All aboard the pooch train! Spain’s Renfe starts large dog trial

Spain's national rail provider on Tuesday began a three-month trial to ascertain if allowing medium and large dogs on board its trains is a viable option, with tickets on sale for its Madrid-Barcelona route.

large dogs trains spain
Up to now, Renfe only permitted passengers to travel with small dogs under 10 kilos, kept at all times inside a carrier, with the exception of guide or assistance dogs. Photo: John Crozier/Unsplash

Spain’s Renfe on Tuesday September 13th kick-started its three-month trial to assess the viability of allowing canines of up to 40 kilos on its trains.

Up to now, Renfe only permitted passengers to travel with small dogs under 10 kilos in weight, kept at all times inside a carrier, with the exception of guide or assistance dogs.

Only two large dogs will be allowed on each train during the trial period, with a maximum of one per passenger.

A specific dog-friendly area on one of the train’s carriages will be allocated for these medium and large pooches.

Dog owners will also have to follow a set of rules and recommendations, such as carrying a blanket with them, taking toys that don’t make noise or squeak, avoid feeding them during the three hours prior to the trip to prevent the animals from doing their business or getting dizzy on the train, as well as taking them for a long walk before the journey.

Dogs that aren’t kept inside a pet carrier will have to wear a muzzle and be kept on a non-extendable leash (3 metres long max) at all times.

The dog breeds (small, medium and large) that will be allowed on these high-speed AVE and Long Distance trains between Barcelona and Madrid include Beagles, Bichons, Boxers, Bull Terriers, Bulldogs, Poodles, Pugs, Chow Chows, Cocker Spaniels, Dalmatians, Collies, Greyhounds, Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Labradors, Alsatians, Pekinese, Pointers, Pomeranians, Rottweilers, Schnauzers, Setters, Shar Peis and different terrier breeds.

However, given the 40kg weight restrictions, Bordeaux Mastiffs, Great Danes, Spanish Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, Tosa Inus, Newfoundland dogs and Bullmastiffs cannot be included on the list, as many of these breeds can weigh more than 60 kilos.

Passengers who want to book tickets for themselves and their furry friends on this initial Madrid-Barcelona route will find the option of adding their “mascota grande” (large pet) on the Renfe website.  

Whereas Renfe’s rates for small dogs and other pets (cats, ferrets, birds) are €10, for larger dogs weighing between 10kg and 40kg the fixed price per trip will be €35.

Passengers travelling with their medium or large dogs will not be able to choose their seats either, instead they will have two spots pre-assigned to them (next to each other) for themselves and their pet.

Dog owners will also have to fill in a civil responsibility form at the train station’s Centro de Servicios 30 minutes before travel. It is then that they’ll be handed a cover and a mat for the seat as well as a gift for their pet.

Member comments

  1. Good grief.

    The hoops you must jump through is crazy.

    In my 56 years I have never heard of a dog attacking anyone on a train. Attacking other dogs on a train (apart from the bark – keep away).

    It may be a test to see if it’s ok but it’s clear from the existing rules that when renfe talks about animals it explicitly bans poultry. Rules pre 1970!?

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


REVEALED: The best websites for cross-Europe train travel

Planning to travel by train across Europe but not sure where to start? Here are the best websites to help make it happen.

REVEALED: The best websites for cross-Europe train travel

Travelling across Europe by train is quickly becoming the preferred mode of transport for many people – mostly due to environmental concerns.

For others though, making the switch from cars or planes to trains is not so simple.

With planes, there are well-known websites like Skyscanner and Expedia, which makes it easy to find cheap flights. As well good connections across the continent from most major airports.

Then there is the convenience of travelling by car, which can be hard to beat – especially for those living in more rural areas. 

So what are the options for trains? Are there websites like Skyscanner but for train travel? And where can you find cheap tickets or the best routes?

Here are the websites you need to know when planning a trip across Europe by train.

Seat 61

The Seat 61 website provides tips on how to travel comfortably and affordably by train, while aiming to help visitors to rediscover the “pleasure, romance  and adventure of the journey”.

It includes an introduction to train travel in Europe, as well as an extensive search feature to find trains by starting location.

For example, The Local searched for trains from Salzburg to Italy and found routes to Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome and Naples, including on Nightjet sleeper trains.

The guide then describes the features of the Nightjet service, such as air conditioning, showers and room service all useful information for any newbies starting out with train travel.

Seat 61 is run by Mark Smith, a train enthusiast and former manager at the UK Department of Transport.

READ MORE: Discover Austria: 19 ways to make the most of autumn this year


The Trainline is an international platform focused on train travel. The company is based in the UK but has extensive coverage of train travel in 45 countries across Europe.

The aim of the Trainline is find to the cheapest tickets for a selected route. Most of the time, this means booking in advance.

The site also highlights some great offers, such as €7 tickets between Barcelona and Madrid, and Paris to Amsterdam from €20.

As an added bonus, the search function on the Trainline is very user-friendly and allows people to search by location, as well as add extras such as railcards or return tickets.

The Trainline can be accessed via the website or app.

Rail Europe

Rail Europe is a leading distributor of European train tickets. The website covers 25,000 destinations and 11,000 routes across the continent.

The search function on Rail Europe works in a similar way to other websites and users can view tickets by destination to get the best price. It’s also possible to purchase railcards direct from Rail Europe.

Additionally, the site includes a useful overview of the latest ticket releases and sales, such as special offers on journeys between Paris and Geneva.

Users can pay for tickets in Euros, Sterling or Dollar (US, Canada and Australia) on the website or the app.

Rail Europe is headquartered in Paris but was founded in New York in 1932.

READ ALSO: Ryanair to raise flight ticket prices in Austria


The Interrail Pass is a railcard that is available for residents in Europe. For people that live outside of Europe, they can purchase the Eurail Pass.

The passes are aimed at backpackers, or anyone spending time travelling across Europe.

The Interrail website has details about the different passes on offer under the umbrella of Interrail, like the Global Pass, One Country Pass and the German Rail Pass

For example, prices for the One Country Pass for Spain start at €182 for three days of travel within one month. Or you can pay €235 for five days of travel within one month.

Whereas the Global Pass starts at €251 for seven days of train travel in one month, but goes up to €677 for a three month unlimited travel ticket.

Interrail or Eurail Pass holders can buy tickets and make reservations via the desktop website or the Rail Planner app.


Omio is a travel platform where you can book train, bus and flight tickets. It has a free app to download or users can search and book on the website.

The Omio site has a dedicated section just for train travel. It even highlights 28 routes in Europe that are faster by train than plane – as well as the amount of carbon dioxide saved on the trip.

Examples are London to Brussels, which takes just two hours, or Frankfurt to Cologne in one hour.

There is also a handy FAQ section with information about booking train tickets in Europe, baggage conditions and travelling with pets.

At the time of writing, The Local found a ticket from Zurich to Vienna on Omio for €60 (when searching for dates two months in advance).

Do you have other suggestions for websites we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below or email [email protected]