We recently adopted a puppy named Santino (Yell the name like SANTINO from Godfather) from a great rescue up near Coimbra called Pegadas & Bigodes (they are wonderful – highly recommended – Natasha really cares). He was abandoned by locals and thrown over the fence of the farm. We took him in and he’s getting used to life in the big city (Lisboa is not the big city, but it’s huge to him). With that, we have new challenges, especially when getting around the city with him. We love to drive but the parking situation in Lisbon is atrocious and we definitely prefer public transportation. We decided to put together this guide to having a dog in Lisbon to help those who are new to the city and looking to have a furry one join their family. We’ll update this blog as we learn new things. If you have a question that is not answered, leave it in the comments…and, if you have tips for us – do the same!
Background on Portuguese and Their Relationships with Dogs
Portugal as a whole is similar to many southern European countries. They have a history of poverty and access to wealth is small and far in-between. With that, dog ownership was usually for security and animal husbandry.
When you visit the countryside, you will see dogs living outside in the yard, mostly they will be tied to chains. This is true no matter what the season, even when the Summer sun is at its most aggressive. They are not considered to be a part of the family, but cheap “security systems”. You will also see packs of dogs randomly walking. Hunters will use dogs, particularly Portuguese Podengos for a season and get rid of them after. For these dogs, their fate is illness, accidents, or death.
Needless to say, this was shocking to us. It’s a shame and a horror, but it’s the reality. Luckily last year, Portugal passed the law⁰8/2017. It’s a law that protects dogs. No longer are dogs considered “furniture” or poor little objects. Now, if you own a dog you must provide food, water, and medical help. If the dog is in pain, is injured or suffering you can go to jail for up to 1-year. Finally! My only gripe is that 1 year in jail is not enough. I would sentence the offender depending on the circumstances anywhere from to 2-5 years.
The above situation is not true of all Portuguese. There are many people who love their dog and treat them properly. It’s a weird counterbalance to the old school dogs as animals vs dogs as a family idea.
We have seen more people loving dogs than abusing them, but the neglect and abuse is something that Portugal should fix asap. They should enforce 08/2017 to the fullest extent of the law.
Love your dogs people! They love you!
How to Adopt a Dog in Portugal?
If you have earned your residency in Portugal, you are eligible to adopt a dog. In various shelters, they will have internal rules on who they will allow to adopt a dog. For instance, Uniao Zoofila, a rescue in Lisbon will only allow locals who live in the city limits adopt their dogs. This is because they check-up on newly adopted dogs to make sure the dogs are being treated kindly, and to assist in any health or training necessary for the puppy. This is a rule I can agree with!
Where to Adopt a Dog in Lisbon?
First of all, we won’t discuss where to buy dogs. We’re an adopt don’t shop household and we will look down on you with spite if you don’t adhere to this way of living. Other than that, we’re cool.
There are many shelters and adoption places throughout Portugal. Each city or town will have its own pound. These dogs have either been abandoned by their owner. If you ask Portuguese people why they abandoned their dogs they will say “I never wanted one anyway” “he’s too aggressive” “too expensive” Lots of crappy excuses.
Some of the dogs you find in shelters are in bad shape or even worse, have been neglected or abused. I have seen Portuguese people kick their dogs (you a$$hats in Campo do Ourique). This is not the majority of people, but there is a subset of a$$hats who should never have gotten a dog in the first place.
We drove to Pegadas & Bigodes after doing tons of research. It was worth it. You can tell that everyone who volunteers there loves and knows their rescues. Natasha knew each dog’s personalities and explained their stories as we met each one. When we were chosen by Santino (his name was Arlindo at the time..it didn’t match him), she walked us through his medical history, all his shots and had already had him spayed and chipped. We highly recommend them and hope you check them out.
