How to Buy Pets in France

Beau, Our Golden Retriever Puppy Photo by Denise Foston

Beau, Our Golden Retriever Puppy
Photo by Denise Foston

The French as a nation really love their animals.  There are many outlets for buying pets in France but remember when adopting an animal it is for life.  Please do your research, devote time and energy and you will have hopefully many years of rewarding companionship.  Much of this will talk about our experience when buying our dog, Beau.  Use this and please interpret the steps for yourself also.

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Deciding on Your Pet

Which type of pet you choose is entirely up to you.  As a single man I had a cat that I was given.  I think I was seen as a soft touch but I’d always liked cats and dogs since a child.  I brought her to Paris when first moving to France in 1988.  In those days it was simply a matter of bringing a pet into France.  I knew I could never take her back to Britain without her going into quarantine for 6 months.

She was old when we first married and moved to Singapore.  She spent the last 2 or 3 years of her life with a very good friend near Paris.  There was no way she could have survived the heat and quarantine in Singapore.

On returning to France we decided to buy our first dog.  I had always wanted a good dog and we thought it would be good for our son to learn to live with a pet.  He was frightened of dogs.  The only dogs he saw in his early life were guard dogs – not the gentlest of creatures!

We needed a breed that had a reputation for being gentle.  My wife had never owned a pet but quite liked the idea of a Cavalier King Charles.  I had read that they are sometimes prone to heart problems so I suggested a Golden Retriever.  Knowing it would be me that walked it regularly I thought a Golden would be good to make me exercise more.

Apologies to any King Charles owners, we do intend to have a King Charles some time in the future.  Ironically, at the tender age of 3, our Golden Retriever, Beau, was diagnosed with a heart problem!!!  We manage it with regular check ups at our excellent vets, Clinique Vétérinaire Le Colomby CESSY and daily pills.  Very costly but we have insurance with Santévet and Beau is a wonderful part of our family.

Research on the Internet

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While still in Switzerland I spent many hours on the internet researching breeders (éleveurs).  We even drove 4 hours to visit one before settling on one 2 to 3 hours away.  We read books on how to bring up a puppy.  The one that we related to the most was ‘Before and after Getting Your Puppy‘ by Dr Ian Dunbar.

Again it’s your choice with regards breeders and how to bring up and integrate your pet into family life.

Here are some dog websites you may like to try:

Société Centrale Canine:

the equivalent of the Kennel Club in Britain

Sites for Different Breeds

For Cats

See Also

Forgive me:  I know nothing about other types of animal but if you do and would like a blog post included please write to me.  Perhaps you could become a guest author!

Visiting the Breeder

We took time to visit a couple of breeders.  This was very useful we felt and would advise anyone to do the same.  One place we went seemed to be like a farm with several breeds being sold.  I had emailed and was told that they had two Golden Retriever bitches that were pregnant and yes we could visit.  On arrival after a long car journey this was not entirely accurate!  There had been a mistake with the insemination process.  But, we could have a puppy from either of 2 other breeds.  Needless to say we didn’t return when they had the correct breed.  One good point however we did spend a delightful evening in the area at a very nice restaurant.

The other visit was much better.  I drove 2 hours, had coffee in a local bar and then found the breeder’s, a small family set up.  They had 2 litters (portées) with 24 puppies (chiots) in total.  Same father but 2 different mothers.  All but 4 males had been previously reserved by a local blind school about 20 km away.  All looked good so I ordered one.  I was shown all the males and played with them and gave my order of preference.  I had no clue as to what I was really looking for but put the most affectionate first and the most timid or boisterous towards the end.  They were each distinguished by a different coloured collar of wool. So I paid my deposit.

Collecting Your Pet

Remember if your animal is young it is the first time that it will be away from its mother.  The trip home is going to be traumatic for it.  As first time dog owners we made some mistakes!  Read on to find out.

Beau a Little Older Photo by Denise Foston

Beau a Little Older
Photo by Denise Foston

We returned a little more than a week later when the first litter had turned 8 weeks to be given our fourth choice.  To be honest it was meaningless to me.  We were told he was ‘vif’ (lively) which was true.  We were also told they had named all of the pups.  It was the year of the ‘B’!  In France, every pup born in the year 2006 had to be given an official name starting with a ‘B’.  The previous year had been ‘A’; the following was ‘C’ an so on.  Perhaps you can tell me why – I never bothered to ask, but I put it down to the way things are done in France.  The couple told us that as their daughter was studying English and the pup was a little ‘malin’ (naughty) they had given him the name “BADDY”!  Can you imagine saying ‘Come here Baddy’ or ‘Good boy Baddy’?  Needless to say Baddy is actually called Beau because he is!! Beau that is!

The car drive home was daunting for Beau.  I’m glad to say he soon got over the journey and promptly pee’d the moment he got into our lounge.  As we live in an apartment for most of the year we were very worried that he would make a noise and disturb the neighbours.  So yours truly stayed up most of the night making sure he was ok.  Luckily we were on the February school holidays!

What would we do different if there is a next time?  Our son was, at that time, very nervous being next to the pup in the car so I think my wife should have driven with me in the back seat keeping Beau calm.  It was certainly something we had to work on so we could go to our cottage in the South West of France from our home in the Pays de Gex.

We would love to know how you have coped with this problem.

Legal Requirements

Passeport Animal de Compagnie Image credit: Wikimedia - Monsieur Fou

Passeport Animal de Compagnie
Image credit: Wikimedia – Monsieur Fou

Seeing to the legal requirements was a piece of cake.  The breeder had done all the necessary and registered all of the dogs.  He had had the vet do the first series of inoculations and had a microchip inserted into the left shoulder for identification.  Ever since I first lived in France animals had to be tattooed for this purpose but with the advent of the microchip we can now bring our pets into Britain.

I simply signed the sale form that was placed in front of me and of course the cheque.  The breeder sent off the form and a few weeks later the registration document arrived in the post.

The microchip is just the first step in being able to take your pet around Europe.  They must be vaccinated against rabies, have a passport (obtained from a vet), be in good health and have been checked by a vet just prior to the voyage.  (More of this in a later post).

Rescue Dogs

As we said earlier people in general love their pets in France.  Unfortunately not all!!  Each year there are many animals lost or worse still simply abandoned.  Luckily there are some charitable people that are involved in animal rescue centres.  Here are some links to centres and blog posts elsewhere.


The process of buying pets in France is generally straight forward and with the correct approach we can enjoy a happy life time together with our animals.


  • be patient
  • do your research
  • visit the breeders to make sure the adult dogs are cared for
  • plan
    • the collection of a young animal
    • and the return journey
  • be prepared to work hard with your new family member

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