If dogs were asked to rate the most comfortable cities for living in, Barcelona would, without a doubt, come top of their list. There may be one or two minor restrictions, but here they are allowed to ride the metro, to go into shops and restaurants, stay in hotels and even sunbathe on the beach. It’s hardly surprising, then, that approximately every ninth person in the city has a dog at home. Your City looked into what you need to know and where you need to go if you’re thinking of acquiring a four-legged friend
A question of breed
There is no tax or licence fee for keeping a dog in Barcelona, though some towns in the province do charge between 15 and 35 euros, depending on size and breed. The rules do require, though, that a law-abiding dog in the city has an implanted chip with information about the owner and be registered with the authorities
It’s a well-known fact that Barcelona in all kinds of ways is a democratic city which is used to racial, national, linguistic and social diversity. This applies to dogs as well. Of course, like in any other big city, there is a fashion for certain breeds. For example, today Japanese Shiba Inu and French Bulldogs are especially à la mode. Consistently popular are spaniels, Bolognese, Yorkies and toy terriers, which shiver even under the blazing Spanish sun. There are breeds traditional to the region. The nicest is the Catalonian Shepherd. Up in the mountains these long-haired dogs are still used as working dogs to round up sheep, while in town they are for companionship.
For some it’s a question of tolerance, for others an attempt to show individuality, since most of the mongrels of Eixample, Barceloneta or Pedralbes are a mix of the most unexpected canine breeds and blood
Spain’s only canine aquapark is at the Resort Canino Can Jane half an hour from Barcelona (Roca del Valles, Ctra. Valldeoriolf Km 2,5). Long-and-shorthaired guests have access to a swimming pool, other amusements including obstacle courses, balls and boats, as well as a grass area for walks and training. Entrance costs around 15 euros, admission for accompanying owners is free
You don’t often see fighting breeds, like the American Pitbull, Argentine Dogo, Brazilian Mastiff or Rottweiler. A royal decree of 2002 classified these and similar breeds as potentially dangerous and requires special conditions to keep them. To be a legal owner of a serious dog like this, you need to be over 18, with good mental health, a clean criminal record and have public liability insurance. On the whole, you don’t actually see that many pure-breed dogs on the streets of the Catalonian capital. For some it’s a question of tolerance, for others an attempt to show individuality, since most of the mongrels of Eixample, Barceloneta or Pedralbes are a mix of the most unexpected canine breeds and blood. The absence of noble breeding, though, seems to have little influence on either their appearance or behaviour, and Barcelona’s mixed breeds are, as a rule, just as well trained and cared for as the royal corgis.
Shop, internet or club ?
Until October 2015 the luxury of seeing the underground was accessible only to guide dogs, police dogs and small breeds in special carriers. Under the new rules, your furry friend can only be stopped at the barrier during rush hour or if he isn’t wearing a muzzle. Travel is free
The most obvious and simplest way of obtaining a dog is to go to one of Barcelona’s many pet shops. Some of them follow the basic rules of merchandising and put their wares on live display. Puppies spend the whole working day in glass pens, a sight which only a child might find appealing. Local animal rights activists have rightly taken up the fight to ban this kind of trading in animals, and sales staff categorically forbid any photographs. Fortunately there is a solution to this problem, a kind of on-line pet dating where breeders allow you to choose your future friend from the pages of shops which exist only on the web.
Prices are more attractive here and a pedigree puppy can be yours for 200 euros and up, though with fewer guarantees, naturally
Barcelona boasts a whole industry providing services for dogs and their owners. There’s no problem finding a vet, grooming salon or pet shop close to home. On average the local dog owner spends 500 euros a year on his pooch, including food, vet’s bills and grooming
A good example is www.portaldelcriador.com. Besides a detailed description of the breed, this site gives information on the sex, colour, parents and personalities of the pups on offer. The average price for a pedigree puppy is 600–800 euros, with rare breeds on offer from 1000 euros. Usually a puppy comes to the owner already vaccinated and chipped. Offers of puppies for sale can often be seen on free small ads sites such as www.segundamano. es or www.milanuncios.com. Prices are more attractive here and a pedigree (or claiming to be pedigree) puppy can be yours for 200 euros and up, though with fewer guarantees, naturally. But, if you know exactly what breed you are looking for, and pedigree is more important than price, it makes sense to contact professional breeders’ clubs and associations directly. Especially since they will help new owners with all the necessary documents without which it will be hard for your little poodle or boxer to take part in a dog show or find a suitable mate when he or she has grown up.
Following a petition signed by thousands of Barcelona residents, in summer 2016 the city authorities launched a pilot project setting aside a special beach where you can swim and sunbathe with your dog. An area of 1200 square metres has been allocated on the Levante beach for doggy swimmers from June to the end of September. Previously, animals were not allowed anywhere on the beach during the bathing season
If breed and age are not critical, you could also consider a dog from one of the shelters which rescue abandoned animals, provide veterinary care and rehabilitation, and are always looking for suitable new homes for their inmates. Currently there are about twenty of them in Barcelona. The Lliga per la protecció d’Animals i Plantes de Barcelona at the foot of Tibidabo mountain is considered the oldest, with the barking from its kennels and cages audible since 1944. The professionals and volunteers of the league do everything to win their shaggy charges’ trust and help them overcome their fear of people. At any given moment the shelter holds about 70 dogs of the most varied breeds, characters and past histories. Puppies are usually adopted immediately, and the same is mainly true of the younger, more active pooches.
First you pick out a dog you think you like, then you make a series of regular visits: you get to know him, take him for a walk, feed him
1. Lliga per la protecci. d’Animals i Plantes de Barcelona
Guarda Antón, 10, fgc Av. Tibidabo
The oldest and best known animal shelter in the city involved in the rescue, care and rehabilitation of dogs. The shelter welcomes people who are ready to re-home animals and people who want to help our four-legged friends by volunteering.
2. Bamb. Difunde
This website mostly contains ads for lost and found pets, re-uniting them with their owners or finding new homes. It covers the whole of Spain
To make sure potential owners and their new pets start off on the right foot, the shelter workers use a programme of familiarisation. First you pick out a dog you think you like, then you make a series of regular visits: you get to know him, take him for a walk, feed him. Once emotional and physical contact are established, you move on to the formalities. At this stage you’ll be asked about your living conditions, family members and previous pets. You may also get a home visit from one of their specialists. You should also be ready to pay for your dog. The adoption fee is 150 euros. This is more symbolic than anything, since it includes all the shelter’s expenses including de-worming, vaccinations, neutering and microchiping with information about the new owner. The shelter has vets on staff and all the animals are under constant medical supervision. If there are any health problems, the shelter won’t try to conceal the true condition of the dog and will recommend optimal forms of treatment. If you choose an adult dog with a difficult past, you can count on a couple of free consultations with an animal psychologist who will help modify his behaviour for the better. And even if you don’t feel ready to take on the challenge of an adoption, but also don’t feel you can just stand by, the shelter will also let you to become the official patron of one of the dogs.