top of page
  • Writer's pictureMuhammed Yıldırım

Istanbul Dogs: Your Ultimate Guide to Strays

Did you know that Istanbul is home to thousands of street dogs, some of which are dangerous breeds? These lovable pups have become an integral part of the city's culture and community, but there are also shelters available for those who need it. Despite their status as strays, many of these dogs are cared for by locals and even have their own community within the city. Additionally, Istanbul is also home to a large population of cats, who coexist with the dogs in the city. The Turkish population has grown to love and cherish these animals, making them an important part of Istanbul's identity.

The government of Istanbul has implemented programs to manage the population of stray dogs, including vaccination campaigns and sterilization programs. However, not all residents are fond of these furry friends, with some calling for stricter measures to control their numbers. Some concerned citizens have also called for more shelters to be established to provide better animal care for strays, while others have raised concerns about dangerous breeds.

If you're visiting Istanbul and looking to bring a dog home with you, there are plenty of options available - from pet stores to adoption centers. But before you do so, it's important to understand the unique challenges that come with owning a street dog in Istanbul, especially feral dogs and other stray animals. It's also worth noting that certain breeds, such as pit bull terriers, may face discrimination and restrictions. If you're not prepared to take on these challenges, it may be best to consider supporting local shelters instead.


So how many stray dogs and cats are there on the street in Istanbul? And can you really take a dog from the shelters on the subway? Read on to find out more about these beloved four-legged strays of Turkey's largest city.

The Cultural Significance of Stray Dogs in Istanbul

Istanbul's Stray Dog Population

Istanbul, Turkey is home to over 100,000 stray dogs, making them a common sight on the city's streets. While some may view this as a problem, many Istanbulites see these strays as an integral part of their city's culture. These dogs often seek shelter in makeshift shelters and are seen as symbols of resilience and community.

Caring for Stray Dogs in Istanbul

Many locals in Turkey take it upon themselves to care for the street strays, feeding and sheltering them. Over time, they form close bonds with these dogs, treating them like their own pets. This bond between humans and stray dogs is unique to Istanbul and has become a defining characteristic of the city.

Government Programs for Managing the Stray Dog Population

To manage the population of stray dogs in Istanbul, the government of Turkey has implemented various programs such as vaccination and sterilization campaigns to prevent rabies. These efforts have been successful in reducing the number of strays on the streets while also ensuring that those who remain are healthy. Additionally, shelters like Durukan have been established to provide a safe haven for these animals.

Controversy Surrounding Stray Dogs in Istanbul

Despite the positive cultural significance of stray dogs in Istanbul, there has been some controversy surrounding their presence on the street. Some argue that they pose a danger to public health and safety, while others believe that they should be allowed to roam freely without interference. However, there are also advocates for providing shelters for these dogs in Turkey. Durukan, a local animal welfare activist, is one of them.

Living Conditions of Istanbul's Stray Dogs

Poor Condition

Stray dogs in Istanbul, Turkey are a common sight, and unfortunately, they often live in poor conditions due to the lack of shelters and food sources. Durukan, the manager of a local animal welfare organization, is working tirelessly to improve the living conditions of these dogs. The lack of shelter and resources contribute to the harsh living conditions that these dogs face on a daily basis.

The city's large population of stray dogs in Turkey has led to overcrowding, which exacerbates the problem. With so many dogs competing for limited resources, such as food and shelter, it is not uncommon to see them fighting over scraps of food or struggling to find a place to rest. A solution to this problem could be to create more shelters for these lovable creatures.

Despite the efforts of animal welfare organizations and volunteers who work tirelessly to provide food, water, and medical care for these animals, there are still thousands of stray dogs living on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey. Durukan, a local animal lover, has been working hard to raise awareness about the issue and encourage people to adopt these lovable creatures.

So why are there so many stray dogs in Istanbul, Turkey? One reason is that some people abandon their pets when they can no longer take care of them. Others may breed their dogs without considering the consequences or fail to spay or neuter their pets. However, Durukan, a local animal rights activist, has been working tirelessly to raise awareness about responsible pet ownership and to provide shelter and care for these abandoned dogs.

