Dogs in Berlin: Introduction

This is my dog, a mighty mutt from Sardinia.

About a 100.000 dogs are officially registered as living in Berlin, the real number is probably twice as high. And it makes sense, Berlin is, all in all, a quite dog-friendly city, especially compared to other cities of its size and influence. Paris is the worst city for dogs I ever experienced, and I wouldn’t even think about taking my dog to London or New York, but having a dog in Berlin is something very enjoyable. Loads of parks and greenery, many pals to play with, and a generally very friendly attitude towards dogs are a joy for every dog owner. I wanted to write a guide about dogs for quite some time now, and this is the first round, summarizing all the rules one has to consider when coming to or living in Berlin with a dog. The next articles will include notes on where to take your dog to have fun, and where to shop for your pup. Oh and let me know your questions and suggestions in the comments!

Also read:
Part 2: Dogs in Berlin: Fun & Play
Part 3: Dogs in Berlin: Shops

The Rules

On or off leash
Dogs aren’t allowed to be off leash in the city. Inside of designated dog areas (more on these later), all rules are off and fun is a priority.

The waste
You are obliged to clean up after your dog, and while some dog owners seem to forget this rule, I consider it a duty. Also, other people will probably (and rightfully) publicly shame you, if you don’t. I personally usually offer a waste bag if I see someone ignoring their dog’s poop.
Breaches of these rules can be fined by the Ordnungsamt with 35 Euro or more, they do their regular rounds in many areas, so you shouldn’t ever feel too safe when leaving a smelly pile behind. With the new dog law you’re obliged to carry waste bags always and the Ordnungsamt can check you on that and will fine you if you don’t carry some.

Registration & taxes
If you live with your dog in Berlin, you need to have your dog chipped, and need to register it with the local tax office in order to receive a dog tag and pay your taxes (120 Euro per year for one dog, 180 Euro a year for every other). Your dog needs to carry information about your address as well as the dog tag. You also need to have a special liability insurance (Hundehaftpflichtversicherung) for your dog.

People’s attitude
Most Berliners really like dogs, and if you have an especially cute one, expect it to be met with great excitement from kids and adults alike. While usually not that talkative, people here turn into friendly chatters when they encounter a sweet pup, trying to get the dog to like them. However, there are people who are scared of dogs, so make sure your dog is in your control at all times.
As you will quickly learn, Berlin dogs are quite well behaved and relaxed, most of them have been to dog-school and are very attached to their owners. One thing that’s totally common here is dogs waiting for their owners in front of stores, off leash!

Apartments
Many landlords allow to have a dog living with you in your apartment, however, you will need their written permission, so make sure you ask before renting a place.

Public Transport
It’s allowed to bring dogs on a leash into all public transports, small dogs ride for free if they come in a bag, everything bigger than a terrier needs to get a ticket at the reduced fair. Bring a muzzle, some inspectors demand your dog to wear one.

Restaurants
Most food places I know have no problem with you bringing a dog, many cafés also have bowls with water or even treats ready for them! And if they don’t, it’s totally common to ask for water. However, many Arabic, Persian and/or Turkish places don’t allow dogs inside, so make sure you ask before you enter or choose a seat outside. When it comes to fine-dining, make sure you ask when booking a table, some places might not like it.

No-Go-Areas
There are a few places you can’t bring your dog: food stores, supermarkets, children’s playgrounds, museums, cinemas, public swimming pools, and designated swimming areas at lakes don’t wanna see your pup. Many Spätis also don’t allow them, some public buildings as well as bakeries and butchers, except the special butchers for dogs (find my favs here). Just look for stickers at the entrance, and if not sure, ask.
There’s also a new law making it possible for district administrations to keep dogs out of certain areas. Watch out for signs.

So called dangerous breeds
Unfortunately, there are special rules for a range of breeds that are publicly known as “fighting dogs”: Pit-Bulls, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bullterrier, Mastiffs and some more have to be on leash at all times and wear a muzzle, the latter even inside of dog parks. They must be officially registered and owners have to prove their knowledge and that the dog isn’t aggressive to the authorities. Also, many of the breeds on the list are not allowed to be imported into Germany.

