Legal requirements

As a responsible dog owner, it is recommended that you are familiar with the Control of Dogs Act, 1986, and the Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act, 1992. Under these acts, you are liable for injury or damage caused by your dog to people or livestock and you can be disqualified from keeping a dog if you have been convicted of cruelty to a dog under the Protection of Animals Acts, 1911 and 1965.

The Need for a Licence

It is an offence to keep a dog unless you have a licence. Annual licences for individual dogs are issued by the post office, but you can obtain a general licence for multiple dogs from your local authority. You can also now get a ‘lifetime of dog’ licence issued by your local authority. Puppies under four months don’t need a licence unless they are taken away from their mother.

Your dog must be accompanied by a responsible person and under effective control at all times, preferably on a lead in public places. Many local authorities have introduced by-laws that indicate areas where dogs are prohibited or must be kept on a leash. Be sure to check these regulations with your local authority. Your dog must also wear a collar and identification bearing the name and address of the owner at all times.

On the Spot Fines

Dog wardens have the authority to issue on-the-spot fines for anyone found in breach of these regulations. They can request the name and address of a person suspected of an offence and have the power to seize and detain any dog. If you obstruct a dog warden in the course of his or her work, you can be arrested.

Under Section 22 of the Litter Pollution Act, 1997, it is an offence to allow a dog under your control to foul a public place. You or the person responsible for the dog must remove any dog faeces and dispose of them in a suitable, sanitary manner.

Excessive dog barking that causes a nuisance is also an offence under Noise Regulations. The District Court can make an order requiring the reduction of excessive barking, limiting the number of dogs that can be kept on a premises or directing that a dog be delivered to a dog warden as an unwanted dog.

Unwanted dogs should be brought to the dog pound. Your local authority has the power to accept unwanted dogs and destroy or dispose of them if they are not rehomed.

Specific Breeds

Additional rules apply to specific breeds, and strains or cross-breeds of these. If you own a Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, English bull terrier, Bullmastiff, Dobermann pinscher, German shepherd (Alsatian), Rhodesian ridgeback, Rottweiler, Japanese akita, Japanese tosa or Bandog (or strains or crosses of them), you must keep this dog on a short, strong lead controlled by a capable person over 16 years of age. You must also keep the dog muzzled in a public place.