Getting a pet in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide

So, you’re thinking about getting a pet in the Netherlands. Wat leuk! Adopting or buying a pet doesn’t need to be “ruff” — as long as you follow our guide, of course. 😉

But how the heck do you get a furry (or scaly?) companion in the Netherlands? Where do you start looking and what do you need to know before adopting a pet? 

Don’t stress — we’ve got everything you need to know about getting a pet in the Netherlands. 🐶

Let’s dive into the good stuff! 😻

Getting a pet in the Netherlands: things to know

Getting a pet is a big responsibility, so you need to make sure that you’re ready to put in the effort.🤗

First, before you start brainstorming outrageous pet names and buying accessories, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you renting in the Netherlands? If so, does your landlord allow pets?
  • Do you or your family members/roommates have allergies? 
  • Do you have the space in your home for a pet? If you’re thinking of adopting a dog, do they have space to run around and play? Or if you’re adopting fish, is there room for a tank?
  • Can you afford it? Do you have the budget for animal food, cleaning supplies, tools, a pet sitter, etc.?
  • Do you have time to take care of your pet?
  • Are you willing to clean up after your pet?
  • Are you planning on going back to your home country after adopting a pet? If so, can you take your pet with you?

Furthermore, it’s important to know that the Dutch government has certain rules when it comes to animal welfare, specifically about the care, breeding, and selling of animals. 

What pets are allowed in the Netherlands?

Pets in the Netherlands are pretty stock standard. Here are some of the most common pet choices:

  • 🐕 Dogs
  • 🐱 Cats
  • 🐰 Rabbits
  • 🐹 Guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets
  • 🐢 Turtles
  • 🐟 Fish
  • 🦜 Birds (e.g. parrots, parakeets, cockatiel)
  • 🐀 Brown rats

So which of the above is the preferred pet in the Netherlands? If you guessed cats, you are correct! This makes a lot of sense due to the lack of space in the Netherlands.

Cats can also take care of themselves pretty well. You’ll even see a lot of house cats wandering around outside, as most Dutch households allow them to go outside and explore (especially if they live on the ground floor). 

Looking for your new animal companion can be a fun and exciting experience! Image: Kzenon/Depositphotos

Dogs are also a common pet to have, but you’ll have to be ready to take them on a walk several times a day, especially if you’re living in the city and they typically won’t have a lot of space to run around on their own. 🦮

Where to adopt a pet in the Netherlands

Your best bet to adopt a pet is to go to a pet adoption agency or a dierenasiel (shelter). Most cities in the Netherlands have a local agency or shelter you can visit.

Most shelters in the Netherlands have a selection procedure and they don’t always have a lot of animals (especially cats) easily available for adoption. Make sure to check their sites and social media accounts frequently!

Major pet adoption agencies in the Netherlands

Pet adoption agency or shelterLocation
Puppy Rescue Team
Ik Zoek Baas 
Stichting Le Woef 
All of the Netherlands
Dierenasiel Oostzaan
Dierenasiel UtrechtUtrecht
Dierentehuis Stevenshage Leiden
Animal’s FaithMaastricht
Stitchting IFAW 
Stichting Haags Dierencentrum
Den Haag
Dierenasiel ZuidwoldeZuidwolde

READ MORE | Having a pet in the Netherlands: all you need to know

You can also find animals on Marktplaats or from adoption Facebook groups. Just try to be careful on the internet and make sure the giver seems credible before taking the plunge.

Where to buy a pet in the Netherlands

Always try to adopt, not shop. However, while adopting a pet is a great choice, it’s not always for everyone. For example, you might be looking for a specific breed or a pet that can’t be easily adopted from a shelter. 

If you truly think the decision to buy is the right choice for you, you can purchase animals: 

  • at a local pet store (best for hamsters, birds, fish, turtles, etc.) 🐢
  • through a responsible local breeder (for cats, dogs, ferrets, etc.)

If you’re thinking of buying a pet from a breeder, make sure to do your research and look out for poor animal practices like excessive forced breeding of an animal. Sometimes breeders also don’t spay/neuter their animals before giving them to you so be wary of that too. 

Warning: A lot of irresponsible breeders sell their pets on Marktplaats and sometimes there are hidden fees with pets that come from other EU countries (e.g. transportation) — so beware!

Important matters when owning a pet in the Netherlands

Now, you’ve got your pet, what’s next? Well, there are a few important (and sometimes administrative) matters that you have to take care of as soon as possible when you get your new animal. 

Dog registration in the Netherlands

If you have a dog, it’s mandatory to register them at your city’s town hall (gemeente) and the Municipal Tax Office (Gemeentelijke Belastingdienst) upon arrival. On top of that, you have to declare your dog to the municipality in the first 14 days. 🏫

Only dogs have to be registered at the gemeente, so don’t worry about town hall registration if you have a different kind of pet. 🐈

Furthermore, the following animals must be registered and chipped with The Netherlands Enterprise Agency or Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend (RVO). 

  • Dogs
  • Cattle
  • Pigs
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Horses
  • Poultry (if they are kept for commercial use)

You can register your pet with the agency online. 

