Dog Owners' Responsibilities

Key Responsibilities of every DOG OWNER:

  • All dog owners must keep their dogs under effectual control in public places - this generally means keeping your dog on a lead when in a public place.
  • All dog owners must have a licence for each dog in their possession or a general dog licence to cover all dogs in their possession - you can purchase a dog licence from the Post Office or from your local authority.
  • All dog owners must ensure that every dog under their control shall at all times wear a collar bearing the name and address of the owner and that the name and address are legible
  • All dog owners owning purebred or crossbred dogs belonging to certain breeds e.g Rottweilers, Bull Terriers etc,  must ensure that these dogs are securely muzzled and on a strong leash not more than 2 metres in length when in a public place.  See the full list of breeds below.
  • All dog owners must collect and properly dispose of faeces deposited by their dog in a public place.

Why are there laws for dogs?

There are no laws for dogs, there are laws for DOG OWNERS. This is because dogs, particularly large dogs, represent a potential danger to pedestrians, motorists and livestock if they are not kept under control at all times. Dogs that are not kept under proper control may also cause nuisance and annoyance by damaging neighbours' property, defaecating on neighbours' property, or by excessive barking.
All dog owners have a responsibility to ensure that their dog is properly cared for and that they are not a nuisance or a danger to their neighbours or other members of the public.

What does effectual control of your dog mean?

This means that you have complete control over your dog's movements. In general, this can only be guaranteed by keeping your dog on a lead.  If your dog is a Rottweiler or a Rottweiler crossbreed, or a purebred or crossbred dog belonging to one of the breeds listed below, effectual control means that the lead must be a strong lead no more than 2 metres in length and that your dog is also securely muzzled.

Why do I need a dog licence?

A dog licence is evidence of your legal entitlement to keep a dog.  The funds raised from dog licences go towards providing a dog warden service for the collection of stray and unwanted dogs and the investigation of dog related complaints, and a dog pound for the housing and care of stray and unwanted dogs in each local authority area in the country.

How do I purchase/renew a dog license?

The current charge for a dog licence is €20 if you purchase it annually or €140 if you buy a lifetime dog licence.  Annual and Lifetime Licences can be bought at any Post Office or can be bought online by clicking on the link below.
General Dog Licences for multiple dogs are issued by Local Authorities.  Please contact the Veterinary Department, Floor 2, Co. Hall, Cork if you wish to purchase one. Telephone: 021 4285405.

To purchase or renew a Dog Licence with Cork County Council please click on the link below.

Visit Licences to purchase or renew your licence.

My dog is microchipped, why does my dog need a collar and tag with my name and address on it?

Microchips may only be read by a person with a microchip scanner.  The scanner will only detect the microchip number.  That number must then be sent to a microchip database keeper, who will hopefully have your correct contact details and will notify these details to the person who scanned the dog.  If your dog strays but has your name and address (or telephone number) on or attached to its collar, the person who finds it will know immediately who your dog belongs to and can return it directly to you.

Why should I clean up after my dog?

Dog faeces is foul-smelling, unsightly and is a potential source of serious disease, particularly for children.  Dog faeces is a particular nuisance on footpaths, in parks, playgrounds and in school playing areas where it is likely to be stepped on by pedestrians, or rolled on by cyclists or wheelchair users, or handled by small children playing in the area.  You are required by law to collect any faeces that your dog deposits in a public place and dispose of it in a sanitary manner.  Many local authorities now provide bags and bins specifically for dog faeces in parks and playing areas.

What are the listed breeds?

These are a list of breeds of dogs that are considered to be potentially more dangerous to people than other breeds of dog.  It is not that these dogs are more likely to attack or bite a person than any other breed, but that if they do, the damage that they can inflict is much more serious.
 All dog owners owning purebred or crossbred dogs belonging to the breeds listed below, or a dog commonly referred to as a Bandog, must ensure that these dogs are securely muzzled and on a strong leash not more than 2 metres in length when in a public place:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • English Bull Terrier
  • German Shepherd ( Alsatian)
  • Japanese Akita
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Rottweiler
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier

What should I do if I find a stray dog?

* Any person who finds and takes possession of a stray dog must:
(a) Return the dog to its owner
(b) Deliver the dog to a Dog Warden
(c) Detain the dog and give notice in writing containing a description of the dog, the address where it was found and the address of the place where it is detained to the member in charge at the nearest Garda Station to the place where the dog was found, or to the Dog Warden.

What should I do if my dog goes missing?

You should firstly check with your neighbours to see if they have seen your dog or know where it might be.  If this is unsuccessful, you should contact your local Garda station and your local authority dog warden and your local authority dog pound. If you live near the border of a local authority area, you should also contact the dog wardens and dog pounds in the neighbouring local authority areas. 

Why do dogs attack cattle and sheep?

Dogs will chase any animal that runs away from them. It is a natural instinct. Modern farming methods have resulted in less interaction between humans, dogs and livestock.  Livestock are now more likely to run away from people and dogs because they are strange to them.  A barking dog will frighten livestock and increase the likelihood of them running away.  By chasing livestock, dogs are likely to cause the animals to be injured on barbed wire fencing or to get stuck in drains, or even drowned in rivers. Chasing pregnant animals can cause abortions, stillbirths and other difficulties at birth. Animals that have been chased, particularly where it happens repeatedly, suffer from stress and will not feed or thrive properly. Where a dog corners an animal, it will attack the animal by biting it. This often results in serious injuries and, in the case of sheep, frequently causes the death of the animal.

Why should I neuter my dog?

Where a dog is not intended for breeding, neutering provides benefits not only for the dog itself, but also for society. This is because it stops female dogs having unwanted litters of pups, which their owners may have difficulty finding good homes for, and which may then grow up not being properly cared for, not being kept under control, and posing a risk to the public and livestock.  Neutering helps to control the dog population, resulting in fewer unwanted and fewer abandoned dogs.