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Differences Between Keeping Dogs In England And America

Updated on November 5, 2007
It's a dog's life in England.
It's a dog's life in England.

Dogs are cherished on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (called "The Pond" in England). However, dogs are more a part and parcel of English life than in America. This writer has lived on both sides of The Pond and couldn't help but notice the differences in dog care between the two countries.

Rabies Shots

Rabies shots are not required for dogs living in England, as there hasn't been a case of rabies in a person on the little island since 1902. Although a few rabid bats have been found in 1996 and 2004, there hasn't been a case of canine rabies in about 35 years.

One of the reasons for this success is partially due to the country being an island, and partially to the incredibly strict animal quarantine laws.

England seems a little paranoid about rabies, but they have reason to be. It's been over a hundred years since the 1901 rabies plague killed 173 people and who knows how many animals. The descriptions of the horrible deaths still are part of the English consciousness today.

Rabies shots can be bought for dogs in England, but they contain the dead virus, so the dog is not really protected for another 30 days. In America, rabies shots are of a live virus and the dog has almost immediate protection.

America is just so incredibly big that getting rid of rabies in animals is practically impossible. However, it is preventable by stopping any chain of transmission by getting your dog inoculated. In many states, it is the law to for any dogs to have rabies shots and wear tags to prove they had them (or at least the owner must produce a veterinarian's vaccination certificate).


It is not mandatory to have a dog license in England. It's not considered necessary, partially because of the smallness of the country. Everyone seems to know what dogs belong to whom and which dogs are strays. However, dog owners are still responsible for the welfare of their dogs and to repay any damages the dog might do. Considering the amount of paperwork that is involved in other areas of English life (such as dealing with the NHS), dropping the dog license requirement has probably saved the country from being drowned in paper.

Ear Cropping

Cropping a dog's ears is illegal in England, and there is much pressure to stop tail docking as well. The only times ear cropping is done are for cases of extreme frostbite or other medical reasons. Did you know that a Doberman's ears are naturally floppy? Ear cropping is a cosmetic procedure that puts the dog under unnecessary risk of infection from being cut open.

Currently in America, ear cropping is considered a requirement in order to show certain breeds. The American Kennel Club's position on ear-cropping is that they condone it to "preserve and define certain breed character". English dog owners feel sorry for those American dogs.

Access All Areas

In England, dogs often follow their owners about all day, to work, to the Post Office or to the pub. This is considered normal, although any badly behaving dogs are not welcome. Each English town and city has their own level of dog-friendliness. Dogs are usually okay in country markets, but not welcome in large chain superstores, for instance. Dogs also are not allowed in human medical facilities.

Judgment about whether a dog can follow an owner to work is based on the individual dog's character and if any employees are allergic to dogs. Although many English dogs stay at home while the owner is at work, in England, they are more open to the idea of a dog accompanying the owner to work.

Although dogs seem to be more coddled in England than in America, dog owners from both countries fight for canine rights, punish those who abuse dogs and are leaders in canine veterinary practices.

It still rains on both sides of the Pond. Film by RainyJuly.


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