The 51 Most & Least Dog-Friendly Countries (2022)

Updated on by Matthew H. Nash

The saying goes, “dogs are man’s best friend.” However, is this true internationally? The fact is, animal rights vary drastically around the world. In some countries, dogs are adored like children. In others, they’re eaten like chicken. Consequently, we decided to take a deep dive look into how canines are treated around the globe. The results of our research are contained within this in-depth Dog-Friendly Country Index to help you learn where is the best & worst country for owning or being a dog in 2022.

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Methodology

The 51 countries included in our study were selected based on available data. Unfortunately, many countries lack rudimentary information about how they are treating animals, specifically dogs. We used a mixed methods approach to our research design with the below eight ranking factors to determine scores for each country that are indicative of how well they treat their dogs.

Ranking Factors

1. Animal Protection Index (0 to 50 points): This data came from the Animal Protection Index (API) website. The API outlines numerous factors that determine their index including recognition of animal sentience, the prohibition of animal suffering, and whether or not legislation is in place for animal welfare.

Source: Animal Protection Index

2. Companion Animals (0 to 50 points): Data was pulled from the Animal Protection Index. Companion animal scores are based on an A to G ranking determined by legislation aimed at protecting pets and other companion animals within the countries studied.

Source: Animal Protection Index

3. Laws on animal rights (0 to 50 points): This data was obtained via Wikipedia’s index and fact-checked by our team on animal rights by country. Points were awarded based on whether the government has animal protection laws or not and if those laws are enforced.

Note: While many countries on our list do have laws on animal rights, we understand that these laws are not consistently enforced. We’re under no false assumption that all of these countries are implementing these laws. However, animal rights legislation is a step in the right direction in keeping animals safe from harm.

Source: Wikipedia (Animal rights by country or territory)

4. Laws on animal sentience (0 to 50 points): This metric was obtained through the API. Points were determined by a country having laws that specifically mention animals’ capacity to experience sentience.

Source: Animal Protection Index

5. Pet-Friendly Hotels per Capita (0 to 100 points): We identified how many hotels within a certain country allowed dogs to stay on their property and calculated the per capita amount.

Source: Google Hotels

6. Prevalence of rabies (0 to 100 points): Points for this metric were awarded based on a country’s status as being “low-risk” for rabies.

Source: Pet Travel

7. Veterinarians per capita (0 to 100 points): We used the website Veterinarian’s Guide to collect the number of vets within a country and calculated that against the population to get a vets per capita score.

Source: Veterinarian’s Guide

8. The cultural practice of dog consumption (-100 points): We obtained the data for dog meat consumption from Wikipedia and fact-checked that information using a number of reputable sources. Only countries that still have a widely documented high rate of dog meat consumption were included. These were Switzerland, South Korea, Philippines, Nigeria, Indonesia, China, and Vietnam.

Source: Wikipedia (Dog meat)

Study limitations

Several metrics would have been good to include but we were limited due to a lack of data across countries. We found that many countries lack the resources or interest in tracking animal-specific issues, limiting our data collection ability. We decided upon specific metrics directly impacting dog ownership and livelihood within our limited data options. 

The best countries for dogs

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in spain
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel enjoying some sunshine in Spain

Each of these countries demonstrated a commitment to legislation for protecting animals and a wide variety of factors that can prevent the risk of harm to your faithful companion. These countries scored well on factors such as low instances of rabies, available veterinary clinics and services, as well as pet-friendly accommodations, and they do not have a high prevalence of dog meat consumption.

The top 15 countries for dog ownership are:

  1. Italy (377.52)
  2. New Zealand (359.96)
  3. France (351.86)
  4. United Kingdom (339.15)
  5. Germany (330.99)
  6. Australia (321.51)
  7. Sweden (304.24)
  8. Spain (300.72)
  9. Austria (296.63)
  10. Poland (296.39)
  11. Denmark (294.70)
  12. Netherlands (289.09)
  13. United States (271.75)
  14. Switzerland (269.27)
  15. Romania (257.44)

Italy, New Zealand, and France rounded out the top 3 countries for their environment of care for animals. None of these countries have a recorded modern practice of dog consumption. All of them have high rates of veterinary care per capita, and all three countries have exceptional legislation for the protection of animals. 

