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Reader question: Are certain dog and cat breeds banned in Austria?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Reader question: Are certain dog and cat breeds banned in Austria?
Are certain breeds of cats and dogs illegal in Austria? (Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash)

Austria is a very pet-friendly country, but are there any breed restrictions? The short answer is yes. Here's what you need to know.

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There are approximately two million cats and almost 840,000 dogs living in Austrian households, according to Statista data from 2021. Austria is known for being extremely pet friendly, with pets welcome in public transport (albeit with rules and buying a specific ticket), bars and restaurants.

There are dog parks, green areas where the animals can walk and run off-leash and strict rules people need to follow to ensure the well-being of the animals. 

Some of the regulations might surprise people from other countries, including a ban or restrictions on several popular breeds.

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So, are there any illegal cat breeds in Austria?

The short answer is yes. Breeds considered "torture breeds", most notably the Scottish Fold, are banned in Austria. The government does not specify what would happen to people trying to move to Austria with an animal of that breed - that is generally accepted but frowned upon - but they are not to be bred or sold in the Alpine country.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about owning a pet in Austria

The breed was made particularly famous by pop star Taylor Swift, who owns two cats of the adorably looking breed.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift)

They are easily recognisable by their folded ears (hence the name) though not all cats of the breed will share that look. The issue with them is that a dominant gene mutation that affects cartilage causes the ears to "fold" and also causes several extremely painful health issues.

Austrian authorities often are tipped on illegal pet trade that includes the breed. For example, in early December, the police were tipped to an illicit sale and confiscated several kittens. 

A Scottish Fold kitten found during a police operation in Austria (Copyright Landeskriminalamt)

"The kittens were too young to be separated from their mother, had no microchip, and lacked all the necessary health certificates and vaccinations. 

"Furthermore, cats of the Scottish Fold breed are a so-called torture breed, which means that these animals suffer from a genetic defect that causes very painful joint damage that cannot be cured", said Dr Susanne Drechsler, Official Veterinarian of the City of Vienna.

Are there any banned dog breeds in Austria?

No, no dog breeds are banned in Austria. However, in some regions - including Vienna - there are the so-called "listed dogs" (Listenhund). These include any dogs of the following breeds (or crossed with the breeds):

  • Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Spanish Mastiff
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Mastiff
  • Bullmastiff
  • Tosa Inu
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Dogo Argentino (Argentine Mastiff)

These breeds are known as "fighting dogs" or guard dogs and owning them in places like Vienna comes with rules. For example, it is necessary to get a special license to own a dog of one of these breeds.

READ ALSO: Living in Austria: What can I do about noisy neighbours?

The owner of the dog must pass the dog handler's licence examination within three months of taking up keeping the dog. Then, 21 to 24 months after the first positive completion, the owner must repeat the dog licence test with the dog.

Persons under 16 years of age and persons who have been legally convicted of certain criminal offences are not allowed to take the dog licence test and are therefore not allowed to go to public places in Vienna with any of these dogs.

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Dogs of the breeds mentioned must wear a muzzle and a leash in public places - this does not apply to dog walking zones that are fenced off on all sides. Muzzling is compulsory in unfenced dog exercise zones.

READ ALSO: Why Vienna is a haven for wild animals – and where you can find them

Every person leading a dog of the mentioned dog breeds in public places is obliged to carry the dog licence and the additional card as well as official photo identification.

Additionally, people in an impaired state due to alcohol (blood alcohol content of 0.5 per millilitre or above) or narcotic drugs are not allowed to walk the dogs mentioned above in public places.

Certain dog breeds need to be muzzled in Vienna's public spaces. (Photo by Dennis Wissel on Unsplash)

What about the other states?

In Vorarlberg and Lower Austria, the keeping of dogs of certain breeds considered dangerous must be notified to the authorities or approved. In addition, there are rules, including mandatory use of muzzles in certain public places.

In Upper Austria, Styria and Salzburg, owners of dogs of all breeds are required to prove their expertise (e.g. by attending a course or similar).

In Tyrol, Burgenland and Carinthia, no special requirements must be fulfilled to keep a dog, no matter what breed. However, if a dog becomes dangerous, official measures are possible.

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