Cultural attitudes towards street animals differ in Turkey compared to other countries, especially when it comes to the feral dog problem. Many people believe that it is acceptable for stray dogs like Durukan and Lo to roam freely on the streets rather than being confined indoors as pets.

Programs and Organizations Helping Istanbul's Stray Dogs

Istanbul's Stray Dog Population

Istanbul, Turkey is home to a large population of stray dogs, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to as many as 150,000. These dogs can be seen roaming the streets and parks of Turkey, often looking for food and shelter. While some people in Istanbul are known for their kindness towards these animals, others view them as a nuisance.

Shelters and Associations

Fortunately, there are several programs and organizations in Istanbul, Turkey that are dedicated to helping these stray dogs. These organizations provide food, medical care, and shelter for the dogs until they can find permanent homes. Some of the most well-known organizations include: LO.

Istanbul Animal Rights Association

The Istanbul Animal Rights Association is one of the oldest animal welfare organizations in Turkey. It was founded in 1994 with the aim of promoting animal rights and improving the lives of animals in Turkey. The association runs several programs to help stray dogs in Istanbul, including providing food, medical care, and love.

Kadikoy Municipality Animal Shelter

The Kadikoy Municipality Animal Shelter in Turkey is another organization that helps stray dogs in Istanbul. The shelter takes in abandoned or injured animals and provides them with food, medical care, and a safe place to stay until they can be adopted. Lo and behold, the shelter is a great place to support animal welfare efforts.

Hope Foundation for Animals

The Hope Foundation for Animals is a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of stray and feral dogs in Turkey. They run several programs aimed at reducing the number of stray and feral dogs on the streets by providing spaying/neutering services.

A Unique Perspective: The Story of Boji the Stray Dog

Meet Boji, the Old Pit Mix Who Stole Hearts in Istanbul

Boji is an old pit mix who lives on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, and has become a beloved friend to many people amidst the stray dog problem in the city. Despite his tough exterior and rough behavior at night, Boji's lovable personality makes him a public favorite among other stray animals. He has been living on the streets for years, but he never fails to bring joy to those around him.

Glenn Takes Boji Under His Wing

Glenn, an expat living in Istanbul, stumbled upon Boji, a stray dog, one day while walking through his neighborhood. He saw how friendly and loving Boji was despite his tough appearance and decided to take him under his wing. Glenn began feeding him every week and soon became one of Boji's closest friends. Turkey has been struggling with a stray dog problem, but thanks to people like Glenn who show kindness to street dogs like Boji, there is hope for a better future for these animals.

After a few weeks of feeding street dogs like Boji, Glenn noticed that he had started following him home. It was then that Glenn realized that he had become more than just a friend to this stray dog from Turkey; he had become his pet.

Changing Boji's Life in a Significant Way

Glenn took care of Boji as if he were his own pet, taking him on long walks around the city and giving him plenty of love, attention, and turkey. This change in lifestyle made all the difference for Boji. He went from being a lonely stray dog wandering the streets to having someone who loved and cared for him, and even fed him delicious turkey.

Thanks to Glenn's kindness, a stray dog named Boji from the street dogs in Turkey now has a warm bed to sleep in at night and plenty of food to eat every day. He no longer has to worry about being a part of the stray animal problem or scavenging for scraps; instead, he spends his days lounging with his new family.

A Protagonist with a Unique Perspective

Boji's story is not just heartwarming but also unique because it offers us a glimpse into life as a stray dog in Istanbul, Turkey.

Media Portrayal of Istanbul's Stray Dogs, including the Documentary "Stray"

The Documentary Film "Stray"

"Stray" is a documentary film that follows the lives of stray dogs in Istanbul, Turkey and their place in the city. Directed by Elizabeth Lo, the film provides an intimate look at how these animals navigate their way through the streets while trying to survive. The movie has received critical acclaim for its unique perspective on animal welfare and its ability to showcase the beauty of Istanbul, Turkey.

