Pets in Germany

Pets in Germany

Ger­many is a won­der­ful place for pets. There is an extreme­ly wel­com­ing cul­ture for pets and plen­ty of leg­is­la­tion for pet wel­fare. As a result, it’s a good idea to famil­iar­ize your­self with the rules for pet own­er­ship, whether you are bring­ing one in from abroad or plan­ning to acquire a pet local­ly. Read on for tips about han­dling bureau­cra­cy and get­ting your pet the best care in Stuttgart.

Getting Your Pet (In)

Bringing Your Pet from Abroad

Ger­many allows any non-EU indi­vid­ual moving to Ger­many to bring as many as five ani­mals as fam­i­ly pets. The exact kinds of pets allowed are reg­u­lat­ed by the Ger­man Cus­toms Office as part of the impor­ta­tion of house­hold goods, but they include most com­mon pets: dogs, cats, rab­bits, fer­rets, guinea pigs, ham­sters, fish, par­rots, para­keets, and cer­tain oth­er types of birds. You can find more infor­ma­tion in Eng­lish on this page by the Fed­er­al Min­istry of Food and Agri­cul­ture. More exot­ic pets, includ­ing many kinds of birds and rep­tiles, require a spe­cial per­mit and may be allowed to come into Ger­many at cer­tain autho­rized entry points.

Every Ger­man state (Bun­des­land) has its own rules about which dog breeds are con­sid­ered dan­ger­ous. Some dog breeds or cross­breeds are not allowed to enter at all, while oth­ers may be sub­ject­ed to an aggres­sive­ness test, neutered, and required to be kept muz­zled and leashed when not on the owner’s prop­er­ty. Cur­rent­ly in Baden-Würt­tem­berg all dog breeds are allowed, but there are restric­tions on sev­er­al dog breeds. Three in par­tic­u­lar are strict­ly con­trolled and con­sid­ered “fight­ing dogs” by default: Amer­i­can Stafford­shire ter­ri­ers, bull ter­ri­ers, and pit bull ter­ri­ers. You need per­mis­sion from the local police in order to keep such a dog, which means demon­strat­ing to a vet­eri­nar­i­an and police dog han­dler your exper­tise in con­trol­ling the dog and proof that it pos­es no dan­ger to any­one else. Not respect­ing these reg­u­la­tions may result in a fine of sev­er­al thou­sand Euro. You can check the cur­rent list for Baden-Würt­tem­berg of breeds con­sid­ered dan­ger­ous as well as more guide­lines for their possession.

Each pet you bring has to have its own offi­cial “Non-EU Ani­mal” cer­tifi­cate from a vet­eri­nar­i­an (“Tier aus Nicht-EU-Staat”). Depend­ing on the type of ani­mal, the cer­tifi­cate will need to give the details of vac­ci­na­tions, any blood tests, and the num­ber on the pet’s microchip or tat­too. We’ll look more at those vac­ci­na­tion and reg­is­tra­tion details in the next sec­tion, since they are also rel­e­vant for pets adopt­ed or pur­chased with­in Germany.

If you are bring­ing your pets in by air, be sure to con­tact the air­line in advance about their pet pol­i­cy. You can also check the sub­se­quent sec­tion “Trav­el­ing with Your Pet” for infor­ma­tion about fly­ing with pets.

Adopting a Pet

It’s not hard to find an ani­mal shel­ter, or “Tier­heim,” in Ger­many with plen­ty of dogs, cats, and some­times even rep­tiles hop­ing for a home. There are shel­ters in Stuttgart prop­er as well as neigh­bor­ing, Böblin­gen, Vai­hin­gen, Esslin­gen, Leon­berg, and Ditzingen.

There are two big advan­tages of adopt­ing a pet from a shel­ter. First, you will have the sat­is­fac­tion of know­ing you are pro­vid­ing a lov­ing home to an ani­mal in need. Since many Ger­man shel­ters do euth­a­nize ani­mals if they are not adopt­ed with­in a cer­tain peri­od of time, you could lit­er­al­ly be sav­ing a life! Sec­ond, an ani­mal from a shel­ter will come to you already vac­ci­nat­ed and reg­is­tered with a microchip and pet pass­port (more on those later).

