Welfare of pets

Not all animals are suitable as pets. The government has a list of mammals that people are allowed to keep as pets. It is working on lists of suitable birds and reptiles.

Rules for keeping pets

Over half of all households in the Netherlands have one or more pets. People who keep, sell and breed pets must take proper care of their animals. This is laid down in the Decree containing rules for keepers of animals.

The main rules are about:

  • Animal housing

    Animals must be housed in suitable accommodation. They must have enough space to move freely to prevent undue suffering.
  • Animal care

    Keepers of animals must provide enough feed and water. The feed must be suitable for the animal. Animals must also be given medical treatment if necessary.
  • Selling animals

    Pets may not be sold to anyone younger than 16. Animals for sale may not be displayed in a shop window. The person selling the animal must give the buyer written information about the animal.
  • Breeding animals

    Professional or hobby breeders may not breed with animals that have serious defects, diseases or behaviour problems. Bitches may not have more than one litter every 12 months.

Not all animals are suitable as pets

The most common pets are dogs, cats, rabbits and rodents. But some people keep more exotic animals. Not all animals are suitable as pets. Wild animals, for example, may suffer in a domestic environment or they may be dangerous.

That’s why on 1 February 2015 the Ministry of Economic Affairs introduced a list of mammals that may legally be kept as pets. It is known as the positive list for mammals. The list also includes animal species that may only be kept as pets under certain conditions.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) can give you more information on which animals can be kept as pets.

Tackling the problem of aggressive dogs

Dog owners are liable if their dog bites someone. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) may prosecute an owner if their dog attacks a person or another animal. Municipal authorities can order a dog owner to keep their dog muzzled or leashed in public.

The Pet Information Centre (LICG) gives information on dog bite incidents: what to do if it happens to you as well as how to prevent them.