What Dogs Are Banned in the UK?

What Dogs Are Banned in the UK Header
2 October 2023

What Dogs Are Banned in the UK?

In 1991, the UK Government passed the Dangerous Dog Act, which prohibits people from owning and breeding specific breeds of dogs considered “dangerous”. With another breed potentially joining the list, we’ve decided to take a look at the current list of banned dogs in the UK and what it means for dog owners. 

What Does it Mean if a Dog is Banned?

A dog breed being banned means that it is against the law to: 

  • Own a dog of that breed
  • Sell, abandon, or give away a dog of that breed
  • Breed from a dog of that breed

If any of the above means are met, then the police or local council’s dog warden are within their right to take the dog into their custody, though there are some instances where a warrant may be needed to do so. 

It’s important to note that a banned dog is defined by what the dog looks like and not necessarily the name of the breed. So, if your dog matches a banned breed's characteristics, it may be considered a banned dog. 

What Dog Breeds Are Banned in the UK?

As of September 2023, there are four dog breeds that are banned in the UK, and the Prime Minister has announced that a fifth breed will be joining the list by the end of the year

Currently banned dogs in the UK include:

  • Pit Bull Terriers
  • Japanese Tosas
  • Dogo Argentinos
  • Fila Brasileiros

Many of these dogs were initially bred to be hunting or fighting dogs, and years of improper training and irresponsible dog ownership have led to some of them reacting violently to humans or other dogs, leading to them being labelled “Dangerous Dogs” and subsequently being banned in the UK. 

Can You Keep Banned Dogs in the UK?

If you already own a dog which is considered to be a banned breed, then you may be able to keep them by having them put on the Index of Exempt Dogs. This will require you to prove to the court that your dog is not a danger to the public, regardless of their breed. 

For your dog to be put on the Index of Exempt Dogs, they need to be: 

  • Microchipped
  • Neutered
  • Kept on a lead and muzzled while in public

You’ll also need to take out insurance against your dog injuring other people and provide your dog’s Certificate of Exemption to police or the council dog warden upon request. 

What Happens if You Own a Banned Dog in the UK?

If your dog is suspected of being a banned breed, they may be seized by the police or the local council’s dog warden. After this, the dog is held in kennels, where they’re assessed to determine if they are a banned breed or not. 

This can be an incredibly stressful situation for a dog to be in and may lead to changes in their behaviour should they be allowed to return home. 

If your dog is considered a banned breed and they aren’t granted a Certificate of Exemption, as the owner, you may face an unlimited fine as well as up to six months in prison for owning the banned dog. The dog in question is then euthanised. 

The RSPCA has spoken out about their thoughts regarding the Dangerous Dog Act 1991 and breed-specific legislation, stating that “despite many having the potential to make great family pets”, they have had to put down over 374 dogs since 2016 based on how they look as prohibited breeds cannot be rehomed in the UK. 

As a country that loves dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds, it is devastating to learn of poorly trained dogs attacking people or other dogs. It is also heartbreaking how these attacks can affect dogs that pose no threat to the general public purely based on their breed. 

This is why it’s so important to do your research before getting a dog to ensure you can provide them with the necessary care and training they need to be exemplary pets both in the home and out of it. 

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This post is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with your vet before starting any program or treatment.