Keeping dogs

If there’s one thing that sets the British apart, at least in their own minds, it’s their love of animals, and many British residents keep dogs, or want to. Many British residents also, however, are either unaware, or are misinformed, about the rules that apply, both to their right to keep animals in the first place, and the regulations governing certain dogs.

Spanish law legislates against loose animals in all places, and nothing infuriates owners more than becoming aware that their pets are not welcome on Tenerife’s beaches. But they are not, and most beaches exclude dogs even when on a lead, and even if the owner has bags to clean up after their pets. There are, however, a few beaches here that allow dogs, though those classified as potentially dangerous (see below) must be kept on a lead and muzzled, and owners must clean up any mess left by any dogs in their care. The beaches that allow dogs are detailed HERE, and each of them will have a list of the specific rules that must be obeyed.

The ban on loose animals extends to the communal areas of complexes. Communities are, moreover, governed by the Law of Horizontal Division which is only ever concerned with owners, so by default, only owners actually have an automatic right to keep pets on complexes: tenants may do so, but only if their contract expressly permits it or, at least, does not prohibit it. A community has no legal right or power to “ban pets”, only the owner of an individual unit in a complex can decide whether or not pets enter that unit. The law does require any pet, however, to be kept on a lead in communal areas, and despite cat owners’ frequent protests, this applies to cats as well as dogs, and both must be chipped and registered (see HERE).

To repeat, simply because of the number of times I’m asked – this means, to be explicit, that there is nothing in the Law of Horizontal Division or Spanish Law to prevent anyone having a pet on a complex. I often hear about presidents or complexes that introduce “no animals” rules and the simple fact is that they have no legislative power to introduce such a rule, and cannot enforce it. The only issue for the law is whether an animal is loose, or whether an individual owner puts a “no animals” clause into a rental contract. A community or its officers cannot be above the law and introduce restrictions on owners that private property law does not impose.

Once you have your pet, its registration is legally required throughout the Canaries. Although this is done at local Ayuntamientos, some are more conscientious than others, and owners may be told that there is no actual need, or requirement, to register their pet. Please see the Resources page HERE for links to local authorities and particular requirements. Where all councils agree, however, and where the rules are rigid, is in respect of the further requirements for dogs considered “potentially dangerous” (perros potencialmente peligrosos).

Such dogs are defined as follows by Royal Decree 287/2002 (a continuation of 50/1999); there is also a Canarian law, and local Ayuntamientos too will often have their own, usually stricter, criteria beyond this generic descriptions in the national and regional legislation:

1. Those belonging to any of the following breeds and their crosses:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Tosa Inu
  • Akita Inu

2. Those animals that have all or many of the following characteristics:

  • Strong musculature, powerful or athletic constitution, robustness, agility, vigor and endurance.
  • Strong character and marked courage.
  • Short hair.
  • Thoracic perimeter between 60 and 80 cm, shoulder height of between 50 and 70 cm, and weight over 20 kg.
  • Voluminous, square, robust head, with a wide and large skull and muscular and pronounced cheeks. Strong and large jaws, robust, wide and deep snout.
  • Broad, short and muscled neck.
  • Broad, thick, deep chest, with arched ribs and short and muscled back.
  • Straight, parallel and robust forelegs and muscular hindquarters, with relatively long hindlegs at a moderate angle.

3. Those dogs with a record of aggressive tendencies or prior attacks on humans or other animals.

All dogs deemed by law to be potentially dangerous must be taken out on a lead, and this must be a fixed lead of a maximum 2 metre length, not an extendable one, and they must also wear a muzzle. They must be tied up even on private property that is not fully enclosed; and their owners must have a licence and public liability insurance of €150,000, proof of which must be carried with them when they walk their dog.

The authorities consider that we are all responsible when it comes to ensuring that tragedies such as the killing in 2010 of a Santa Cruz toddler by the family pitbull become a thing of the past. Fines vary from municipality to municipality, but are considerable, and can go from double figures up to €15,000 for anyone who fails to comply with the law. Fines at the lower end are for owners who do not muzzle such dogs; top end fines will be for failing to register and not having insurance, repeated offences, and so on.

