Dog ownership in Switzerland

General rules and regulations:

Switzerland is a dog-friendly country where your fluffy friends are allowed on public transport, in certain restaurants, shopping centres and shops, of course accompanied by their human. However, they are generally not allowed in cemeteries, bathing establishments, hospitals, playgrounds, areas of schools and sportsfields designated for playing.

Swiss dogs are on the whole well behaved but there are a myriad of rules and regulations dog ownership entails to maintain order and cleanliness.

  • The first rule of dog ownership in Switzerland is that the protection of the public must be guaranteed.
  • Dog owners must ensure that the streets, pavements, parks, people’s gardens and agricultural crops are not soiled.
  • As for movement of people within the country, a change of address for dogs is required to be updated no later than ten days with Amicus – the national database for registration of dogs .
  • If dog ownership is changed, there needs to be a ‘transfer’ from the previous owner and a ‘takeover’ from the new owner no later than three months and updated with Amicus within ten days.
  • All Swiss dogs must be microchipped within the first three months. If the dog is from abroad the vet needs to check for a microchip and register with Amicus as an ‘import’. Similarly, dogs moving abroad need to be registered as ‘move abroad’ and as ‘exported’ on the owner’s personal ID.
  • Date of death needs to be registered.
  • Dog training courses are no longer mandatory for new owners but recommended for first-time owners.
  • A half-fare ticket, a Day Pass Dogs or Dog Pass, must be purchased for dogs travelling on public transport unless they are less than 30cm high and travel as hand luggage in an animal-friendly bag, basket or container and placed under your seat.
  • Dogs may not be left unattended in forests and on forest edges, on lakeshores or outdoors at night and will be taken into police custody if caught. They will be kept for six days if an owner cannot be found and after six days can be disposed of.
  • Dogs that are trespassing and pose a danger to, or are attacking, other animals may be shot.
  • Stray dogs that cannot be caught can also be shot if an owner cannot be contacted or is not known.
  • Also, don’t forget that pet insurance is recommended as vet bills can be unexpected and high.

Cost of dog ownership:

Ownership isn’t free and an annual tax is required to be paid for dogs that are over six months of age. If the dog reaches the age of six months after 30 June, half the annual tax must be paid. There is a reduced rate for dogs on farms, dogs that protect secluded buildings or guide and rescue dogs.

Leash obligations:

There are specific rules for when and where dogs need to be leashed and fines can be expected if your dog is found unleashed:

  • All dogs must be kept on a leash while in or near a forest to protect wild animals during the breeding season. The leash season begins on the first day of April and is enforced in each canton with different dates that can be seen here.
  • Dogs that are on heat, sick or bite must be kept on a leash outdoors and in rooms and buildings that third parties access.
  • Dogs must be on a leash when in public places throughout the year – particularly in parks, businesses, retail shops, on the streets and on public transport.

Kennels & vets:

If you are planning to go on holiday without your dogs, there are several kennels where you can leave your dogs, but you do need to sign up early:

The Tierheim in Root, is perhaps the best known, it is the homebase of the local animal protection society.

Hunde-Wiese is a great website to show you all the dog kennels in Switzerland. Villa Bunterhund (highly recommended) and Tierheim Paradiesli are just two examples for you.

There are also many vets in the area. The Obergrund Tierheim is recommended by the Livingin Luzern team, with the vets always very friendly, competent and they speak good English.


Ticks return at the beginning of Spring and some local ones can carry lime disease. Here is a post about ticks and how to deal with them.

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