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Iceland – Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

Iceland is known for its stunning landscapes and natural wonders, but what is the country’s attitude towards animals and pets? In this article, we’ll explore the prevailing attitude towards animals and pets in Iceland, the laws regarding pet ownership, major animal charities, pet supply stores, and cultural taboos associated with different types of animals.

Attitude towards Animals and Pets

Icelanders generally have a positive attitude towards animals and pets, and many households have at least one pet. Dogs are the most popular pets in Iceland, followed by cats and horses. Iceland is known for its strong equestrian culture, and horses are an important part of the country’s history and tradition.

Laws Regarding Pet Ownership

In Iceland, pet ownership is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act, which was last updated in 2018. The law stipulates that animals must be treated with respect and care, and that their basic needs for food, water, and shelter must be met. It is also illegal to cause animals unnecessary pain or suffering, or to abandon them.

The law requires that dogs and cats must be registered with the local authorities, and that they must be microchipped and have a collar with identification. Dogs must also be kept on a leash in public spaces, except in designated off-leash areas. There are also restrictions on the breeding of dogs and cats, and the sale of animals in pet shops.

Major Animal Charities

There are several animal charities and organizations in Iceland that work to improve the welfare of animals. Some of the major organizations include:

  • Icelandic Animal Welfare Association: This organization was founded in 1978 and works to promote animal welfare in Iceland. They operate a shelter for abandoned animals and work to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.

  • The Icelandic Horse Protection Fund: This organization works to protect and promote the welfare of Icelandic horses. They rescue horses that are in danger and work to find them new homes.

  • The Icelandic Cat Protection Society: This organization works to improve the welfare of cats in Iceland. They operate a shelter for abandoned cats and work to educate the public about responsible cat ownership.

Pet Supply Stores

There are several pet supply stores in Iceland that offer a range of products for pets. Some of the most popular stores include:


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  • Pet.is: This online store offers a wide range of pet products, including food, toys, and accessories. They offer free shipping for orders over 10,000 ISK.

  • Petland: This chain of pet stores has locations throughout Iceland and offers a range of pet products, including food, toys, and accessories.

  • Hundasport: This store specializes in products for dogs, including food, toys, and equipment for training and agility.

Cultural Taboos

In Iceland, horses are highly respected and are an important part of the country’s culture and heritage. It is considered disrespectful to mistreat or harm horses in any way. Additionally, hunting is not a common practice in Iceland, and it is illegal to hunt certain species of animals, such as polar bears.

In conclusion, Iceland has a generally positive attitude towards animals and pets, with dogs, cats, and horses being the most popular pets. The country has strict laws regarding pet ownership and several animal charities that work to improve animal welfare. There are also several pet supply stores available, both online and in physical locations. While there are no major cultural taboos associated with pets in Iceland, horses are highly respected and hunting is not a common practice.


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