The rules for dogs deemed potentially dangerous, in a nutshell, are:

  • owners cannot be children
  • owners must not have a criminal record
  • owners must register their dog with their local townhall and pay a local tax when they do so
  • owners must be physically and psychologically accredited by their local town hall
  • owners must have public liability insurance to a minimum of €150,000

Ayuntamientos will create a file for the animal. It will include photographs (owners supply two when they register the dog) and record the number of its chip.

 

24 Comments

  1. I have a staffordshire bull terrior cross. after reading your information on dogs am I right in thinkinking that he would have to be muzzled on walks and tied up at all times at home?!

  2. Author

    He’s certainly covered by the rules. These mean that he must be on a lead and muzzled when out, and insured. He will only need to be tied up at home, however, if your property is not fully contained. If it is secured, then he can run loose inside its boundaries.

  3. Thanks for your quick response. I am thinking of relocating to Ternerife in around 5 years and this is certainly of consideration. I am very surprised to find he would be considered a dangerous breed.

  4. Author

    all bull terriers and their crosses are considered “potentially dangerous”.

  5. Thanks for the information. I ended up taking in an American staff 6 months old after a couple packed up and left the island. You have saved me a hefty fine ☺

  6. Janet my neighbour has a Doberman very large & dangerous & has already attacked my 2 small dogs. But he is German & is only here for 4-5 months he walks him with no lead & not muzzled. What can I do I’m frightened to take mine out for a walk now

  7. Author

    The dog is not on the specified list, but will be considered a potentially dangerous dog because of its physical characteristics. This is policed at municipal level, and so you have to call the local police, or report it to them at a Policía Local stsation. It doesn’t matter if your neighbour is a part-time resident, the law applies to the dog and its owner regardless of residence status.

  8. Denise, have you spoken to your neighbour or made any attempt to integrate the dogs? Or are you one of those people who are paranoid when it comes to big dogs and jump in there before all the dogs have had chance to communicate. Dobermanns are not dangerous or aggressive dogs – they were bread to protect and be family dogs. Speak to your neighbour and see if you can get all the dogs used to one another. My Dobermann gets along with all dogs – she was running around with a tiny Maltese and a French Bulldog today.

  9. Our small community agreed by a majority of owners that we would be a ‘no animal’ complex. Unfortunately we have a particular owner, who has a small Dog who constantly barks and also 2 cats. We have tried to approach this owner, who simply ignores us.

    We are very concerned that this one owner will open the door for other animals to be allowed on the complex, mainly by tenant’s, as the majority remain insistent that we should be an no animal complex what actions can we take.

  10. Author

    I’m afraid that as a community you have no legal right whatsoever, even had the vote been unanimous, to refuse a resident permission to have an animal. I say “resident” specifically because the law does not distinguish between owners and tenants. The only way to stop a tenant having animals is for the owner of the rented apartment to refuse to allow them in the rental contract. Please see the first section on Animals on the Living on a Complex page HERE.

  11. Complexes cannot stop owners having pets, it is against their constitutional rights and there is no law that says you cannot have pets in your property. If you are in doubt consult a local solicitor to clarify but from my experience as president of a ‘communidad’ some time back I can safely say that this is so. What is so wrong with pets anyway – they are part and parcel of life and a great comfort to many people, with the majority of pet owners respecting the concerns of others? Community life will be always be difficult with all the various people who live amongst one another, different nationalities and views
    and the only way out if the ‘ going gets tough’ is to buy detached – like I did!

  12. Since I’ve moved to Spain with my little Brussels Griffon…..she’s been attacked 3 times by bigger and much more powerful dogs! We’ve lived in the UK and France, NEVER had a problem with this.

    There are soooooooo many owners here with aggressive dogs that do not control them…muzzle..lead. It’s disgusting. It makes me so angry.

    My walks now with my dog are not relaxing…..I’m constantly having to look out. I feel intimidated out of the parks if there are bigger dogs. It’s horrible. All because of these uneducated and selfish people.

