Any dog has the potential to be dangerous, especially around very small children, and dogs should always be supervised.
However, there are four types of dog which are prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991 as amended in 1997).
They are Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero type dogs. The Act deliberately uses the word ‘type’ as the law does not only apply to ‘pure’ breeds. Types are defined by the physical and behavioural characteristics of the prohibited dog.
If you have one of the banned breeds it may still be possible for you to keep the dog subject to certain restrictions. We have experts, Dog Licensing Officers (DLOs), who can assess and identify prohibited dogs. If you're not sure whether your dog is one of the listed types, contact us for assistance.
While it is an offence to own a dangerous dog, if the dog attacks someone the offence becomes much more serious and carries far greater penalties.
All dogs should be in the charge of people capable of handling them. For large, powerful dogs, whether or not they are listed as dangerous, this should always be an adult. It is illegal to allow any dog to be out of control in a public place. We put the safety of the public first, and have the right to seize any dog that we believe is a threat to the owner, their family or anyone else.
All organised dog fighting is both cruel and illegal. If you suspect that dog fighting is taking place, contact either the police or an animal welfare organisation such as the RSPCA.
Since May 2014 the law has been extended to make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in all places, including inside the dog owner’s home – protecting people such as postal workers, health professionals and children.
It is also now a specific offence to allow your dog to attack an assistance dog.
Owners of dogs who attack can expect:
• up to 14 years imprisonment if a person dies as a result of a dog attack;
• five years imprisonment if a person is injured by a dog attack;
• three years imprisonment if an assistance dog is either killed or injured.
If you see a dog out of control, whether or not it is one of the dangerous dog types, dial 999. For advice on whether your dog is one of the listed breeds, or to report a suspicious dog belonging to someone else, call us on 101 or ring Crimestoppers to make the report anonymously. Stray dogs should be reported to your local dog warden service.