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The World's Oldest Pet Cemetery

Updated on March 01, 2008
A dog rests behind each door of these dog houses at the Cimetière des Chiens.
A dog rests behind each door of these dog houses at the Cimetière des Chiens.

Cimetière des Chiens

Literally translated from French as "Cemetery of the Dogs," the beautiful Cimetière des Chiens sits just outside of Paris, France and is allegedly the oldest pet cemetery in the world. Unfortunately, in recent years, it has had slowing tourism traffic.

History - The Formation

The cemetery was formed in 1899 as a response to a new law that was passed. The law said that people could no longer discard the corpses of their pets in the streets of dump them in the Seine. Instead, they had to put the pets in proper graves at least one hundred meters from the nearest dwelling.

Sensing a business opportunity, Georges Harmois and Marguerite Durand (an attorney and a feminist journalist/actress, respectively), opened a cemetery for "dogs and other domestic animals" in Asnières-sur-Seine, which is just outside of Paris. Their idea was that Parisians would want to bury their pets in a prestigious, off-site place.

The cemetery became an official historical monument in 1987.

Famous Pets Buried There

With more than 40,000 pets buried there (and not just dogs; there are plenty of cats, some snakes, and even a horse), it's no surprise that the Cimetière des Chiens is the final resting place of some famous dogs.

The most widely known dog buried there is, without a doubt, the infamous Rin Tin Tin (or... one of the German Shepherds who played Rin Tin Tin on television). This dog that had captured the hearts of Americans but was returned to his home country to be laid to rest. I'd be willing to guess that he's the only dog buried at the Cimetière des Chiens who has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Many other famous pets were famous because of their owners: the pet of composer Camille Saint-Saëns and pet of actor/director Sacha Guitry, and the lion (!) of the co-founder of the cemetery and actress Marguerite Durand.

At the entrance of the cemetery stands a monument to Barry the Saint Bernard. This mountain rescue dog saved forty people in his life and passed away in 1814, according to the plaque on his statue.

Short Documentary About the Cimetière des Chiens

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Visiting the Cemetery

The current owners of the cemetery have stated that they may need to close it due to low tourism traffic and therefore not enough income to maintain it. So visit the Cimetière des Chiens!

According to the cemetery website, they're open every day (except Mondays) all year 'round, but the hours depend on the season. Entry will set you back six Euro for adults and one for children. Kids under six years old get in free. It's accessible by Paris Metro or car.

Just remember, "unless they're dead and buried, dogs must be on a short leash."

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    • manoharv2001 profile image

      Manoharan 9 years ago from Bangalore - 560097, Karnataka, India

      informative

    • Hovalis profile image

      Hovalis 9 years ago from Australia

      It's amazing the things you find out! I really enjoyed reading this hub. Thanks. :)

    • helenathegreat profile image
      Author

      helenathegreat 9 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks for the kind words, both of you! I'm glad this hub was interesting to someone other than myself. ;)

    • Jason Stanley profile image

      Jason Stanley 9 years ago

      To pet lovers this is a natural, but for those who don't care they should note the reason for the cemetary - no dropping dead bodies in the river or left to rot in the street. Not a problem? Oh yeah, go to a country where the belief is that the body of a pet has to be left on the rivers edge so it will wash away. Imagine the polution of a river in a city with over a million people and thier pets... It is a pretty common thing in many parts of Asia.

    • helenathegreat profile image
      Author

      helenathegreat 9 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks for adding that, Jason; I really hadn't even thought of it. We have enough pollution as it is without rotting bodies of domesticated animals filling our rivers!

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 9 years ago from United States

      Very interesting hub!

    • helenathegreat profile image
      Author

      helenathegreat 9 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks, Marlo! :D

    • profile image

      marvelous 6 years ago

      it's so amazing

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