Romania managed to become famous worldwide thanks to its stray dog problem (among other things, of course). With the “fame” coming at least a couple decades ago, there are still a lot of people who think or worry that Romania might be a country where packs of stray dogs roam the streets and are ready to take over. So in this article we’re going to talk about the stray dog problem in Romania.

No matter if we’re talking about stray dogs in Bucharest, another major city or smaller towns, the situation is mostly the same: there are few to no stray dogs in most areas of each city. It is extremely, extremely rare to see a pack of dogs roaming around – I don’t remember seeing one in any city I’ve visited recently, but at the same time I don’t doubt the fact that there might still be areas in some cities where this might still be a problem.

But generally, you should no longer worry about being attacked by stray dogs in Romania.

Many measures have been taken along the years to combat the increasing numbers of strays in the country and most cities have dealt with the problem nicely. You can still see a stray dog here and there, usually dogs that are fed by either the homeless or people living in the apartment blocks nearby. Even fewer of the already few strays are actually dangerous: most of them are just miserable because they lack proper housing and care, but otherwise friendly.

If you remember, the family that moved to Brasov from the US told me in an interview that one of the things that bothered them the most were stray dogs. So they definitely exist in Brasov, just as they still do in small numbers in other cities. However, I don’t think that the family was ever attacked by a stray – most likely there was some barking involved between their dog and the dogs on the streets.

Because in most occasions, these stray dogs in Romania are not 100% homeless. Many of them have an owner, but are allowed to roam free. I remember when I was young, my family had a dog who spent most of the day outside: he was leaving the house in the morning and returning in the afternoon. He usually let us know by scratching the door to the yard until somebody left him in. However, this practice has generally died as well since dog catchers are more active in Romania than they were a couple decades ago.

It’s also worth noting that, for example, a Brazilian who spent a few months in Romania noted that he saw no stray dogs in Bucharest during his stay.

So in the end, most of the areas in Romanian cities are pretty safe when it comes to stray dogs. You will rarely see one and I doubt that there are many chances of seeing the packs that were famous a while ago. The very poor areas of a city – or its outskirts – are most likely to house a few, but even those are not aggressive.

However, as a safety measure, I recommend trying to keep the distance if you see a stray while in Romania: you never know when a friendly-looking one decides to start acting tough! Better be safe than sorry, even though I must say it again: there are big chances that you will see no stray dogs during a shorter stay in Romania.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I have dogs but l am really afraid of stray dogs, especially when l am walking my dogs. Thank god you don’t see them often. Neither do we. In Nigeria, it’s as you describe, one here or there who belong to people but just go out all day to return in the evening. I’m glad they are tackling the problem, it can be scary, especially if you have kids. I would definitely cross the street :-).

    • Yes, the problem is indeed that the stray dogs who exist are not very friendly towards other people’s pets, especially if they’re not from the area… but this is happily less and less of a problem now.

  2. Calin:
    Bow wowsers!!! I am glad to hear packs of roaming ravaging rabid canines are no longer a big issue;-) Is your son allergic to dogs as well as to cats?
    Definitely, stray dogs should be neutered or spayed and humanely housed and adopted or trained as service dogs. I read about a Norwegian lady had set up a shelter in Romania. A lot of dogs were rescued and adopted through her shelter.
    Dogs can really be man’s best friend, but man needs to realize he needs to devote a lot of time in the caring and raising a healthy dogs and cats. All dogs and cats need to be housed, fed, trained, etc. Abandoning a domestic animal (dog or cat) is cruel.
    Humans are really the problem, though! Humans need to realize having a pet is a big responsibility, and we must be prepared to accept all responsibility for our pets. I recently had to put down my cat of 20 years. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I don’t think I could go through that again–so no more pets for me–except maybe, “Sea Monkeys.”
    Nice article, as always!
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Sorry to hear about your cat, Teil! I am sure it was the most difficult thing to do, but having the cat suffer would’ve also been bad.

      And yes, it was mostly our fault with the stray dogs: it’s enough to abandon several and in a few years they can take over the city 🙂 But as I said, both the people and the government have changed their ways of thinking and dealing with things, so it’s all getting better.

