Since we got Mo, I have literally had so many people approach me and ask me questions about him, both in person on the street and online. The most common questions I get are:
- Where did you get your Kleinspitz puppy from?
- Did you get your Kleinspitz Pomeranian puppy in Switzerland?
- Which breeder did you buy your Kleinspitz puppy from and how did you find a good dog breeder in Switzerland?
- How much does a Kleinspitz puppy cost in Switzerland?
- What paperwork did you have to do to bring a puppy into Switzerland?
… And the list goes on.
So I thought it would simply be easiest to write up a comprehensive step by step description of how I found a good breeder, the questions I asked, how I imported my dog from Germany to Switzerland and how I registered my dog in Switzerland. This will be quite long as I just want to cover all questions, so feel free to jump between sections.
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Adopting a puppy versus Rescuing A puppy?
Everyone tells you: Rescue! Don’t adopt!
It’s more complicated than just that. Whether you decide to rescue or adopt a dog or puppy is a personal choice, and for several reasons I decided to adopt a puppy. Here’s why.
Experience. I rescued two cats in the past, and while they were wonderful pets they also taught me that rescue comes with unforeseeable challenges. You don’t know what you’re gonna get. In my case I got a cat with severe food allergies that cost me thousands in special food and vet bills for testing and treatments. I’m not saying I regret it – once you’re committed, you’re committed. But I wanted more predictability this time around.
Specific choice of breed. When you rescue, it’s much harder to pick the breed you want, and a lot of dogs are mixed. Breed massively influences the behavior and nature of the animal, and I knew I wanted a Kleinspitz. These are not the easiest to come across as rescues. I would have been open to adopting an adult dog but I quickly realized there’s not a large rescue market for this breed.
Finding Pomeranian Puppies For Sale In Switzerland
I have had dogs all my childhood and youth, so I knew that finding a good breeder would be a very important step towards fulfilling my dream of being a dog mom!
But why is it so important to find a good breeder? We have never adopted a puppy that wasn’t from a certified breeder of that breed, so I took for granted that this is how you get a puppy. Find a good breeder through the kennel association, visit them, waitlist for a puppy.
As soon as I googled Pomeranian Puppies for sale in Switzerland (in German, mind you), I was met with an abundance of offers. A lot of “breeders” were selling puppies from Swiss addresses, but once I reached out I would quickly learn that the dogs were actually in another country (often Eastern Europe). If they were in Switzerland, they had been imported from another country.
I quickly realized that they were most likely so-called puppy-mill puppies.
What is A puppy mill and why is it bad?
I had heard about puppy mills, and I knew they were something to avoid, but I decided to dig deeper and educate myself on what a puppy mill is and why it is so bad in the first place.
What is a puppy mill? Puppy milling is the industrial scale mass-production- and distribution model of dogs, often of desirable or fashionable smaller breeds (although all breeds are available), with easy and large profit margins to be made throughout the different levels.
Because puppy mills incentivize people to make easy money, and the trade often happens across borders, it is very difficult to target this organized form of animal abuse. It is up to us as dog-buyers to educate ourselves and recognize the red flags.
Puppies are mass-bred on a constant, ongoing basis in countries where vaccinations and documents are cheap (if not faked entirely). They are quickly passed on to the next level of sellers/distributors. They raise the puppies until they are ready to go to their final homes, and find buyers.
Often the profit is maximized be selling the puppies to countries with stronger economies, like Switzerland, Germany etc. As such, a lot of families are supporting themselves either fully or partially by participating in this horrible exploitation of animals.
Bottom line is: Dog passports are faked. Vaccines are faked. Illegal transportation methods of large groups of dogs kill some of the animals who overall suffer from bad health. Avoid buying from a puppy mill at all costs!
You can read more about how puppy mills work in detail here.
How Do I know if it's a puppy mill Puppy?
