The Law and Dangerous Dogs

The Law and Dangerous Dogs

Any dog is dangerously out of control if:
• it hurts a person, or
• it behaves in a way that makes
a person worried that it might
injure them.
The law applies everywhere the general
public goes and anywhere your
dog goes where it is not supposed allowed.
The maximum penalty for allowing a
dog you own or are in charge of to be
dangerously out of control is two years’
imprisonment, or a fine, or both.
In addition, if your dog is dangerously out
of control in its own home or garden then
the police or anyone else that is worried
about the dog being a risk could also seek a
control order.
If your dog injures another person’s
animal, or an owner of an animal
reasonably believes that they could be
injured if they intervened to protect their
animal from your dog, then an offence may
be committed.
If you do not keep your dog under control,
your dog could be destroyed and you could
be banned from keeping any further dog.
Or you might be ordered to keep your
dog muzzled when taking it for a walk.
If you use your dog to injure someone then
you may be charged with malicious
wounding. The maximum penalty for this is
five years’ imprisonment.

Whether your dog is a banned type depends
on what your dog actually looks like, rather
than the breed or name by which it is called
(whether a crossbreed or not).
The law refers to four kinds of dog which
are banned:
• Pit Bull Terrier
• Japanese Tosa
• Dogo Argentino
• Fila Braziliero
While it is the characteristics of a dog which
are most important in judging whether it is
banned, such dogs may be called by a
number of names.
Pit Bull type dogs can be called:
• American Staffordshire Terriers
(Am Staffs)
• Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier (ISBT)
• Irish Blue or Red Nose
Also, some kinds of American Bulldogs have
been found to be Pit Bulls.
Descriptions of the banned types are on the
Defra website. The address is at the bottom
of this factsheet.
If your dog fits one of the descriptions, it
may be treated as a banned type no matter
what type or breed its parents were.
You may not own, breed from, sell,
give away or abandon any banned dog.
The police may confiscate your dog if they think
it is a banned type.
The maximum penalty for possessing a
banned dog is a fine of £5,000, or six
months’ imprisonment, or both.
Some of these dogs can be exempted from
the ban, but only where a court gives
permission for this. For more information
about this exemption, please visit the
Defra website.

The police
Should be contacted concerning
dangerous or banned dogs
• The local authority
Where a dog is being a nuisance
or appears to be a stray
For more information about the
laws on dangerous dogs, go to
or contact Defra on 08459 33 55 77
or by e-mail:

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *