New Study: Ireland’s Dog Regulations Do More Harm than Good

Back in 1998, in what lawmakers believed was a reasonable way to reduce dog bites, Control of Dogs Regulations went into effect in Ireland. This breed-specific legislation (BSL) places restrictions on the ownership of 10 breeds or breed mixes of dogs, including pit bulls, Japanese Akitas, German shepherds, Doberman pinschers and Rhodesian ridgebacks.

Dogs of these breeds must be licensed, accompanied by someone 16 or older, walked on short leashes and muzzled in public places.

However, as is usually the case wherever BSL has been enforced, Control of Dogs Regulations have done little to increase public safety, according to a new study. In fact, as is also often the case, the regulations have done more harm than good.

The study, published July 21 in the Irish Veterinary Journal, looked into whether there were any differences in dog bite characteristics among legislated and non-legislated dog breeds. It found no significant difference as far as the type of bites inflicted or the medical care required to treat the bites. Nor were there significant differences in the bite victims’ ages, bite location, relationship with the dog, the dog’s history of aggression and whether the dog received professional training.

What’s really important is that the study also found that non-legislated breeds were much more likely than legislated ones to bite with their owner present on their property or on business premises. And these bites were less likely to be reported to authorities than those by legislated breeds – which only perpetuates the misconception that certain dog breeds are inherently dangerous.

“The increased stereotype of risk to one group of breeds, and the lack of perceived risk associated with other breeds appear to be two sides to the same counterproductive coin, and neither identify a potentially dangerous dog,” said the study’s co-author, Dr. Paraic S. O’Suilleabhain, from the School of Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

So not only are Ireland’s Control of Dogs Regulations unfair and ineffective, but they seem to be doing more harm than good. Since their dogs are not perceived as being “dangerous,” the owners of non-legislated breeds may mistakenly believe their dogs won’t bite people, which, as the study shows, has not been the case.

Based on their findings, co-authors O’Suilleabhain and dog behavior expert Nanci Creedon concluded that there is no apparent basis that justifies the targeting of specific dog breeds as being more dangerous than others.

“This gives weight to calls to re-assess the use of breed-specific legislation,” Creedon said. Instead of BSL, she suggested that more effective measures, such as educating people about preventing dog bites and fair assessment of individual dogs, be put in place.

Last year, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) released a report pointing out what it called the “ineffectiveness, flaws and negative impact” of the Dangerous Dogs Act in the U.K. In the United States, where BSL is enacted in cities like Denver, it is opposed by most animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, American Veterinary Medical Association and ASPCA.


The results of this study show it’s time for Ireland to repeal its unfair Control of Dogs Regulations and instead use more effective measures for preventing dog bites. Please sign and share this petition urging the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to remove these regulations.

Photo credit: YamaBSM


Marie W
Marie W11 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania P
Melania Pabout a year ago

There is no such thing as bad pets; only bad, cruel, stupid, and ignorant owners. Petition signed and shared

Margie F
Margie FOURIEabout a year ago

No dangerous dogs, only bad owners.

Mark D
Mark Donnerabout a year ago

There should be legislation introduced to ban politicians. There's a few good ones, but the vast majority of politicians will attack the public.

Jetana A
Jetana Aabout a year ago

Petition signed.

Georgina M
Georgina Elizab Mabout a year ago

There are no DANGEROUS Breeds of dogs.....only VERY; VERY; VERY BAD DOG OWNERS.I am so tired of reading and seeing dogs being the Bad factor when it is owners that are mostly to blame.So Please it is our responsibility and ours alone how our dogs behave........p.s.what about SMALL dogs????????

rita uljee
rita uljeeabout a year ago

do so agree with Terry S, people need to behave and teach dogs and treat them nicely.

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa Yapaabout a year ago

Thank you

Leanne K
Leanne Kabout a year ago

Its a kneeherk reaction which is quick to implement and damn difficult to get rid of.

cristiano torchio
cristiano torchioabout a year ago

what about people inducing dog to be aggressive. A dog is not aggressive if not teached to or bad treated