Dog licences and ownership


If you own a dog, you must have a dog licence and get your dog microchipped. See below for more information. You can also check below if you have a restricted breed of dog.

Your dog must be under your control, or the control of another responsible person if it is outside your home or premises. You are liable for any injury or damage your dog causes to people or livestock.

Dog ownership and the law

Local authorities are responsible for the control of dogs under the Control of Dogs Act 1986. They can appoint dog wardens, provide dog shelters, seize dogs, impose on-the-spot fines and take court proceedings against dog owners.

You can be banned from keeping a dog if you have been convicted of cruelty to a dog under the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1965.

Dog licences and dog control

Do I have to get a licence for my dog?

If your dog is over 4 months old you must have a dog licence. Puppies under 4 months who are still with their mothers don't need a licence, but once they leave their mothers they must have a licence.

There are 3 types of dog licence:

  1. An individual dog licence, which costs €20 and is valid for 1 dog for 1 year
  2. A 'lifetime of dog' licence, which costs €140 and is valid for your dog’s lifetime
  3. A general dog licence, which costs €400 and is valid for 1 year. This covers multiple dogs at one location

You can apply for an individual or lifetime dog licence at your local post office or A general dog licence application must be sent to your local authority.

Licences are not needed for:

  • Guide dogs for blind people
  • Dogs in the possession of a local authority
  • Dogs in the possession of the ISPCA or Gardaí
  • Any dog imported into the State for less than 30 days

Do I have to get my dog microchipped?

A microchip is a tiny electronic device injected by a vet under the skin of the dog. The microchip is coded with a unique number the dog. It can be scanned at the vet, animal rescue organisation or the animal welfare unit at your local authority. Read more about microchips for dogs.

You must get your dog microchipped by a vet and registered under your name on an authorised database before they are 12 weeks old. This also applies if a dog leaves the property where they were born before they are 12 weeks.

Getting your dog microchipped costs approximately 25 euro, some organisations will do this for free or at a lower price such as the DSPCA mobile vet clinic.

Does my dog have to wear a collar?

A dog must always wear a collar. A collar must have the name and the address of the owner. If your dog doesn’t have this identification, a dog warden can give you can an on-the-spot fine (See ‘Penalties’ below). If you don’t pay this fine within the specified period, you can be prosecuted by the local authority.

What powers does a dog warden have?

Dog wardens have the power to:

  • Request the name and address of anyone suspected of an offence under the Control of Dogs Act
  • Seize and detain any dog
  • Enter any premises (except your home) to seize and detain a dog

You can be arrested by a Garda if you:

  • Obstruct a dog warden in the course of their work.
  • Refuse to give your name and address to a dog warden.
  • Give a false name and address to a dog warden.

A dog warden can ask you for evidence of your dog licence and if you can’t do this, they can issue an on-the-spot fine (see ‘Penalties’ below).

Barking, fouling or stray dogs

My neighbour's dog won't stop barking. What can I do?

If your neighbour’s dog won’t stop barking you should talk to your neighbour first.  If you can't resolve the issue with them, you can make a complaint to the District Court and look for a hearing. When you get a court date, you must notify the dog owner using a court form, which is available from your local authority or District Court.

You can find advice on how to stop your dog barking and low cost training from the Dogs Trust and DSCPA.

Dog fouling

It is an offence to let a dog under your control foul a public place. If it does happen, you, or the person in charge of the dog, must remove the faeces and dispose of them in a proper and clean way.

If your dog fouls in a public place and you don’t pick up the faeces, you can get a €150 on-the-spot fine. Read more about fines below.

Stray and lost dogs

Stray dogs are dogs that are in a public place and are not accompanied by the owner or a responsible person. Dogs that are not under proper control are also considered stray dogs. You can get an on-the-spot fine if your dog is not under proper control. Stray dogs can be seized by the dog warden or Gardaí and brought to a dog pound. These dogs may be put down or re-homed if their owners do not claim them within 5 days.

If your dog is lost, has strayed or is missing, you should contact your local dog warden to check if your dog is there. Before you collect it, you may have to pay a re-claim fee and produce a current dog licence.

If you have found a lost dog you can report it to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) who will be able to help.

