Posted by Belinda Bird on

Dogs are slowly becoming considered a part of the family across the globe. The shift from having a dog to protect the home, to inviting them into our hearts and communities has seen humans reap many more benefits than our four-legged friends themselves. From helping the blind see, to sniffing out cancer, and even working alongside defence personnel. We are still learning just how amazing these tail-wagging creatures are. 

I have always considered Australia to be a pretty pet-friendly country, but after researching what other countries consider ‘normal’ I quickly realised that as a whole we are not as considerate as other countries towards our four-legged family members. 

In order to rank each country, I used specific criteria to research and place them individually:

  1. A large density of dogs when compared to the human population for that country. A large number of dogs is not necessarily a good thing as it likely also contains the number of strays. The ratio of dogs to humans is the key figures that I looked at. 
  2. The level of acceptance in cafes, restaurants, shopping centres etc. 
  3. Canine protective laws specific to that country 
  4. Money spent annually on dogs
  5. Number of strays




Number of dogs in Holland: 1.5 million dogs / 17 million humans (1:11 dog to human ratio) 

Annual Spend: 670 Million Euros (1 Billion AUD)



Holland has won number one because it has zero strays. That's right, zero strays! Due to their PSVIR (pick, sterilise, vaccinate, identify and return) policy, the lives of thousands of dogs have gone from homeless to home'd. The fact that they were able to declare themselves free from strays since 2016 is beyond astounding! 


For a country to succeed at such a trying task means they truly appreciate and love dogs. How lucky to be a pup growing up there!


While this may not technically be a win alone, they also ranked highest on taking dogs to cafes and shopping centres with them. 








Number of dogs in France: 10 Million  / 67 Million Humans (1:7 dog to human ratio) 

Annual Spend: 3 Billion Euro (4.9 Billion AUD)   



France is known for its relaxed dog policies. Inviting your dog into the restaurant is a common affair and is a perfect example of how much the French love dogs. 

So much so that their pets are called Animaux domestiques, which could be translated to “animals living at home”... sweet beyond words. 

Sterilisation is not common practice in France, which is why it is not ranked as the top country. One article states that it is uncommon to see the French walking their dog unless it is for ‘show’. 

But, in saying that, Around 40 per cent of French people list their dogs as the most important thing in their lives (even more important than their lovers!)





Number of dogs in Australia: 4.8 million dogs / 24.6 million Humans (1:5 dog to human ratio) 

Annual Spend: 12.2 Billion



Australia continues to have one of the largest household rates for pet ownership. Even more surprisingly, a 2016 Pet Ownership in Australia report, concluded that a higher proportion of Australians live in households consisting of one or more dog/cat than a child. More than 50% of Aussies live in a house with one or more dogs/cats, whereas only 35% are living with one or more children. 

We don't have compulsory training classes but veterinary clinics often run their own ‘puppy classes’ independently. Microchipping is required by law and desexing is a common practice. 

Cafe’s have been jumping on board the puppy wagon and inviting furry friends inside, offering a water bowl and sometimes a complimentary treat. In terms of shopping centres and restaurants, we are behind that of other countries. 

It is estimated that 76% of Australians keep their pet dog inside the family home






Number of dogs in Germany: 9.4 Million / 83 Million Humans (1:9 dog to human ratio) 

Annual Spend: 40 Billion Euro (65 Billion AUD)



Germany really surprised me with just how dog-friendly it is. 

Not only can you take dogs just about anywhere, including most restaurants, children's playgrounds (wow.. what great education for the little ones), some offices and public transport. 

Germany has a ‘dog tax’, for every dog owned. Most European countries scraped this in the 20th century, but Germany withheld its stance to continue the tax. For some, the tax may seem excessive, but I think it is a great way to force people to think twice before rushing out and impulse buying a puppy. 





Number of dogs in Switzerland: 505 000 / 8.42 Million Humans  (1:16 dog to human ratio) 

Annual Spend: 500 Million (740 Million AUD)            



This swiss are very serious about dog ownership. So much so that the government heavily supports every new pet parent to undergo a training course within 12 months of taking ownership. This was once a legal requirement

Since 2007, it is a legal requirement that every puppy must be microchipped within its first three months of life, along with the common council fees and registrations that apply. Restaurants are very welcoming and will commonly have water bowls, treats and dog options available.  

Vets estimate that 50% of Swiss sleep with their pets. Awwe!

There are of course many more countries that love dogs and give them beautiful, loving homes, but in my research, these came out as the top five. If you know of a country that should make the list, please reach out!



If you have any feedback or questions that you would like to share, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you. 



Belinda Bird

Founder & Veterinary Nurse

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