Dutch Quirk #95: Not have any stray dogs

Not a stray in sight ❤️ 🐶

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #95: Not have any stray dogs

If you’re roaming through the streets of any city in the Netherlands, it is rare that you will find any stray dogs along your way. 

It’s very common for Dutch people to have dogs as pets, but have you ever wondered why there’s not a stray furry friend in sight? 🐕

What is it?

Starting in 2016, the Dutch government managed to clear its streets of stray dogs by rescuing them through the PSVIR method, which means Picking, Sterilising, Vaccinating, Identifying, and Returning. 

They have also raised taxes for store-bought dogs which has encouraged more and more people to adopt. Expect many schattige honden when visiting Dutch houses! 

The rescue mission to get these dogs off the streets was definitely a team effort!

While it didn’t happen overnight, many new laws and regulations were set in place to rescue those adorable pooches 🐶. 

Sadly, this also means you can’t just snatch the cutest pup in sight off the streets anymore! 

It wasn’t all the government’s doing either. Here are several groups that were involved in saving and protecting these dogs: 

  • Dutch Animal Protection Agency (Dierenbescherming)
  • Dutch Dog Protection Agency (Hondenbescherming)
  • Sophia Association (Sophia Vereniging)
  • Asylums
  • Dutch political ‘Party for the Animals’ (Partij voor de Dieren)
  • Animal ambulance (Dierenambulance)
  • Associations and animal welfare

Many organisations and protection services have raised awareness for stray dogs and defended the rights of these animals by providing them with shelter 🏠.

For example, the government has organised many sterilisation days to spay/neuter pets to avoid an increase in stray animals in general. 

Why do they do it?

The simplest answer is the fact that the Dutch people care a lot about their animals! Many cultural factors played a role in sweeping stray dogs off the streets. 

Culturally, the Dutch are very empathetic people, and this attitude extends to dogs as well! 

This mindset makes the Dutch want to take care of their dogs and avoid seeing them roam the streets.

There is so much care for these animals, it makes us wonder when they will feel the same for international students! 

If this picture doesn’t prove that dogs are a man’s best friend, we’re not sure what will! Image: Depositphotos

Historically speaking, the Dutch have always been head over heels for their pet dogs. The Netherlands has a really tight-knit relationship with their honden

READ MORE | The ultimate guide to owning a dog in Amsterdam

In the 19th century, dogs were used as a signal of status for their owners: rich people owned dogs for sport or simply as pets, while the poorer population owned them to help with their work 🦮.

Why is it quirky? 

As an international, I definitely find it a bit odd that there are no stray dogs at all!

READ MORE | Amsterdam has a café FOR DOGS (and we are obsessed!)

While it is rare to find them, it is extremely common to spot pet dogs everywhere in the Netherlands. Cafes, bars, malls, shopping streets —  pet dogs are everywhere! (and we love it). 

Should you join in? 

We definitely encourage residents to adopt! Even though shelters are better places to live than on the streets, a loving home is where these dogs belong. 

READ MORE | Getting a pet in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide

If you are an animal lover but not necessarily looking to get a pet in the Netherlands, here are five alternative ways to help:

Dogs are amazing creatures who deserve our tender love and care! It is great that we can look after them without necessarily keeping them as pets. 

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea has a passion for writing and sharing new ideas with the world. She enjoys film photography, Wes Anderson movies, fictional books and jazz music. She came to the Netherlands in 2019 for her media studies and has fallen in love with the country and its culture ever since. She loves to ride her bicycle in the city but also feels the need to overtake everyone on the bike lane (she's working on it).


  1. Beautiful writing!
    I, personally have a mixed breed Saluki and love her so much ! She a rescue and I adopted her 🥰
    I am lebanese too, but love abroad and I lebanon you also see many dogs wandering the streets, specially now after the economy crise.
    I hope the organisations there will help them to find a home .
    Thank you for your post!
    Hope it will go international

  2. I worked at a shelter for years LONG before 2016 and even then there weren’t stray dogs. A runaway now and then, but the story of picking the dogs off the streets, neuter them and put them back is total nonsense. They do that with cats in some areas but absolutely NOT with dogs. We just care too much about our dogs and we don’t let them just roam around on their own. The moment a ‘stray’ dog is noticed people will try catching it and return it to the owner or bring it to a shelter where they will find a new home for it. And no, Dutch shelters aren’t kill shelters. Most of the dogs are being rehomed within weeks, sometimes even days.


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