Unwanted dogs

If you have a dog that is no longer wanted, please contact the ISPCA. Dog charities or pounds may also accept unwanted dogs, although you may be charged. Local authorities can accept unwanted dogs and put them down if they cannot be rehomed or transferred to an animal welfare group.

Restricted breeds of dog in Ireland

No breed of dog is currently banned in Ireland. But if you have certain types or breeds of dog there are additional rules you must follow. This applied to the following types of dog, as well as strains or cross-breeds of these breeds:

  • American pit bull terrier
  • English bull terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • Bull mastiff
  • Dobermann pinscher
  • German shepherd (Alsatian)
  • Rhodesian ridgeback
  • Rottweiler
  • Japanese akita
  • Japanese tosa
  • Bandog

In Ireland restricted dogs (or strains and crosses of them) must be:

  • Kept on a short strong lead (under 2m)
  • With someone over the age of 16, who is able to control them
  • Muzzled when in a public place
  • Wearing a collar with the name and address of their owner, at all times

The rules on muzzling and leashing do not apply to dogs used by the Gardaí, the Dublin Harbour Police, State Airport Police and rescue teams in rescue operations. The rules on muzzling do not apply to guide dogs for the blind.

Dog control penalties and fines

Local authorities can introduce bye-laws about dog control.

If you are given an on-the-spot fine, this is given immediately without a court process. You will have to pay the fine to pay before a certain number of days or a future date. If you do not pay the fine, you may be prosecuted in court.

Dog control penalties
Offence Fines since 1 Dec 2023 If you don't pay the fine
No dog licence On-the-spot fine: €150 paid to your local authority You can be prosecuted in the District Court with a maximum fine of €2,500 or 3 months' imprisonment (or both)
No identification on dog On-the-spot fine: €200 paid to your local authority You can be prosecutedin the District Court with a maximum fine of €2,500 or 3 months' imprisonment (or both)
Stray dog On-the-spot fine: €150 paid to your local authority The pound will hold a dog for at least 5 days. Dogs not re-claimed from the dog pound within 5 days may be put down, rehomed or transferred to an animal welfare group.
Dog not kept under control On-the-spot fine of €300 paid to your local authority You can be prosecuted in the District Court with a maximum fine of €2,500 or 3 months' imprisonment (or both)
Breach of bye-laws (setting out times when dog may be unleashed in public) Fines up to €2,500 on conviction. N/A
Dog fouling public place Owners or dog handlers who do not dispose of dog faeces in a responsible way may receive an on-the-spot fine of €150. You can be prosecuted in the District Court with a maximum fine of €4,000, and €600 per day for continuing offences on summary conviction.

Rules on selling dogs in Ireland

There are rules about the sale and supply of pets, including dogs.

If you sell or supply 5 or more pets in a calendar year you must:

  • Register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
  • Keep records about pet animals for sale or supply
  • Include certain information if you are advertising an animal for sale. For example, if you are advertising a dog for sale, you must include its microchip number
  • Not sell or supply pets under a certain age (8 weeks for dogs)

If you are advertising a dog for sale, the advertisement must have the dog’s microchip code.

These rules are set out in the Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Regulations) 2019.

There is a Code of Practice (pdf) for people who sell and supply pet animals.

Guard dogs

A guard dog used at a non-residential business premises must be accompanied by a handler or secured so that it cannot roam freely around the premises or escape. A notice must be displayed at the entrance, informing the public that a guard dog is on the premises.

The guard dog must wear a collar displaying the name and address of its owner. It must also carry an electronic implant containing a permanent identification mark provided by the ISPCA. This implant must be inserted by or under the direct supervision of a veterinary surgeon authorised by the ISPCA. The dog owner is responsible for the cost involved in inserting the implant.

Kennels where more than 5 guard dogs aged over 4 months are kept must register with the local authority. There are specific rules about keeping guard dogs.

More information and contacts

Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

National Animal Centre
Derryglogher Lodge
Co. Longford

Tel: +353 (0)43 332 5035
Fax: +353 (0)43 332 5024

The Department of Rural and Community Development publishes statistics on dog control.

Page edited: 1 December 2023