So you’re heading to Europe, and someone’s mentioned that you’ll need a muzzle for your dog. It’s great that you know in advance and can prepare, but if you’re from somewhere that dog muzzles are not commonly used, such as my home country of Australia, the thought of muzzling your beloved dog may be worrying.
Based on my experience as travelling to nearly every country in Europe, I go over when (and where) you’ll need a muzzle, how often the rules are enforced, and recommendations for the best dog muzzles for travel (just in case).
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1. When Do Dogs Require a Muzzle in Europe?
The most common occasion where dogs require a muzzle in Europe is on public transport, whether that’s local metros and trams, or inter-city trains. So, if you’re going to be driving everywhere after moving abroad with pets, it’s unlikely that your dog will require a muzzle.
Additionally, if your dog is small and will be travelling in a carrier, it will not require a muzzle. (I came across one city where it seemed to imply dogs in a carrier bag needed a muzzle too, but I think it was just a bad translation!)
The following countries stipulate that larger dogs on public transport require a muzzle:
- Austria: Required for larger dogs on trains and on public transport at least in Vienna.
- Bulgaria: Required for larger dogs on both trains and other forms of public transport.
- Czech Republic: Dogs not in a carrier bag (and in the case of Prague, dogs in a not entirely closed carrier), need to wear a muzzle. It was quite common to see dogs on public transport in Czech Republic wearing muzzles.
- Estonia: Required for dogs not in a carrier on public transport in at least Tallinn.
- France: Required for larger dogs on trains and on public transport at least in Paris.
- Germany: Required for larger dogs on DB trains. Also required for public transport in Berlin, but not enforced.
- Greece: Larger dogs are not generally allowed on public transport, but required for larger dogs not in a carrier on the Hellenic Seaways ferries.
- Hungary: Required for larger dogs on public transport in Budapest and Budapest River Cruises. No mention for trains, but the rules are quite long so probably also required.
- Ireland: Larger dogs are not generally allowed on public transport, but when they are allowed in the guard van on Irish Rail trains, they require a muzzle.
- Italy: Required for larger dogs on trains and on most public transport, at least in Rome, Milan and the vaporettos in Venice.
- Poland: Required for larger dogs on trains run by PolRegio (plus also probably PKP, although not mentioned), plus on public transport in at least Warsaw.
- Portugal: Required for larger dogs on trains and on most public transport, at least the metro in Lisbon where larger dogs are allowed.
- Romania: Required for larger dogs on trains and on public transport at least in Bucharest.
- Slovakia: Required for larger dogs on trains and on public transport.
- Spain: Larger dogs are not generally allowed on public transport, but when they are allowed on the metro in Madrid, they require a muzzle. Also required on Brittany Ferries when being transferred from your car to their cabin or kennel.
For countries that I haven’t listed (and haven’t also listed below as not generally requiring a muzzle), I would expect that a muzzle is required. They are required more often than not. Check the signs at the door or inside the carriage for a symbol of a dog wearing a muzzle. Or just make sure you carry one in case.
Additionally, muzzles may occasionally be required outside of public transport. If you’re visiting a dog-friendly tourist attraction, such as a park or castle grounds, a muzzle may be required. If you’re visiting a mall that allows dogs, a muzzle may be required in addition to a leash. Plus in some cities, such as Vienna in Austria, dogs are generally expected to be muzzled when out in public, although I haven’t come across anywhere that requires this of all dogs.
2. In Which European Countries are Dog Muzzles Not Required?
However, not every European country requires dogs on public transport to wear a muzzle. Looking at the rules for trains in these countries, there is no mention of a muzzle most of the time or it is not mandatory:
- Belgium: On trains in Belgium, muzzles are recommend but not mandatory, although there is a chance that a conductor may insist on your dog being muzzled. Muzzles are not required on public transport in Antwerp and Ghent, although they are required for larger dogs in Brussels.
- Denmark: No mention of muzzles being required.
- Finland: No mention of muzzles being required on public transport in Helsinki.
- Netherlands: Muzzles are only required on international trains for larger dogs.
- Norway: No mention of muzzles being required for trains.
- Sweden: No mention of muzzles being required.
- UK: No mention of muzzles being required.
Always double check the latest rules, as these kinds of rules can change. For this reason, I always recommend carrying a muzzle with you, just in case.
3. What About Dangerous Dog Breeds?
If your dog breed is classified as a dangerous breed by the country (or region) that you are visiting, there may be more onerous obligations for wearing a muzzle. Your dog may be required to wear a muzzle on public transport even if other dogs are not required. Plus often these dog breeds are obligated to always wear a muzzle in public.
To find out if your dog’s breed is classified as dangerous, check out the rules for the country you are visiting. This applies in many countries including France and Spain. Examples of breeds of dogs that may be classified as dangerous include American Bull Terrier, Mastiffs and Rottweilers. Some breeds may also be restricted from entry to the country, so always investigate if these rules could apply to your dog.
Read more about travelling with a dog breed classified as dangerous
4. Enforcement of Dog Muzzle Rules
The level of enforcement of muzzle rules varies from country to country. There are some countries or cities where the rules are rarely enforced (such as Italy). There are also some countries where it is very common for all dogs to wear their required muzzles (such as the Czech Republic), probably due to frequent enforcement.
But I would say that the likelihood of enforcement also unfortunately comes down to the size and breed of your dog. Small dogs are less likely to be required to wear a muzzle, whereas large dogs, in particular ones who look more threatening, are more likely to be required to comply. This probably also extends to the likelihood of conductors of trains in Belgium requesting dogs to wear a muzzle (where muzzles are only recommended unless requested).
As my dog is quite small (a Miniature Dachshund), he frequently travelled in a carrier and didn’t require a muzzle. However, on occasions where he didn’t travel in a carrier bag, we were never requested to muzzle him, even by the ticket inspectors checking our tickets. I only put his muzzle on a couple of times (including in Czech Republic) where I saw other dogs nearby wearing muzzles and thought it might be enforced. However, I always carried his small muzzle in my handbag, just in case.
If your dog is meant to be wearing a muzzle and is not currently wearing one, I haven’t ever heard reports of fines being issued. Instead, you will be requested to put it on (assuming you have one of your person). If you don’t currently have a muzzle, you will likely be asked to disembark.
5. Best Dog Muzzles for Travel
Before buying a muzzle for my dog, I initially thought that all muzzles were large, strong metal cage-type devices. However, this is far from the case.
The majority of muzzles are “soft”, particularly those for small and medium sized dogs. They are often constructed of fabric, similar to dog harnesses. There are also basket-type muzzles that are constructed from silicone rather than metal.
These softer muzzles mean that they are less bulky – handy for if you want to carry one in your bag, for when required, rather than expect your dog to continuously wear it. Hopefully they are also more comfortable for your dog, although most dogs will not be a fan of them, unless they have received training or become used to them from a young age.
Here are some of the best dog muzzles, all with plenty of five-star reviews:
Best Simple Muzzle in Multiple Sizes
This simple muzzle is very similar to the one I have for Schnitzel. Made from waterproof oxford cloth, it’s attached by a simple adjustable strap and buckle at the back of the head. You’ll receive 7 sizes, so you don’t need to worry about ordering the wrong size. (Use multiple sizes while your dog grows, or donate the rest to your local rescue.) There’s a 100% money-back and life-time guarantee.
Best Adjustable Nylon Strap Muzzle
This nylon strap muzzle, with a cotton lining, comes in six sizes, from S to XXXL, suitable for even the largest dogs. It has an adjustable strap for your dog’s strap, meaning that you can make sure it perfectly fits. Reviews state that it is sturdy and durable.
Best Muzzle for Escape Artists
This simple strap style muzzle has an additional collar with D ring and connection strap, meaning that dogs who manage to escape from other muzzles by pulling them over their head, will stay secure in this muzzle. A combination of buckles and velcro allow you to customise the fit, while neoprene padding eliminates chafing. Customers praise the training booklet included. It’s available in both blue and pink.
Best Mesh Muzzle
An alternative style of muzzle are mesh muzzles. Your dog may find this more comfortable, constructed from breathable nylon mesh rather than a strap. Available in sizes S to L, this muzzle is best suited for small and medium sized dogs.
Best Silicone Basket Muzzle
This silicone basket muzzle is strong yet comfortable. It’s made from high quality silicone and neoprene-lined straps, and includes an optional forehead strap for extra stability. It is designed to eliminate barking, but still allows panting, drinking and eating treats. There are six snout sizes available, suitable for a Dachshund to a Great Dane. It’s also available in both black and red.
Best Muzzle for Chihuahuas
If you have a small dog such as a chihuahua, this extra small muzzle is ideal, with many of the past customers saying it perfectly fitted their chihuahua mix. Blue in colour, it comes with an adjustable nylon strap. Just double check the shipping price and perhaps choose to order off a different seller; the default seller is shown with a very high shipping price for Australia.
Best Muzzle for Frenchies & Bulldogs
Flat faced dogs such as Frenchies are not able to wear regular muzzles, whether strap, mesh or basket muzzles. Instead, buy a muzzle specially designed for short snout dogs. This muzzle comes in two different styles, with or without eyeholes. (Dogs are able to see through the mesh in the non-eyehole version.) It comes in both grey and orange, and four different sizes.
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