Microchipping your Dutch pet

Most pets in the Netherlands must have a microchip implanted in their neck or sometimes as an ear tag, so they can be identified. Some animals like fish, turtles, etc. don’t need to be chipped so it’s wise to ask your veterinarian whether they need one.

Each chip has a unique 15-digit number which is stored in a European database, so if Fido gets loose and runs over to Belgium they can still be identified. Handig!

Thankfully chipping your Dutch pet is not too expensive. Your dog or cat can get their chip at the vet clinic for around €25-50, depending on the practice. 🐾 For microchipping prices of other animals, ask your vet for pricing.

Pet passports in the Netherlands

If you’re bringing your pet from another EU country, they must have their own EU dierenpaspoort issued by a veterinarian. 🇪🇺

A pet passport is mandatory for dogs, cats, and ferrets that are travelling in and out of the Netherlands to EU member states.

Most pets need their very own passport and microchip to travel. ✈️ Image:

The passport lasts for the entire pet’s lifetime and has information about the owner’s name, the pet’s microchip number, age, sex, breed, etc. 

If you want to bring your pet from a country outside of the EU, then you’ll need to first contact the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

Paying the Dutch dog tax

The Dutch take their dogs very seriously. The dog tax or hondenbelasting is an annual tax charged in most Dutch cities. 

The amount is decided by your local municipality and is calculated based on the number of dogs in a household. 

Typically you’ll pay anything between €20 and a few hundred euros. 🐶💸

READ MORE | How did the Netherlands become the first country in the world with no stray dogs?

Taking your pet to the vet in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is full of veterinarians and animal clinics. Just search dierenarts (veterinarian) or dierenartspraktijk (veterinary practice) on the internet to find one close to you! 🩺

You can also call a qualified veterinarian directly to your house through services like Home Vet.

There are many veterinary clinics in most Dutch cities. Image: SergPoznanskiy/Depositphotos

Some veterinary clinics also offer “health plans” which provide general, comprehensive care packages for your pet in the Netherlands. Ask your local clinic what plans are on offer for your furry friend.

If your pet requires emergency care, it’s best to call an emergency veterinarian at a Dieren Spoedkliniek. 

Otherwise, you can call the dierenambulance (animal ambulance) in your area:

Animal ambulance numberLocation
020 626 2121Amsterdam
070 328 2828
070 366 0909
035 683 0300The Hague
071 517 4141Leiden
090 0443 3224Maastricht/Zuid-West Limburg
010 415 5666
010 476 8750
065 477 2700Utrecht
070 511 7772Wassenaar

Pet insurance in the Netherlands

You can choose to take out health insurance or a preventative care plan for your pet in the Netherlands. Some insurance plans will reimburse your costs for treatments or even cover you if your pet was stolen or lost.

Here are a few major pet insurance companies in the Netherlands:

What vaccinations does my pet need?

What vaccination your pet needs depends on the type of animal you have and the veterinary clinic you take them to. 

However, the most important vaccination for most animals is the anti-rabies shot. All animals coming from outside of the EU need to complete anti-rabies treatment before they are allowed to enter the Netherlands. 

If you’re taking your pet abroad, you should also get your pet their anti-rabies shot. 💉

Dog and cat vaccinations

Typically, dogs need seven types of vaccinations throughout their life against diseases like parvo and Hepatitis.

Cats also require vaccinations, mainly for sneezing disease. 🐈

The cost of vaccinations can range from €60-70 per treatment for dogs and cats. 

For other animals, ask your veterinarian what vaccines they need. 

And, most importantly, make sure you keep your pet’s vaccines up-to-date! 📆

Where can I keep my pet when I go on holiday?

You can keep your pet at a dierenhotel/dierenpension (animal boarding house) during your holidays. 🌴

Or, if you’re lucky, you might have a super sweet friend or relative who can do it for you. 👯‍♂️

On top of that, you can also find pet sitters easily online in Facebook groups or through petsitting services:

Useful Dutch pet terms to know

Dutch pet termsEnglish translation
Dierenkliniek Veterinary practice
Dierenasiel Animal shelter/kennel
Dierenhotel/dierenpensionAnimal hotel
HondenbelastingDog tax
Honden uitlaat serviceDog walking service
Geen aanlijnplicht No leash necessary
Geen hondenuitlaatenForbidden to let your dog run without a leash
OpriumverplichtMust pick up after your dog
Verbonden voor HondenDogs are forbidden

Pros and cons of adopting vs. buying a pet in the Netherlands

👍 Pros of adopting a pet in the Netherlands

  • Costs of adoption are cheaper than buying from a pet store or breeder (€100-500 from a shelter)
  • You’re giving an animal in need a loving home
  • Shelters often spay, neuter, microchip, and vaccinate the animal under their care
  • Adopting an animal can help to combat illegal puppy breeding farms
  • Animals from shelters are often housetrained
  • You can give a pet all the love and attention it needs to be happy and healthy
  • Keeping stray animals out of the streets

