Stray dogs are a big problem in many parts of the world, where owners either abandon their dogs to let them live on the street, or dogs end up breeding on the street, essentially leading to feral dogs. This might lead to big packs of dogs that can end up being a problem for the locals, scaring children and causing problems for the wildlife.
However, if you visit Norway, you will notice that there are no stray dogs at all. So what’s the reason behind the lack of Norwegian stray dogs?
The main reasons why there are no stray dogs in Norway is because the police and wildlife services are quick to pick up any ownerless dog. Puppies in Norway tend to cost 15,000 NOK ($1,500) or more, so people don’t generally just dump them, but rather prefer to sell them if they want to get rid of it.
These two factors have lead to the fact that people don’t really just dump their dogs to get rid of them. In addition, one could probably assume that stray dogs will have a hard time finding food to survive the harsh winter conditions.
Stray dogs are additionally illegal in Norway. This gives the police opportunity to come and collect any dog that is without its owner.
How the police handle stray dogs
People who see dogs without an owner tend to call the police. They will then try to find the owner, and if not, come and collect the dogs. If the police does not have the resources to collect it, they can get an agency like Viking or Falck to collect and shelter the dog on behalf of the police.
Once the dog has been collected, they will do an ID scan to get in touch with the owner. If there’s no ID chip, the police will try to put up ads in the local newspaper, put up ads on Facebook and other methods to get in touch with the owner of the dog.
If they are unable to find the owner within a reasonable amount of time, the dogs will be put down. This is typically set at 7 days. However, the owners will usually show up rather quickly to come and get their dog. In these cases, the owners will typically get a fine for letting the dog run free without supervision.
Also read: How the dog leash law in Norway works.
Most dogs who run away from home are collected by the police or the wildlife service rather quickly (within a few hours), so they don’t have time to become stray dogs before being brought in.
Many regular people also just pick up dogs and bring them inside, then try to get in touch with the owners. Since most dogs cost 15- 20,000 NOK, pretty much all dogs have ID chips, and the owners are interested in getting their dogs back as soon as possible.
Why people don’t just drop their dogs in the wild
Dogs in Norway tend to have a bit of a higher status than they do in many countries, and as mentioned above, this is reflected in the price. Expect to pay 15,000 NOK or more for a regular purebred dog, or 7 – 10,000 NOK for a mixed breed. Some breeds will cost 30,000 NOK or more for a single puppy!
The high cost also lead to people taking more responsibility for the dog, because who in their right mind would pay that much money for a dog they don’t want to keep? It also prevents people with financial problems from having the money to buy a dog they wouldn’t have the money to care for.
The market for buying and selling adult dogs is a bit cheaper, but it’s generally possible to sell adult dogs for 5,000 NOK. This makes it pretty stupid to just dump the dog when you can easily sell it, making some money while also giving the dog a nice home.
Animals tend do have a pretty high status in Norway, and both dogs and cats are typically viewed as family members instead of just any other item.
It’s difficult to bring stray dogs to Norway
The Norwegian laws makes it difficult to bring stray dogs to Norway, and the short summary of this law is that you cannot really buy and import stray dogs from another country to bring them back to Norway.
Importing stray dogs used to be somewhat common in the past, and people would rescue stray dogs in countries like Spain or Poland. However, the government decided to stop this in 2018. The reason was fear of bringing diseases like rabies to Norway.
Both stray dogs, dogs from dog shelters and dogs with an unknown background are considered stray dogs by the government.
If you want to bring a stray dog to Norway, you need to be able to document that you have lived with the stray dog for at least 6 months. In order words, it won’t be a problem bringing a stray dog you rescued in the past, but you cannot travel to another country and find a dog at the dog shelter to bring back to Norway.
In addition, you need documentation of vaccines that are provided by a vet, and documentation to prove that it’s not one of the banned dog breeds, or a mix breed from the banned dog breed list. This can be a bit tricky for stray dogs without a pedigree to prove which breed it is.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.