      • Hi Calin:
        Thanks for your kind reply.
        Regarding you “Brasov Buddies,” they may have more to worry about with bear attacks than beagle attacks. Have they expressed any concern re bear attacks or sightings?
        How’s the political climate, now? I haven’t seen any demonstrations in Romania on the news.
        Aren’t you all feeling good about NOT being targeted by the radical terrorist groups which seem to proliferate in Western Europe–especially in France? Are you still on track to convert to Euro in 2019? I imagine the transition may be rough at first (unless your country has planned strategically for the transition).
        Have you decided where your next Romanian port-of-call will be? Have you made you vacation plans now that spring is here?
        ~Teil (USA)

        • Hello Teil,

          They told me nothing about bear sightings in Brasov, but they did mention that a pack of dogs tried to attack their dog when walking near a cemetery last year… so there are still some areas with problems.

          The political climate is still tense, but at least there are no demonstrations. It seems that the plans of the leaders didn’t turn out as they expected them to and hopefully this will be a lesson for all. Honestly, I am not sure if there’s going to be a change to Euro in 2019 – there are no talks about this in the media.

          Regarding our holiday, it’s going to be a more modest year for us with a vacation to nearby Bulgaria in the summer – and we hope it will be great as we never visited the country.

  3. I’m in Bucharest right now and saw one dog that could have been a stray. None here to speak of. I’ll check for any in Timisoara and Brasov next week but haven’t ever noticed them before.

  4. Having been to Bucharest in 2013 and currently living here I can safely say stray dogs are not an issue in most neighborhoods especially compared to 2013 when they started taking measures to diminish the stray dog populations. On the outskirts of Bucharest you can still find a few and some of the poorer blocks seem to have owners that let their dogs roam around a majority of the time.

  5. Calin, besides the fact that there are more dog catchers and cities are actively working to diminish the number of strays, do you think the Romanian culture is shifting toward more responsible pet ownership? In other words, do more dog owners now see themselves as caretakers for their “fur people,” rather than thinking that dogs are naturally adept at roaming free? Do they, as a rule, spay and neuter their dogs and get them to veterinarians for shots? It seems to me that this kind of pet ownership can be a luxury beyond the pocketbooks of most Romanians.

    • Yes, the mentality is surely changing and people who used to leave their dogs roam free no longer do so (my family is one of those people, for example: they considered it natural 15-20 years ago, but wouldn’t even consider this nowadays and this “change” actually started over 10 years ago).

      Even though it’s true that many people are struggling and some are still unable to offer proper care to their pets, it’s worth noting that vets are priced per Romanian terms so most of the people afford them. So compared to several years ago, pets are living a much better life in Romania.

  6. I had a few unpleasant run-ins with stray dogs in parks in Bucharest back in the early 2000s (last time I went was in 2003). It got so that I was reluctant to go into parks. For instance, it was quite frightening to see this big dog run towards me from afar while barking. They tell you not to run but it was very difficult to resist. Fortunately, he stopped at about 10 yards and just barked at me. I slowly walked sideways to him, never letting him out of my sight. A German I was with in the small town where we often stayed was roaming around some meadow trying to get reception for his cell phone when a shepherd’s dog sneaked up behind him and bit him in the calf, drawing blood. He came to me and told me, as their translator, to do something about it. I asked him what he wanted me to do, suck the rabies out of his leg, go to the police, demand compensation? I finally did get the shepherd to stop by and apologize. I would strongly recommend people be careful if they are walking in the countryside. I once announced to the Romanian family I was staying with that I wanted to walk to a nearby town. They wouldn’t let me go unless I took a big stick they gave me. They said just seeing a stick would make the dogs leave me alone. It’s good to hear times have changed and the dog problem is now under control. It annoyed me to no end how Brigitte Bardot was harassing Romania about it’s early efforts to round up the stray dogs.

    • That is true, in villages you do feel safer if you have sticks with you because dogs do roam free. When I get out in our village, I make sure to do the same even though I had no problems so far.

      And yes, I remember the parks which provided a home for stray dogs. I hated that and for a long time I completely avoided getting into any kind of park. But yes, things have changed, fortunately and I am able to enjoy the beautiful parks 🙂

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