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.

44 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.

      • That is not true. Talk to the rescuers in Romania who deal with this too many times in a day. Street dogs exist. From what we encountered, they are quite docile and dear. The problem is humans. Why would someone feed a sausage to a dog with nails in it? Why would someone hang a dog? Why would someone burn a dog with car acid? Why would they cut off one or two legs and leave a defenseless creature to suffer and die? Why would someone take a nail gun to a dog’s skull and leave it to suffer? I cannot understand this ugly truth. The article is true that a tourist may not see as many dogs as past years, but that is useless surface information. The writer of this article missed the opportunity to tell the true and full story. Why do you not see the dogs in some areas? It is because dog catchers are cruelly rounding them up in mass numbers. They keep them inhumanely until they are killed inhumanely. And if there is an area with groups of dogs, it is because no one is taking advantage of free or cheap sterilization. These dogs are innocent victims of a system that is either corrupt or does not care.

  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 🙂

  7. I’m a bit shocked to see an article on how ‘dangerous’ these poor dogs are when they are being so cruelly treated by the city authorities in Romania (and many other countries too). There are a number of NGOs working hard to improve the situation, e.g. romanianrescueappeal.uk and I don’t believe one minute the ‘problem’ is solved. The cruelty continues and having been to Bucharest myself a few years ago I was surprised how friendly the dogs were, they come up to you and just want to get food and clean water. There were also children begging with animals like lambs or piglets in their arms and I was so sad to see so many poor children as well. I loved visiting Romania and will definitely be back, I also appreciate you writing this article to put people at ease. But the problem are not the dogs (or cats in fact), it is us humans not caring enough to make a difference. So if you are travelling to Romania, read up on this issue first and see how you can help (donations, writing letters, volunteering, talking to the locals). It is a beautiful country not without it problems and I really would like the situation to improve for everyone, people and animals.

    • Thank you Giselle. I have about 100 photos on my camera showing the sweetest faces of these poor starving discarded dogs that we saw Nov 2017. Current estimates state that there are over 2 MILLION strays in Romania. The stories of cruelty make me sick.

  8. The facts stated in this article are not my experience at all. I’ve spend 2 weeks in Iasi, Tecuci, and Arad and in all thee of these cities I saw countless, countless stray dogs and cats. My heart keeps breaking for them – I wish I could do something to help them. Interestingly, when I bought dog and cat food for them, or even meat from the store they reused to eat it.

    • They look horrible because there’s nobody to groom them, but they are in most cases very well fed 🙂 You’re not the only one who feels bad for them and tries to feed them…

      I don’t know about Tecuci and Iasi, but I’ve been in Arad 4 times in the past two years and I haven’t seen a single stray dog during the time. I’ll get there again by the end of July and I’ll pay a closer look. Maybe some areas of the city have them and some don’t.

  9. the law should be that all owned dogs should have a name disc and also be chipped. These people who throw their dogs out during the day should be warned and fined and also educated that their dogs should be walked and not just thrown out. What is the situation regarding rabies in Romania with so many dogs roaming free and owned dogs allowed out there must be a direct spread of rabies. The government needs to clamp down on owners who negligently own dogs. We have just adopted a Romanian dog through a UK charity and there are plenty more to adopt because Romanians still do not have a responsible and caring attitude towards animals but let us foreigners do the dirty work. These poor creatures do not need to be killed but for someone to deal with the problem in a civilised and humane manner. Well done Bridgette Bardot for your input and “interference” I would love to visit Romania next summer but only to help with the reduction of street dogs.

    • It’s very difficult to change one’s way of thinking. It takes time and campaigns from the government, media, as well as education. The situation, as I said in the article, is much better than it was several years ago and there are big chances that you won’t meet any stray dogs if you come to Romania. It all depends on where you go 🙂 Hopefully everything will be better in a few more years.

    • I fear that in the municipalities where you do not see them are tge areas with more aggressive dog round up policies. Sad that they are captured aggressively, kept in humane conditions and then killed in an inhumane manner. They are not euthanized. The end of life for these victim creatures is harsh, cruel and filled with pain.

  10. Just driven up through length of romania today, each and every town, service station , in fact any where there is human presence there are many , many stray, sick hungry dogs. It’s an absolute disgrace, about time the problem was addressed properly, the dogs are not to blame . Poor animals are mans best friend, look how we treat them. At least start by castrating the males , tagging their ears when this has been done and humanly destroying some of the sick females. I am a dog lover.

  11. I live in a small city in western Romania and stray dogs are still a big problem, not in the sense of attacking humans or forming packs though, most of them are no threat to humans, instead they are chased around by the very humans who should be protecting and feeding them!! People don’t spay their animals and unwanted puppies/dogs are abandoned all the time. It’s really a sad situation, my heart breaks every day seeing these hungry and very friendly poor dogs trying to approach people to beg for some food and often all they get are yells and are being chased away 🙁 People need to be educated and be responsible, if you can’t afford to keep a dog, spay them and offer them the care they deserve (yes including taking them to the vet and paying for their medical problems) then do not have a dog!!!