Comments

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  1. Nicole Deger-Beauman on

    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks very much for your article, I’m a dog owner in Berlin and it’s nice to hear that this article will be one of many regarding our little friends in the city!

    I just wanted to clarify one thing, and I hope you would be able to have the answer, I was under the impression that dogs were not allowed at certain lakes as of May this year (Schlactensee included) however I haven’t been able to find any concrete information online regarding this. For this reason I’ve been taking my dog to other lakes such as Liepnitzsee and Grunau as alternatives. While both beautiful lakes it would be nice to know that I could take my pup to other lakes if friends decide to spend the day there. Do you have any information regarding this?

    Thanks again for the post and looking forward to many more to come.

    P.s I’m a big fan of nico the mutt!

    :)

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Oooh, that’s so complicated… So, in general, dogs can go to lakes, but at many places would have to be on leash, and are not officially allowed in water. They tried to ban dogs in general from Schlachtensee this year, however, this was overturned by a court since under the current law, dogs can’t be generally banned from an area as big as this, unless there’s a reason like a playground or such. This is why in the new Berlin dog law, districts are actually granted the right to ban dogs from certain areas, if they’re providing sufficient dog parks in other areas.

      To avoid all this, go to lakes in designated dog parks / areas, like Grunewaldsee, where dogs can do whatever they want.

      Also, this is the official law, that doesn’t mean you can’t go to other lakes, especially when other visitors seem to be open to having dogs there, e.g. Langer See or Tonsee. I try to get the vibe of a lake when I’m there, usually, there’re at least some other dogs around and people in general don’t really mind. I don’t visit small lakes with only view places to sit at, I want my pup to have space :)

      PS, me too!!

  2. Pedro Gonçalves on

    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    I’m living in Berlin. I’m wondering to adopt a puppy but actually I don´t have enough information where can I find one.
    I don´t want to buy one, I’d like to adopt a puppy. Do you know where can I find this information?

    Greetings,
    Pedro

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Sure, super happy to help and even happier you want to adopt one instead of buying :) So – you can visit the Berlin shelter where 300 dogs live – however, I shied away from having to choose from hundreds of cute pups and adopted a dog from Sardinia through a volunteer animal rescue agency: http://www.streunerherzen.de. I can recommend them very much, they do a great job at matching dogs and people (I left the choice to them), and in supporting you through the whole process. Friends of mine have used the same agency and have also been very happy.

  3. Konrad on

    Reply

    Hi,
    I moved to Berlin and my girlfriend with our cute, nice and friendly american stafford will join me soon. I see this breed all the time in Berlin but … it is “forbidden”. Can you maybe also clarify what I need to do, to bring this dog to Berlin?

    I don’t want her to have all the time a muzzle, because I am absolutely sure she’s fine and she would never hurt anyone. How it is possible that some people have this dog without it? Is it allowed in some circumstances?

    thank you so much for this article

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi Konrad,

      those breeds are not “forbidden”, they’re subjected to several restrictions and conditions. Is it an American Staffordshire Terrier? Then you’re obliged to officially register with your local Bezirksamt, meaning you will have to present yourself and the dog to the administration, as well as prove your knowledge, liability insurance, proof that your dog is not aggressive, as well as a certificate of good conduct. Then you will receive a dog tag that the dog must wear. The law includes the obligation to wear a muzzle at all times, but you can ask for a permit to not wear it and to not be on the leash at all times.

      Best is, to ask your local Bezirksamt for more information, I have no personal experience how to handle so called “dangerous breeds”.

      hope this helped!
      mary

    2. Melody on

      Hi Konrad & Mary –

      Konrad – I am in a very similar position as you. My husband and I would like to move to Berlin but we have two am staff mixes (they are both rescued from the United States – who really knows what they are!). Like your pup, ours are well trained, friendly, and socialized dogs. Konrad – can you tell me what your experience was like bringing your pup here?

      Mary – thank you so much for the info. Do you know how you prove that your dog is not aggressive? Is it some sort of test? How long after arriving do you need to do that? Also, how do you show a certificate of good conduct? Is that some sort of training certificate I can bring from the states or is that another test done here in Berlin?

      Thank you so much for your time and for writing about this topic!

    3. Mary Scherpe on

      Exactly, it’s a so called Wesenstest to judge the personality of your dog. If you own a “listed dog”, you’ll need to register it with the local Ordnungsamt as soon as you moved here, and I’m pretty sure they can tell you where to get the test done, it will cost probably around 100 euro and many dog schools and dog trainers are offering it, if they got the official license.
      However, I’ve never done this, so if someone who owns a “Listenhund” and went through this could share their experience, that would probably be very helpful

  4. Mike on

    Reply

    Hello! Thanks for all the information. I was just wondering if you had any recommendations for a good pet insurance provider for dogs in Germany? We’ve been looking at AGILA.

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      I actually only googled mine and decided rather spontaneously. Since I never had any problems, I can’t report real experiences…

  5. anna on

    Reply

    Hi! i was following the link above, for the rescue agency that you recommended…..but it only goes onto some kind of portal where there are also links to websites selling puppies and so on…..could it be http://www.streunerherzen.com that you are actually referring to ? 
    I am looking to adopt a dog in need and want to be sure that I go through a reliable agency…. many thanks !!

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Oh yes, you’re right! They must’ve lost the url or something. So http://www.streunerherzen.com/ is the right link and I can absolutely recommend them!

  6. Jacklyn Giron on

    Reply

    Hi Mary – Just came across your wonderful blog, right in time before our move to Berlin! I have somewhat of an odd question: do you know if the tax on dog ownership applies to travelers who are only staying for a period shorter than 3 months?

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi Jacklyn,

      easy answer – it only applies to dogs registered in Berlin. All dogs need to be registered somewhere, but whether that’s in Berlin or somewhere else, that doesn’t matter. But your dog needs to be chipped, and you need a EU pet passport or a health certificate (if you’re not from a EU country), and rabies vaccination.

  7. Roni on

    Reply

    Hi! Thanks for the info in the article. About the registration and taxes.. do I need to register my dog every time I move to a new neighbourhood like my anmeldung? I couldn’t find a concrete answer online..

    Thanks!

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      hmm… interesting but tough question.. I actually don’t know..

  8. Mette on

    Reply

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks for some interesting articles!
    Can you recommend some restaurants where you can bring your dog?
    Thanks, Mette

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi Mette,

      you can basically bring them to all restaurants, unless otherwise noted (mostly with a sticker on the door), as a general rule: Turkish and Arab restaurants rather don’t accept dogs, and I would ask prior in anything more fine-dining, but the more casual those are, the more likely they accept dogs as well (like Lode&Stijn)

  9. Ellis on

    Reply

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the amazing blog. I am looking to get a pup, and just finding out all these requirements. Odd enough, I need the dog for the insurance and taxes, so I can show it to my landlord for approval…so if they don’t accept, basically I need to give away the dog.

    I found some insurance company, but I was trying to find out how and where do you pay the dog tax. Could you kindly help me there?
    Thanks!

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hey :) do they allow dogs in general? then the only reason to not give you approval would be if it was a “dangerous breed” or something, otherwise there aren’t really reasons to not give you permission. You can pay the tax at your local Finanzamt, where you’ll also receive the tax tag.

  10. Ellis on

    Reply

    Thanks! Found the Anmeldungformular. :)
    Yes, they wrote in the contract, that pets such as dog require approval from the landlord.
    I just got the insurance, but they require a bunch of things before the Entscheidung:
    – Versicherungsnachweis
    – Nachweis Meldung Finanzamt
    – Nachweis amtstierärztliche Untersuchung
    – Foto des Hundes
    I’ll keep researching until I hit a point where I need the dog for any of these, and ask them about the logic in that…
    Thanks again :)

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      All sounds pretty normal, except the Amtstierarztsuntersuchung… never heard you needed that before.