Dog shelters by area:
How to Register Your Dog
By law, you must register your new canine family member within a month of the time he or she is adopted. In order to do this you need to go to the office for your Freguesia. You can speed up the process by filling out and printing out the form for registration beforehand. If you go to your Freguesia’s website and search for “CANÍDEOS” it should come up. I got mine on the website for the Avenidas Novas neighborhood. You will need to bring a few things with you:
- Residency card or proof of address in the neighborhood and your NIF number
- Boletim Sanitario de Caes e Gatos (Your dog’s medical records)
- The microchip document from the SIRA (Sistema de Identificacao e Recuperacao Animal)
Once you get there, the person at the counter will take your documents and make photocopies. Once they are done, they will take your form. Once the dog is registered, you will receive a call from the Freguesia to tell you his/her registration is ready. You need to go back in with your dog’s Boletim Sanitario de Caes e Gatos. They will stamp that document and you will need to pay a one time €5 fee to the Freguesia and a €5 fee for the year. The second fee needs to be paid yearly to re-register your dog, basically, you will pay €5 each year to make sure your dog is legal. The whole process took all of 15 minutes.
Can I Rent an Apartment with a Dog?
Yes! Most if not all apartments are dog-friendly. Not only that, you legally cannot be turned down for a lease for having a dog. As of last year, a new law was passed that ruled that dogs are considered part of a household. This means they cannot be removed from the premises by the property owner. My only advice is that when you sign your lease, you tell your potential landlord that you have a dog. They may ask for an extra security deposit. This as with all things in Portugal, negotiable. The landlord wants a paying tenant, so they will bend over backward to secure you for 2-5 year lease.
Can Dogs go into Stores and Restaurants Like in France?
No. But…but there are places that don’t really give a crap. They like dogs, and like your money. Just ask before you go in. Most people will just nod their head and look the other way. Just watch out for restaurants, the fine is pretty steep at 100 Euros, so only bring them there if there is an outside area. If it’s your local bar/cafe people will not mind. Regardless, there are plenty of miradouros and kiosks in Lisbon you can take your pup to.
UPDATE: As of May 2017, Pets will be allowed in restaurants in Portugal as long as they have a sign saying restaurants are allowed. Dogs will need to be on a short leash and can only stay in the service zone (aka – no kitchen acces).
Getting to the Veterinarian in Portugal
Once you have your dog, there are plenty of pet hospitals throughout Portugal. I live in Lisbon so there are about 2 pet hospitals per square block. Even though there were so many choices, we chose to go to the Vet at the Sociedade Protectora de Animais. They not only work to get animals homed, but they work towards their rights. They have three offices in Lisbon and they are also quite affordable. You pay a one-time fee of €20 per year and your vet visits cost a mere €15. Also, because we’re members, it cost only €2 to get Santino’s microchip registered in the national system.
It’s great to walk-in to our vet (Catarina) who already knows our little guy. “-Hello O Santino, how are you doing”. Our vet takes care of the puppy and costs €15. Not bad. These are their three locations in case you need them:
Cais Do Sodre/Baixa-Chiado – Rua de São Paulo, 106 – 1200-429, Lisboa: 214 063 940; email: [email protected]
Arroios – Rua Barão Sabrosa, 318 – 1900-097, Lisboa: 218482532; email: [email protected]
Avenidas Novas – Rua Carlos Testa, – 1050-046, Lisboa: 213151989; email: [email protected]
Traveling with Your Dog in Portugal
You will need a container to hold your furry friend. This container must be able to be carried and stored below your feet or in the luggage. I know your never going to put the dog in the luggage compartment of the bus but this is the “written” rule. Some bus drivers insist but I would just argue with them and they relent 90% of the time.
Bus Travel with Dogs
When traveling on Portuguese buses, trams, or long distance bus lines you can take your dog with you as long as:
- They do not bother other passengers
- They are in a carrying container that can be carried with hand luggage
- Have a valid ticket (You have to pay full fare)
- It can travel free if muzzled
- Is on a lead of less than 1 meter long (3-feet)
Plane Travel with Dogs
In order to fly you need to have a crate. You will have to check the dog in cargo (sorry) unless he/she can fit under the seat. Get the crate referred to above. In Lisbon Portela airport, there is one place to check in and the cargo is in another place. Be prepared to do doing a little walking between terminals.
