many shops do not allow dogs to come inside, also some restaurants.
    Sorry if this now sounds much more depressing that your idea of how dog friendly Germany is, but it still is pretty good.

  2. Alex June 4, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    How about “Top 10 PEOPLE Friendly Countries”? Do you have that list?

    Because dogs chase, attack, bite and kill people. Nearly 5 million times PER YEAR in the US alone! Nobody cares? Amazing. Uncivilized. BARBARIC.

    • consolacion barcenas April 30, 2015 at 8:16 am #

      Stupid comment.

  3. Alex June 9, 2014 at 3:24 am #

    How about NOT censoring my comment?

    How about “Top 10 PEOPLE Friendly Countries”? Do you have that list?
    Because dogs chase, attack, bite and kill people. Nearly 5 million times PER YEAR in the US alone! Nobody cares? Amazing. Uncivilized. BARBARIC.

  4. Alex June 9, 2014 at 3:25 am #

    Huh? I don’t understand… a minute ago my original comment was not visible… but when I re-post it, suddenly it’s visible? Anyway, sorry – didn’t mean to double-post!

  5. Thames June 14, 2014 at 4:04 am #

    Oh really Alex….people chase, bite, stab, maim, rape, shoot, burn, blow up, torture, eat, abuse, terrorize, mutilate and more over 50 million times a year to other people… Go live on another planet dbag.

  6. Lis August 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Nice article! But I live in Sweden and have a few corrections … dogs are actually allowed in most shops. My local shopping mall has special dogs’ day each year. In the situations they are not (i.e. Ikea) the reason given is to protect people with allergies.

    They’re also generally allowed in outdoor seating at restaurants; sometimes if there is a bar attached to a restaurant, they’re allowed in the bar area. Also, most dogs aren’t spayed and neutered.

    Also, you forgot to mention that dogs are allowed in restaurants in Switzerland 🙂

  7. Michal November 24, 2014 at 2:06 am #

    The article does not have much to do with facts.
    In Australia, it is legal to be irresponsible dog owner. Therefore, the the owners do not care and councils do not accept complaints or if they do they do nothing. Legislation does not allow any sensible powers. Legislation does not require owners to take responsibility. Responsibility or duty of owners are not defined. Dogs are left alone and they cry for most of the day 14 hours and longer. Early in the morning and late after midnight. The RSPCA, (animal cruelty is their mission) they kill more dogs than anybody else. Killing thousands of dogs is not prevention of cruelty.They deliberately advise minister to keep the status quo. This way they get the millions of dollars from government for killing. Dogs on the beaches defecate and no owner picks it up. Dogs make lots of noise, dogs chase and bite people. Council inspectors confess that many owners when approached and asked to control their dogs, they tell the inspector p…. off. This is a consequence of the legislation which makes sure no dog owner take responsibility. Inspectors routinely lie and do all wrong. Australian policy on dogs is a dog cruelty policy. Government refuse to legislate a proper legislation but is happy to leave the sad reality when desperate people must kill the crying neglected dog secretly. It is a major humanitarian crises.
    Mentally ill own dogs even when they are not able to care for themselves. Government unfortunately behave like psychopaths. Government lives in a fantasy world. Years ago when wanted to own a dog, I had problem to get information from the council about my duty. They never give to owners, owners must ask and hardly anyone does. So, the government is absolutely determined not to stop cruelty and negligence.
    Government to make sure that dogs suffer, adopted many stupid procedures, one of them is openly demanding that the dog must suffer at least a month of negligence – Barking diary. Then government does nothing. Corruption and anti dog policy.
    I propose for decades that government must introduce a proper legislation where all owners must take full responsibility for their dogs. It must be defined. Basically; to choose proper breed for environment (city, farm etc), train owner and dog properly, care for properly.
    Finishing my comment. A good example is a blind people guide dog. Well chosen, well trained, well looked after. Why not apply to all dog and owners?

  8. StaffordshireBT December 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    I have some more corrections about the UK.

    I find the following statement highly misleading… “For example any dog that is reported to look like a Pit bull has to be evaluated and sadly has the potential to be euthanized”.

    The writer has not understood the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) at all. The breed-specific legislation “bans” pitbulls, but what we define as a pitbull is not the same as the much broader way Americans use the term. Also Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliera and Japanese Tosa, but the American’s aren’t so bent out of shape by that. Fear not America, your definition of pitbull and ours aren’t the same. Ours is far narrower.