Depend­ing on the shel­ter, it can take a bit of work to adopt a pet. You will need to answer a lot of ques­tions about your abil­i­ty to take care of it, since ani­mal wel­fare is tak­en seri­ous­ly in Ger­many. If they sus­pect you aren’t able to com­mit for the lifes­pan of the pet, you may well be turned down. Some shel­ters require a home inspec­tion to make sure that you live in a place that’s suit­able for the pet you would like to bring home. If you are approved, you will of course need to com­plete the rel­e­vant paper­work and pay an adop­tion fee.

Buying a Pet

If you have a spe­cif­ic breed of cat or dog in mind, you may need to buy direct­ly from a breed­er or pet shop. Buy­ing small­er ani­mals like birds, ham­sters, or lizards may also be eas­i­er at a pet shop. Pets for sale are also very often adver­tised in news­pa­pers and web­sites with classifieds.

No mat­ter where you decide to buy a pet, make sure that you are get­ting it from some­one who is pre­pared to pro­vide the rel­e­vant legal paper­work. Unfor­tu­nate­ly some peo­ple do steal pets or breed them in uneth­i­cal con­di­tions, so be cau­tious if you are offered an ani­mal at what seems like a much low­er than aver­age price.

In Stuttgart you can vis­it the Kölle Zoo shop for a vari­ety of ani­mals as well as all your pet sup­ply needs. For online ads, check out Quo­ka, Kleinanzeigen, or

Dealing with Bureaucracy

Most of the paper­work require­ments are applic­a­ble only for dogs and cats, but there are some rules that own­ers of oth­er four-legged pets or birds will need to follow.


In the Euro­pean Union, all dogs and cats must be microchipped with an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber. It was pre­vi­ous­ly pos­si­ble to have your pet vis­i­bly tat­tooed with its ID num­ber, but this is now accept­able only for pets who were tat­tooed before July of 2011. The microchip must have an ISO 11784/11785 com­pli­ant 15-dig­it number.

Once your pet has its microchip, you can reg­is­ter it for free (and even in Eng­lish!) at The Tas­so Foun­da­tion is a non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that helps find lost pets, so please con­sid­er donat­ing when you register.


Cats, dogs, and fer­rets must be vac­ci­nat­ed against rabies. If you’re bring­ing such a pet in from abroad, they must have been vac­ci­nat­ed at least 30 days before enter­ing Ger­many and not more than a year before­hand. Pup­pies and kit­tens under the age of 15 weeks are not allowed to be brought into Ger­many. The ear­li­est pos­si­ble vac­ci­na­tion for them is at 12 weeks of age, and an addi­tion­al 3 weeks are required to devel­op anti­bod­ies. Be sure to have the vet­eri­nar­i­an who admin­is­ters the vac­ci­na­tions fill out a cer­tifi­cate for each pet’s vaccination.

If you are com­ing from a coun­try not list­ed here, then you will need to have your cat, dog, or fer­ret test­ed for rabies anti­bod­ies at least 30 days after vac­ci­na­tion and 3 months before enter­ing Ger­many. This Blood Titer Test must be done by an autho­rized vet­eri­nar­i­an at one of the lab­o­ra­to­ries list­ed here.

Birds will need to show proof of vac­ci­na­tion against both H5 and H7 sub­types of avian flu or else be quar­an­tined before or upon arrival in Ger­many. The length of quar­an­tine depends on the coun­try of ori­gin (full rules here). Each bird must also have a vet­eri­nar­i­an health cer­tifi­cate issued no more than 10 days before enter­ing Germany.

Pet Passport

If you plan to take your pet from Ger­many to anoth­er EU mem­ber state, you will need a pet pass­port issued by an autho­rized vet­eri­nar­i­an. It will con­tain a descrip­tion of your pet, infor­ma­tion about own­er­ship, vac­ci­na­tions, and the state of your pet’s health. Pet pass­ports are valid for the life­time of your pet.

Cats, dogs, fer­rets, and birds must have a pet pass­port. Rab­bits, rodents, rep­tiles, and fish do not need a pass­port. Each EU mem­ber state may have addi­tion­al rules regard­ing the entry of pets, so make sure to research your des­ti­na­tion before you travel.


There are two kinds of insur­ance you should con­sid­er for your pets. First, there is pet health insur­ance, which will take care of most of the costs when tak­ing your pet to a vet­eri­nar­i­an. This is prob­a­bly only worth it for larg­er pets like dogs and cats. Just search for “Tierkranken­ver­sicherung.”

