Ireland is ‘puppy farm capital’ of Europe

‘Industrial-scale dog-breeding’ is damaging Ireland’s reputation, says Clare Daly TD

Dachshund pups  at an illegal puppy farm in North Tipperary which was raided  by the ISPCA and gardaí. Photograph: Fergal Shanahan

Dachshund pups at an illegal puppy farm in North Tipperary which was raided by the ISPCA and gardaí. Photograph: Fergal Shanahan


Ireland’s image as the “puppy farm” capital of Europe is damaging the State’s reputation, the Minister with responsibility for a review of dog breeding guidelines has conceded.

Minister of State Damian English said the review of the guidelines on licensing, monitoring and inspection of dog-breeding establishments had finished.

The report would be on his desk next month and he said he would not delay in taking action.

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly said Ireland had been identified as Europe’s puppy farm capital, but added that they were not farms but “industrial-scale dog-breeding establishments”.

Ms Daly said Ireland’s reputation had already been damaged because of the export of greyhounds to China. “We are developing a disreputable international name and we need to correct that urgently.”

Mr English agreed. “It does not get media coverage often but it is certainly an important area and it is damaging our reputation.”


The Minister added: “Given other issues in recent years it probably did not get the priority it needed.” He stressed, “I am committing to it now,” and said he had been inspired by the efforts of Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan in the area. “Given that the review is finished, there is no reason to delay acting in this area.”

Ms Daly, who raised the issue in a parliamentary question, said there was little enforcement of existing regulations, with 73 registered puppy farms in Ireland and at least 30,000 dogs being produced every year.

That was 410 dogs per farm, while the comparative figures for the UK was 78 per farm.

“Many illegal farms exist too. Welfare organisations have said that some farms have more than 500 breeding dogs,” she said, adding that the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals believed establishments should have 10 dogs or fewer.

Portable kennels

Ms Daly stressed the need for the inclusion of regulation on portable kennels, third-party sales, adequate licence fees, the black market and illegal selling of pups and the need to ban the sale of animals under eight weeks of age.

Increasing concerns about the industry were highlighted by a BBC documentary in August last year which exposed the lack of enforcement of regulation on puppy farms.

Mr English said there was often confusion about which Government department was in control. Several departments were represented on the working group but the Department of Housing was leading the review.

He acknowledged that having a public consultation delayed the process but “the public need to be aware of these matters and they need to be part of the conversation”.

Mr English said: “I always read submissions and I try to ensure we take them all on board inasmuch as we possibly can.”

The review was prepared with the County and City Management Association Dogs Working Group.