PRO TIP: Make sure to check directly with each airline on their rules to avoid nasty surprises.
We always have anxiety when flying with our dog. In order to reduce these worries, we always make sure we have a direct flight, keep the flights under 3 hours, buy a good crate, and have him relaxed before the flight. Natasha from Pegadas e Bigodes goes to the Netherlands for holidays and to adopt out dogs on a relatively consistent basis and has never lost a dog. She is smart. Apparently, it’s cheaper with cargo when going throughout Europe.
Can Dogs Go In The Metro in Lisbon?
Yup! How cool is that? Pets are allowed to ride the Metro train in Lisbon with their owners as long as:
- They don’t disturb passengers
- They are on a leash (no longer than 1 meter long) and are wearing a muzzle or…
- They are in a crate
Taxi Travel with Dogs
Let’s start this off by saying, skip the taxis. Ubers are so much better in Portugal. Now that that is out of the way, if you need to travel by taxi, a good suggestion is to muzzle your dog. Many taxi owners are fine with dogs, but a few are pretty anti-dog (they tend to be more of the old-school Portuguese). They will say that the dog will shed and get other owners allergies up. Sure, these are valid concerns, but honestly, most just don’t like dogs.
There is a trick though.
Go to a taxi queue with your dog. These queues are usually outside most major businesses on every 5-10th corner. There will be 5-10 taxi drivers waiting for a fare. Just walk up to them with your dog and see which will take you. Some will say no but a few will be fine with it.
Uber Travel with Dogs
I have never had a problem with an Uber driver. First, book your Uber. Then, immediately call the driver. Tell him or her where you are, and that you have a little dog with you. If they are “anti-dog” they will just cancel the trip. I have yet to have this happen to me.
Traveling with your dog throughout Portugal is pretty easy. Just follow the rules in this guide and you should have few issues. Just remember that the there is a subsect of Portuguese people who don’t think of dogs as family. To them, dogs are tools, guard animals, or even worse…a danger to people. This old mentality is slowly leaving the culture, but be prepared to meet a few people who will just give you dirty looks. Conversely, you will meet many people who love dogs, want to give your dog kisses, and will defend you if you are being mistreated by a driver or local.
Dog Runs in Lisbon?
I like to bring Santino to Monsanto. It’s massive in size. Think Central Park, but no tourists. I let him loose, and he loves it. Some of the park is in disrepair, but it is stunning. It’s easy to get to via a car or Uber.
If you are in the city, there are three parks I’ve been to with Santino that have facilities for dogs:
Jardim Fernando Pessa in Areeiro: This dog run is pretty cool. It has obstacle courses, it’s almost 2,000 qu feet and has a water fountain for the pups.
Jardim Campo Grande in Alvalade: This dog run is awesome. It is large, has agility games and very nice dog owners frequent it.
Jardim de São Bento: This one is pretty minimal. It hsa a few obstacles and will do if you’re in the area. The park nearby has one of my fave kiosks – they make a mean burger, just keep your dogs leashed, there are tons of cats in the area and there is plenty of traffic.
Parque do Arco do Cego in Saldanha: This one just opened in January 2018, but reviews have been quite poor. I’ll have to update this post once we actually make it there.
Tax Benefits of Having a Dog in Portugal
Portugal has been making strides when it comes to animal cruelty and abandonment. To deter abandonment, they have even put in new tax laws that allow dog owners to claim up to €250 of the money spent on vet bills per year. Don’t forget to ask your accountant about this.
Dog Food In Portugal
There’s plenty of commercial dog food in Portugal. Our dog gets fed homemade chicken with rice and vegetables that we cook in our pressure cooker. If you are looking for commercial dog food they sell both wet, dry and raw. You can get them at plenty of stores like:
So that’s it. Get a dog is Portugal is easy and will make your life (and health) better. Costs for dog food, vets, adoption, and registration is quite minimal. Do the world a mitzvah and get yourself a little guy/gal.
If you have other questions about living with dogs in Lisbon or Portugal, ask in the comments!