Owning a dog in Portugal

Divina, the little Portuguese stray that showed up at my door and is now my companion.

Owning a dog in Portugal wasn’t part of my pipe dream. But a few days after I moved into my house last year, this little dog showed up at my doorstep. Long ago, I’d said “no more dogs” but she was awfully cute.

Here’s how it happened to me – and it can happen to you. My new neighbors, a British couple, dropped by to introduce themselves. They had with them their own dog and a delightful little tan stray. I told them I used to be a dog person but I had owned cats for the past 12 years and I’d become a convert to the feline species. I was devastated when I had to find an adoptive home for them before I left because I knew they couldn’t make the journey. But no more owning a dog for me.

Well, a couple of mornings later, I saw the little tan dog in the street outside my house and greeted her. She came running and was so happy and excited. I gave her some milk to drink. Next morning she was there again, same routine. I also gave her some of my breakfast bread roll. She hung around while I got ready to go do errands and followed my car as I drove out of tiny Cumes. Worried, I stopped at the edge of the village and pondered whether I should take her with me. However, she seemed more interested in investigating some interesting smells on the other side of the street.

I went on my way but when I returned, I didn’t see her. I kept thinking about the little tan dog and how joyful she was. In the evening, I walked around the village looking, but didn’t see her. Next morning, I went looking again, a little down-hearted thinking that I might never see her again.

Divina loves to hunt.

Lo and behold, when I got to the corner at the edge of the village where I’d last seen her, there she was. Long story short, that’s how I ended up owning a dog in Portugal and she’s now my constant companion.

I named her Divina, after a local bakery called “Pecado Divino”, or divine sin.  Since she seemed young and looked as though she had recently weaned puppies, I had her spayed. I was also able to get her vaccinated against rabies and distemper plus a microchip through a program that sends a veterinarian round the villages. The vet provided me with a “Boletim sanitario de caes e gatos”, or official health card for her. 

The health bulletin for dogs and cats

So now Divina had her own doggy passport in her name and she’s registered in the Portuguese doggy database. And I’m a bit poorer. Actually, not bad. The vaccination and microchip by the municipal vet cost 19 euros, spaying, 170 euros and paperwork 7.50 euros to register at my local Junta de Freguesia, or parish office.

A new law in 2019 required pet owners to register their animals with the Portuguese Sistema de Informacão de Animais de Companhisa (SIAC) The fee is 2.50 Euros.

If a dog doesn’t show up at your doorstep, there are lots of ways to adopt a pet in Portugal. There’s a lot of advantages to finding your new doggy companion.


Author: Rosalie Rayburn

Rosalie Rayburn is an author, blogger, world traveler and avid cyclist. She moved to Portugal from the US in 2019 and writes a blog about how to make your retirement dream in Portugal come true.

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