    • Actually this very morning fed an abandoned hungry maybe 2-3 months old puppy. The saddest part is that you have no humane shelter to call or to take to these abandoned doggies 🙁

      • But there are places, although they are sadly over filled. There are no-kill shelters opening up around romania. They are sadly under funded, but the huge hearts of the very hard working volubteers aims to make a difference. More and more spay and neuter programs are happening and they are working hard to educate the public why it is important to sterilize pets and strays.

  12. I’ve been visiting in Romania for the last 8 days, and wherever i go there are poor stray dogs. I don’t know where you came with your info from. I found your blog while trying to find rescue groups along the areas i traveled. And more, those who have an owner are kept outside in the cold and the snow.
    I’m staying in a place where a small dog is tied outside shivering and crying. I asked the owner about it and got a stupid answer. I am crying with the dog, and can’t help hime or all the others.

    • You are probably traveling to remote villages up the mountains if it’s already snow there. It is not uncommon for people in the villages to treat their animals poorly. Most consider dogs elements of protection, animals who need to be aggressive with potential intruders and defend the property. This is why they keep them chained and outside throughout the year.

      Crying near dogs helps nobody. The thing that has to be done – and this takes time – is to educate people and help them understand that they should care for their dogs, even if they are used for protection. Usually, they do have some sort of barn outside to stay warm or at least dry, but that’s usually not heated and poorly insulated. But solving this problem won’t come from only focusing on saving the dogs or crying with them, but from trying to educate their owners.

      • Well stated. Future answer also depends on neuter or spay program. The shelters are trying, but they do not seem to have the support of the government.

  13. Hello to all of you on Romania experience.
    I belong to and support Alexandra Sarau teddy Alex shelter on facebook. This lovely young woman Alexandra has 200 dog’s and cats in a shelter near Bucharest Romania. She is at present living in a very small caravan on land on the outskirts of Bucharest with her eight dogs. She was in an apartment but had to vacate this property a few days ago. She still has some cats in the apartment but cannot move them yet due to the living conditions she is now in. She is trying to do so much and not in excellent health. She also has a fiance who is in a wheelchair but obviously does not live with her. The land she is on with this tiny caravan is going to be for a new shelter at present friend’s on her facebook page are trying to raise money for all thing’s.
    It’s really a desperate situation winter will be upon us. There is no heating water etc…
    I really feel for her. I care about people and animal’s in all countries.
    I have written to a couple of companies in the UK and Germany to see if they can help as regards some form of better shelter for her so do hope I hear back.
    She has to make trips to the rescue animal’s to see to them also to her cats at times her Fiance. I really don’t know how she does it. She has no transport so relys on bus or foot.
    Are there any animal lover’s, people with a kind heart that can help living near or around that area.
    The Teddy Alex shelter is on facebook if you want to follow.
    There is Animal cruelty/neglect in all countries even the UK is becoming really bad with pet’s being dumped because people are in dire straits due to our government. But whatever situation I was in I would never leave my beloved pet’s they are apart of me my heart my life.
    I did so want the UK to stay in the EU and voted to remain but I’m afraid this was not to be. Thank you my Dears.

    • Sunday night they were killed again on the sly, and over 35 dogs at the Union-Braila shelter. Of them 25 they were already ready to be adopted but Mayor Brailei Dragomir Marian said they would be pigs because the adoption is free, and euthanasia is paid with heavy money and I am convinced that this money is to be killed and puppies ready For adoption. The fact that the incinerator people are quickly called to take over the bodies leads me to the fact that these poor poor devils were not killed by t61 but by other procedures procedures. The Killer is emilia herescu from prahova. Do you realize how many miles this killer is just killing? It must be stopped!!! Who stops this killer from killing that by now he killed over 30.000 dogs. This the reality of Romania now it’s horrific don’t believe that there are no stray dogs that’s a lie!

      • I just returned from Romania. We drove around for two weeks from Bucharest to Sighet. We saw many stray dogs. All of them were at least NOT aggressive. Most were quite sweet. Some were friendly and gladly let us feed them. Others may have been wary of us – with good reason considering all the heinous acts committed towards them. It is a very sad situation. The politicians need to be educated on the value of neutering the animals. I know this cannot be cured in a year, but would hope to see significant change in five years.

  14. I’m sorry, but after staying in Bucharest for 3 months on business I can assure you the stray dogs problems are very much alive!

    In the time here my car got attacked a few times and I’ve seen more than one pack of them roaming around.

    Now, I can’t compare to numbers over the past decades, but in my opinion, being Dutch, there are a LOT of dogs roaming the Romanian streets and one should be cautious.

    • Very much a sad problem. We returned from 2 weeks driving trip in November 2017. Saw very sweet dogs in many places. It does seem that some areas have more aggressively reduced their stray population than others. I am reading that the methods are cruel. Sad and sickening.

