The UK and the Republic of Ireland have different tattoo systems; the sections below explain both. The quick way of working out which (probably) applies to your dog is which ears are tattooed; if the dog is tattooed in both ears he/she was registered in the Republic of Ireland, if there is a tattoo in the right ear only registration was in the UK. We say "probably" for a number of reasons; there are dogs that have both UK and Irish tattoos, sometimes tattoos are altered to change or hide a dogs identity, and none of the databases with the information are 100% complete.
The tattoos identify the dog and also potentially identify the owner and trainer. When dogs are dumped or killed, in order to conceal the identity of the dog, greyhounds have sometimes been mutilated to make the tattoos unreadable; methods include (but are not limited to) cutting off the ears, burning with cigarettes, etc. and acid.
Reading your dogs tattoos
You should be careful when reading your dogs tattoos, particularly if the dog is fairly new to you. When a dog's tattoos are read for identification while being traded within the industry they are sometimes handled less than gently. This can make dogs sensitive about having their ears touched or turned inside out, and when you are trying to build a bond with your dog the last thing you want is to remind it of less happy days.
Sometimes the tattoos can be difficult to read; a torch shone from the other side of the ear can increase the contrast.
UK dogs are marked in the right ear with 3 letters and (usually) a number. The first letter gives an idea of the year of whelp and the number indicates the size of the litter.
The letters C, F, G, O, and W are not used in UK tattoos (the same is true for in Irish tattoos), neither is the number 5. For litters of five to eight pups the numbers 6 – 9 are used, and if the litter is over eight pups a letter is used instead, e.g. A = 9, B = 10, D = 11, etc.
DRB 3 – whelped 2001/2002, litter of three
YKS A – whelped 2014/2015, litter of nine
|First Letter||Year of Whelp|
|A, B, D||2017|
|J, K, L||2004|
|H, I, J||2003|
|D, E, H||2002|
|A, B, D||2001|
You can get a copy of the 5 generation pedigree certificate for UK registered dogs from the Greyhound Stud Book. Send the ear marks, colour and sex of your dog, together with the application fee (£5 at the time of writing) to:
Irish dogs are marked in both ears: the right ear (always given first) has two letters, the first of which indicates the year of whelp, the second is the tattooing steward's identifier; the left ear has three letters.
As with UK tattoos, the letters C, F, G, O, and W are not used are not used; neither are numbers.
in Right Ear
|Year of Whelp|
You can get a copy of the 5 generation pedigree certificate for Irish registered dogs from the Irish Stud Book. Send the ear marks, colour and sex of your dog, together with the application fee (€12 at the time of writing) to: