SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

ANIMAL WELFARE

What you need to know about owning a dog in France

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.

What you need to know about owning a dog in France
(Photo: Laurent Emmanuel / AFP)

Getting a dog

Popping down to the pet store and picking up a perfect pooch is pretty much a thing of the past already. Pet shops will not be able to sell dogs and cats from 2024 – and won’t be able to display them in shop windows – and many have already removed puppies from displays. Only abandoned dogs and cats will be available for sale in pet stores, working with rescue shelters. 

A new law – which was published in the Journal Officiel in July – 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.

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

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 pavements, public roads, green spaces and 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 mayor’s 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.

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.

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. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ANIMAL WELFARE

How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Around 300,000 pets are abandoned every year in France, many of them during the summer months. So if you're looking for a pet there are many lovely cats and dogs in shelters looking for a good home - here's how to go about it.

How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Where to look

French animal welfare charity the Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) is an excellent place to start – it currently lists nearly 4,500 animals available for adoption. 

But there are lots of other smaller, local organisations – it may be worthwhile dropping in to see a local vet as they will generally know of local groups seeking homes for abandoned pets.

There will be paperwork

First-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before they will be allowed to buy an animal, and the same applies to those looking to adopt. 

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 or adopting pets only to abandon them later. 

The SPA, certainly, demands that would-be adopters are of legal age and are willing to take part in a “responsible adoption process”.

These things take time – as you should expect for a commitment that can last more than a decade. As the SPA website says, it seeks to ensure “that each decision is carefully considered and that the adopted animal matches its new family and way of life”.

The process may include home visits, interviews and discussions to help adopters find the animal to which they are best suited – older people may not cope well with an energetic puppy, for example.

READ ALSO What you need to know about owning a dog in France

Shelter animals

Some welfare organisations ensure their animals spend some time with ‘foster families’ until they are adopted. This means that the organisation has a pretty good idea how that animal is likely to behave when it gets to its new adopted home.

It is more difficult to judge an animal’s character if it has been kept in a pen in a shelter.

It will cost money

A financial contribution will most likely be requested by the organisation from which you are adopting. The sum will depend on the age and type of animal being adopted. 

The SPA, for example, asks for a donation to cover vets’ fees of between €250 and €300 for a dog, depending on its age, and €150 for a cat or a kitten.

Another well-known animal welfare organisation in France, Les Amis des Animaux, has a slightly different scale of fees covering the cost of chipping, vaccinations – including rabies/passport in mature animals, sterilisation, worming, et cetera. 

READ ALSO What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

What else you need to know

Under French law, pet dogs – and cats and ferrets – over a certain age must be identified and registered on a national database. 

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the latter is the most common method these days – 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, the shelter will tell you whether your new pet already has a microchip or not.

You might not believe it if you have walked along certain streets in Paris, but 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. 

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

SHOW COMMENTS