Dog Ownership

Understand the requirements for dog owners in Switzerland, including information the compulsory training course, licences, identification and dogs in public places...

Dog owners who acquired their dog between 1 September 2008 and 1 September 2009 must undergo a practical training course before 1 September 2010. Owners of dogs acquired after 1 September 2009 must follow this training course within one year.

Anyone that has never owned a dog before must also take a theory course (cours de sensibilisation) before they may purchase or adopt a dog.

Dog Licences and Identification

A dog needs a licence from the age of six months (there's an exception on guide dogs). This is usually available from the local community office on production of its international health certificate. In some cantons owners may require private liability insurance before a dog licence is issued.  Dogs must wear the licence attached to the collar at all times in public places. Licences must be renewed annually and if moving to another canton of Switzerland, a person must de-register and re-register their pet in the new community. Owners of unlicensed dogs will be fined. Licence fees are set by the canton. The licence is valid for a year and should be renewed annually in January. If a dog dies during the year, before 1 July, half the fee will be reimbursed.

Identification of dogs by tattoo or microchip is obligatory in all cantons. Any dog born since 2007 must be micro chipped (not tattooed) by a vet, by the time the puppy is three months old. The vet will register the puppy with the canton.

All dogs must be registered with the Animal Identity Service (ANIS). Any change of address or owner, or the death of the dog, must be reported to the ANIS within ten days.

Dogs in Public Places

Dogs are allowed in many places, but not everywhere and must be kept on a leash in the city and in residential areas. Dogs are not allowed into areas marked with a "no dogs allowed" sign. This is a circular sign with a white background encircled in red with a picture of a black dog in the centre. Dogs are not allowed in grocery stores, post offices or other public buildings.

Before moving into rental accommodation it is important to check that dogs are allowed and that this is included in the rental agreement. Small pets such as such as guinea pigs, hamsters or canaries can be kept in all cases (even if there is a ban on pets in the tenancy agreement).

"Robidogs" can be found throughout Switzerland. These are green containers (each about the size of a rubbish bin) and should be used for the proper disposal of the dog's waste. They dispense plastic bags that are to be used to clean up after the dog.

Dangerous Dogs

Each canton in Switzerland has its own laws regarding ownership of dangerous dogs. In the cantons of Zug and Lucerne there aren't any special rules on holding certain breeds of dogs.