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Dangerous dogs

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What type of dogs are illegal to own?

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, it is illegal to own/sell/breed/give away/exchange dogs of the following type:

  • Pit bull terrier (could also be called American Staffordshire Terriers, Am Staffs, Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Irish Blue or Red Nose, and some American Bulldogs)
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero
  • or any other type of dog appearing to have similar characteristics bred for fighting.

If it is alleged that a dog is of a type which is prohibited it is presumed to be the case until the owner proves to the contrary.

The police can seize your dog if they believe it to be a banned type. The maximum penalty for possessing a banned dog is a fine of £5,000, or six months' imprisonment – or both.

Dogs that are 'dangerously out of control'

You could be breaking the law by allowing your dog to be 'dangerously out of control'.

Any dog is 'dangerously out of control' if it injures a person, or if it behaves in a way that makes a person worried that it might injure them.

Please be aware of the following points:

  • the maximum penalty for allowing a dog that you own or are in charge of to be ‘dangerously out of control' is two years' imprisonment or a fine – or both
  • if you do not keep your dog under control, your dog could be destroyed and you could be banned from keeping a 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
  • if your dog is ‘dangerously out of control' in its home or garden, the police or anyone else that is worried about the dog being a risk could seek a control order

What should I do if I suspect my neighbour has an illegal type of dog?

You can contact your local police station or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, and report the information to them. The police will then make any necessary enquiries and take appropriate action .

I am concerned that someone is being cruel to their dog/animal, what can I do?

If you witness cruelty to an animal then contact the RSPCA's 24- hour-a-day cruelty line, on 0300 1234 999.

It is important to have ready the following details: a description of the animal(s) involved, the exact location of the animal(s), the names and addresses of any other witnesses, the registration number of any vehicle involved, and the name and address of the suspect(s) if known.

The police also have powers to deal with cruelty to animals but the RSPCA are the experts in the field and are better equipped to deal with it.

Last updated: Tuesday 10th January 2023 06:38:51 AM
Review date: Wednesday 10th May 2023 06:37:32 AM