Manual: Pets

Legislation on dogs in force in Switzerland, applicable to members of permanent missions and international civil servants who own a dog.

1. Obligation for registration in the AMICUS database, in Bern


AMICUS provides an independent database for pet animals, operating throughout Switzerland.
AMICUS database (fr)

All dogs must be marked uniquely and in such a way as to prevent falsification by implanting a microchip, and they must be registered in the AMICUS database, which is replacing the database ANIS. For dog owners already registered in the ANIS database, no action should be undertaken. Indeed, the ANIS data are automatically recovered by the database AMICUS.

Dogs imported from abroad must be presented to a veterinarian in Switzerland within 10 days following entry into the country. The veterinarian must declare these dogs for registration in the AMICUS database (including the foreign microchip or tattoo number) within the following 10 days. There is no automatic transmission to Switzerland of any data already registered in another country.

The regulations do not require a microchip to be implanted in the case of any dog bearing a perfectly legible tattoo. Nevertheless, tattooed dogs must also be registered in the national AMICUS database (with a declaration made through a veterinarian).

Legislation in force in Switzerland regarding dogs and applicable to members of permanent missions and international civil servants who own dogs

2. Animal protection

With regard to how to treat and look after one’s dog, the Federal Ordinance on the protection of animals (OPAn (fr)) includes, in particular, the following provisions (see articles 22 and 68):

  • Dogs must, each day, have sufficient contact with human beings and, as far as possible, other dogs.
  • Those kept in closed premises must be able, every day, to take exercise according to their needs and must, as far as possible, be able to romp in the open air.
  • Those kept tied up must be able to move around in an area of at least 20 m2 (20 square metres) and must not be attached using a choke chain.
  • Those kept in the open air must have a shelter and water available.
  • Anyone looking after a dog must take the necessary measures to prevent the dog endangering either human beings or animals.
  • Treating dogs with excessive harshness, firing shots to punish them, and using spike collars is prohibited.

3. Regulations regarding dogs in each canton

Most of the Swiss cantons have regulations about dogs, particularly in relation to looking after dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. All useful information is published on the websites of the competent authorities of the canton of residence (see list of cantonal veterinary offices).

Rules applicable in most cantons

  • All dogs must be insured. The relevant insurance is known as a civil liability insurance for dog owners and must be taken out with a private insurance company.

  • Dogs must be kept on lead at all times in public spaces.

  • Should a dog seriously injure a human being, an animal or be particularly aggressive, veterinarians, doctors, persons in charge of shelters or kennels, customs officers and dog trainers must notify the competent cantonal service, in principle the cantonal veterinarian office.

Canton of Geneva

Control mark for dogs: all dogs must wear the official control mark of the current year fixed clearly visible to their collars. The owner may obtain the identification tag from their commune or from a municipal police station in Geneva (see the informative note on dog’s tax).

Vaccination against rabies: in the Canton of Geneva only, vaccination of dogs against rabies is mandatory from the age of 5 months.

Owners of large breed dogs: owners of large breed dogs (over 25 kg and 56 cm at the withers) must obtain a licence, from the age of 18 months or within 3 months when there is a change of owner. It can be obtained by passing a control and behaviour and training test performed by an authorised dog trainer (see list of certified dog trainers below). 

Authorisation to walk or look after dogs:

Persons walking more than 3 dogs at a time, including their own dogs, are subject to a licence issued by Service of the consumption and the veterinary affairs (SCAV (fr)).

Dog waste collection:

Dog owners are required to pick up their dogs’ waste using the bags provided by the municipalities in accordance with article 21 of the cantonal law on dogs (LChiens (fr)).

Import conditions: The importation of dog breeds listed as dangerous is possible only in the context of moving home and provided that the owner and the dog fulfil the conditions, which are cumulative and strictly enforced, as provided under Art. 23 paragraph 3 of the cantonal law on dogs (see link below mentioned). The owner who wishes to import a specific breed must send an application to the SCAV beforehand by e-mail ( Owners are requested to inquire the competent cantonal authority about the relevant legislation (see list of the cantonal veterinary offices below).

4. Obligation to carry out a theoretical and practical course

Persons who take care of a dog are no longer issued a certificate of competency (theoretical course) proving that they have acquired knowledge on how to handle dogs and certifying that they control their dog in everyday situations (practical course). However, it is recommended for people who want to acquire a dog for the first time to take an optional course to learn to educate their dog properly.

List of the Cantonal veterinary offices

Canton of Basel-Land 
Amt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Veterinärwesen
Gräubernstrasse 12
4410 Liestal
Tel. +41 (0)61 552 20 00

Canton of Basel-Stadt
Kantonales Veterinäramt
Schlachthofstrasse 55
4056 Basel
Tel. +41 (0)61 267 58 58

Canton of Berne
Office des affaires vétérinaires (OVET)
Herrengasse 1
3000 Berne 8
Tel. +41 (0)31 633 52 70

Canton of Fribourg
Service de la sécurité alimentaire et des affaires
Impasse de la Colline 4 
1762 Givisiez
Tel. +41 (0)26 305 80 60

Canton of Geneva
Service de la consommation et des affaires vétérinaires
Quai Ernest Ansermet 22
1211 Genève 4 Plainpalais
Tel. +41 (0)22 546 56 00

Canton Vaud
Service de la consommation et des affaires vétérinaires
Chemin des Boveresses 155
1066 Epalinges
Tel. +41 (0)21 316 38 70

Specialist Contact

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to UNOG
Office of Privileges & immunities
Rue de Varembé 9-11
P.O. Box 194
CH-1211 Geneva 20
Tel. +41 (0)58 482 24 24
Fax +41 (0)58 482 24 37