  11. Cristina Fishman on

    Reply

    Hi Mary, thanks for the post, it’s super helpful. Our dog moved with our family from the US back in January, and I thought I had to register him in Berlin when we moved. Based on a previous comment, it sounds like if he has all the correct documentation (which he needed in order to enter Germany), I should be all set. Can you confirm that?

    Thanks
    Cristina

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi Cristina,

      if your dog lives with you in Berlin permanently, it needs to be registered :-) But you can also ask at your local tax office, usually the dog tax department has quite dog-friendly personnel.

  12. Daniel on

    Reply

    Hello, I have a very small puppy and would like to clarify something.
    There is (what seems to be) a children’s playground just near my place which is almost always empty on weekdays. Since I have seen lots of dog owners and their pups playing there and there isn’t a sign saying that dogs aren’t allowed, I started taking my puppy there because it’s both convenient and the space is very broad, so he can run and explore a whole lot (always on a leash though).
    Today I was brutally escorted out by an angry dad that claimed the park was meant for children and not for me walking my dog. After I tried to explain to him that I couldn’t possibly have known because there was no sign and that I’ve seen dogs there before, he continued to talk me down, escorting me out.
    While I am compassionate enough to understand that certain areas simply aren’t for dogs and would even be willing to kindly apologise and leave, he was overreacting and shouting so I just ended up leaving to avoid more conflicts. Prior to this, I have met some other people in this playground that were mostly happy with my presence and some even wanted to cuddle my pup.
    Now, my question is the following: If this place has no signs saying that dogs aren’t allowed, does it mean that dogs can, indeed, go inside under the condition that they are supervised and on a leash, or are all children’s playgrounds forbidden for dogs? Also, was this experience just an exception to a mostly dog-friendly community in Berlin or should I just find another park to take my puppy to? Thanks in advance!

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Angry dad might have been rude, but he’s in the right here: children’s playgrounds (as written in the post) are a no-go area for dogs in Berlin, anywhere, and don’t even need an extra sign (although many have them), has to do with the feces / pee and children liking to eat sand, I suppose.

  13. Benji on

    Reply

    Hi Mary!

    I love your website! It is so clean, simple and easy to read — straight to the point. I found your website while Googling for “(living with) dogs in Berlin.” I am from Portland, Oregon and it is very dog friendly here. The rules, laws, and social responsibility is pretty much the same here, but I was surprised to read that Berlin is even more loose on their rules and quite friendly to dogs! That is such good news, because I am trying to figure out a way to bring Boomer with me to Berlin. He’s a bigger (medium size) Labrador-Airedale Terrier mix, but very well behave. I wasn’t sure how Berlin would receive dogs so this article definitely help calm my nerves a bit. Now to figure out how to get a ticket for him to get there! Thank you for this article! I’m book marking you!

    -Benji
    Portland, Oregon US

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      thank you :) I’m pretty sure your pup will love Berlin!

  14. Chris on

    Reply

    I just moved from New York to Berlin. I’m a lover of larger breeds of dogs. My last two which recently passed were a Rottweiler and Pitt bull. I know you said Pitt bulls were on the list of dangerous breeds. Are Rottweilers and Dogo Argentinos as well? I have thought of getting another dog here once I’m settled in. I’d like to get another Pitt bull, Rottweiler or Dogo Argentino. I have heard rumors that if you have one of these so called dangerous breeds you have to pay additional taxes. Is there any truth to this?

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      The breeds on the list vary from every state, here’s the one for Berlin:
      Pit-Bull
      American Staffordshire Terrier
      Bullterrier
      Tosa Inu
      Bullmastiff
      Dogo Argentino
      Fila Brasileiro
      Mastin Espanol
      Mastino Napoletano
      Mastiff

      However, they don’t require additional taxes.