The worst countries for dogs

dogs destined for dog meat in vietnam
Dogs destined for dog meat slaughterhouse in Vietnam

Based on our study, the top 10 worst countries for dog ownership are:

  1.  Vietnam (-49.98)
  2.  China (-41.23)
  3.  Azerbaijan (0.40)
  4.  Iran (0.45 points)
  5.  Belarus (32.42 points)
  6.  Indonesia (35.54 points)
  7.  Nigeria (44.41 points)
  8.  Algeria (51.26 points)
  9.  Philippines (62.16 points)
  10.  Ethiopia (75.06 points)
  11. Egypt (75.61)
  12. South Korea (76.40)
  13. Morocco (79.28)
  14. Niger (106.64)
  15. Myanmar (112.72)

All fifteen countries have a high risk for rabies infection (except for South Korea), lack comprehensive legislation for animal welfare, and have very few veterinarians per capita. Additionally, six of these countries have a current, documented practice of eating dog meat. While it may still be possible to have a happy, healthy pet dog within these countries, our findings indicate they are not ideal for the dogs themselves or the owners.

Best and worst country for each metric

service dog leading a blind lady
A well-trained service dog leading a vision impaired person

Animal Protection Index 

Compiled by World Animal Protection, the Animal Protection Index (API) ranks 50 world countries based on ten animal health and welfare factors. They rank based on an A to G scale. While not directly dog-specific, we believe that the factors are related enough to domestic canine health and wellness that we included it as a metric. Interestingly, no country received an “A”  grade from the World Animal Protection group.

The countries that ranked the highest are:

  1. United Kingdom
  2.  Sweden
  3.  Austria
  4.  Denmark
  5.  The Netherlands
  6.  Switzerland
  7. Italy
  8. New Zealand
  9. France
  10. Germany

The countries that ranked the lowest are:

  1. Azerbaijan
  2. Iran
  3. Vietnam
  4. Belarus
  5. Algeria
  6. Ethiopia
  7. Egypt
  8. Morocco
  9. Myanmar
  10. China

Companion Animals 

We gave extra consideration to legislation regarding companion animals and their legal protections within our selected countries. This metric was also from the API and ranked on an A to G scale. This dealt explicitly with laws around a citizen’s failure to act ethically regarding animals under their care and laws prohibiting the abandonment of companion animals.

The countries that ranked the highest for companion animals:

  1.  United Kingdom
  2.  Sweden 
  3. Austria
  4.  Switzerland
  5.  Poland
  6.  Mexico
  7.  Malaysia
  8. Denmark
  9. Netherlands
  10. Germany

The countries that ranked the lowest for companion animals:

  1. Azerbaijan
  2. Iran
  3. Belarus
  4. Algeria
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Vietnam
  7. Egypt
  8. Morocco
  9. China
  10. Indonesia

Laws on animal rights 

Some countries still do not have any formally recognized legislation around the treatment of animals. This includes laws against animal cruelty, needless animal suffering, and the recognition of animal sentience.

There are only five countries with no documented laws on animal rights:

  1. China
  2. Belarus
  3. Vietnam
  4. Iran
  5. Azerbaijan

Laws on animal sentience

A country that formally and legally recognizes that animals have sentience (the ability to have emotions like joy, fear, and pain) is more likely to have legislation to protect animals from unnecessary suffering. Still, we found 26 countries with laws on animal rights but no laws on animal sentience.

The only countries that have complete laws on animal sentience:

  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Romania
  • Australia
  • Poland
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • France
  • New Zealand
  • Italy
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Austria
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Pet-Friendly Hotels per Capita

Dog and owner relaxing at pet-friendly hotel

Pet-friendly hotels are often an indicator of how open and accepting of animals the country is likely to be. It also is a good metric for pet owners to know if their country is likely have available accommodation if traveling with their dog. When traveling with your dog it’s important to bring appropriate gear. Check out our puppy essentials checklist for some good tips.