Sec­ond­ly, you should be aware that pet own­ers in Ger­many are con­sid­ered ful­ly liable for any dam­age caused by their pets. This includes direct dam­age like break­ing some­thing or bit­ing some­one, but also indi­rect dam­age like caus­ing a car to go off the road or a cyclist to crash. If your pet will come into con­tact with oth­er peo­ple or could pos­si­bly get out and dam­age some­thing or some­one, you should con­sid­er pet lia­bil­i­ty insur­ance, or “Tier­hap­t­flichtver­sicherung.” In six Ger­man states this lia­bil­i­ty insur­ance is required for all dogs; in Baden-Würt­tem­berg it is only required for those cat­e­go­rized as “fight­ing dogs.” You can search for “Hun­de­haftpflichtver­sicherung.”

Dog Ownership

Dog own­ers are sub­ject­ed to a spe­cial tax, “Hun­des­teuer,” that is set by the munic­i­pal­i­ty. This tax is meant to help cov­er the cost of nui­sances caused by dogs, such as drop­pings not picked up by their own­ers, as well as to help lim­it the num­ber of dogs in a munic­i­pal­i­ty. As of 2019, the dog tax in Stuttgart was set at €108 for the first dog, €216 for each addi­tion­al dog, and €612 for fight­ing dogs. It is some­times pos­si­ble to get an exemp­tion or a reduced tax rate if your dog is a ser­vice ani­mal or was res­cued from a shelter.

Baden-Wuert­tem­berg is also plan­ning to intro­duce a so-called “Hund­führerschein,” or dog driver’s license. Mod­eled after the leg­is­la­tion in Low­er Sax­ony, the license is expect­ed to be required of all new dog own­ers, with a the­o­ret­i­cal exam to be tak­en pri­or to get­ting a dog, and a prac­ti­cal exam to be tak­en with­in the first year of dog own­er­ship. It’s not yet clear whether cur­rent dog own­ers will also be sub­ject to exam­i­na­tion. Prospec­tive dog own­ers will need to pay for the tests and for any retest­ing in case of failure.

Life with Pets

Renting an Apartment

You need to dis­close to any poten­tial land­lord that you will have pets stay­ing with you before you sign a con­tract. Pet own­er­ship is quite com­mon in Ger­many, so it’s like­ly that you will be able to come to terms with your land­lord, par­tic­u­lar­ly for small­er pets, but you mustn’t assume that hav­ing a dog will make no dif­fer­ence to them. If you have a rental apart­ment already and are plan­ning to adopt a pet, talk to your land­lord first to check what types or breeds of pets would be accept­able. In some cas­es your build­ing may also have poli­cies such that all renters and own­ers need to approve if a dog is to be allowed.

Taking Your Dog Out

Leash laws vary by munic­i­pal­i­ty and state. In Stuttgart, dogs must be kept on a leash in pedes­tri­an zones, in crowds, in pub­lic facil­i­ties, and at pub­lic trans­port stops. Dogs may be let off the leash in res­i­den­tial areas and in parks (unless oth­er­wise spec­i­fied) as long as they are able to obey own­er com­mands. Dogs are not allowed to enter play­grounds, how­ev­er; these are meant to be wor­ry-free zones for kids.

Dogs are not allowed in shops where fresh food is sold, such as gro­cery stores and butch­er shops, but they are allowed in most restau­rants, cafés, shops, and malls. Estab­lish­ments that don’t allow dogs will indi­cate it with a sign, often an icon of a dog with a mes­sage like, “Wir müssen lei­der draussen warten,” (mean­ing “Unfor­tu­nate­ly we must wait outside”).

In Ger­many it is a dog owner’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to scoop up their dog’s waste and dis­pose of it prop­er­ly. Many parks have a stand with com­pli­men­ta­ry plas­tic bags for just this pur­pose, but dog own­ers are respon­si­ble for hav­ing their own means of dis­pos­al when they are out with their dog. Fail­ing to clean up after your dog is like­ly to result in a siz­able fine.

Traveling with Your Pet

If you want to trav­el by car with your pet, you must make sure they are safe­ly restrained in the back seat or stor­age area. It is ille­gal to allow a pet to ride in the front seat of a motor vehicle.

