Livestock and Dogs

Under the Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 (Opens in a new window or downloads a file), a farmer, in some cases has the right to shoot a dog if it is worrying their livestock.  Livestock worrying does not necessarily mean a dog has attacked a livestock animal. A dog which gives chase to livestock can cause extreme stress to the animals and sheep which are chased by dogs may miscarry their unborn lambs resulting in further stress to the sheep and losses for the farmer.

It is an offence for a dog to worry livestock on agricultural land under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).  Sheep dogs, police dogs, guide dogs, working gun dogs are exempted.  Worrying’ is where a dog is:

  • Attacking livestock,
  • Chasing livestock in such a way that it could reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering or, in the case of females, abortion
  • Being at large (i.e. not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

The keeper of a dog also has civil liability for any damage caused to livestock by it under the  Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)