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Providing, Not Pampering: Pet Stores In Germany

When the largest pet store in the world is located in Germany that pretty much tells you all you need to know about how seriously Germans are when it comes to pet ownership.

According to a recent Bloomberg Business article, Zoo Zajac in Duisburg, Germany is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest pet store on the planet, measuring in at around 130,000 square feet — nearly two and a half times the size of the White House. In addition to many species of animals for sale (including sloths for only €9,000 each!), it is also the only pet store in Germany that sells dogs.

It’s all about the supplies

Selling dogs in pet stores is generally frowned upon in Germany and, like so much else here, comes with a good amount of paperwork. Germany is known for its well-run and pristine animal shelters, and dog adoption from these facilities is highly encouraged. So it’s not without a bit of controversy when a store in Germany sells dogs. But in terms of pet supplies, the sky’s the limit.

When it comes to caring for dogs, and more specifically purchasing supplies for your pup, let’s just say German pooches are too cool for school. In the time I’ve lived in Berlin, I have yet to see a dog here adorned with so much as a rhinestone on a collar, let alone decked-out in the finest labeled clothing. Minimalism is where it’s at.

Keep it simple

Just stroll through Fressnapf, founded in Germany and the largest pet food and supply chain in Europe, and you will find leashes and collars of many colors. But that’s really where it ends. Dogs are not fashion accessories here; so you’re not going to see Fido struggle to shed a fancy sweater or Fifi try to shake off a bedazzled leash. A Halloween costume? Perish the thought. Okay, Halloween is not as popular in Germany as it is in the United States. But you get the idea. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but you’re more likely to find them at high-end boutiques, and these are the exception rather than the rule.

Dogs in Germany are members of the family and treated with respect. They’re never regarded as a fashion accessory. So just like one would take great care to feed one’s family high quality foods, the same goes for dogs.

What’s your dog’s bio?

There’s a magic word here in Germany when it comes to food products — “Bio.” “Bio” is akin to what Americans refer to as “organic.” Put the word “Bio” on a product and it draws Germans like moths to a flame. “Bio” products are everywhere, including the most basic discount grocery store. So it stands to reason the same would go for pet foods.

In Fressnapf, which controls about a third of the dog food market in Germany, they may not use the word “Bio,” but they have dog food product lines such as Real Nature, and for the discerning dog, Real Nature Wilderness. Foods with all natural ingredients from the finest sources are important to dog owners. Smaller, specialty pet stores carry more locally sourced foods and Bio products.

According to a Euromonitor International report, German dog owners are focusing on their pets’ healthy lifestyle and vitality, noting that “As a result, natural, organic and sustainable foods are increasing in popularity. However, due to a lack of spare time, many consumers are choosing prepared food products which come closest to what their dogs would eat naturally. Premium dog food, including prepared raw foods and mixed foods as well as functional treats, are therefore driving value sales in dog food in 2015.”

This desire for a healthier dog lifestyle extends to grooming and overall well-being, with products that support a healthy immune system, as well as all-natural shampoos and grooming sprays for softer coats and healthier skin.

And what is a dog shop without its fun and games? While the assortment of various treats and toys are not much different from what you’ll find in a typical pet shop in the USA, being that it’s the holiday season, one item that you’ll find are available in pet stores across Germany is an Advent calendar for dogs. After all, what are the holidays without something festive for your pooch? And where were Advent calendars first used? By German Lutherans in the 19th century, of course.

Cesar is coming back to Europe — including Germany — in early 2017. Find out if he’s coming to your city now!

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