Adopting a dog in Italy

Now, I can tell you that I definitely am no expert at adopting a dog in the US, but I tend to think it is a much easier process than adopting a dog in Italy. During lockdown adoption became very popular, and even we felt we needed a furry friend to make days at home better (and to be honest it was a reason to get outside every day!) We adopted Kiki towards the end of 2020 and it was the best thing we’ve done, she’s the absolute best. But we did have to take a bit into consideration before bringing her home, here are some things you should know about adopting a dog in Italy.

Adopt Don’t Shop

Italians are really particular about the race of their dog, something I only found out when looking for one. They breed them and sell key breeds for thousands. Really, in 2020, I shouldn’t have to say this but: ADOPT DON’T SHOP. There are thousands of puppies here in Italy that need a home, and every time you opt to buy one you are supporting forced breeding, spending money better put elsewhere, and denying a puppy a chance at a happy life. Yes, I will be that dramatic. 

But ok, if for some reason you really need a specific breed, you can usually find them via Subito or a quick Google search.

As for adopting: where can you adopt a dog?

Where to search for a dog in Italy

No doubt you will be able to find local posts about dogs ready to be adopted in Italy around Social Media, as well as announcement sites like Subito. However, if you want a hassle-free adoption, I suggest looking into your local “Canile”.

Many who post on Social Sites, have taken the dogs from the street and are looking for money in exchange for the dog. However, they have no information about the dog, if it is nice if it gets along with certain people, what its age is, its health etc. They are either just looking for some easy cash or trying to be good (but unequipped) dog savers. You will especially see this a lot: ADORABLE PUP IN PUGLIA NEEDS A HOME ONLY FOR LOMBARDY OR PIEDMONT. That is right, they will only get it to you if you are up north. But you cannot visit the dog before, or anything, just say yes and it is yours.

Why is this bad?

Well, it has happened a number of times that the dog arrives and turns out it is horribly trained but too old so no puppy school will take them. Or it has very expensive health issues you now are responsible for. Or for all you know it may hate you. But now you have to deal with it.

Adopting a Dog in Italy with a Canile

A canile on the other hand, or dog shelter, is a non-profit funded usually by donations and the government, or other sponsors.  Before they hand over a dog, they ensure the dog has all its vaccines, it is neutered or spayed, and that it gets along with the future owner.

When adopting our dog in Italy we went through the Canile di Omegna. This particular canile required we meet the dog a few times, taking her out for walks. After she had her vaccines, was potty trained, leash trained, and spayed, she was ready to be taken home. However, even before signing her away, the staff came down to visit our house, made sure we had space for her, that she couldn’t run away and that she would be happy in the space.

This whole process took a few months but was worth it to know that our dog trusted us, knew our scent, and we had help knowing if our house was ready for a puppy.

This entire process cost us nothing. That is right, the canile asked for no money whatsoever, just a donation if we felt like it (of course we ended up leaving quite a large donation as a thank you).

Even better, the canile took care of all the bureaucratic mess of registering a dog.

Registering a Dog in Italy

All dogs must be registered with the local Anagrafe, and microchipped. Each region has a different cost for this service, ranging from free to 15 euro. The dog is registered in the owner’s name, and if the pup changes hands, they must have the registration turned over to the new owner.

In order to find out the details of registering your dog (if the canile does not do it for you) search for “anagrafe animali d’affezione” in your region.

For an article in Italian, this resource is very useful.

A summary: You can request registration and the microchip either at the ASL (The same place you go to get your doctor!) closest to you or at your choice Vet. After it has a microchip and an “identification” number it has to be registered with the anagrafe, paying a 30euro “bolletino” (those bills you write and pay at the post office).

Registering the dog makes sure that there is always a record of the dog’s health when it sees a new vet.

Things to know before you get a dog in Italy

First of all, if you are renting, no matter the contract, ask your landlord WAY BEFORE even looking at a dog. This is so important and you don’t want to get into trouble further down. Also, check around your local neighbourhood for dog parks or places you could walk. Think about your surroundings and what size dog is going to fit into your life at the moment.

Do you plan on travelling a lot with the dog?

The required vaccines for dogs in Italy do NOT include Rabies, but in most countries, you will need this. In order to travel with your dog you will need to have a vet sign off and administer all the required vaccines in your destination country, you will also have to get a  Certificato Sanitario per l’Esportazione from your local Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL). This certificate is only valid for 6 days so make sure you get it right before leaving.


As opposed to what I have understood from owning a dog in the US, it is very affordable to own a pet here in Italy. As mentioned, adopting a dog in Italy could cost you nothing. If you adopt it not sterilized and choose to sterilize it, that will cost you about 500 euros or more. Registering the dog from scratch can be about 30 euros.

Vet visits cost about 40 euros each.

Yearly you will need Frontline and Cardotek (both against mosquitos ticks etc) that costs about 80 or 90 years for the year. Frontline you can buy over the counter at any pet store, while Cardotek will need a prescription from the Vet, and is bought at the Pharmacy.  There are other options such as a yearly shot or collar, but I have not explored these and it seems that it would depend on your specific dog and region. As Spring rolls around, schedule an appointment with your vet to discuss what is the best option.

Then of course, food is whatever you choose to give your dog. Our little one has become slightly spoiled but I would say we might spend about 80 euros on her food for a month or more.

Need any help getting settled in Italy with your pup? Book a call with me and let me help you make the most of your life in Italy.

Wandering Italy with a Dog, what are the rules?

Depending on how well-behaved your dog is, you choose if you want to free it or not in the general parks. But better to keep them on a leash around the city. In every corner of every town in Italy, you are bound to find designated dog parks that are fenced in to allow the pups to run around freely without bothering park-goers.

You can take your dog into all restaurants as long as it remains on a leash, if it tends to jump and bark, just maybe it better not, or ask to sit outside. Supermarkets on the other hand will depend from one to another, some allow it, even providing special carts, while others don’t.

Many beaches do NOT allow dogs (especially in Sardegna where you can face a 1000 euro fee), so before taking a summer vacation make sure there is a designated dog beach nearby, or leave the pup at home.

Did I miss something?

Well, this is still a learning curve for us here, so if you have any more questions, or think I missed something important, please let me know! Will update this article as I learn more.

If you found this information helpful you can show your support by buying me a glass of wine 🥂. I really appreciate it and each glass inspires me to research more into life in Italy!

And if you are looking for more help on your journey of making Italy home or looking for local insight to plan the best trip, get in touch, let me help you experience authentic Italy.