Untold Stories

Pets are more than welcome in Zagreb

How come so many people have dogs around here? And big ones, too? For Zagreb locals, it feels normal to meet people walking their dogs everywhere in the city.

On the other hand, tourists often think of it as an oddity. They don’t understand how can you keep so many dogs in the city center - a neighborhood made of historical apartment blocks. That sounds like such a dog life for the trapped dogs.

They are sometimes unaware that Zagreb is a green city. There are parks and woods even in the central part. A large forest hides behind the buildings of the centrally located Ilica Street. You could easily spend your Zagreb holiday without spotting the forest if you don't know about it. People have plenty of places perfect for long walks with their dogs all over the city, even in the narrowest city center. Dogs are far from being trapped in apartments all the time.

The muzzle is there. All she has to do is get an extra tram ticket, and they won’t have to walk anymore. This is an iconic photo by Đuro Janeković from the 1930s. Copyright: Muzej za umjetnost i obrt / Museum of Arts and Crafts 


If you decide to bring your dog to Zagreb, it will make a lot of new friends. You could even consider staying in some neighborhoods outside the city center, as those might be equipped with a dog park. It is possible to take your dog to city public transport, too. If it's a smaller pet up to 30 cm in height, you should carry it in a transport box, and that’s all it takes. If the dog is taller, a muzzle is a must, and so is an additional tram ticket.

Pluto the dog. At least three decades older than Walt Disney's Pluto.


The love for one particular dog has been around here for 125 years. There is a memorial plaque with a relief of a dog named Pluto in Bogovićeva street. Pluto hung around the construction site, until one day, he got hurt and passed away. The construction workers and manager honored him with a plaque in the courtyard. Thanks to an initiative led by a Zagreb aficionado Ivan Brnčić, the plaque was moved to a public spot back in 2013. 

I know what will make us all feel better following such a sad tale. Some purry delight - cats, what else? A lot of love for cats is filling the streets of Zagreb, too.

Cute cats often bring color to the streets of Zagreb thanks to wonderful street art by Slaven Lunar.


My favorite cat lady from Zagreb's past must be Tilla Durieux. The eccentric actress, puppeteer, and art collector lived in Zagreb for a while. She shared her luxurious home with Countess Lubinsky and with some cats. She once organized a real wedding party for a cat couple. By then, everyone was so used to her treating her cats like people, they didn’t even find it strange anymore. 

This was Tilla’s and her cats’ residence.


Tilla was definitely a cat person, yet it seems cats and dogs get along pretty well in Croatia, as many households have both. Some people prefer other species. It’s perfectly common for Zagreb locals to see people walking their dogs around the city center. However, it is a bit unusual to see people walking wild animals, but that happened in the past, too. Several people took their exotic pets for a walk through the city center. I personally saw a guy walking his little lion years ago, and the most recent case, 5 years ago, included a man from Slovenia coming for a walk through Zagreb with his pet ostrich. Not that long time ago, there was an unfortunate case of a python escaping its owner. It was all over the news for a while, but I don’t remember reading about the snake being found... Hm....

These are not pet lions, but they are no less cuddly. All the local children have a photo with them at the lion bridge in the city Zoo. Photo: M. Vrdoljak/TZGZ


The first famous example of a person prone to exotic pets must be Barbara Celjska, who lived in the Medvedgrad fortress in the woods above the city in the 1400s. Her unique persona earned her a menacing nickname: Black Queen. There were many weird stories about her, including that she kept lions around her castle or that she owned a giant pet raven.

Black Queen’s ravens. Art by Bare.  


What was that question again? How come so many people have dogs around here? The answer is simple: pets have always been welcome in Zagreb.


Header image credit: Boška i Krešo / TZGZ

Author: Iva Silla