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What you need to know about owning a dog in France

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
What you need to know about owning a dog in France
(Photo: Laurent Emmanuel / AFP)

There's a practical side to puppy love in France. From the certificates you need to sign, to the microchips you need to insert and the documents you need to travel there’s much more to owning a dog than loving them, feeding them and taking them for a walk.

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Getting a dog

Popping down to the pet store and picking up a perfect pooch is pretty much a thing of the past. Pet shops are no longer allowed to sell dogs and cats - only abandoned dogs and cats are available for sale in pet stores, working with rescue shelters. 

A 2022 law makes sure that first-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before making their purchase. After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying pets only to abandon them later. For more detail, click here

Pet abandonement is a massive problem in France, which means there are lots of lovely dogs in animal shelters that need good homes.

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Registration  

Under French law, pet dogs - and cats and ferrets - over a certain age must be identified and registered on a national database. This applies whether you get a new dog in France, or whether you move to France with your dog.

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the latter is the most common method – that is registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database. 

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70.

Once the animal is registered on the database, the owner will receive a letter from I-CAD, along with a credit card-sized document listing the registered animal’s details, including its home address.

For more details, click here

Pet passports

If you live in France you can get a pet passport issued by your vet in France, and use it to travel to other EU countries, and the UK.

For UK dog owners planning to bring their beloved pet to France, for example to a second home here, dogs - and cats and ferrets - now need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for a trip over, and a new certificate is required for each trip.

To get one you need:

  • Proof of your pet’s microchipping history
  • Your pet’s vaccination record
  • A certificate for a rabies vaccination that was carried out at least 21 days before the date of travel

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For more on pet passports and Animal Health Certificates, click here

Other rules

You might not believe it if you have worked along certain streets in Paris, but it is in fact illegal in France to just to walk on after your dog has done its business on the pavement, public road, green space or public parks reserved for children. You can be fined if you fail to pick up after your pet. 

The standard fine is €68, but the mayors of some towns have imposed stricter rules in the street, in parks, gardens and other public spaces. 

In Bergerac (Dordogne) the fine has been increased to €750 -  while dog owners who do not carry two bags to collect the waste while they are out with their dogs could be fined €38.

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The French government’s Service Public website lists other rules regarding the health and wellbeing of pets. Read it here

Collar

Among a range of rules this web page states that any dog out on the public highway, whether it is on a leash or not, must have a collar bearing the name and address of its owner engraved on a metal plate.

Springtime law

If you're walking your dog in a rural or wooded area between April 15th and June 30th, be aware of the 'spring law'. This states that it is illegal for your dog to be off the lead in forests, meadow, riverbanks, unless you are on a designated path.

The reason is to prevent dogs from disturbing nesting birds or animals that have young - and owners can be fined up to €750 for failing to respect this law. More details on this law HERE.

Trains and cafés

In many ways, France is a pretty dog-friendly place and most cafés and restaurants are happy to welcome dogs - guide dogs must be accepted at all businesses by law. Especially if you're outside on a café terrace, don't be surprised to see a dog lying under the next table.

Dogs can also travel on all trains in France (with the exception of the Eurostar) although they do need a ticket (€7) and of course must be accompanied by a human. 

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