👎 Cons of adopting a pet in the Netherlands

  • Your pet may turn out different than you expected. Sometimes animals from shelters can have behavioural problems, trauma, or special needs
  • You may not be able to find the exact breed or type of animal you want in a shelter 
  • Sometimes shelters aren’t transparent about a pet’s behavioural issues 
  • Shelters may be underfunded or care for their animals poorly
  • There might be a waiting period for your animal, so you’ll have to be patient
  • You have to submit paperwork and personal information to the shelter before you can adopt a pet
  • You could be rejected from adopting a pet if you don’t meet the shelter’s requirements

👍 Pros of buying a pet in the Netherlands

  • You can get the exact pet or breed that you’re looking for
  • If you want to get a dog but don’t have a lot of experience with them, buying from a responsible breeder gives you a better chance of getting a pet without trauma or behavioural issues
  • For certain animals, you can only really buy them from pet stores anyway (birds, rodents, etc.).

👎 Cons of buying a pet in the Netherlands

  • Oftentimes selective breeding, especially for purebred animals, can lead to health issues for the pet (e.g. hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems, and epilepsy).
  • Some breeders smuggle cats/dogs from countries with a stray animal problem and sell them for a profit (please buy from a responsible breeder)
  • Some animals can still have behavioural and trauma if the breeder is not responsible
  • Irresponsible breeders can be cruel and abusive towards their pets, forcing them to breed at a high and unsafe frequency

FAQ’s about getting a pet in the Netherlands

If you’re bringing your cat, dog, or ferret from another EU country, the animal has to have a pet passport, a microchip, be at least 15 weeks old, and be vaccinated when they are 12 weeks old.

However, if you want to bring your pet from a non-EU country, the process is a bit more complicated. You have to contact the NVWA to know what is allowed by law and what conditions must be met for relocating your pet. 

You can read more about relocating your pet on the Dutch government’s website or you can check out our comprehensive guide on relocating your pet to the Netherlands. ✈️

Yes, they are but under certain conditions. Pets aren’t allowed to take up a seat on Dutch public transport (trains, buses, trams, etc.). However, small pets are allowed on board for free if they can be in a cage/carried bag or can fit on your lap. They must also have a short leash. 🦮

If you have a big dog, then they need to get a dagkaart-hond (day ticket) which costs €3.30 and can be purchased from the NS ticket machines or service desks. Further, the dog cannot sit on a seat and must wear a leash. They also can’t take up aisle space. 

Assistance dogs (either in training or service) can travel for free but only with a harness, cover, or brace indicating the name of the assistance dog organisation and they don’t need a dagkaart. 

Dogs may travel for free on ferries and express boats. They may also travel on the Waterbus/Aqualiner for free but they must wear a short leash.

If your dog is aggressive, then it’s best to try and find a solution to fix the dog’s behaviour. If a dog bites or attacks another person or animal, then the dog owner can be prosecuted by the Public Prosecution Service (OM). 

The Netherlands has dog behaviour therapists and there are even some dog training/behaviour centres in the country that can help with aggression.

The amount you’ll spend on pet food in the Netherlands is dependent on a couple of things: your type of pet, their size, their weight, dietary restrictions, whether they prefer canned or wet food, whether you want to buy gourmet or supermarket food, etc. 

As a general guide, however, you should expect to budget these amounts for your type of pet:

  • €30-50 per week for a dog
  • €10-20 per week for a cat

  • €10-20 per week for a small animal (ferret, rabbit, hamster, etc.)

  • €10-15 per week for a fish
  • The costs of spaying or neutering your pet in the Netherlands can vary depending on the weight and size of your pet. However, you can typically expect to pay the following:

  • Male dog castration: around €80

  • Female dog neutering: around €250

  • Male cat castration: around €85

  • Female cat neutering: around €170
  • Yes, the Dutch love their pets! There are lots of pet-friendly areas.

    You can tell if an area allows dogs if there is a sign with a dog and a green circle. If there’s a sign of a dog with a red circle, then dogs aren’t allowed. If there’s no sign, you can always ask! 🐕

    Some beaches in the Netherlands allow dogs to run around without a leash, while some others may only allow dogs to be leash-free for certain months of the year.
    Further, many restaurants in the Netherlands allow you to bring your pet to dine with you indoors. Especially at casual restaurants and cafes, your furry friend is often welcome as long as it’s not too busy. For outdoor dining, pets are generally allowed. 

    It’s not uncommon to see a pet in a shop in the Netherlands too, but each business can make their own rules. 
    Of course, always make sure to check what the rules are for bringing your pet into certain areas and in the Netherlands. 

    That was our pawsome guide on adopting or buying a pet in the Netherlands! So are you sold on getting a pet yet? 

    Next up: finding your new furry friend! 🐈❤️

    What kind of pet are you thinking of getting? Tell us in the comments below!

    Feature Image: kegfire/Depositphotos

    Nicole Ogden 🇹🇭 🇺🇸
    Hailing from the bustling city of Bangkok, Nicole is a Thai/American international student who came to the Netherlands to study linguistics. When she's not reading books or listening to true crime podcasts, she's practising her singing and guitar skills! She is also attempting to pick up the Dutch language (moeilijk).

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