Dogs and oth­er pets are allowed in pub­lic trans­porta­tion. Pets must be in a car­ri­er or on a leash, and dogs should lie down next to the seats and be kept calm. In Stuttgart pub­lic trans­porta­tion, small pets in a car­ri­er may ride free of charge, while dogs on a leash will need to have a child’s tick­et. For trav­el by region­al, inter­ci­ty, and inter­na­tion­al trains, pets are allowed with a valid tick­et (often about half price) and a pet passport.

For air trav­el, you must have a valid pet pass­port (even for domes­tic flights) and a suit­able con­tain­er for your pet. Pets that are small enough to com­ply with hand lug­gage size and weight require­ments can usu­al­ly be tak­en on board, although the air­line may have addi­tion­al require­ments. Larg­er pets will need to trav­el in the pres­sur­ized, heat­ed car­go hold in a stur­dy, well-ven­ti­lat­ed ship­ping crate that is large enough to allow the pet to sit, stand, turn around, and lie down and is equipped with water and some kind of absorp­tion mate­r­i­al. Please note that Stuttgart Air­port does not have any estab­lish­ments for the sale or lease of pet crates. It is always advis­able to check with the air­line well in advance to find out about the cost and require­ments for ani­mal transport.

When book­ing a hotel stay with a pet, make sure to check the hotel’s poli­cies. There are often spe­cif­ic rooms and/or extra charges for pets. Some hotels may also have addi­tion­al vac­ci­na­tion requirements.

Caring For Your Pet


It’s a good idea to reg­is­ter with a local veterinarian,“Tierarzt,” as soon as you bring your pet home. You can find rec­om­men­da­tions for Stuttgart-area vet­eri­nar­i­ans here. A nor­mal vet’s office can admin­is­ter vac­ci­na­tions as well as pro­vide rou­tine treat­ments and med­ica­tions. Some offices also have diag­nos­tic equip­ment for blood tests, X‑rays, and ultra­sounds. You can rec­og­nize them by their signs: a snake wrapped around a staff inside a large V.

You should also iden­ti­fy your near­est ani­mal hos­pi­tal, or “Tierklinik.” These pro­vide a full range of diag­nos­tics and treat­ments for pet ill­ness and injuries. Some may be open around the clock for emer­gen­cies. In Stuttgart the vet­eri­nar­i­ans also take turns being the emer­gency on-call vet. You can find out who is cur­rent­ly on call here.

Mem­bers of the US Mil­i­tary should reg­is­ter their pets at the Stuttgart Vet­eri­nary Treat­ment Facil­i­ty in order to be able to access treat­ment there. The SVTF offers ser­vices by appoint­ment only but they also have lots of use­ful infor­ma­tion for mil­i­tary pet own­ers on their Face­book page.

Sitters, Walkers, and Groomers

There is no short­age of pet ser­vices, many of whom adver­tise online. There are pro­fes­sion­al ken­nels or dog or cat hotels which offer your pet com­fort­able board­ing options while you are away. You can look for Eng­lish-speak­ing pet sit­ters, walk­ers, and groomers on Paw­shake or Pet­backer. The Stuttgart Vet­eri­nary Treat­ment Facil­i­ty also put togeth­er a list of rec­om­mend­ed pet car­ers in the area.

Dog Trainers

The stan­dard for good dog behav­ior in Ger­many is high. It is expect­ed that dogs will respond to their owner’s com­mands and not be eas­i­ly divert­ed or upset by oth­er ani­mals or chil­dren. Although train­ing is only required for cer­tain types of “fight­ing dogs,” it is very com­mon to take dogs to some kind of school. There are many options in the Stuttgart area, includ­ing schools who offer class­es you can drop your dog off for and train­ers that offer obe­di­ence class­es in English.

Animal Shelters

If you have time or mon­ey to spare, con­sid­er offer­ing it to one of the local ani­mal shel­ters. Just search for “Tier­heim” to find one in your area and inform your­self about their needs.

If you find your­self in the unfor­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion of being unable to con­tin­ue to care for your pet, you must find it a new own­er or call a Tier­heim to find one with an avail­able spot. Be aware that capac­i­ty at the shel­ters is lim­it­ed and ani­mals that are not adopt­ed with­in a cer­tain amount of time will be euthanized.

Community in Stuttgart

Still have ques­tions about pets in Stuttgart? Want to con­nect with oth­er pet own­ers? Have a look at the groups linked below.

Pups of Stuttgart

Paws of Stuttgart

Stuttgart Area Pet Sit­ting Swap

Sin­gles mit Hund