Chain dogs legal ?

Is the keeping of chain dogs legal in Greece ? Information about the ‘barrel dogs’, the legal situation, measures against the owners, warning, reporting to the police and penalties.

Chained dogs
Chained dogs, the ‘barrel dogs’ of Crete.

Chaindogs are called ‘Barrel Dogs’ in Greece. The name is a kind of program, because it defines exactly the situation of these animals: they are dogs chained to a barrel, home-made doghouse or similar improvisation in the middle of no-man’s-land.

Barrel dogs

Anyone who has ever seen such a ‘barrel dog’, pictures or a video of it, will not find it difficult to imagine the constantly repeating daily routine of such a dog. And one thing is for sure, the ‘barrel dogs’ mostly spend their whole life there, and they are probably the biggest problem of animal welfare in Greece.

The keeping of a ‘barrel dog’ may seem like pure sadism to a normal, educated and civilized person, but it does serve its purpose. Chained up all their lives, fed with little or sometimes no food and water, without veterinary care and usually with a barrel as a refuge (hence their nickname), they serve as ‘living scarecrows’ and scare the wandering flocks of sheep and goats out of the not completely enclosed enclosures and open roads so that they do not leave.

These so-called ‘barrel dogs’ live to serve farmers and homeowners as ‘scarecrows’ or ‘doorbells’ (the so-called bell dogs), but all too many dogs in Greece live a tormented lonely life because of these owners who do not understand or care that animals have feelings or are thirsty and hungry and need closeness and love.

Dog chained to the road or path
All types of dogs are chained to paths or open gates to prevent sheep and goats from passing through.

Reasonable gates or cattle grates in the ground as a solution seem to be an unimaginable technique for many shepherds and farmers in Greece. They much prefer to force a poor creature into a life of chains, sorrow, grief and again sorrow. They are just tools that farmers simply replace when they die.
Then a young dog usually takes the place of his dead predecessor and these animals see themselves as human society.

But many of them die before they are one or two years old. These dogs are overjoyed when they receive a kind word and a gentle touch – how cruel it must be to hear the dogs bark, cry and exert themselves at the end of chains as if they were saying, ‘Please come back! I just want some love and attention’.


When you visit Crete or other areas in Greece, remember, as you walk from one beach to the next, that in the dry, brown mountains behind, there are lonely souls living a life worse than you could ever imagine.

Dogs are social beings who usually live in a group – the pack. Man is often the pack substitute. Dogs that are permanently chained somewhere lonely are therefore not kept in a species-appropriate way.

One really wonders how the brain of these owners works and how a government should function if someone can do this consciously with a dog – without legal consequences.

Legal situation

Since 2012, European law has banned the keeping of ‘barrel dogs’ in Greece.
The new animal welfare law of the Greek government states in article 1b:

Well-being of an animal is the set of rules that humans must apply to animals, regarding

  • their protection and good treatment, so that they don’t suffer, and they are not in pain.
  • their stay in a dry and clean space, protected from weather conditions, without them being permanently tethered somewhere and live within inappropriate spaces/structures (e.g. made out of materials such as metal).
  • the provision of medical care as well as food and water, according to their needs.
  • their daily exercise or walk and in general regarding the care and respect humans
    must show to animals.

Article 1(c) and (d) covers all domestic and farm animals, as well as hunting dogs, herd dogs, guard dogs of spaces, dogs for disabled people, search dogs, rescue dogs and dogs of the army and security forces.

Article 5 1c also requires the owner
to follow the rules that enhance the animal’s welfare and to care for its veterinary examination, which is proven by the vet’s notes in the animal’s health booklet or its passport, as well as to ensure the animal has comfortable, healthy and suitable accommodation, accustomed to its natural way of living, allowing it to be able to stand in a natural upright way, without hampering its natural movements and its ability to exercise as much as it is necessary to maintain its health and welfare.


A strengthened law was passed in February 2021. The new bill now explicitly includes the five internationally recognized animal rights: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from unnecessary suffering and distress; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom from fear and anxiety; and freedom to exercise normal behaviors under appropriate living conditions.

According to the new Animal Welfare Law 4830/2021 adopted by the Greek Parliament at the end of 2021, Article 9, paragraph 3, a dog may not be tethered permanently and in any case not for more than two (2) hours per day on its property, even if the chain or rope is long.

An important aspect of the bill creates a new digital health record book for all companion animals that will contain a complete medical history and be accessible to both owners and veterinarians.
Another important part of the legislation is a ban on the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores and a ban on advertising bred animals.
The fine for publishing an advertisement for bred animals will be more than tripled if the unique ID microchip number of the animal and the new reproduction license are not provided.
In the future, the sale of pets in Greece will only be allowed by licensed breeders and owners. In addition, fees for the adoption of pets will be prohibited, with the exception of transport and medical treatment costs.