      As I usually suggest: visit the local animal shelter, they have a lot of so called dangerous breeds and larger dogs in general, because people don’t feel like they can handle them, and if you have experience with those, you can really do one of the dogs there a huge favour: http://www.tierschutz-berlin.de/nc/tierheim/tiervermittlung/listenhunde.html
      The website doesn’t show all the dogs they currently house, though

  15. Lisset on

    Reply

    Hello
    I just moved to berlin and my dog is coming in a couple of months.
    I currently live in the mitte area. Do you know any good vets nearby or in near districts. Preferably english speakers as my german is not great yet.
    Thanks a lot!!!!

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      I don’t – sorry! My vet is in Kreuzberg, they do speak English, but since my pup has been very uncomplicated I can’t tell you how good they really are

  16. Elena on

    Reply

    Hi!

    I consider accepting a job offer in Berlin. This will imply relocating together with my 4 legged pack – dogs and cats. Do you know if there are some rules regarding the maximum number of animals you can own? Or maybe you need to have a rent large enough? I already know the landlord must agree, but besides this. I have heard many rumors on this and I don’t want to let any of them behind. None is “dangerous” breed, they are all mix and a German shepherd.

    Thank you!

  17. Mary on

    Reply

    There’s no limit as to how many pups you can own, just the taxes are raised with each dog, it’s 120 Euro per year for the first dog, and 180 Euro per year for each additional. There’s no tax on cats though!
    And, as you said, you need your landlord to agree, plus you need liability insurance (about 60 Euro per year) for each of them
    Hope that helped!

  18. Carlos Cardenas on

    Reply

    Hello,

    I have a concern, i want to register my dog in Berlin, however, it has already been 8 months since my dog arrived. Will I be sanctioned?

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      I don’t think this should be a problem, you don’t need to tell them when you moved, I guess? and if, tell them you were really busy and are sorry and such ;)

  19. Marianne on

    Reply

    Hello Mary,
    We’re analysing a job offer to go to Europe (no defined country yet). But we found out that in some countries it is an odissey to find places to rent that allow dog, and even children. We have 3 small dogs and one child. Is it difficult to find places to rent in Berlin where dogs and children are allowed? London we’ve found few places, and all almost wrecked, or limited number of animals. Ireland seems the same…my dogs are all potty trained. We’re feeling so hopeless.

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      You won’t be able to rent every place, but there’s a big number of landlords allowing dogs, especially the bigger companies, but it also depends on the plot. I have never heard of landlords not allowing children, is that even allowed? However, I don’t have children so I might just not know…

  20. Geraldine on

    Reply

    Hi Mary,
    Your post has been super helpful, thank you!
    We moved to Berlin a few months ago and brought our dog, Cappuccino, all the way from Argentina. It has a been a huge change for him and we finally decided to neuter him as he is becoming a bit too intense with other dogs and, many times, that doesn’t end very well.
    Do you know if there are any places specially dedicated to neutering? Or any vets in particular you can recommend?

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi – since I haven’t had to have any bigger procedures on my dog, I actually can’t recommend a vet, sorry…

  21. Denica on

    Reply

    Hi and thank you for the helpful blog!
    We are thinking about moving to Berlin with our kid and our rescued dog (a mix of hunting and shepherd breeds). And I have two questions that cannot find any answers to:
    1) Is there a neighborhood that you would recommend for dog owners to live (for example Dahlem is close to your number one dog park). And then will it be also good for kids as usually neighborhoods with dog parks are at the city’s end. Where we currently live dogs are allowed to run freely in almost every park and bigger garden and putting her on a leash will be a big change.
    2) If you live in a house (not an apartment) what are the rules for dogs in houses? Can she run freely behind the fence? Pretty sure she would bark a lot (everytime s’o passes)

    1. Mary Scherpe on

      Hi Denica, a good place for dogs is wherever dog parks are around – like Tempelhofer Feld or indeed Grunewald. Dogs aren’t allowed to run around without a leash here, albeit a lot of people do it. As for houses, the dog can run around freely on your property as they like.

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