Dangerous dogs

Are you worried you may own a dangerous or illegal dog?

Every owner has a legal responsibility to control their dog properly. And by 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 dog is biting, snapping, snarling, or charging at people there could be a problem.

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

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

Is the owner responsible?

Yes. 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. But if you are under 16 responsibility lies with your parent or guardian.

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 deliberately injure or threaten someone. It could lead to a penalty of up to five years in prison so it's really important you understand how much trouble you could get into if you are using your dog in this way.

Do you 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. And that includes you and your family. If you don't think you can cope looking after your dog, you need to do something about it.

In extreme cases you may need to think about re-homing your dog, but this decision should not be taken lightly. Talk to you parents or other family member first. You might also consider contacting the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

If things have got really bad, you cannot keep your dog under control, it's becoming aggressive towards people, or worse it's actually attacked someone, it's important that you or someone in your family reports 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)
  • For more information visit the ‘How to contact us’ page.

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

Not necessarily, but it might take careful research by experts to check if it's one of the four banned breed types. 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, you may even 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.