    I had an incident this morning in my local park……so reading this I will be contacting my local police asap.

    Thanks!

  13. Hi Janet we have moved to Tenerife a week ago and have our young staffy with us , she is 3 , we were un aware of having to get her insured and a licence as didn’t need one in UK as she is a very tame friendly dog , we have been told by Dingo vets that this will cost around €200 for everything does this sound right to u tnx gaz

  14. Author

    Well there are two elements of registration that carry a cost, as far as I’m aware. They are the local tax payable to the ayuntamiento, and public liability insurance. I don’t know the cost of these, nor if there’s a charge for psychological accreditation, but it seems to me that the insurance is going to be the largest cost. I’m sorry I can’t be more precise about figures, but really you need to speak to your council and find out what the tax is (and whether there’s a charge for the psychological accreditation), and shop around for the insurance … you won’t need to employ anyone to help in these regards, so at least there won’t be that cost on top.

  15. Hi, my Pomeranian got very badly attacked by two English Bull Terrier’s, they were of the lead and no muzzle. My question: does this breed is stated as dangerous?

  16. Author

    Yes, I believe they are simply because of their physical characteristics, even though the breed itself might not be specified.

  17. Hi , a family on our complex have a shar pei the dog is very aggressive and potentially dangerous. I was out walking our small shi tsu yesterday evening the owners son was walking the shar pei and I saw that he was approaching us from a distance, the dog became very aggressive and I could see the boy was having some problems controlling him, the dog broke free from the boy and charged towards us, I picked up our little dog and held her up over my head the shar pei was jumping up on me trying to get at our dog. I was calling the boy to come and take control of his dog which he eventually did by actually lying on the dog to stop him jumping up on me. It was a very distressing experience and I am not usually afraid of dogs our little dog was terrified of the situation. My worry is that my wife sometimes walks our dog and she would not have a hope of protecting our little dog if the same thing were to happen to her. The dog is way too strong for the boy to control and should only be walked by an adult, the thing is I have never seen the particular dog being walked by an adult I have only ever seen him walked by the young boy.

  18. Author

    The correct procedure now is to report the incident to the Policía Local (to check on licensing and to enforce the muzzle and lead requirements) and possibly also denounce it to the National Police or Guardia Civil as a matter of assault.

  19. I have a Jack Russell who does not like other dogs. She is always on a lead when she is walked although it is extendable and I usually pick her up when I see other dogs as this makes it easier for everyone. The question I have is, do I have to register her with a Vet or at the town hall? She is chipped and has her own passport, of course and we travel out to our new home in Albox later this month. Also, will she need to be muzzled or is this just for dangerous category dogs?

  20. Author

    As it says above, your pet’s “registration is … done at local Ayuntamientos”. This will be Albox Ayuntamiento – HERE.

    As to muzzles, as it says above, all dogs deemed to be potentially dangerous must wear a muzzle (among other requirements). Jack Russells are not considered “potentially dangerous”, however, either by specificc definition or physical characteristics.

  21. hi I wonder if you can help me
    I am moving to Gran canaria next year
    I am wanting to bring my dog she is a staff crossed with either a boxer or pit
    she means everything to us but need to know what we need to do to bring her once we are at the island
    please can you give me some advise

  22. Author

    As it says above, you need to register your dog as a potentially dangerous breed … and all the requirements are detailed clearly above.

  23. Hi. I have a very quiet rescue dog who I let off the lead when we come out of my complex. I am an owner on the complex for 24 years. However my little dog wee’d on the a board of the restaurant in front and the PR kicked my dog. The a board was on the grass walkway which is illegal. But my dog was off the lead
    . what can I do? Denounce the Pr?

  24. Author

    I don’t see that it matters whether the board was illegally placed on the grass: that is a matter for the policía local to enforce according to local bylaws. Your dog should not have been off the lead so a denuncia against the PR could result in a counter-denuncia against you for having an animal loose in a public space, or a simple denial. In my opinion it’s just best to keep your dog on the lead and avoid the PR who kicked it.

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