  15. The only part I could agree on is that I didn’t have a problem with stray dogs being aggresive. To think there are just a few strays would be deceiving. I have seen at least 4 packs of 5 or more dogs in constanta and at least 15 more dogs other than these in packs in only 2 days. Just go to Mamaia hotels now during the winter and you’ll see them taking cover inside. I haven’t seen packs in bucharest but have seen quite a few dogs, even 3 strays in the old town snooping around next to bars and restaurants. Also, noticed at least 3 road kills on the outskirts and I don’t even want to mention places like cernavoda. It’s really sad to see it in 2017, especially in the EU.

    • So true. We did not see any aggressive dogs. Only sweet faces with poor skinny bodies and a tail that no longer wags. So very sad. Will it still be like this in 2027???

  16. But there are places, although they are sadly over filled. There are no-kill shelters opening up around romania. They are sadly under funded, but the huge hearts of the very hard working volubteers aims to make a difference. More and more spay and neuter programs are happening and they are working hard to educate the public why it is important to sterilize pets and strays.

  17. I appreciate you don’t want to scare tourists away from your beautiful country, but it’s a chicken and egg situation. Romania needs more tourists, to help boost economy, so perhaps some of the money can go back into humane teaching, ethics around owning animals and helping the current situation for all the dogs that are left on the streets. Because there ARE thousands and thousands of stray dogs still on the streets up and down the country, in cities, villages, up mountains, by lakes, at petrol stations, on the coast – EVERYWHERE!

    Your article is basically lies. They will rarely attack you, you are correct there, as the strays are from a domesticated descendant, and the problem has greatly improved over the last 10 years, but that is not what the subject of your article says. Seeing stray, abandoned, injured (many locals just drive/walk past them) poorly treated dogs suffering everywhere, for decent people, who have been taught to respect all living creatures this IS a BIG problem.

    I travelled through Romania for over 1 month last year, and could not bear it anymore, and even rescued a dog from the streets with the help of a wonderful charity called Barking Mad Dog Rescue, who have a shelter near Constanta, and support 2 others. She is now snoring next to me on the sofa. I also now help out the charity, as having seen the situation first hand, I was so in awe of the charities relentless work!

    You need to be realistic, and at least arm tourists with some useful information like which charities are trying to help (by neutering strays, re-homing abandoned pups, and educating dog owners), how they can donate, or even volunteer to help put an end to this situation!

  18. Excuse me but I would like to know where in Romania you will visit without seeing a street dog? I just went for a short walk in Constanta and saw 8, 5 of wich were puppies. I came accros this article searching for a place I can take the puppies. To be nutured, vaccinated and put up for adoption.

    The worst part of this is, being adopted the dogs face a life not being part of a family but most likely kept in a small pen or on a chain outside as this is the norm in Romania and not against any law, doesn’t matter if it is -20 or 37 degrees Celsius outside.

    Animal welfare needs to be backed up by laws.

    “The greatness of a nation can be judged on how its animals are treated,” Mahatma Gandhi.

    • Having in mind that most people in the cities live in apartments instead of houses, it’s pretty much impossible for the dogs to be kept in pens or chained outside. This does happen in villages where dogs are still seen as animals that have to guard the property, but not in the cities.

  19. I don’t mind the stray dogs. Living in Athens, a city with a major problem with stray dogs too, I am used to them. But I’m disgusted with the way the local authorities and the government in Romania handle the issue. In 2013 dog catchers and simple citizens in Bucharest went out in the streets starting slaughtering stray dogs like we were in the Middle Ages chasing the Frankenstein monster. Some of those dogs have never harmed anybody.
    Although I am a passionate traveler and I’ve seen almost all of Europe, Romania is out of my list because of this topic, it just makes me sick. I am sorry but this is far from called a civilized country.

    • Yiorgos, I am not sure where you got the information from, but I can assure you that there was no such thing in 2013 in Bucharest or any other city.

      The problem with the stray dogs, when the numbers are huge (which is no longer the case) is that you never know which ones are aggressive and which are not and they should all be taken care of. It’s this area that the country still needs a lot of work on and the mentality of most people towards stray dogs (and pet animals in general) can be improved… but from that to having groups of regular citizens roaming the streets in search for strays there’s a huge leap.

  20. I have recently got a dog from romanian she is amazing sweet gentle girl but has a massive fear of men, loud noises being in a closed of area and was a stray as so many are, my fear is not being attacked by stray dogs as a dog will only attack if beaten or starved mainly.
    The dogs will not go into the towns as there seen as pest and are positioned or beaten as there seen as a nuisance. And are collected in an inhuman way and sent to kill shelters only. I would love to go there but couldnt go to a country that treats any innocent animal in this way im digusted that the government have not addressed this problem. And that the people haven’t been educated in regards to animal care and neutering which would stop there stray population instead of hunting them like cave men.

  21. I do wish to add as i didnt in previous comment there are amazing charities inside and outside Romania and these people are brilliant and dedicate all there time to this cause. However there are many of the general population who need education on a nervous or aggressive dogs. It is a shame as there are so many stunning places and good people. However there treatment of animals will put off tonnes of tourist.

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