The Portuguese just adore children and dogs! We can't imagine a walk with a baby or a dog, and even more so a puppy, without hearing "Ai que bebê!" (What a baby!), "Bonito!" (Handsome!), "Posso acariciar?" (Can I pet him?). At the sight of a puppy, even the police officer's serious face will light up with a big smile. There is a sincere cult of children, and an equally genuine cult of dogs emerges!
This article will discuss four-legged friends, specifically the technical side of getting a puppy in your home. We will help you understand how to buy a dog from a breeder in Portugal and draw up all the necessary documents. We will describe what laws to pay attention to, what fines there are, what vaccinations your pet needs, and what the scary word leishmaniasis means. And we'll write about the banned dog breeds and those considered Portuguese.
Let's say right away that here we're looking at buying a dog from a breeder, not adopting a four-legged friend from a shelter, or buying a dog on a marketplace like OLX. Of course, some nuances may vary from breeder to breeder, so your stories and comments are welcome.
Where to search
Being a breeder in Portugal is not an easy and highly responsible thing. All breeders are gathered into a particular database that the Portuguese Kennel Club (Clube Português de Canicultura) has. Our way began precisely from there, mainly because we searched for the breed, which is not widespread in this country, the longhaired Chihuahua. You can fill out a form on the website indicating the species you are interested in. Within two days, you should receive a complete list of breeders engaged with a particular breed. It is advisable to approach this step when you have already decided on a short list, from which you will choose.
Buying a dog specifically from an official breeder can mean a safe process, minimizing problems with the animal in the future, and, if you have them, the ability to get support or compensation from those who sold you a puppy. The breeder often continues to support you even after the purchase by answering your questions about the puppy: care, vaccinations, behavior, and training. Additionally, the Portuguese Kennel Club conducts breeder evaluations and confirms the quality and compliance with accepted standards.
The beauty of buying a purebred puppy in a European country, in our case Portugal, also lies in having access to clubs and breeders from all over Europe. And, if you can't find a puppy you want within the country, you can look in any other EU country and then order delivery or get a puppy yourself. If the pet is from another EU country, there are several conditions for vaccinations, which we will mention in the relevant section.
How the process of communication with a breeder works
Step 1: meeting a breeder.
You have found a club you like or even a particular puppy, for example, thanks to the clubs/breeder's Facebook or Instagram posts. They usually post new, recently born puppies that will soon be ready for sale.
You arrange a meeting to see them. However, don't expect every breeder to give you puppies in your hands or pet them. It is not a good idea, firstly, because the puppies don't have all their vaccinations yet, and you may bring danger to the babies on your feet and hands. Secondly, many people see them, and puppies are not soulless dolls.
Sometimes puppies are booked before a particular offspring even appears – if you want a puppy from a specific club, and the demand is high.
What to find out at the meeting:
- how the deal is going in terms of procedure and paperwork (and whether there’ll be a contract of sale);
- what are the cost of the puppy and the down payment;
- the list of vaccinations to be delivered by the breeder;
- whether there will be a chip (this is the breeder's obligation, but it's worth talking about);
- what documents come with the puppy. At a minimum, this is the puppy's health certificate (de Boletim Sanitário de Cães e Gatos). It looks like a yellow book.
It features vaccinations given to the puppy at the time of transfer, the date of deworming, and the vet's information.
You must also obtain a Pedigree Certificate (Certificado Registo no Livro de Origenes Português (LOP)); and a current Proprietary Certificate (Certificado de Propriedade) so you can rehome your puppy at the Portuguese Kennel Club. Most likely, if you bought a dog not for breeding, these two documents will be given to you after proof of castration/sterilization, as breeding animals have a different price, stated in the contract.
- the nuances of the specific breed, care features, and common diseases. The better you understand the scope of responsibility and the more information you get, the better for your future life together with your new friend.
- the age at which the puppy can be picked up. Experts recommend not picking up a puppy before three months of age, regarding psychological and physical health, and having all the necessary vaccinations.
- the cost of the particular puppy you like. You'll be able to try and bargain later.
- when you can get a sample contract to read through.
You should also pay attention to the state of the kennel and the animals, the activity of the puppies, and other subjective and objective signs that will help you choose a breeder.
