Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has warned against any moves to cut numbers in the force to less than 13,000.
As of last week, there were 13,472 serving members in the force, with around 1,000 having stood down over the past year.
Under the terms of EU/ IMF bailout, the Government had charged Mr Callinan with cutting the payroll to 13,000 by the start of next year. That deadline will not now be met.
Mr Callinan insisted the force was so far managing to provide the same service as before, but cautioned against attempts to further stretch its resources.
"I wouldn't like to see levels drop very much below the 13,000 mark the government has asked us to achieve," he said.
There are currently around 1,200 members in the force, aged between 50 years and 60, who are currently eligible for retirement, but it was unlikely most of them would leave in the near future, Mr Callinan told an Oireachtas committee on justice.
The police chief said he would like to see an overturn on the recruitment embargo as it was already putting a strain on numbers.
A two-year timeframe between taking on a new recruit and having them ready for duty has raised concerns that on-the-street policing would be significantly less than actual levels if and when the recruitment freeze is lifted.