Dog Ownership in NZ: What You Need to Know

A lot of thought needs to go into dog ownership before you welcome a cute pooch into your home. So if you’re about to adopt a pawsome new family member, what do you need to know? In this article, we cover everything you need to know about dog ownership in NZ.

Whether it’s a Great Dane or a Chihuahua, the requirements and needs of your pooch remain the same. They both need to be chipped and registered. And depending on the health issues associated with your choice of dog breed, you might also want to consider pet insurance.

Canstar goes over everything there is to know about dog ownership in New Zealand.

→Related article: The Cheapest Dogs to Insure (and the Most Expensive)

Microchipping and registration

All dogs (with the exception of working farm dogs) must be microchipped and registered in New Zealand. Microchipping is only required once, and it involves placing a small microchip in your dog that contains a unique number linked to a national register. When scanned, the chip reveals the registered information, such as the owners’ details.

This is helpful should your pet become lost. But it’s important you regularly review and update your details on the register to avoid it becoming outdated.

Click the link below to learn more about pet microchipping and registration.

→Related article: Pet Microchipping NZ: Everything You Need to Know


This isn’t a requirement of dog ownership. But unless you’re a breeder, de-sexing your dog is a good idea. De-sexing has multiple benefits, such as:

  • Making your dog more sociable
  • Ensuring your dog is easier to handle and train
  • Reducing the risks of cancers and some other serious health issues
  • Prevents minor reoccurring health issues, such as urinary discomfort in males and false pregnancies in females

De-sexing can be performed easily at your local vet and, in most cases, you can take your dog home the same day. However, your dog must be at least six months of age before de-sexing.

Get a licence for several dogs

If you plan to own several dogs, or are adding a third or fourth dog to your family, and you live in an urban area, you may need to apply for a special licence. The rules vary from council to council, so you need to check your local council’s requirements and the fees and processes involved.

For example, in Auckland, you need a licence to have three or more dogs. While in Wellington you only need a licence if you have four or more dogs.

Understand what’s involved

Not all dogs require the same attention and care. So it’s important that you don’t simply pick your pooch based on its cuteness factor. Rather, work out which dog will best suit you and your lifestyle.

For example, if you live in a small apartment, then you should have a dog that is comfortable with smaller spaces. Or, if you work long hours in the office, it’s worth noting that certain breeds get anxious when left alone for long periods of time, and can develop behavioural (and health) issues as a result. Others are much happier to spend all day lounging about solo.

Furthermore, some dogs have high-maintenance coats that require regular combing and grooming. Other dogs need more than just a daily walk, so you’ll need to take them out for regular exercise to burn off energy.

And then there are the ongoing vaccinations and vet check-ups to consider.

Get familiar with the rules

As a part of understanding what’s involved, be sure to get familiar with your local dog ownership rules. Is your local park dog friendly? Can you take your dog there off leash?

Furthermore, certain dog breeds are automatically classed as menacing, regardless of individual behaviour. This means there are extra requirements involved, such as muzzling in public.

Get pet insurance

Pet insurance is not a legal requirement. But it is a recommendation, as it can help manage the costs of caring for your pooch.

When it comes to pet insurance, you typically have the choice of three options:

  • Accident-only
  • Accident and illness
  • Comprehensive

The actual offerings from individual insurers may differ, both in the number and names of the policies, but they largely fall into these three categories. It’s also worth noting that some insurers opt for a basic, mid and full policy structure. In this case, even the basic policy provides some cover for non-accident-related incidents, like illnesses.

What type of pet insurance is right for you will depend on several factors, such as the breed and age of your dog, as well as your budget. If your pet is young and healthy, a cheaper accident-only policy may suffice. If your pet is known to suffer from hereditary conditions, such as breathing issues or hip dysplasia, you may want a more comprehensive policy that will cover the cost of care and surgeries for these issues should they arise.

→Related article: What Are the Different Types of Pet Insurance?

Compare pet insurance with Canstar!

author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.

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