Home Dogs How To Adopt a Dog In The Netherlands?

How To Adopt a Dog In The Netherlands?

by Rafal Sulowski

The first and foremost I am delighted that you decided to adopt a dog. There are 200 million stray dogs worldwide and it’s not an easy task to find a home for all of them.

Multiple charities and organizations help with dog adoption in the Netherlands. Among them, there are Sitchting Le Woef, DOAmsterdam, Verhuisdieren. There are also many shelters and you can find them on website dierenbescherming.nl.

The adoption process in the Netherlands may be quite a time consuming and expensive task. For me that’s quite surprising because I come from Poland and there you can easily get a dog from the shelter with just a little donation. In Holland be ready to pay at least 120 euros fee when adopting a dog from a shelter. This amount can be much higher depends on where you decide to adopt a dog.

In this article you will find links to the most popular organizations which will help you adopt a dog. I also share some important dog adoption information so you can prepare yourself for this journey. I hope this article will help you and you find value in it. Keep on reading!

Where You Can Adopt a dog in the Netherlands?

How to Adopt?

Don’t look only for puppies, of course, we all love puppies but there are plenty of adult dogs that also need love. From my experience when you get an adult dog from the shelter you are given unconditional love and lifelong friend. Animals know how it’s to be abandoned and they feel you help them. On the other hand, older dogs may have some issues and traumas so just be aware of that and do your research.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against getting a dog from a responsible breeder but surely we should focus on pro-adoption attitude. I think it just depends on what you are looking for and how experienced are you with dogs. It may be much more difficult to raise a dog with traumas and some issues.


While I was doing my research I’ve heard opinions that sometimes shelters do not provide a transparent and honest overview of a dog and they won’t tell you about dog issues, but that’s not what I experienced. Shelters in the Netherlands do pretty good research before you adopt a dog and they try to find the best dog-owner suit so the dog doesn’t end up again in their shelter. Charities and pet organizations are aware of how difficult it is for an owner and a dog. Every shelter I visited I was informed about the history of the dog, but I’m sure there are plenty who don’t do a good job.

Adoption Process

The adoption process is different in different organizations but in general, a procedure looks as follows.

First you have to fill an adoption form, where you mention what kind of dog you are looking for and what is your life situation(income, housing situation, if you have children etc.) It’s important to fill this form carefully because it allows for the best match with a dog. Shelters and other dog organizations are there to connect you with a dog that is the best suit for you.

Later it depends on the organization. Some would invite you to see a dog, then they bring a dog to your place. Others want you to visit a dog in shelter 3 times before you decide to adopt.

Adoption vs Buying from a Responsible Breeder

I’m not a propagator of an idea: Don’t buy! Adopt! It’s because there are pros and cons to each. If you aren’t experienced with dogs, the best option is for you to buy it from a responsible breeder. With a little experience, you need a dog with no traumas, that was well fed and raised during his first weeks of life. With strays, your life may be a bit more difficult. They may have some behavioral issues that are difficult to resolve and if you aren’t a good suit with a dog it’s problematic. So there is a place for both – buying and adopting. I adopted my dog from Romania and he is lovely.

Adoption is very glorified and romantic. Of course, it’s great to help dogs who do not have families. Unfortunately, many shelters aren’t honest about dog issues. From my experience, I was always well informed about a dog situation and I end up with healthy lovely dogs. But I heard a lot of stories of shelters that do not provide transparent info about dogs. Just make sure that you adopt or buy from a quality breeder or well-reviewed shelter.

You must be also aware that there are people who bring dogs from countries with a stray dog issue and they sell for a profit in other countries. I’m not talking about charities which really help. I’m talking about people who find a business in this practice and they smuggle dogs from one country to another.