    My dog is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier crossbreed. She would, in America, likely be referred to as a pitbull. She is under no danger from the DDA at all. Even if she was considered to be pitbull “type”, under thorough examination, the worst that is likely to happen as a result is that I will be expected to muzzle her and keep her on a lead (leash) in public places as she is already chipped, neutered and adequately insured. If she bites someone however, then the law is firmer. Dogs euthanased under the DDA have either shown aggression (usually including injuries) or belong to people who the courts can find no confidence in as owners. If my dog was, by some impossible twist, ever considered to be 100% pure out-and-out pitbull, she would still be coming home to me… Because I’m an average law abiding citizen and so is she.

    I’m not advocating for the DDA, it’s a really poor bit of legislation, but I am saying you have marked us down for it without understanding it and I dislike that.

    I also dislike the way Wales gets a mention for having dog-friendly beaches when in fact that’s common everywhere else in the UK too (you have managed to entirely omit Scotland and Northern Ireland I see). Most beaches are open to dogs from about October to April, around the entire UK, with there being a number open all year round too. In inland areas you will find the same in parks, nature reserves (where usually dogs are welcome on a lead), woodlands and so on. It is difficult, bordering on impossible, to think of anywhere I have ever been where I have had to travel more than 10 minutes to find an open space to let my dog off the lead in legally.

    There are no laws about dogs in restaurants, or pubs (which are more often than not trading mainly on their food, not on the bar takings). Individual establishments make their own decisions. The majority of pubs and cafe’s will allow dogs. Most restaurants with outside seating allow dogs outside. Certified assistance dogs however, have the full protection of the law and can go anywhere at all, even if the establishment usually will not permit them.

    I think you’ve been remarkably unfair in your summary.

    Furthermore, we have incredibly strict animal laws, such as the Animal Welfare Act. If you close the door when the dog is outside in the garden (yard) you are breaking the law if there is not a clean dry kennel and a fresh bowl of water out there;- even though you may only need the dog outside for 15 minutes to feed another dog in peace! If your animal is distressed when you go to work, you are breaking the law every day that you do not resolve the issue. An unusual food choice can also be illegal (eg. vegan diets for carnivores) even with no evidence of illness, if a vet deems it likely to lead to illness in future. It is illegal in almost-all cases to chain a dog up. Leaving your dog in the car can result in a ban on keeping any animal at all, and indeed this has happened on many occasions (including to a serving police officer who forgot his police dog was in the van and consequently received a ban and lost his job… but no matter, that is still better than the dog had it). Legislation comes into force this spring to make it an offence to have a dog who is not micro-chipped, and at present every dog must wear a tag with owner’s details.

    You may need to check it but I think animal welfare charity spending per capital is the highest in the world, with he majority of “shelter” dogs being adopted not killed. I understand the US’s situation is the reverse.

    If I could pick my own re-incarnation next time I’d come back as a family Labrador in coastal Scotland.

    • Aly December 20, 2014 at 7:52 am #

      I was lucky enough to spend some time with my miniature bull terrier in Scotland in 2012. Before going there, I honestly thought Latvia was ok for dogs. But now I dream that one day it will be the same here as what I experienced in Scotland. I have never met so many dog-friendly people anywhere as I did there. And I was so surprised about the off leash rules, so many places where I could let my dog play with his toys and not be bothered by nasty comments about “killer dog” like I am here. It was all in all a great experience! (Except the weather, man, did it RAIN!)

  9. Alice May 3, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

    I would like to recommend about another country “Thailand”.
    Although most of you might not even know Thailand apart from the beach and blue sky.
    Actually, we are living in Thailand with 2 westies.
    We can take our dogs to some department stores.
    There are also some parks that allow dog to walk off leash and on leash.
    Since Thailand is very hot, there are a lot of dog swimming pool in bangkok.
    We also take our dogs to vacation with us to the island where our dogs allow to go into speedboat.
    Also, we can load our dogs to travel with us on the plane (although we hope our dogs can stay with us in the cabin but since Thai airways stop this service)
    Most restaurant that have outdoor area, we can bring our dogs in.
    So, after all, Thailand i think is one of the pet friendly countries 🙂


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