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For millennia, dogs have been companions to humans all over the world, from the steppes of Asia to the peaks of the Alps; from the deserts of North Africa to the shores of Newfoundland. In the United States, dogs are our beloved friends, valued workers, and team members in dog sports competitions and performance events.

So how does dog culture in other countries compare to our own? Here’s a quick look at attitudes toward dogs across the globe.


Owners can take their dogs with them almost everywhere in Germany, including in most stores and inside many restaurants, as well as on the subway and even at many workplaces. To accomplish this, Germany has adopted strict regulations regarding care and training of die Hunde, and German society has high expectations of dog owners.

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Germany has a no-kill policy; in fact, provisions for animal rights and protection are included in the country’s constitution. German dog owners can expect to pay a dog tax, approximately $140 per year for one dog and an additional $210 annually for a second dog. In some German states, legislation requires dog owners to pass written and practical tests, much like applying for a driver’s license.

Germans expect dogs to be well behaved in public and at home. Gianluigi Riccio, when interviewed by NPR on this topic, likened the results—well-trained and well-socialized dogs—to “dog heaven.”

Large Munsterlander sitting in a mountainous landscape.
DieterMeyrl/Getty Images Plus


It’s not unusual to see dogs nearly everywhere in England, too—in pubs, grocery stores, public transportation, and many shops and retail stores. Certified dog trainer and CGC evaluator Jacqui Foster, CPDT-KA, of Ren’s Pups, LLC, has trained dogs in England and notes that the English “take their dogs seriously and training is a part of their everyday life. By taking them everywhere, I think both the dogs and their people learn to trust each other more, leading to a calmer, more confident team.”

Foster recalls being impressed with the behavior of a dog who was “parked (left in a sit-stay) outside of a little shop, and that dog stayed and waited on her human for about five minutes. She never wavered, just waited. Not tethered to anything, either.”

England’s affection for dogs and other animals has a long history. According to historian Jane Hamlett, in 1824 Britain became the first country in the world to establish a welfare charity for animals. As Foster adds, “Dogs are considered a part of the family there and as such each has their job to do. I love the dog culture in England; they equip their lives, homes, and cars [to accommodate their dogs], and allow them to run free, knowing they will come back and check in because they’ve been training that since day one.”


Do you walk your hund often enough? Well, by Swedish law, you must do so at least every six hours. Indoor dogs must have a view from a window that provides sunlight. Dogs can travel with their owners on public transportation and are often allowed in workplaces.

As in England and Germany, the Swedes also place high priority on training their dogs and giving them a job to do. Becoming a member of a dog training club or association is encouraged, as is participation in dog sports and competitions.

Swedish Vallhund standing in a field.
Liv Oom via Getty Images


The Japanese word for dog is inu—as in the Shiba Inu and the Japanese Akitainu, and domesticated dogs have been a feature of Japanese life since 10,000 BCE.

In Japan today, prepare to see plenty of dogs dressed up in one fashion or another—wearing a jacket or coat, a hair bow, sunglasses, or even jeans. Dog strollers abound, and dogs are welcome in certain dedicated restaurants, where they can even sit at the tables and dine with their owners.

In spite of this, however, only a minority of the country’s population own dogs. It can be hard to find a dog-friendly apartment in the crowded urban areas. Dogs that weigh more than 22 pounds aren’t allowed on forms of public transportation like buses, trains, or taxis. Nor are dogs permitted off-leash in Japanese parks.

According to dog owner Simon Denyer, not only do Japanese owners clean up after their dogs, but they often have a water bottle with them called “manner water” that they use to wash down anything their dog has urinated on. Denyer reports that, in a society that reveres good manners and thoughtfulness toward others, some dog owners carry a mat with them so they can catch their dog’s waste before it even hits the ground.


Indigenous communities in Australia have always held a special place for dogs, dating back to the arrival of the dingo approximately 5,000 years ago. In Aboriginal culture, Dreaming stories convey cultural values, tradition, and knowledge. Sacred locations known as dog Dreaming sites can be found across the Australian continent. In addition to providing physical protection, they believe that dogs can provide spiritual protection against evil spirits, particularly at night.

This importance accorded to dogs appears to extend across Australia. When Australian dog-food manufacturer Scratch conducted “The Great Australian Dog Survey” in May 2020, in which 20,664 Australians participated, results showed that two-thirds of respondents reported spending more than six hours a day with their dogs. Half of those surveyed even said they’d take a pay cut to spend more time with their dogs.

Three out of four of those who participated in the survey indicated that they choose breeds they believe to be reflective of their own personalities. The Labrador Retriever was identified as the most popular breed among those surveyed, so hopefully the owners are able to match this breed’s famed friendly and good-natured personality!

Yasmine S. Ali, MD, is a cardiologist and writer in Tennessee, where she lives with two AKC-registered Canine Good Citizens who compete in multiple AKC sports.

Related article: 10 Ways to Help Your Dog Live Longer
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