The law relating to the keeping of guard dogs

What law applies to the keeping of guard dogs?

The law relating to the keeping of guard dogs is contained in the Guard Dogs Act 1975.

What is classed as being a guard dog?

A guard dog is defined under the Guard Dogs Act 1975 as being “a dog who is being used to protect premises; or property kept on the premises; or a person guarding the premises or such property”.

What does the Guard Dogs Act 1975 say?

Control of guard dogs

The Guard Dogs Act 1975 prohibits a person from using or permitting the use of a guard dog at any premises unless there is a person capable of controlling the dog (“the handler”) present on the premises and the dog is under the control of the handler at all times except where it is secured so that it is not at liberty to go freely about the premises.

The Act requires the handler of a guard dog to keep the dog under his control at all times while it is being used as a guard dog except where another handler has control over the dog or while the dog us secured so that it is not at liberty to go freely about the premises.

The Act prohibits a person from using or permitting the use of a guard dog at any premises unless a notice containing a warning that a guard dog is present is clearly exhibited at each entrance to the premises.

Where a person contravenes any of these requirements they commit a criminal offence which is punishable by way of a fine.

What premises are covered by the Act?

The Act covers buildings as well as land including parts of buildings, other than dwelling houses.

The Act does not apply to agricultural land and land within the curtilage of a dwelling house.

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For more information on:

  • Restriction of keeping guard dogs without a licence
  • What is the meaning of “guard dog kennels”?
  • The licensing of guard dog kennels
  • How is an application made?
  • Refusal of an application
  • Conditions of a licence
  • How long does a licence last?
  • Cancellation of licences by the Court