Before you Get A Dog

  • Think about your lifestyle and your availability  – having a dog takes a lot of time and commitment
  • Know the breed – Different breeds have different characters and style of live. Some dogs need a lot of walking. Some are good with children. Some dogs learn faster than others and it’s easier to train them.
  • Be aware of some rescue organizations. Many of them are charities that do a great job helping dogs but some of them are in just for a profit.
  • Take time for research before you get a dog. Don’t buy a dog when an idea pops up and you are so excited. Think of going for walks, no matter the sun or storm. Keep in mind that this is a commitment for 10 – 15 years. Anytime you go for holidays, visit your family, etc. you have to consider taking a dog with you. Just make a serious decision, not based on emotions.


The first year of having a four-leg companion is the most expensive. You have to pay for the chip, vaccinations, adoption fees, registration costs, passport, dog-related things such as line or a collar. Owning a dog is generally quite expensive. Of course it depends, but in general be ready for an extra expense.

What you Must Do

  • Dog Passport – it’s mandatory
  • MicroChip – It’s also mandatory and it’s a little microchip with a 15-digit identification number on it, that’s injected under the dog’s skin
  • Dutch Tax Registration – Every year there is fewer municipalities that still want you to pay a dog tax, but there are still some. Here you can find more info about Dog Tax.
  • Vaccinations – it should be done by adoption organization or a breeder

Dog Vet

Surely you have to find a dog vet in your area. It’s crucial. I can recommend you Ranzjin. I have a good experience with them. They are professional and affordable when compared to a local private vet.

What is the Best Place To Buy Dog Food?

I’m not sure if it’s the best place to buy dog food but I always buy it online at https://www.zooplus.nl/. I’ve been also buying some in Ranzijn. Basically, it depends on how you want to feed your friend. Some people cook, some people give only dry food, or meat. In Ranzijn you can get some frozen dog meat. It’s stinky but dogs like it :p When it comes to dry food it’s better to buy a supersize pack once every few months. It’s much cheaper. Make sure that first, you buy a little package so you know if your dog likes that specific brand. You don’t want to end up with 20 kg of dry food he doesn’t want to eat.


If you decide to adopt a dog, you should plan him on your holidays. I know that sometimes a situation is difficult and you have to travel alone. That’s why there are multiple pet care services that can help you. There is PetBnb where you can find someone who will take care of your dog when you are away. There are also dog walking services, drop-in visits, house sitting or doggy daycare. I like this site because users make their profiles and they get reviews so you know about other dog-owners opinions about this particular person.

What is Raad van Beheer?

When you start searching for adoption opportunities in the Netherlands you will surely find out about this organization. The Raad van Beheer(Dutch Kennel Club) is the organization in the Netherlands that stands for the relationship between people and dogs. This not only involves all kinds of activities that you can do with your dog, such as sports or shows, but also the breeding of healthy dogs. Its responsibility is to register puppies and their breed.

Why Adopting a Dog in The Netherlands is So Difficult?

It’s not that difficult but I was surprised while facing some problems. First of all, there are not that many dogs in shelters in the Netherlands. I was in a few shelters and basically they had only some dogs with issues. Maybe it was just back then when I was searching for a dog but that’s my experience. Or they had dogs that were living together for a long time and they want someone who takes both of them. Or they had a very active dog that must have access to the garden and we didn’t.

Adoption from shelters in the Netherlands is difficult because they do a pretty damn good job with managing homeless dogs problem and adoption is very popular. You can read more about this here.

Also, be ready to pay an adoption fee. In most countries, you just pay a little donation, but in the Netherlands, it may cost quite a lot. I end up paying about 550 euros for a stray from Romania.

Dog Chip Registration

MicroChip Registration is mandatory in the Netherlands. If your dog gets lost, it will be very easy to identify that you are the owner. You can get a chip by a vet, animal shelter, animal ambulance or breeder.

When I went on holiday, I left my dog with my friends. A smart little dog run away… ;p Fortunately withing 45 minutes he was caught by animal ambulance, they scanned a microchip and called me. The next day we could pick up our dog from the shelter.

Animal services react very quickly in the Netherlands. It’s because there are no stray dogs, so it’s quite unusual to see a free-running dog without the owner. They immediately know that something’s wrong.