Step 2: agreeing on the details and making an advance payment.
When you are sure which puppy to choose, you inform the breeder of your intention to buy it for the current price or with bargaining, discuss and ask questions about the points in the contract and adjust if necessary.
Once you've agreed upon everything, the breeder sends you a Reservation document specifying your contact information, details and contact information of the club/breeder, the description of the object of the agreement, and additional clarifications: breed, brief description of appearance; vaccines to be given by the breeder; deworming, chip availability; pedigree. It also indicates the total cost of the puppy and, separately, the advance payment amount. A signature on the document is not required; the fact of payment will be a confirmation.
If everything is in order, you pay the advance payment amount in any convenient way agreed upon. Here, a bank transfer seems more reliable, as you can get proof of payment without additional receipts.
The puppy is reserved for you. You can still change your mind about taking it at this step, but in this case, the advance is not refundable.
After payment, the breeder will ask you to come up with a name. As we understand it, breeders ask that the name you create starts with the letter of the current name in the pedigree. It is only a recommendation and request, not a rule. We, for example, had the challenging quest of coming up with a name in X. The name, same as your information, is to be entered into the puppy's electronic chip card.
Step 3: picking up the puppy from the breeder.
You arrive at the agreed-upon date and time with a diaper, carrier, and whatever the breeder recommends. It is where you sign the contract you have read out in advance. In our case, it was in English. Essential points in the agreement are a more detailed description of the conditions and documents of the puppy and the conditions of the transfer of the pedigree.
It is worth rechecking the state of the puppy to evaluate its health and to see if all the promised documents are available.
When everything is decided and signed, you provide the rest of the amount in the agreed manner.
The breeder sends you an invoice (Fatura), which confirms fulfilling your financial obligations.
Congratulations, the first part of the journey is done!
The breeder will give you your puppy with the first vaccines:
- against flesh-eating plague and parvovirus enteritis (Nobivac® Puppy DP);
- against leptospirosis in dogs (Nobivac® L4, consisting of 3 doses);
- against plague, infectious hepatitis, parvovirus enteritis, and canine parainfluenza (Nobivac® DHPPi, consisting of 3 doses).
Parts of the last two vaccines may have to be completed by yourself. It all depends on when you pick up your puppy.
From there, you will do Nobivac® L4 and Nobivac® DHPPi every year. Special notations from the vets on the health certificate or puppy passport will help you remember to do this.
To understand the price, one of our vaccines cost 46 euros, and the insurance covered most of the amount.
In this paragraph, we gave the vaccination regimen we were offered. We could not find any official source with a vaccination schedule like for humans, but the Order of Veterinarians (Ordem dos Médicos Veterinários) published a 20-page document containing some mentions of the vaccination rules.
Rabies vaccination (vacinação antirrábica). In Portugal, as in Europe, there is no rabies epidemic. Nevertheless, this vaccination is compulsory (Regulation No. 264/2013 of August 16). It protects not only the animals that increasingly travel with us, walking in cities, villages, and forests, but also their owners from the disease, which has 100% lethality at the stage of clinical symptoms.
Detailed information about this disease is on the Department of Food and Veterinary Medicine's website.
This vaccination is also necessary for: any travel (remember the 21 days quarantine after vaccination if it is the first in the puppy's life), placement in a dog hotel, and the annual renewal of the dog ownership license.
There is also a fine of 50 to 3,740 euros for individuals whose dogs do not have a rabies vaccination.
Many veterinarians allow vaccination as early as three months of age; this is often necessary for those who bring a puppy from another country. After all, from the time of vaccination counts, another 21 days of quarantine until the puppy can go to a new owner. The document states this information: "Requirements for moving dogs, cats and ferrets on a non-commercial basis between European Union (EU) member states and other European countries supporting the use of the pet passport."
A public notice issued by the General Directorate of Food and Veterinary Medicine on March 16, 2022, also says that dogs must be vaccinated against rabies from the age of three months.
But we have been advised by veterinarians that unless critically necessary, it's best to wait with the rabies vaccine until the baby is 4-5 months old when the baby's health strengthens. Then you need to revaccinate after one year and then repeat the vaccination only every three years.