I quickly found myself asking this question. I found so-called breeders offering puppies for sale in Switzerland, but would instantly see some red flags:
- They would have the puppies – but not the mother
- There would be mentions of relatives or friends whose dog was the mom
- There would be a Swiss address but in fact it would turn out the puppies would need to be transported
- No questions would be asked about me or my ability to care for a dog – A reputable breeder will do this
- They would be very proactive in responding to me or putting me in touch with “friends” who also had puppies for sale
These are all red flags to steer clear of. As an example, I’ll show you an anonymized conversation below with one seller I came in contact with which is a great example of a seller to avoid like the plague.
Why is Finding a good breeder for Kleinspitz or Pomeranians Important?
Reading about the economic incentives that lead people into participating in the puppy mill industry can easily mislead us into thinking that puppy mills pose purely an ethical problem.
Unfortunately, the lack of ethics among the breeders and sellers of these dogs is just one part of the problem.
What you as a dog-owner should be aware of is that the health of these puppies is often poor.
As part of the business model, puppies often need to be transported across large geographical distances. This does not always happen under good conditions and it is sadly not uncommon for dogs to die during transport. Even if a dog survives and looks good, it doesn’t mean that he will have a good health.
Up to 10% of puppies from puppy mills have distemper, and many more suffer from hereditary issues due to the aggressive ways of breeding. This not only affects the wellbeing of the animal, it also affects the joy of pet ownership and increases the risk that people eventually give the dogs up for adoption.
Pomeranian (Zwergspitz) Vs Kleinspitz
I fell in love with the Spitz family of dogs, and knew I wanted a small dog. The Spitz dogs are all known for their intelligence and wolf/husky like coats. They come in many sized and variations. They are natural guard dogs and are very loyal and bonded with their owners.
Having grown up with dogs with very strong hunting instincts and high intelligence, I knew I wanted a clever dog, but I also knew I wanted a dog without the hunting instinct!
Depending on where in the world you are, the two smallest variations of the Spitz – the Zwergspitz (Dwarf = Pomeranian) and the Kleinspitz – will be defined somewhat differently.
In continental Europe, a true Pomeranian (or Zwergspitz in German) is a very small dog (teacup sized), and is often referenced as having an accepted shoulder height in the range 18-24cm.
A Kleinspitz is one size “bigger”, but with some margin for overlap as their accepted shoulder height usually is listed as 22-30cm in Europe with a maximum weight of 4,5kg for both males and females.
When you google the size of a Pomeranian and read English/American resources, the Pomeranian is suddenly described as between 18-30 cm (7-12 inches).
A true Pomeranian will have a flatter face/snout, and overall be much more delicate. They are not exactly the lowest energy dogs, but Pomeranians shouldn’t go on hikes and long walks, and they’re not ideal for very young children. They also tend to be more expensive (we were quoted EUR 3000-4000) and hard to find.
As a result of many of these factors, I decided a Kleinspitz would be the best choice between the two.
Finding a good breeder for Kleinspitz or Pomeranians in Switzerland
I did not find too many recognized breeders for Pomeranians in Switzerland, but more for Kleinspitz. As a result I actually decided to look for a breeder in Germany.
I have several acquaintances who have bought dogs from Germany and brought them into Switzerland, so I knew it was a manageable option.
The VDH is a great resource for finding a breeder. VDH stands for Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen, and they serve as an umbrella organization for all dog-related associations in Germany. They provide an excellent portal to search among the 8’000 recognized breeders that are participating through various breeder associations.
The high standards and strict regulations help ensure ethical breeding as well as reliability of the individual breed standards.
... And How I found a good Kleinspitz breeder in Germany
I live in Zurich, so I wanted to avoid reaching out to breeders who were located too far away. By searching for breeders on in the southern part of Germany, I was able to shortlist a good amount of breeders who were all in a driving range of 4 hours one way.
I used the Züchtersuche (breeder finder) to do this, and after shortlisting the breeders within my desired proximity, I started sending out introduction emails to all of them, regardless of whether they wrote that they currently had puppies.