The countries with the most pet-friendly hotels per million are: 

  1. Italy (525)
  2. Switzerland (329)
  3. France (283)
  4. Germany (207)
  5. Poland (176)
  6. Sweden (167)
  7. United Kingdom (164)
  8. Austria (164)
  9. New Zealand (151)
  10. Spain (139)

Rabies

While rabies may no longer pose a significant risk in some of the world, it is still a massive problem within many countries. Rabies causes an estimated 59,000 human deaths per year, mainly in Asia and Africa. Owning a dog in a country with significant instances of rabies is inherently risky. You can do your best to keep your dog and yourself safe from infection, but you cannot entirely eliminate the risk in a country where rabies is still rampant.

There are only 16 countries considered completely rabies-free:

  • Italy
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • Austria
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • Denmark
  • Canada
  • Netherlands
  • USA
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • South Korea

Veterinarians per capita

Your dog’s ability to be healthy and happy depends largely on their access to quality healthcare. Particularly in an emergency, the proximity to a vet could mean life or death for your pup.

The countries with the most vets per capita are: 

  1. New Zealand (115.6)
  2. Australia (91.3)
  3. France (77.1)
  4. United States (75.0)
  5. United Kingdom (66.9)
  6. Switzerland (65.5)
  7. Germany (62.6)
  8. Italy (53.5)
  9. Spain (49.8)
  10. Canada (46.7)

The countries with the fewest vets per capita are:

  1. Niger (0.0)
  2. Ethiopia (0.1)
  3. Myanmar (0.1)
  4. Azerbaijan (0.2)
  5. Tanzania (0.2)
  6. South Korea (0.3)
  7. Egypt (0.4)
  8. Vietnam (0.4)
  9. Nigeria (0.4)
  10. Iran (0.5)

The cultural practice of dog consumption

Lastly, and possibly most controversially,  we included the metric of the recorded, ongoing dog meat consumption and deducted 100 points from countries where it is still prevalent. We did not give any points to countries that do not practice dog eating.

The countries where dog consumption is most prevalent:

  • South Korea
  • Vietnam
  • Nigeria
  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Switzerland

Wait, they eat dogs in Switzerland?

Yeah. We were surprised as well. Though the practice is controversial, it is widely rumored from multiple sources to still take place in Switzerland, especially in rural areas such as Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura, St. Gallen, and in the canton of Bern. Although it is hard to ascertain exactly how common it is, our in-depth review of the topic found that there are countless people who admit to knowing a family member who has eaten dog or cat meat in their lifetime.

Efforts have been made to petition the government for an addendum to the current laws on animal cruelty that already bans the commercial sale of cat and dog meat to include private culling and consumption as well. However, as of this writing in 2022, dog slaughter and consumption are still legal in Switzerland because the petition only gained 16,000 of the required 50,000 signatures to force a referendum on the issue due to Switzerland’s system of direct democracy.

Numerous countries have a long history of dog-eating and consider it part of their culinary tradition. While animal rights activists are pushing for change, some cultures are pushing back against it. In fact, there are entire dog meat festivals in China. While some people in countries like South Korea and Indonesia see dog meat as having health or medicinal properties, countries are starting to become more rigid about the consequences of illegal dog meat distribution. That being said, an estimated 30 million dogs are still slaughtered annually in Asia alone for food and medicinal purposes.

Conclusion

Dog ownership is rewarding, no matter what country you are in. However, being mindful of the environmental issues, available healthcare services, and disease rates in your country will help you better protect your dog. If you are located within the United States, check out our list of the top 150 dog-friendly cities in 2022.

Sources


See our research on the best pet insurance providers in each U.S. state

The Swiftest is a free insurance comparison service currently focused on pet, travel, and life insurance. We have spent months researching the best dog insurance policies in each U.S. state. You can learn more about your state by clicking on the links below.

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