The Dutch truly love their furry friends, and have a unique way of treating them. Keep reading to learn more about the attitude towards pets in the Netherlands! If you have yet to make the big move, this page will take you through the many ins and outs of how to bring your animals over here, and how best to care for them afterwards. Or, if you are feeling a little lonely in your new country, why not consider adopting or buying a pet? Find out how, below.

The Dutch and their pets

Pets in the Netherlands tend to really live the high life. Here are a few examples:

  • Pets are often treated with as much love and care as Dutch children
  • They may well be served the best cut of the rarest beef
  • A Dutchman might treat his poodle to the comfiest chair, with the best view of the TV
  • His pet might even have easy access to the snacks

Preferred Pets in the NL

Although dogs are extremely popular in the Netherlands, the Dutch hav eclectic taste. Other favoured pets include: 

  • Cats
  • Canaries
  • Parrots
  • Fish
  • Rabbits
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Rats
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Turtles
  • Sometimes even bats!

In some Dutch gardens, you will find the occasional:

  • Goat
  • Miniature pony
  • Pot-bellied swine 

Dogs in the Netherlands

Dog Poop

There is another pet-related Dutch characteristic, which seems to be at odds with the fantastic pet care in the Netherlands. It isn’t pretty:

  • If you have been living in NL for a while, you will undoubtedly have stepped in some ‘hondenpoep’ . This is, of course, ‘dog poop’
  • You have to be careful when you walk down any street in Holland. Don’t become too absorbed by the beautiful architecture, because the poop is everywhere
  • In general, the Netherlands is a nation of extremely clean and hygienic people
  • If we knew the reason behind this incongruous behaviour, we would tell you!

Dutch Dog Tax

Efforts are being made to keep the streets clean:

  • There is an ongoing campaign in the Netherlands, which aims to make dog owners train their dogs to leave their mess in the roadside gutters
  • Dog owners pay taxes for their hounds
  • It used to be a ‘corporate’ tax
  • Nowadays, the tax is levied on private dog owners
  • The proceeds of the tax are used to create areas within the cities and towns that can be considered public dog toilets
  • Money is also put towards having dog-poop baggy dispensers installed at regular intervals within towns
  • The tax is also intended to keep the baggies well-stocked

Pet care in the Netherlands

  • There are plenty of dog-walking services in the Netherlands
  • In Dutch, these are called: ‘honden uitlaat service’
  • They are aimed at the many Dutch people who can’t imagine life without their doggy, but have to spend the whole day in the office
  • Pet stores in the Netherlands are also top notch
  • They offer a wonderful array of toys, cushions, cages, leashes, snacks, top-of-the-line food, and, obviously…pets

Dutch Veterinary Care

Getting a pet in the Netherlands

If you would like to get a new pet in the Netherlands, you have several options:

1. Adopt

You could adopt a homeless pet! This is a fantastic option, for several reasons:

  • You save an unwanted cat or dog, and give it a home
  • You save a lot of money at the same time

Rescue Animals in NL

This is how you adopt a rescue animal:

  • In the Netherlands, kennels are called: ‘dierenasiel
  • Homeless animals are brought to these kennels
  • They are very well-run
  • They tend to have a good profile of the animals they are trying to re-home
  • Often, they have to find a new home for the pets of families who have to go abroad
  • Or, sometimes, the pets come to the kennel because a member of their family has an allergy to them
  • These families, who have had to give up their beloved pet, find it greatly rewarding and comforting to know that they have been sent to a happy new home

2. Shop

Your second option is to buy a new pet:

  • If you want to buy a dog, it is always better to do this via a recognized breeder rather than through a pet store
  • Breeders can be found through the Raad van Beheer
  • If you are looking for a rodent, the pet store is the best place to go
  • You could also get one from a Dutch petting farm. These are called ‘kinderboerderij’ in Dutch

Relocating your pet

More than 750,000 animals are transported around the world every year. There are strict and specific regulations on relocating your pet to the Netherlands. Dogs and cats must have a health certificate, with the following features:

Animal Health Certificate

  1. The certificate must be written in Dutch, English, French or German
  2. It must have been legalized by the Veterinary Service, in the pet’s country of origin
  3. The certificate must contain a complete description of the animal. It needs to list the pet’s: genus, age, breed, color, hair and markings
  4. This section of the certificate must be laminated in passports that were issued after December 12, 2014
  5. It must display the name of the owner
  6. It must state that the pet has been completely vaccinated against rabies
  7. The date of the vaccination, the type of vaccine used, its expiry date, batch number and manufacturer must all be noted as well

Animal Identification and Registration

When transporting dogs, cats and ferrets (yes, ferrets…) within Europe you must acquire a European-style animal passport for them

  • They must also have identification in the form of a chip or micro-transponder
  • When an animal has this chip, it makes it far easier to identify and register them, in the unfortunate event that they are lost or stolen
  • These microchips can be easily implanted by a veterinarian
  • Tattoos are no longer an acceptable form of identification for animals coming from outside of the EU / EEA
  • The European Commission is currently working on a veterinary certificate for other pets, but  it has not yet been finalized
  • Rabbits, small rodents, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles consequently only need a declaration of health, issued by a vet
  • For more information about this, visit the ‘Landelijk Informatiecentrum voor Gezelschapsdieren‘. This site is in Dutch, so click on: Praktisch, Reizen en vakantie, Invoereisen, Invoereisen per land – Europa, then on Nederland to get you to the right place


There is a protocol when it comes to vaccinating your pets too. You must fulfil the following criteria, before they will be allowed into the Netherlands:

  • Dogs, cats and ferrets must have had a rabies-vaccination, before they are allowed to enter the Netherlands
  • Your pet must have had its vaccination at least 21 days before it is admitted to the country
  • Puppies, kittens and baby ferrets must be at least 12 weeks old before they can receive this vaccination. This means that they must be at least 15 weeks old when they enter the country
  • The maximum amount of time that is allowed to pass between a vaccination and your pet’s entry into the Netherlands depends on the make of the vaccination. You can find this information on the vaccine information leaflet, which you should have been given at the vets

Further Medical Precautions

  • Animals must be de-wormed and checked for ticks
  • Some countries have quarantine regulations. It is best to check with the Dutch Consulate well in advance about the requirements they have for your animal

Advice on animal transfer

The actual journey from one country to another can be complicated for you, and stressful for your pet. Hence, we strongly recommend using a professional organization. KLM Cargo:

  • Are specialists in animal transfer
  • Will be able to inform you about all the regulations related to transferring your animals
  • Will arrange suitable transportation for your animal with you
  • Provide you with helpful travel tips for your pet
  • Operate a 24 hour-a-day animal hotel at the Schiphol airport
  • Transport a wide variety of animals. If you have a pet that they are not qualified to transport, they are likely to be able to recommend a transportation company who can

Animal boarding

Of course, you love your animals, and hate to be separated from them. When you travel back and forth to your country of origin regularly however, it is not advisable to take them with you too often. Here is what you could try instead:

  • Why not send them to a ‘dierenpension? This is a Dutch ‘animal hotel’
  • A ‘hondenpension is specifically for dogs, a kattenpension for cats
  • In the right animal hotel, your pet should experience the same comfort and care that you would hope to enjoy during your trip

Look Before you Leap

  • Of course, there is no surefire way to know that your pet will be happy at the hotel
  • In order to assess whether or not you think it would be suitable, you can visit beforehand
  • You can check out the conditions and see whether you have a good feeling about the place and the owner
  • The staff should be happy to discuss you animal’s needs with you
  • If you are still unsure, and nervous about leaving your pet there, why not conduct a trial run over a weekend?

Useful links

  • To report a lost animal that has a registered chip call: 0900 40 40 456
  • To report any other lost animals, or to find your own, visit one of the following sites:
  • Amivedi Nederland
  • The European Pet Network

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