In my introduction I gave a short description of myself and Pablo, our general life situation and experiences with dog-ownership, as well as a few images of our garden and home just to give an idea of what conditions we could offer a puppy.
I also stated what I was looking for (my preference was clearly for a male dog, but I had no strong preference in color).
Questions to ask breeders
I received responses from multiple breeders that actually had puppies that were not listed (it pays off to reach out), and set up phone calls to have introductions.
On these calls I would ask questions like:
- Their experience with breeding and try to understand their motivation for breeding
- Personality and health of the mom dog in question, how often they would breed
- Questions to learn more about the breed (birth defects and known diseases – the Spitz are very healthy dogs and rarely have any of these)
- Specific questions pertaining to paperwork and import to Switzerland (more on this later)
- Check which questions they would have for me/us (serious breeders will want to ask you questions too)
Importing a Dog from Germany to switzerland
There are a few practicalities when it comes to importing a dog from Germany to Switzerland, but all in all it was very straight forward for me to do, as I simply followed the official instructions which you find here.
The key points when importing a dog from Germany to Switzerland were in our case
- Mozie was under 12 weeks, so we needed the breeder to prepare a certificate that he had not been in touch with any wild animals / exposed to rabies
- He was microchipped (the breeder had a chip reader and validated his chip number for me as well)
- He had an EU passport
I confirmed all of these with the breeder in advance. They are accustomed to people wanting to export dogs to Switzerland and everything was prepared in advance.
All I had to do was to stop at customs to declare the import and pay the fee.
Registering an imported dog in switzerland
Registering your dog in Switzerland is mandatory, so the first thing I did after settling in the first few days was to register Mozie.
This happens in your local Gemeinde and via Amicus, the animal database of Switzerland.
This process was very easy – Your local Gemeinde will have a webpage similar to this which explains the process. I did the initial registration online, and immediately received my personal ID number from Amicus.
This ID number, as well as his EU passport with chip-number, was all I needed to go register him at my Gemeinde. I did this within the 10 day limit.
The next important step is taking the dog to the vet where he will again be registered and checked.
How much does it cost to have a Kleinspitz in Switzerland?
Dog ownership is comparatively expensive in Switzerland. Not only are the costs of food, toys and care high, there’s also an additional annual tax of CHF 150 to pay.
That being said, a Kleinspitz the size of Mo doesn’t eat all that much of course. I have spent less than CHF 100 on food since we brought him home.
The startup costs of adopting a dog is a different story. Buying a pure breed is rarely possible for less than CHF 1500, which is also around what I paid for Mo. In addition to this, consider investments like crates, carriers, toys, leashes, harnesses, beds and blankets, insurances and veterinarian costs.
I spent all-in-all around CHF 3000 on a range of different things in the first couple of months. Of course it is worth every penny, but it is something to keep in mind.
I also expect to have some expenses for dog-walking/pet sitting eventually.
I use Zooplus.ch for ordering food and snacks as they have great price points.
How Dog friendly is Switzerland?
While it may be expensive to live the #dogmomlife in Switzerland, it sure is easy. Switzerland is very dog friendly compared to other European countries.
A high proportion of hotels accept pets, and dogs are allowed on public transport (although you must pay their fare, of course) and in a fair share of restaurants.
Further to that, there are special doggy-trash bins that also dispense free doggy bags.
The best health insurance for dogs in switzerland
All of our family dogs always had health insurance, and it always paid off. Every single time. So there was no doubt in my mind that I was getting Mozie insured.
Besides the private liability insurance which is mandatory for dog owners in Switzerland, it is possible to make a special health insurance for your dog.
Depending on your coverage, this insurance covers accidents as well as hereditary ailments. Often dogs over 3 years are subject to a medical checkup before being accepted to an insurance.
There are two main offers on the market, Animalia and Epona. Both have similar offers. I decided to take our an insurance with Animalia but still have yet to have any real experience with it.