Dog Insurance

Dog insurance isn’t mandatory in the Netherlands but it’s definitely worth it. Depends on the insurance plan you will end up paying between 7 up to 50 euros per month. On this website, you can check how much it will cost and what’s included.


Are dogs allowed in public transport?

Yes, dogs are allowed in public transport. Dogs travel for free in public transport except for a train, where you need a separate ticket. Price is based on the size of your pet.

Can I try out a dog for a couple of days?

That’s not possible. Dogs in shelters went through a lot of stress and it’s not responsible to let them bond with you and then bring them back to the shelter. Keep in mind that when you decide to adopt a dog it’s a life-long commitment.

Of course, if the dog is not a good fit it’s possible to give it back. But don’t adopt a dog just to give it a try. It’s better to visit a dog in a shelter and spend there some time with him and than take a serious decision.

Do I Have To Clean a Dog Poop?

It’s obligatory to clean dog poop in the whole Netherlands, so you always have to carry paper or plastic dog poop baggies. You can throw away the dog poop in a dog poop receptacle, rubbish bin or underground rubbish container. Thanks to this rule we keep the Netherlands clean. Everyone is cleaning after their dog.

Does Adopting from A Country with Stray Dog Problem Resolve an Issue?

No, not really. The best results with fighting stray dog problems are reached with the CNVR program (Collect, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return) Read more in this article.

Should I Adopt a Dog?

If you consider adopting a dog that’s amazing. Adoption is surely a much better solution than buying. If you’ve never had a dog before you should consider helping someone with walking their dog or register as a dog walker. Here you can become a pet-sitter https://en.pawshake.nl/ or https://www.petbnb.nl/en

Give It a Try

If you’ve never had a dog it’s a good idea to start walking someone’s dog. Owning a dog is an amazing experience but it’s also a big responsibility. It’s not only a beautiful experience but sometimes it’s difficult. You have to walk a dog at least 3 times a day and having a dog is limiting when it comes to traveling.

Good To Know Dutch Dog-Related Terms

Dierenarts – vet
Dierenasiel – shelter
Geen aanlijnplicht – no leash is required
Geen hondenuitlaaten – It is not allowed to let your dog run without a leash
Hondenbelasting – dog tax
Opriumverplicht – Required to pick up after your dog.
Verboden voor Honden – dogs are not allowed

Important Websites and Services

Wrap Up

If you have any suggestions about dog adoption in the Netherlands, you can help someone with adoption or you would like to share your experience or recommend a shelter, please contact me so together we can create a guide with most valuable shelters, organizations, and information for new dog families.

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Cristina March 4, 2020 - 4:40 pm

Hi, Rafal.
This is Cristina from Happy Tails. Just wanted to say thank you for recommending us – it means a lot, especially for all the dogs and cats we have rescued and will continue rescuing! Thanks to our adopted dogs in Amsterdam we now have great friends there and your article only determines us to continue our work for rescue animals :).

Rafal Sulowski March 4, 2020 - 11:09 pm

Hey, Cristina 😉 Keep up great work!

Victor March 30, 2020 - 9:09 pm

I am finding it quite impossible to adopt in the Netherlands. All the Shelters are very precious with their dogs, and the fact that I have a nice home, 19 years of experience with dogs and lots of love to give, still not good enough. They are either looking for specific experience with a breed or whatever, but I am never good enough for them. I really wonder who is, and what is wrong with me. I really wanted to adopt to give a stray dog a life of happines, but this option is constantly being refused to me in the Netherlands in a very burocratic process where all the shelters assume I am the worst person ever and dont believe my dog experience. Sorry for the frustration.

Rafal Sulowski March 30, 2020 - 10:33 pm

Hey Victor,
I truly understand your frustration because I was in the exactly same situation. I was driving from one shelter to another and they had special expectations, or they had dogs with behavioral issues. I end up adopting a stray from Romania. We’ve got him from “le woef stichting” and I can definitely recommend them. I was in their place visiting before I adopted a dog and you can see that the lady running this charity is putting a lot of love and effort into it.
Keep me updated on your adoption! I hope you’ll find a lovely dog for yourself 😉


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