A Guide to Banned Dog Types in the UK


Practical advice on what to do if you think you may own a banned dog, possible fines and prison sentences for offenders, and information on applying for an exemption for a banned dog.

Mon 06 Mar 2017

By Judy

A Guide to Banned Dog Types in the UK

Practical advice on what to do if you think you may own a banned dog, possible fines and prison sentences for offenders, and information on applying for an exemption for a banned dog.

Which dogs are illegal to own in the UK?

There are currently 4 types of dog that are illegal to own in UK. They are:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro or Brazilian Mastiff

As well as being illegal to own these 4 dog types, the law also makes it illegal to:

  • Abandon the dog
  • Give the dog away
  • Breed from the dog
  • Sell the dog

How can you tell if your dog is a banned dog type?

Dogs are judged on their looks, physical profile and characteristics against the banned type. It may well be that you describe your dog by a different name, nickname or breed. The simple fact is, if your dog looks like, and matches a banned type, it will be classed as a banned dog.

What will happen to me and my dog if I’m caught owning a banned dog?

The police or dog warden have the power to take your dog away from you and place it in kennels.

The police may need to apply to the court for a warrant to take your dog from a private place, such as your home, unless they have a warrant for another purpose i.e. a drugs search or other suspected crime. This warrant, although unrelated to your dog, would still give the authorities power to take your dog. No warrant is required if your dog is in a public place, and suspected to be a banned dog.

Your dog will be seized even if it has never caused any problems, bitten anyone or acted in a dangerous way. It doesn’t matter if there have been no complaints from the public about your dog, the police or dog warden still have the power to confiscate it.

What happens after my dog has been seized?

Your dog will be examined by an expert from the police or council. If your dog is found not to be a banned type, your pet will be returned to you. If your dog is thought to be a banned type or dangerous to the public, the police will make an application to the court. You will need to await the decision of the court, and be unable to visit your dog during that period.

You can offer to give up ownership of your suspected banned dog, but this is not a legal requirement. If you do, your dog could be destroyed before the case even reaches court, and a verdict on the dog type.is established.

It is your responsibility as an owner, to prove your dog is not a banned breed type.

Going to court and the outcome of the verdict

Guilty

  • If you are found guilty of owning an illegal dog type you could face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or 6 months in prison.
  • You will receive a criminal record.
  • Your dog will be destroyed.

Not guilty

  • If your dog is found not be a banned type, or you can prove it, you will be found not guilty, and no crime will have been committed.
  • Your dog will be returned to you.

I own an illegal dog type. Is there anything I can do to keep my dog, who has never caused problems?

Yes. If you own a prohibited dog, and the court believes it presents no danger to the public, you may be able to keep your dog. You will be given a Certificate of Exemption for your banned dog and be placed on the Index of Exempted Dogs. You must adhere to the rules to that are required at all times.

You must ensure your dog is:

  • Neutered
  • Microchipped
  • Kept on a lead at all times in public
  • Muzzled at all times in public
  • Insured for injury against other people by your dog (3rd party liability insurance)
  • You will be required to show your dog’s Certificate of Exemption if asked for by the police or local council dog warden at any time, or within a 5 day period
  • You must inform the IED immediately if you change your address, and also inform the database company holding your pet’s microchipping details.

Images of the banned dog types in the UK

 pit bull terrier banned dog
1. Pit Bull Terrier

 dog argentino banned dog in uk
2. Dogo Argentino

fila brasileiro banned dog 
3. Fila Brasileiro or Brazilian Mastiff

japanese tosa banned dog in uk 
4. Japanese Tosa