If you are looking to add a furry new member to your family, here is everything you need to know about keeping pets in the Netherlands.
If you plan on keeping pets in the Netherlands (particularly dogs), there are several Dutch regulations you will need to adhere to such as registration, identification chips, and tax. This helpful guide covers all the essential information, including veterinary and emergency services, and who to call if your beloved pet goes missing. It includes the following sections:
- Registering your dog
- Annual dog tax
- Identification microchips
- Pet passports
- Pet insurance
- Walking your dog
- Compulsory training for certain breeds
- Veterinary services in the Netherlands
- Animal ambulance services
- Losing and finding a pet
Registering your dog
In the Netherlands, all dogs must be registered at the local town hall (gemeente). The declaration with your municipality has to be done within the first 14 days of getting your dog and proof of registration comes in the form of a small metal tag on the dog’s collar.
Annual dog tax
Depending on where you live in the Netherlands, you may have to pay an annual dog tax (hondenbelasting) to your local tax office (Belastingdienst). Although a total of 30 Dutch municipalities have scrapped this tax altogether, around 200 still impose it, and the amount can vary from area to area. The three municipalities with the highest dog tax, for instance, are Groningen at EUR 124.80, The Hague at EUR 120.12, and Hendrik Ido Ambacht at EUR 119.64. Extra charges may also be added for each additional dog. The good news, however, is that cats and other pets do not require registration or tax. Check your municipality website for more information.
As well as registering your dog at the local town hall, you are also required to have an electronic microchip implanted. The chip, which is no larger than a grain of rice, is placed underneath the skin by a veterinarian and contains information such as the pet’s name, address, and emergency contact number. This makes it easier for authorities to identify pets and their owners when the animal is lost and found. Needless to say, it is important to make sure that these details are up to date.
European Union pet owners are now required to have pet passports when travelling with their animals or bringing them into the Netherlands. The passports are to include the pet’s microchip or tattoo number for identification, as well as other data such as records of all vaccinations and clinical examinations. Find out more about Bringing a pet to the Netherlands.
Another important thing to consider is pet insurance. There are various insurance policies which can cover much of the expense of unexpected vet bills, in case of an injury or illness. Some things you need to consider when choosing pet insurance are:
- Does the policy cover all chronic, congenital, and hereditary conditions?
- Is there a time limit on treatment per condition?
- Is there a dollar limit on treatment per condition?
- Are there flexible coverage options to fit your budget and needs exactly?
- How well established is the company? What is its rating?
Walking your dog
You should check with your local town or district hall to find out where your dog is free to walk without a leash and where it can relieve itself. It is important to know that allowing your dog to do this in an undesignated area can bring a heavy fine.
During walkies you must clean up your dog poop, putting it inside a closed bag and disposing of it in the marked bins. These are usually green and have an unmistakable picture on them (see below).
Compulsory training for certain breeds
In 2017, the Dutch government released an official list of 20 different dog breeds that it deems ‘dangerous or high-risk’. The following year, a new law came into action, making it mandatory for the owners of these breeds to attend a course in keeping dogs with a tendency towards aggressive behavior. Pitbull terriers/crossbreeds, Rottweilers, and Caucasian Shepherds are among the breeds.
The law is part of the government’s attempt to reduce the number of dog attacks. Further measures may include giving councils the power to ban other breeds as well as implementing a ban on importing and breeding. In addition, the government intends to set up a central register to record dog bite incidents and a hotline for people to report dangerous dogs or owners who refuse to deal with them properly. If you are considering getting a dog, you can find advice on choosing one on the National Pet Information Centre (LICG) or Minder Hondenbeten websites (in Dutch).
Veterinary services in the Netherland
The Dutch are great pet lovers and there is a good network of vets and animal hospitals across the Netherlands. You can search online for vets (dierenarts) and practices (dierenartspraktijk) in your area.
Animal ambulance services
If you cannot find an emergency veterinarian (Dieren Spoedkliniek) or a 24-hour service, you can either call the Animal Ambulance (Dierenambulance) in your area (check below) or your local veterinarian office. Both will list an emergency number for help outside of office hours.
- Amsterdam: 020 626 2121
- The Hague: 070 328 2828 / 070 366 0909
- Hilversum: 035 683 0300
- Leiden: 071 517 4141
- Maastricht/Zuid-West Limburg: 090 0443 3224
- Rotterdam: 010 415 5666 / 010 476 8750
- Utrecht: 030 273 1600 06 / 065 477 2700
- Wassenaar: 070 511 7772
Losing and finding a pet
If your pet has gone astray, you should call your local pound or one of the main numbers below. You can also contact the Amivedi Nederland (animal tracing service) on 090 0264 8334. If the animal has an electronic identification chip, you can also report the loss to the national chip database.
- Amsterdam: Dierenkwijtlijn, 020 470 5000 (choose 1 in menu to report missing pet)
- Den Bosch: Bosch en Duin, Dierenkliniek, 030 228 3810
- Eindhoven: Dierenkliniek Dikkertedap, 040 243 2455
- Groningen: Diergeneeskundig Centrum Paterswoldseweg en Hoogkerk, 050 525 2697
- Haarlem: Dierenkliniek Meerwijk, 023 533 3363
- The Hague: Haags Dierencentrum, 070 366 1806 (choose 1 in menu)
- Maastricht: Dierenkliniek Oranjeplein, 043 363 1818
- Rotterdam: Dierenopvangcentrum, 010 437 4211
- Utrecht: Amivedi Dieren Opsporingsdienst (animal tracing service), 030 251 3372