Dangerous dogs law
We promote responsible dog ownership, alongside the police, the RSPCA, the Dogs Trust and other organisations.
It's against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control:
- in a public place
- on private property
The law applies to all breeds of dog.
Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:
- injures someone
- makes someone worried that it might injure them.
A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if:
- it injures someone's animal
- the owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal.
A farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it's worrying their livestock.
In the UK, it's against the law to own certain types of dog. These are the:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Braziliero.
It's also against the law to:
- sell a banned dog
- abandon a banned dog
- give away a banned dog
- breed from a banned dog
Whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name. For example, if your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type.
Changes to dangerous dogs law
The amended Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect in England and Wales on 13 May 2014. This law applies to all dog owners no matter what size or breed.
Whilst owners need to be fully aware of all the changes, the biggest difference from now on is the Act also covers incidents on private property in addition to public spaces. This includes your own house and both front and back gardens. In addition, it will now be an offence for your dog to attack an assistance dog (Guide Dog, Hearing Dog etc.)
Section 3 of the Act applies to every single dog owner in England and Wales. Under this section, it is a criminal offence for the person in charge of the dog to allow it to be 'dangerously out of control' in a public place. A dog doesn't have to bite to be deemed dangerous in the eyes of the law.
You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) if your dog is dangerously out of control. You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.
If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to 5 years or fined (or both). If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with 'malicious wounding'.
If you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine (or both).
If you allow your dog to injure a guide dog you can be sent to prison for up to 3 years or fined (or both).
How to report a dangerous dog
- If you encounter a dog you believe to be dangerous and it is an emergency call 999 immediately.
- If it is not an emergency or you'd like more information about dangerous dogs, call the police non-emergency number, 101.
- If you believe you own one of the banned types of dog or know of the whereabouts of one of these types of dogs, please contact us or the police status dog unit on 020 8247 5462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.