The cost of this vaccine in our case was 36 euros. If you have insurance, depending on your plan, it could cover part of the amount.
If you do not have the financial means to provide your dog with the rabies vaccine, the Casa dos Animais de Lisboa, for example, in Lisbon, the municipal animal welfare service, can help you with this. The program was last conducted in the fall of 2022. But we still have not received an answer for a similar one for this year. We have to clarify whether there are such organizations in other cities.
Vaccination against leishmaniasis (vacinação contra leishmaniose). Leishmaniasis is a terrible and dangerous infection transmitted by mosquito bites. We believe you should not skimp on this vaccination because there is an extremely high chance of losing your pet. The vaccination cost 69 euros for us, plus a blood test to see if the disease was not already present in the body - 25 euros. You need to renew the vaccination every year.
This vaccine, for example, is separately excluded from coverage in Fedelidade policies. Perhaps due to the cost, some owners do with special collars or more expensive drops (which also affect the mosquitoes). But according to veterinarians' recommendations, you should not mutually exclude these measures but combine them. After all, some resources indicate vaccine effectiveness of only 70%, some 90%. Therefore, additional efforts will be beneficial. During peak insect activity (February, June, and October), it is worth wearing a special collar and avoiding walking at dawn and dusk. Additionally, you can also buy protection against mosquitoes for the house. The danger, in this case, is not at all exaggerated.
Vaccination against canine cough (vacina contra tosse canina) or kennel cough. It is not a fatal disease, but if there are complications, there is a chance of pneumonia. Veterinarians recommend it, but it is not mandatory.
The vaccination is given either with a special agent in the nose at one time or through an injection if the pet is highly active and interferes with the procedure. In the latter case, you will have to come two times. The vaccine is given annually. The cost for us was 36 euros; again, most of it was covered by insurance.
Getting a pet passport
The health certificate is enough if the animal will not leave Portugal, but for the movement of dogs, cats, and ferrets between EU countries and some other European countries, you will need a passport.
You can order the pet passport from any veterinarian. Prerequisites for the document: microchip and rabies vaccination.
The passport is valid for the entire life of the animal.
For those who like to dig into the details, there is a document from the DGAV (General Directorate of Food and Veterinary Medicine), Passaporte de animal de companhia (PAC).
We won't discuss much detail here since the breeder must hand over your puppy with a microchip. Our breeder himself updated the information in the database on this resource. Just in case, since October 2022, microchipping of cats and ferrets is also obligatory.
Microchipping is mandatory for all dogs born after July 1, 2008.
Registering a dog at the place of residence and obtaining a license
In smaller towns, the Portuguese themselves often do not follow this procedure. Nevertheless, participants of some forums tell about cases when the GNR visited them to check on the license. In case of any incident or misunderstanding about your pet, the first thing they can check is that you have this document.
To register your pet and obtain a license to own it, you must come to your parish council (Junta de Freguesia) with the following documents:
- your ID card;
- proof of rabies vaccination;
- proof of SIAC registration (a sticker in your passport with a barcode chip was sufficient);
- proof of your residency in a particular county (rental agreement or extreme utility bills, or financial portal statement);
- for "potentially dangerous" dogs (Brazilian Cao de Fila, Argentine Dog, Pitbull Terrier, Rottweiler, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Tosa Inu): exemption from liability, criminal record, liability insurance, physical and mental fitness test, spay/neuter (the latter is mandatory if the animal does not have a LOP/breeding).
You can email in advance, as some parish councils can do the procedure remotely, and you only come to pay and pick up the license.
The license at the time of writing costs about 15 euros per year; some parishes do it for free.
A stamp confirming the license is also put in the pet's passport, under Licenciamento (Licensing).
Veterinary care in Portugal, like all of Europe, is very expensive. We took out a policy PET3, which now costs us 26 euros per month.
You will need the pet's passport and the owner's and pet's information that the insurance agent will ask for to apply for insurance. The dog's name must be spelled correctly on all paperwork. Remember, insurance has an accrual period when you pay for coverage but cannot use it yet. At Fidelidade, it is between 60 and 90 days, depending on the type of service. Therefore, we would not advise you to postpone doing insurance.
