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What is Good Pet Etiquette in Hong Kong?

Published on: May 25, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

Hong Kong cityscape

Are you moving to Hong Kong? You’ll find it to be very cosmopolitan. In some ways, Hong Kong reflects its British ties, but in most ways it is truly Asian. In both cultures, good manners are always expected, and that goes for your pets as well as you and the rest of your two-legged family. So what constitutes good pet etiquette in Hong Kong?

Housing and Breed Restrictions

If you’re currently living in the United States, you have a great deal of latitude when it comes to keeping cats and dogs or other pets. Of course there are some restrictions, but you’ll find additional limitations in Hong Kong.

Chances are you’ll be living in an apartment – probably a small one compared to what you’re used to. Even if you rent a house, be aware that many public and private housing areas do not allow cats, or dogs, or either. Since you want to take your cat or dog along, be certain you select the appropriate accommodations. No matter where you live, it is never OK to let either cats or dogs wander around outside on their own.  

Here are some important rules to keep in mind:

  • “Fighting dogs" cannot be imported. This includes: Pit Bull Terrier (aka American Staffordshire Terrier), Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Braziliero or any of their crossbreeds. It’s not wise to try to sidestep this rule, because you could be liable for a very stiff fine or even jail time.
  • Bengal cats can not be imported unless you have documentation confirming that the they are at least 5th generation or higher.
  • Large dogs – those who weigh more than 20 kg (44 lbs) – need to follow special rules:
    • Must be kept under control in public spaces
    • Must be walked on a leash no longer than 2 meters (6.5 feet)
    • Can be off-leash only within country parks, as long as they are under control
    • Can be securely attached to a fixed object by a leash that's less than 1.5 meters long (4.9 feet)
**If you believe your large dog is well-mannered enough, they can take a "Large Dog Exemption Exam" administered by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). If your dog passes, they can earn greater off-leash privileges.

Rabies Vaccinations

There aren’t a lot of countries around the world that are considered rabies-free, but Hong Kong is one of them. They are proud to have held that status since the 1980s, and they protect their environment with strict pet import rules. Your cat or dog will have to provide proof of current rabies vaccination – along with other veterinary documents - before they are allowed into Hong Kong. Pets being imported to Hong Kong must receive a rabies vaccine at least 30 days prior to export but less than 1 year prior.

Even with that, they may have to spend some time in quarantine before they're free to join you at your new home. Quarantine requirements depend on where you’re moving from. If you’re coming from the USA, your pet will be exempt (providing they are fully compliant with the import rules).

Dog Licensing

Every dog over 5 months of age must be licensed in Hong Kong. It’s easy and fast. Just take your pup’s import documents to one of the Dog Inoculation and Licensing Centers or to an Animal Management Center. If you are using a pet relocation company to ship your dog to Hong Kong, then they will typically take care of obtaining the first dog license for you (as part of their services & fees).  From there, you will be responsible for renewing it. The license is good for three years. 

Should you adopt a new pet after moving to Hong Kong, the government will inoculate your pet against rabies at one of the above-mentioned centers, or you can have your vet handle the vaccination.

More Pet Etiquette

Common sense prevails here. Good manners for pets and pet parents are the same the world over:

  • Always carry poop bags with you and clean up your dog's waste immediately. You can be fined for allowing your pet to contaminate a public space if you don't clean it up properly.
  • All dogs must be on leash and properly controlled in public spaces (aside from country parks).
  • It's common practice to clean your dog's feet and toes before coming back inside.
  • Don't leave your dog unattended when they're outside.
  • Remember that not every person or every other dog wants to meet your pooch.

Hong Kong may have stricter pet regulations than where you live now, but they aren’t onerous. And don’t let the rules fool you. Dogs, cats and other animals are adored as pets in Hong Kong just as they are elsewhere. Just make sure you know those rules and that your furred companions mind their manners as you explore the sights, smells and sounds of your new home.

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