Dog licences and ownership

Owning a dog

Owning a dog is a big commitment. If you own a dog, the dog is your responsibility. You must have a dog licence and get your dog microchipped. There are also additional responsibilities 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. This means that:

  • You should make sure your dog is not a nuisance to others
  • You must follow the rules about where dogs are welcome
  • You should keep your dog on a lead in public places

You are responsible for any injury or damage your dog causes to people or livestock.

From, 1 October 2024, there will be new rules for people who own, breed, sell and import XL Bully dogs. Read more on this in Restricted breeds of dog in Ireland.

Before you get a dog

Before getting a dog, you should consider if a dog is right for you and your home. You should ask yourself these questions:

  • Does everyone in the house agree to getting a dog?
  • Can I afford to feed and care for a dog?
  • Will I have time to feed, care for and exercise my dog each day?
  • What type of dog should I get, for example, which breed would best to suit my lifestyle and home?
  • Who will look after my dog when I’m away from home?
  • Will my landlord let me have a dog

It can be expensive owning and caring for a dog. You need to pay for things like:

  • The dog
  • Dog food
  • Bedding, collars and accessories
  • A dog licence
  • Microchipping
  • Veterinary care
  • Vaccinations
  • Neutering
  • Grooming
  • Dog training
  • Boarding fees

Where to get a dog

If you have decided that you want to get a dog, you should source it responsibly.

You should consider adopting a dog from a local authority dog shelter or an animal welfare charity.

You can also contact a vet to get advice on where to get one.

You should research different breeders, if you are going to buy a dog from a dog breeder. Reputable breeders, may have a waiting list. The Irish Kennel Club has information about how to find a reputable breeder when buying a puppy.

You can also buy a dog from a Dog Breeding Establishment (DBE). have a list of registered DBEs (pdf), or you can check your local authority’s website. A registered DBE will have a registration certificate on display in the premise.

You should never agree to collect a dog without seeing the dog in its home environment first. A reputable breeder should also be able to show you the dog’s mother. The ISPCA has useful information about what to do when buying a puppy.

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
  • 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 online at A general dog licence application must be sent to your local authority.

Licences are not needed for:

  • Guide dogs for blind people
  • Dogs that are being held by a local authority
  • Dogs that are with 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 for each dog. It can be scanned to find out who owns the dog. Microchips can be scanned by the vets, animal rescue organisations and the animal welfare unit in a 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 old.

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

Does my dog have to wear a collar?

A dog must always wear a collar or a harness. It must have the name and address of the owner on it. If your dog doesn’t have this identification, a dog warden can give you can an on-the-spot fine. If you don’t pay this fine within the specified time-frame, you can be prosecuted by the local authority.

What powers does a dog warden have?

Dog wardens can:

  • 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 to seize and detain a dog, apart from your home

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 provide this, they can issue an on-the-spot fine.

Nuisance barking, dog fouling and 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 (docx), which is available from your local authority or the District Court.

Find out more about noise complaints about noisy dogs on our page ‘Noise pollution and noise complaints’.

You can find information and dog training about how to stop your dog barking from the Dogs Trust and the DSCPA.

Dog fouling

If your dog poos in a public place, you, or the person in charge of the dog, must remove the poo and dispose of it in a proper and clean way. Otherwise, it is an offence.

If your dog poos in a public place and you don’t pick it up, you can get a €150 on-the-spot fine.

Stray and lost dogs

Stray dogs are dogs that are in a public place and are not with their owner or a responsible person who is looking after them.

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 in the local shelter or dog pound. 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 you no longer want, you should contact the ISPCA. They may be able to find it a new home. Dog charities or pounds may also accept unwanted dogs, although you may be charged for this. 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.

However, from 1 October 2024, a ban on XL Bully dogs will begin. Read more on this below.

If you have certain types or breeds of dog, there are additional rules you must follow. This applies 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 2 metres)
  • 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
  • Dublin Harbour Police
  • State Airport Police
  • Rescue teams in rescue operations

The rules on muzzling do not apply to guide dogs for the blind.

Upcoming ban on XL Bully dogs

On 12 July 2024, the government announced an upcoming ban on XL Bully dogs. This means from:

  • 1 October 2024, it will be illegal to import, breed, rehome or resell an XL Bully dog
  • 1 February 2025, it will be illegal to own an XL Bully unless you have a Certificate of Exemption

The regulations for this ban are being developed. If you are a dog owner with questions about the incoming regulations you can contact

How do I get a Certificate of Exemption?

To get a Certificate of Exemption, your dog must be:

  • Licenced
  • Microchipped
  • Neutered

You will be able to apply for a certificate between 1 October 2024 and 1 February 2025.

What happens if I break the rules?

If you don’t follow the rules of the ban, you could be:

  • Fined up to €2,500
  • Imprisoned for up to 3 months
  • Both fined and imprisoned

If you don’t have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog by 1 February 2025, your dog can be seized and put down.

Rules if you own a greyhound

Greyhounds are not a restricted breed. However, there are specific rules you must follow if you are out with your greyhound in a public place. You must:

  • Always have your greyhound on a leash
  • Never walk more than 4 greyhounds at a time

These rules apply to greyhounds, whippets as well as strains or cross-breeds of these breeds.

Dog control penalties and fines

Local authorities can introduce bye-laws with new rules about dog control in their area.

If you are given an on-the-spot fine, this is given immediately without a court process. You have a limited amount of time to pay the fine. If you do not pay the fine in time, 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 prosecuted in 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 about 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. This is 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 with 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 with 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 of 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.

Where can I report animal cruelty?

If you suspect animal cruelty, you should report it to the:

  • Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA)
    • By email:
    • By phone: 0818 515515 (in emergencies)
    • On the ISPCA website

  • Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA)
    • By email:
    • By phone: 01 4994700
    • On the DSPCA website

You can also ring your local Garda station in emergencies.

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

Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Mount Venus Road,
D16 F9C4

Tel: 01 499 4700

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

Page edited: 16 July 2024