Beijing, with its high rises and vehicle-strewn streets, is not exactly a pet-friendly city, but if you live out in the suburbs of Shunyi where there is more private space for your pet to roam, then the restrictions of city-life will not hinder your pet’s lifestyle. In the city, however, parks are not always dog-friendly and walking your dog around the “neighborhood” often means only being able to walk it around your housing complex due to the simple fact that there are no friendly sidewalks outside the complex.

Although in the past decade there has been a surge of locals (mostly older residents) keeping small dogs as companions, there are still obstacles to pet ownership for local Chinese and for foreigners who decide to get a pet while living in Beijing. There are restrictions to dog sizes depending on where in Beijing you live. Dogs kept within the eight major districts of Beijing – Chaoyang, Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen, Xuanwu, Haidian, Fengtai, and Shijingshan – cannot exceed a height of 35 centimeters from the ground to its shoulder.

If you’re importing a pet (only dogs and cats are considered pet companion animals—all other pets are considered “exotic” and will need to undergo a special inspection upon entering China), you’ll have to bring documents from your home country, including one verifying your pet’s health. There is also a 30-day quarantine period upon arrival for pets. All dogs, whether imported or acquired here, must be licensed and registered in Beijing. Registration is done at your local police station (Public Security Bureau) and must be updated annually. Steep fines are imposed if dogs are not registered.

Diplomats living in embassy compounds have different regulations, and the size rule does not generally apply. If you are an embassy employee, please check with your embassy for details.

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