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EXPLAINED: What is Germany's lucrative 'dog tax' and how much is the fee?

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EXPLAINED: What is Germany's lucrative 'dog tax' and how much is the fee?
A man and his dog sit on a bench in Frankfurt am Main. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Last year Germany collected a record high amount of dog tax, called 'Hundesteuer' from pet owners. But why does the fee still exist in Germany and how much is it?


In 2022, German municipalities collected about €414 million from the Hundesteuer (dog tax) - more than ever before, according to figures released on Thursday from Germany’s Statistical Office. 

The figure has spiked by 44 percent compared to a decade ago when Germany’s dog tax brought in €288 million.

Clearly the German tax authorities are reaping a handsome profit from the popularity of man’s best friend. So how much exactly does it cost you to have a Hund and what happens if you fail to fork over the annual fee?

READ ALSO: 'A life without a dog is a mistake': Germany's passion for pooches

Why is there a dog tax in the first place?

Many foreigners are surprised to learn that dog owners in Germany have to pay a special tax.

The fee differs from state to state and is usually collected directly from Hundebesitzer, or dog owners. 

Although most jurisdictions have gotten rid of their dog taxes decades ago, Germany has stubbornly refused to do so. 

There are a number of justifications for the dog tax, from keeping dog numbers low(er) to paying for cleaning up their waste. 

It's also to make people consider whether they want to and can support a dog long-term. 

READ ALSO: Prostitution, dogs and loneliness: A look at Germany’s weirdest taxes

While each state sets their own fee, individual districts determine how high the tax is, and how exactly it is structured. In many places, the amount to be paid also depends on the number of dogs in the household and the breed of dog.

In Berlin, for example, the first dog costs 120 per year with each additional dog costing 180 per year. 


In Düsseldorf, the tax for one dog in the household is 96, which rises to 150 for two.

The only way to get around the dog tax is to adopt a rescue dog, where you won’t be liable for the tax for the first year.

There are also suggestions that smaller dogs can be classified as rodents and therefore be tax exempt, although we’d advise against telling the taxman you were taking your tax-exempt rat for a walk until you have further confirmation.

A dog in Germany.

Germany has collected a record amount of dog tax. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Dietze

What happens if I don’t pay the dog tax?

Anyone who does not pay the dog tax when it’s assessed - or does not register their dog at all - is considered to be committing an administrative offence. This is punishable by a fine of up to 10,000 on top of an additional payment of the outstanding tax.

The responsible public order office (Ordnungsamt) regularly carries out random checks to see whether dogs in the municipality are wearing a dog tax tag - the sign that the four-legged friends are properly registered.

Failure to pay the tax isn’t taken lightly. In a highly publicised case in 2019, a purebred pug was seized from its owners - who didn’t pay the dog tax, among other debts - before the pup was sold by the city of Ahlen to a police officer on eBay.

READ ALSO: Dog tax delinquency leads to lawsuit in town near Münster

What is the situation with dog tax in other European countries?

Of the other European countries, only Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg charge dog tax. In the Netherlands, individual municipalities have a special levy for private dog ownership. 

Otherwise, dog taxes have been abolished in many parts of Europe, e.g. in England, France, Denmark and Italy.


How is dog tax calculated?

How much dog tax costs varies from federal state to federal state and municipality to municipality: there is neither a prescribed minimum nor a maximum rate.

The easiest way to find out how much dog tax you have to pay for your four-legged friend is to ask the responsible public order office in your municipality or the city council directly. 

Many municipalities also publish the necessary information on their own websites. There you can also find out where you have to register your dog or re-register it after moving.

Still there’s a general dog tax for every state:

Baden-Württemberg: €108 

Bavaria: €100

Berlin: €120

Brandenburg: €108

Bremen: €150 

Hamburg: €90 

Hesse: €180

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: €108 

Lower Saxony: €150 

North Rhine-Westphalia: €96

Rhineland-Palatinate: €186

Saarland: €120 

Saxony: €108 

Saxony-Anhalt: €96

Schleswig-Holstein: €126 

Thuringia: €108


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