Dangerous dogs

Worried your child has a dangerous dog?

Every owner has a legal responsibility to control their dog properly. And according to the law, a dog is out of control if it injures a person, or behaves in a way that makes someone worried or scared that it might injure them. So if your child's dog is biting, snapping, snarling, or charging at people there could be a problem.

Hopefully your child's dog won't be one of the four types that are banned in the UK under section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. If it is you must report it to the police:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero

Is the owner responsible?

Yes - and if your child is under the age of 16, it is your responsibility, not theirs. Every dog owner, by law, must look after their dog properly, and that includes controlling it in public. No matter how large or small the dog, it can still hurt people.

Is it a ‘status dog’?

You might have heard this term in the newspapers or on TV. What it means is anyone who uses a dog to threaten or deliberately injure someone. It could lead to a penalty of up to five years in prison so it's really important that whoever in your family who owns the dog knows this otherwise they might get themselves into a lot of trouble.

Do they have a dog but are not taking care of it?

All dog owners have a responsibility to look after their dog and treat it with care and respect. If your child isn't looking after his or her dog properly you need to take responsibility. Talk to them about why they're not looking after their dog. Maybe they need more help from you.

In extreme cases you may need to think about re-homing your dog, but this decision should not be taken lightly. You might first think about talking to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999

If things have become really bad, and you cannot keep your child's dog under control, it's becoming aggressive towards people, or worse it's actually attacked someone, it's important that you report it:

  • Contact your local police station or Safer Neighbourhoods Team - if it's an emergency and someone is in immediate danger call 999.
  • If you feel unable to talk to the police, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (they won't ask your name and will not trace your call)
  • Or for more information visit the ‘Reporting crime’ section on the Metropolitan Police website or the ‘How to contact us’ page on this site.

If it's reported will the dog be put down?

Not necessarily. The first thing that might happen is that the dog will be taken away by the police and held. It may then take careful research by experts to check if it's one of the four banned breeds. A decision will be made by the courts about each case. If the courts find that the dog isn't a banned breed or dangerously out of control, whoever it is who owns the dog may well get extra help to take care of it.

Getting more help

For more information about dangerous and illegal dogs visit our 'Get the facts' or 'More help and advice' pages.