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.
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 isn’t acting dangerously
- there hasn’t been a complaint
The police may need permission from a court to do this.
If your dog is in:
- a public place, the police don’t 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:
- 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 can’t be forced to. If you do, your dog could be destroyed without you even going to court.
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 can’t prove it (or you plead guilty), you’ll be convicted of a crime.
The maximum penalty for having a banned dog against the law is a £5,000 fine or 6 months in prison (or both). Your dog will also be destroyed.
Index of Exempted Dogs (IED)
If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, it may put it on the IED and let you keep it.
You’ll be given a Certificate of Exemption. This is valid for the life of the dog.
Your dog must be:
- kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
- kept in a secure place so it can’t 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 IED know if you change address, or your dog dies