Clearly forbidden and illegal are thus for example:

  • Tether a dog permanently and in any case not for more than two (2) hours per day on its property, even if the chain or rope is long.
  • deficient food, none or dirty water.
  • Dogs chained too short (less than 6 meters, c.20 ft)
  • Dogs permanently staying (‘living’) in ‘nowhere’ or ‘no man’s land’ (e.g. on paths, roads, open fences, etc.) and even if this is on the owner’s land or they were taken regulary on a walk.
  • without a proper, sufficiently large, clean and wind- and waterproof doghouse or kennel, but instead barrels or other improvisations or no protection at all.
  • poor care of the dog or disrespectful behaviour of the owner towards the animal.

How to proof the missing daily walk or excercitement ?

Since the dog may not be tethered for more than two hours per day, it is difficult for the owner to dispute this if photos are taken of the dog at different times over a period of some days (or every 2 hours) with the date and time. If the dog can only be seen chained in the photos, the situation should be clear.

If a dog is chained 24 hours a day, the administrative fine for this offense alone amounts to 1,000 euros.

If you have access to the dog and it is friendly, you can also prove the permanent chaining with another method:


A cable tie (similar to airport suitcases) is attached around the dog’s necklace. The dog can only be released from the chain if the cable tie is removed. If, after at least 24 hours, the cable tie is still present undamaged on the necklace, the dog has not been removed from the chain in the meantime and could not have any outlet.
Take photos with date and time of the cable tie attachment and after the minimum period of 24 hours and submit them as evidence to the police!

Please avoid having seen a chain dog once and then claiming that it never had an outlet. There is hardly anything more embarrassing than when the police comes by and the dog is running free around or on a walk!
Either you visit the dog at least three times and take photos, ask around in the neighbourhood or you can give a clear proof, as described for example with the cable tie.


Numerous excrements


Numerous, not cleared away excrements in the area of the chained dog are forbidden (actual fine €100) and can be also reported by
REFERENCE REPORT OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND CIVILIZED ENVIRONMENT proper orders to the competent police services 5 of which 5 are strictly enforced, except in the case of 33 TVIVNOUKONO Our previous order that in the event of a finding of a self-inflicted crime for breach of the above provisions, the procedure of the CCP officers would be followed without delay. Public Prosecutor’s Office of Crete. Etrini K. Chisogini Antisageleas Efetn

This can also be reported anonymously with this app.


Other offences which, however, alone are not usually sufficient for a report to the police or a hard to check at the spot, but which, in connection with the points mentioned above, can certainly increase the sentence:

  • missing identification chip with registered owner.
  • missing European pet passport with valid vaccinations registered by a veterinarian.

Clear case with evidence in video

A clear case with numerous offences and the evidence is shown in this video of the dogs in the mountains:


If you want to have a chip reader for your own use, you can do so completely legally:

Disclaimer: Since I am not a lawyer, the previous explanations are the result of my personal research, opinion and my own experiences. It is not legal advice.

Reporting a dog owner

Measures against the owners of chain dogs in Crete, their warning and reporting to the police with the criminal consequences.

t arrow1 To Part II: Reporting dog owner.

5 thoughts on “Chain dogs legal ?”

  1. I feel terrible. I am half Greek and come to visit my vacation home here in Crete a few times per year. Our neighbours have this time in the land next to us a dog chained who is barking almost all day and night. It is so sad. I barely see the man coming here for his dog, he lives a village away. I feed the dog and give it water when Im here. But I feel truly sorry. I talked to the owner about it but he was just pissed. The police will take no action, I’ve called them numerous times. Everytime when I hear him I feel bad, he must be so lonely and heart broken. I am ashamed of the my own people sometimes. I really pray for his soul, but here in the mountains.. this dog is one of thousands 🙁

  2. Regina : This should not happen because once the police have been there (recorded the microchip or fined for not having one) and if you notice that the dog has disappeared – the police should be able to follow up as they will have the details of the owner. Yes dogs disappear but if you persist the police must follow up and this practise can be stopped.

  3. Sadly, having lived in Greece this is all too common. To try and get action taken against offending owners is normally near impossible. Often the police will not act, the local authorities are not interested and if you do succeed when (and if) it gets to court it is normally quashed (or paid off by “under the table cash”) and the offence made to disappear.
    Likewise locals in the villages will not support you in a case!
    Trust me I know, I reported such instance, fortunately my friend who was linked to the American Embassy had some sway and we did get action, but without her it would not have happend.
    We can only keep trying though…….

  4. Please consider: The moment you have reported such an illegal situation to the police, the dog’s life is seriously endangered because most owners will remove and kill the “evidence”!

  5. The best article so far with all of the info needed in one place.Well done and share this knowledge. I certainly will.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top