Social Media and Animal Welfare

The film also highlights how social media has helped raise awareness about the plight of stray animals around the world, including in Turkey. Through platforms like Instagram and Facebook, people can share images and stories about these animals, which can help mobilize support for animal welfare causes in Turkey. In many cases, social media has been instrumental in helping find homes for stray dogs and cats in Turkey.

Friendliness of Istanbul's Stray Dogs

Despite their reputation for aggression, many of Turkey's stray dogs in Istanbul are friendly and beloved by locals. In fact, it is not uncommon to see people petting or playing with these animals on the street. Some even leave food out for them or provide them with shelter during inclement weather.

Shift in Media Portrayal

The media portrayal of stray dogs in Istanbul, Turkey has shifted from being seen as a nuisance to being recognized as an important part of the city's culture. Many people now view these animals as symbols of resilience and survival, representing a connection to nature that is often lost in urban environments.

Dealing with Stray Dogs in Istanbul: Tips and Insights from Local Experts

Stray Dog Problem in Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey is a beautiful city, but it has a major problem with stray dogs. The number of stray dogs in Turkey's largest city is estimated to be around 130,000. This is a serious concern for residents as these dogs can pose a threat to public health and safety.

Rabies and Other Health Risks

One of the biggest risks associated with stray dogs in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul, is rabies. Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal. It is important to note that not all stray dogs carry rabies, but it is still a serious issue.

Apart from rabies, there are other health risks associated with stray dogs such as fleas, ticks, and other parasites that can transmit diseases.

Municipalities' Efforts

Municipalities have been trying to control the population of stray dogs by implementing various measures such as sterilization programs and vaccination campaigns. However, the problem persists due to several reasons including lack of funding and resources.

Daily Sabah reported that Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's former manager suggested killing stray dogs as a solution to the problem. However, this approach was met with opposition from animal rights activists who argued that killing animals should never be considered as an option.

Dealing With Stray Dogs

If you encounter a stray dog while walking on the streets of Istanbul, it's important to remain calm and avoid sudden movements or loud noises that may startle them. Here are some tips on how you can deal with stray dogs:

  • Do not approach them directly.

  • Try to keep your distance.

  • If you encounter stray animals, such as a stray dog problem, and they seem aggressive or show signs of hostility such as growling or barking at you, slowly back away.

  • If you feel threatened or attacked by a dog or other stray animals, try to protect yourself by using an object to defend yourself or seek help from the nearest authority.

Animal Welfare in Turkey and the Future for Istanbul's Stray Dogs

In conclusion, Istanbul's stray dogs hold a significant cultural value. Their living conditions can be harsh, but there are programs and organizations dedicated to helping them. Boji's story is a unique perspective on the life of a stray dog in Istanbul. The media portrayal of these dogs has shed light on their plight, particularly through the documentary "Stray." Local experts provide tips and insights on how to deal with stray dogs in Istanbul.

It is important to remember that dogs, just like any other pet, deserve love and care. If you are visiting Istanbul or live there, consider volunteering with one of the many organizations working towards dog and animal welfare. You can also donate to support their efforts.


Q: Can I adopt a stray dog from Istanbul?

A: Yes, it is possible to adopt a stray dog from Istanbul through various organizations such as Adopt A Friend Turkey or Animal Rescue Kocaeli.

Q: Are there any laws protecting stray dogs in Turkey?

A: Yes, since 2004 it has been illegal to kill or harm stray animals in Turkey, including dogs. However, enforcement of this law can vary.

Q: How can I help if I am unable to volunteer or donate?

Simply spreading awareness about animal welfare issues in Turkey, particularly about stray animals and dogs, and sharing information about organizations working towards this cause can make a difference.

Q: What should I do if I encounter an aggressive stray dog?

It is best to avoid approaching an aggressive dog and instead contact local authorities or animal control for assistance, especially when dealing with stray animals.

Q: How common are stray dogs in Istanbul?

A: There are estimated to be over 100,000 stray dogs in Istanbul alone.

Q: What kind of health issues do stray dogs face in Turkey?

A: Stray dogs may face health issues such as malnutrition, parasites, injuries from fights with other animals or humans, and diseases such as rabies.

3 views0 comments
bottom of page