Re-issuing your certificate of ownership at the Portuguese Kennel Club
Once the breeder has given you your current certificate of ownership, you can do the reissue. The document itself has a space for the new owner to fill out. Once completed, you send a letter to the club's address in Lisbon or Porto. A receipt of payment must accompany the letter: 21 euros if the return address is in Portugal or 50 euros if it is a foreign address.
We decided not to waste paper and got an email confirmation that we could send the confirmation electronically. We did it when we received a request from the club to the email address we specified in the form.
You will receive an email with a new similar certificate and your details.
According to the law (Decree-Law No. 314/2003, Article 3), up to three dogs or four adult cats may be housed per dwelling, with the total number of animals not exceeding four. Some conditions allow keeping up to six animals.
It is always specified that keeping animals must not lead to pollution of the environment, provoke contamination of people, and must comply with standards of hygiene and sanitation.
It seems there are no restrictions, but they can occur in some Condominiums under specific management systems. It is better to clarify this point with the building administration.
Condominiums can also impose fines for non-compliance with regulations on keeping animals and staying in common areas.
Also, if you are renting, it is better to get written consent by email or messenger from the landlord about the animal living on the property.
Another thing to pay attention to is noise regulation (Decree-Law No. 9/2007 of January 17). If your pet is very talkative, especially between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., the neighbors are entitled to call the police, who will at least issue a fine. Further visits may lead to more severe consequences. We know a Portuguese woman who had to give her dog to her parent's house for this reason. So it pays to train the puppy in this aspect responsibly and teach him to be quiet and stay home alone.
Duties of dog owners in Portugal
Dogs, like other animals in Portugal, are protected by law.
To give you an example: anyone who kills a pet without good cause is punished with six months to two years imprisonment or a fine of 60 to 240 days (each day corresponds to a monetary penalty of €5 to €500, depending on the convict's economic situation and personal expenses). However, if the perpetrator showed particular cruelty and it was perverse, the limit of punishment may be increased by one-third.
Leaving a dog alone in a car, even more so with the windows closed and in the sun, can also amount to cruelty. Vigilant citizens are likely to call the police in this case.
You can read more about landlord liability in this short article. See the comprehensive text on rights, responsibilities, and penalties in the final version of the Municipal Animal Welfare and Health Regulations. There is a lot there, even the obligation to clean up after your pet in the street, as well as the socialization of animals among people and companions.
Is Portugal pet friendly?
The answer to this question always depends on what you compare it to. When we came here, it seemed this country was made for dogs. Everybody is friendly and happy to pet your friend; there are plenty of cafes and stores where (even if there is a forbidding sign) you can go with your dog (it's easier with a small breed here, though); the rights of animals are protected; and vets are genuinely willing to help.
But some Portuguese compare the situation in their country, for example, with Germany and complain that they do not yet have such a dog-friendly environment, especially from organizations and institutions. But, according to rumors, some Germans are not happy with the attitude towards the animals in their country:)
We, in turn, celebrate the right direction in this matter by the government and the country's citizens.
Potentially dangerous and dangerous breeds of dog
We want to mention potentially dangerous breeds in Portugal separately. According to the current legislation, potentially dangerous breeds are Brazilian Fila dog, Argentine dog, pit bull terrier, Rottweiler, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, Tosa Inu.
Also included are those dogs obtained by crossing these breeds in the first generation, thus getting a similar typology.
The owner of any dangerous or potentially dangerous dog must have liability insurance and carry a license to own the animal at all times.
That doesn't mean you can't see members of these breeds on the streets. You can bring them in during travel or immigration if you follow stricter rules when transporting, registering, and keeping them in your household.
Dangerous animals include dogs (regardless of breed) that meet one of the following points. It also does not mean that you cannot encounter a dog cannot be on the street, but there will be special requirements for the dog and its owner.
- the dog has bitten, attacked, or physically harmed a person;
- it has seriously injured or killed another animal;
- the owner of the animal has voluntarily reported to the Parish Council in the community that the dog has an aggressive nature and behavior;
- a competent authority considers the dog a threat to human or animal safety.
Portuguese dog breeds
You may discover dog breeds you have never seen in a new country. Some are considered Portuguese; you can see the list here. All countries have these local breeds. Explore and make many exciting discoveries!