Controlling your dog in public

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Banned dogs

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 Brasileiro

XL Bully dogs are banned in England and Wales.

It’s 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.

If you have a banned dog

If you have a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if:

  • it is not acting dangerously
  • there has not been a complaint

The police may need permission from a court to do this.

If your dog is in:

  • a public place, the police do not need a warrant
  • a private place, the police must get a warrant
  • a private place and the police have a warrant for something else (like a drugs search), they can seize your dog

A police or council dog expert will judge what type of dog you have and whether it is (or could be) a danger to the public. Your dog will then either be:

  • released
  • kept in kennels while the police (or council) apply to a court

You’re not allowed to visit your dog while you wait for the court decision.

You can give up ownership of your dog but you cannot be forced to. If you do, your dog could be destroyed without you even going to court.

If you have a valid Certificate of Exemption for your dog and it’s not been acting dangerously, you may be able to keep it.

You cannot apply for a Certificate of Exemption. You’ll only have one if a court gave you one or you applied for one in the past.

XL Bully dogs in England and Wales

You cannot own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless your dog has a valid Certificate of Exemption.

Check what to do if you own an XL Bully dog.

Going to court

It’s your responsibility to prove your dog is not a banned type.

If you prove this, the court will order the dog to be returned to you. If you cannot prove it (or you plead guilty), you’ll be convicted of a crime.

You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) for having a banned dog against the law. Your dog will also be destroyed.

If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, the court may put your dog on the Index of Exempt dogs and let you keep it.

You’ll be given a Certificate of Exemption. 

If you have a Certificate of Exemption for your banned dog

A Certificate of Exemption lets you keep a banned dog as long as it does not behave dangerously, and you follow certain rules. It is valid for the life of the dog.

Your dogs must be:

  • neutered
  • fitted with a microchip
  • kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
  • kept in a secure place so it cannot escape

As the owner, you must:

  • take out insurance against your dog injuring other people
  • be aged over 16
  • show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days
  • let the Index of Exempt Dogs know if you change address, or your dog dies

You can report a dog that’s out of control.

Index of Exempted Dogs
Telephone: 020 8026 4296
Find out about call charges

Dogs Index
PO Box 68250