Dogs Worrying Livestock


Multiple pieces of legislation apply to dog owners in Northern Ireland. This guide will help you understand your responsibilities, but it is not to be considered legal advice. The information below applies to Northern Ireland only. The rules may be different in the Republic of Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland.

Dog Worrying Livestock

Dogs can cause considerable distress to livestock. Sheep may be killed or seriously injured by an attack or in a panicked attempt to escape. The stress of worrying by dogs can also cause sheep to die or a pregnant ewe to miscarry.

Dogs should be kept under control and on leads when walking on roads or near farm animals. It is a criminal offence to allow a dog on any land containing livestock unless the dog is under control. A dog is considered ‘under control’ if it is on a lead held by someone able to control the dog.

For example, a large/strong dog would not be under control if its lead was held by a person who would be unable to restrain the dog if it strained against the lead.

What can happen if I break the law?

Where a dog causes damage by worrying livestock, the penalty for this offence is a fine of up to £1,000 in addition to paying compensation for any damages caused.


The Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 (as amended)

Animals (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, Section 8

The Countryside Code for Northern Ireland