Responsible Breeding Guide

Ensuring that breeders of dogs operate responsibly and humanely is a key part of the Irish Kennel Club’s work.

Breeding is not as simple and lucrative as people would think. It requires a great amount of skill, dedication and knowledge. Despite the high price tag on a well-bred, healthy puppy, breeders make very little money from the sale of a litter. It should therefore not be undertaken lightly and without prior consultation and advice from your breeder or breed club.

All breeders who wish to have their pups registered with the Irish Kennel Club must agree to our code of ethics, which mandates strict standards among Irish breeders.

Sustainable Pregnancies

Excessive breeding is damaging for the health of mothers. For this reason, any bitch used for breeding must be over one year of age and below eight years of age. Bitches can whelp no more than four litters in her lifetime. If a breeder wants to exceed these conditions, for any reason, he or she must first seek and obtain permission to do so from the Irish Kennel Club.


Like all animals, pups and parents should be kept humanely, with warm shelter and adequate space in which to exercise. Housing and play areas should be kept clean and free of potential hazards, while appropriate food should also be provided regularly.


Breeders should only sell dogs to owners that are aware of their responsibilities and obligations. They should also hand over all documentation relevant to a pup’s parentage, registration and health background.