How does dog adoption work in Germany?

How does dog adoption work in Germany?

by Anne-Lise Vassoille

Updated October 20, 2023

There’s nothing better than the feeling of arriving home after a long day and finding your dog happily wagging its tail. Relationships between humans and their pets are special, and dogs can hold an especially tight grip on the heart. 

Before you decide to welcome a dog into your life, though, it’s best to be prepared. This is doubly true if you’re a newcomer to a country like Germany, where you’ll find strict rules governing dog adoption. Whether you’ve lived in Germany for a long time or have just moved from abroad, you may be wondering just how difficult it is to adopt a dog in Germany. 

To help you along, this guide will take you through the entire process of dog adoption in Germany — from research to registration.

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How to prepare for a dog adoption in Germany

Before rushing to an animal shelter, consider taking a few preparatory steps.

If you’re renting a home in Germany, you must first verify with your landlord that you’re allowed to keep a dog. According to German law, landlords cannot strictly forbid all animals. But for larger animals — like some dogs — reasonable restrictions are permitted. 

This means that, as long as your landlord gives you a suitable reason, they may be able to prevent you from bringing a dog into your home. For this reason, most shelters will ask you for written permission from your landlord before they let you adopt one of their dogs.

Once you have permission, take some time to consider what sort of dog you’d like. Some breeds may be more suited to your lifestyle than others. If you’re keen to go on long hikes with your dog, you may prefer a German Shepherd over a Chihuahua. 

Age is also an important factor. While puppies are impossible to resist, they typically require more time and attention. Not only do they need training and constant surveillance, but you may also want to “dog-proof” your home by plugging up small gaps and covering electrical sockets.

How to adopt a dog in Germany

When you’re ready, you can start the process of adopting a dog at a shelter or rescue organization. 

Dog adoptions are a serious business in Germany. You’ll likely need to fill out an application and present your German ID card or passport. You will probably need some basic German skills for this so come prepared! You may even need to go through a few screening steps, such as an interview, a background check and a home visit. If you’re successful, you’ll be deemed eligible to adopt a dog.

These steps may seem tedious, but they also present an opportunity to ask questions about the dog’s medical history and past circumstances. You may even be able to spend some quality time with your new furry friend to see if it’s a good match. In Germany, a Tierheim (animal shelter) usually has extensive grounds, including dog parks where you can go for walks and play together.

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The cost of adopting a dog in Germany

One advantage of adopting a dog from a shelter rather than purchasing one from a breeder? It usually costs less. 

Still, you’ll have to dig a little into your wallet. Animal shelters in Germany normally charge between €200 and €300 (or higher, in some cases). This covers a range of unavoidable fees, such as the necessary health checks and vaccinations, a microchip and an EU dog passport.

This is still significantly less than what you would pay to get a dog from a breeder. In addition, if you go to a shelter, you will not be required to pay the Hundesteuer (dog tax) for the first year following the adoption of your dog.

Once the adoption is finalized, you’ll need to purchase a special type of dog liability insurance called Hundehaftpflichtversicherung. This is compulsory in many German municipalities and helps to cover any damages or injuries your dog might cause.

Your first steps with your adopted dog

After you’ve successfully completed the adoption process, you’ll be ready to welcome your new dog into your home. 

But there are a few more steps to take before life with your furry friend can begin. Aside from the insurance, you’ll also need to register your dog at your local Bürgeramt (civic office). You should also consider signing up at a vet right away, as it can be difficult to find a good vet in an emergency.

Once these administrative tasks are out of the way, you’ll finally be able to take your dog along to all your daily activities. Germany is a fairly open and accessible country when it comes to pets. Dogs can typically enter malls and travel on public transportation. This is yet another reason to train your dog and purchase insurance, as both steps can help to limit the risk of a non-covered incident.

It’s a dog’s life in Germany

In Germany, dog adoption may seem like a long process. But it’s a rewarding one. It’s also a cheaper way to get a pet, even if you’ll still have to pay a few fees. 

Just be patient, and try not to be frustrated by all the steps involved. After all, these steps will give you the time and space to get to know your dog and prepare your home for them. 

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Anne-Lise Vassoille

Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries… Settled down in London, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.

Anne-Lise Vassoille
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