Centre for Companion Animal Welfare

Welfare problems are widespread among companion animals, often with major consequences for both animals and their owners. Centre for Companion Animal Welfare facilitates research into the nature and scale of the problems and how they are best eliminated or reduced. 

Dog that lies on a sofa
Obesity, behavior problems, and dogs who cannot breathe are some of the issue of interest for the Centre of Companion Animal Welfare 📷 Sébastien Lavalaye // Unsplash


Today, research into the welfare of farm and laboratory animals are well-established research areas at universities and other research institutions around the world. Only recently, there has been a growing interest in the welfare of the many animals kept as companion animals, e.g. dogs, cats, rabbits and horses. One of the reasons why the interest in companion animal welfare has not been as pronounced as it is today is the widespread, albeit erroneous, assumption that companion animals are doing well - as they are kept for leisure and not for the sake of money. 

For millennia, these animals have lived with humans under completely different conditions. In the transition from being 'useful' animals to becoming family members the animals have been exposed to dramatic and sometimes welfare-compromising changes. They respond with behavioural problems and various forms of lifestyle-related diseases. In addition, and despite good intentions, selective breeding has in many cases had major negative consequences for animal welfare.

Companion animals are in most cases kept by people who feel great love for their animals. However, love, as is well known, can make blind; and sometimes people will project their own needs and expectations onto the animals to the detriment of both animal welfare and the relationship between owner and animal.

The Centre for Companion Animal Welfare will contribute with a diverse set of research initiatives into the welfare of companion animals and work hard to ensure that results are made visible and applied internationally. The research will focus on the direct welfare consequences of the ways in which companion animals are kept, trained, cared for and bred. The animals concerned are dogs, cats, horses and other animals kept as companion or hobby animals.













The manager of the centre is Professor Peter Sandøe and Associate Professor Irena Czycholl is the deputy manager. They are supported by several additional senior researchers: Associate Professor Maja Arendt, Professor Charlotte Reinhard Bjørnvad, Assistant Professor Roi Mandel Briefer, Associate Professor Janne Winther Christensen, Professor Björn Forkman, Professor Merete Fredholm, Associate Professor Thomas Bøker Lund, Assistant Professor Iben Meyer, and Associate Professor Helle Friis Proschowsky.

Peter Sandøe spends at least 40% of his working time on work related to the centre. Three months a year he is paid based on centre funds and two months a year his salary is based on co-financing (with one month from each of the institutes he is employed at). The other senior researchers will, in agreement with the centre management, be paid to the extent they contribute.

The centre is affiliated with the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at the University of Copenhagen (where Peter, Iben, Björn, Merete, Irena, Roi and Maja are employed) and collaborates with the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen (where Charlotte is employed), the Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen (where Peter and Thomas are employed), and with the Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University (where Janne is employed).

Peter Sandøe has the overall responsibility of the centre; for planning the centre's research in collaboration with the group of senior researchers and for ensuring public dissemination of research activities, e.g. via this webpage and via an annual conference. Should Peter Sandøe not be able to undertake his position as manager anymore, the deputy manager takes over the responsibility for the centre.

Steering group

At least four times a year, the group of senior researchers meets and plans the centre's work. To ensure the relevance of the centre's work in a Danish context, an advisory group has been set up. The group meets with the group of senior researchers once a year and has the opportunity to comment on completed, ongoing and planned research. The members of the advisory groups are:

  • Christine Fossing, Chair of the Companion Animal Group at the Danish Veterinary Association
  • Jens Jokumsen, Head of companion animals, shelters and education at Animal Protection Denmark
  • Maria Gravgaard Laursen, Veterinarian at the Department for Animal Welfare and Veterinary Medicine, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
  • Mette Uldahl, Veterinary consultant at the Danish Equestrian Federation
  • Lise Lotte Christensen, Behaviour Consultant at the Danish Kennel Club
  • Charly Riis, Chair of the Danish Siamese and Orientales Ring Club

Scientific Advisory Board

To strengthen the academic quality and international collaboration, a Scientific Advisory Board is set up. The Scientific Advisory Board consists of the following people:

  • James Serpell, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 
  • Susan Hazel, Senior Lecturer at the School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide
  • Dan O'Neill, Senior Lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London
  • Uta König von Borstel, Professor at the Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen



















Centre for Companion Animal Welfare has received funding to cover the costs of establishment and operation from: 

Skibsreder Per Henriksen, R. og Hustrus Fond.

Centre name: Centre for Companion Animal Welfare

Start: Januar 1, 2020 


Peter Sandøe


+45 35 33 30 59

Irena Czycholl 


+45 35 32 96 77

Involved researchers


Name Title Phone E-mail
Björn Forkman Professor +4535333581 E-mail
Cecilie Ravn Skovlund Postdoc +4520270506 E-mail
Charlotte Reinhard Bjørnvad Professor +4535332864 E-mail
Iben Meyer Assistant Professor +4523983879 E-mail
Irena Czycholl Associate Professor +4535329677 E-mail
Maja Louise Arendt Associate Professor +4535336130 E-mail
Merete Fredholm Professor +4535333074 E-mail
Peter Sandøe Head of Section +4535333059 E-mail
Roi Mandel Briefer Assistant Professor   E-mail
Søren Saxmose Nielsen Professor +4535333096 E-mail
Thomas Bøker Lund Associate Professor +4535336861 E-mail


Name Title Telephone E-mail
Janne Winther Christensen Associate Professor +45 87158075 E-mail
Svenja Springer Post.doc +43 1 25077-2687 E-mail