The Dangerous Dog legislation has been the cause of much controversy and criticism. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (amended in 1997 and 2014) was introduced due to many high-profile dog attacks on people. In the legislation it lists four banned breeds of dogs, though the law recognise these as ‘types’ rather than specific breed. This means that even if your dog looks like one of the banned breeds, it can get you in some trouble.

Reeds’ Dog Law Solicitors have provided some information regarding banned breeds to help you if you have been accused.

As in all cases related to dog law, obtaining legal advice at an early stage is crucial. This can be the difference of life and death for your beloved dog. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us through our contact page here. Alternatively you can phone 0333 240 7373, or email us at


A dog is for life especially if you end up with a banned breed

Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits the ownership of the following breeds:

  1. Pit Bull Terrier
  2. Japanese Tosa
  3. Dogo Argentina
  4. Fila Braziliero

A Pit Bull Terrier is not recognised as a breed in the UK but they are known as a “type known as a pit bull terrier” and is the most common “type” seized by police.

Owning Banned Breeds and Dangerous Dogs Without Knowing

Many owners who are charged with a prohibited dog offence are unaware that their dog is a pit bull type and have purchased him or her under the pretence that they are a cross breed. They may live happily as part of the family without incident and do not always come to police attention as a result of aggression.

If the police expert determines that your dog is a pit bull type, that means they believe that your dog has a “substantial number of characteristics” which can be attributed to the American Pit Bull Terrier standard. This usually means that they believe they have at least 60% of the same characteristics. It is likely that your dog will be seized and kept in kennels until the case is heard in court.

What should I do if accused of owning a banned dog?

If someone accuses you of owning a banned breed, the burden of proof is on you to prove that the dog is not a banned breed. It can be difficult to determine whether the dog is a type known as a pit bull terrier and there is certainly room for individual interpretation. This can be challenged by other experts. We work closely with dog breed and behavioural experts in these types of cases.

What happens if my dog is ruled a banned type?

If a court determines that your dog is a banned type then you will be responsible for any associated costs which includes kennelling costs. These are calculated at approximately £18 per day. With lengthy delays in both the Magistrates Courts and Crown Courts you may find yourself responsible for kennel fees in their thousands.

The maximum sentence that can be imposed for possession of a prohibited dog is 26 weeks imprisonment. The court will then order that the dog is destroyed unless they are satisfied that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety. If they are satisfied that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety then they will make a contingent destruction order. Conditions that are likely to be imposed as part of any order are that the dog is registered on the index of exempted dogs (IED), micro-chipping, neutering, insuring the dog and conditions to keep the dog under control; such as muzzling and being kept on a lead in a public place.

Our team of Dog Law Solicitors can help with the process of obtaining exempted dog certification.

What should I know about owning banned breeds of dog?

It is important to remember that it is a criminal offence if you buy, sell, exchange, gift, breed from or advertise any of these breeds. So if you become unable to look after a pit bull type dog that is registered to you, because of the law on gifting, selling and advertising, you cannot transfer ownership to someone who is willing to take them on. There is a very narrow provision to allow someone with a pre-existing connection to the dog to become the keeper, this must be more than an occasional visitor and they must also be deemed a “fit and proper” person. If this cannot be satisfied then the court will order destruction of the dog.

Once again, our team of specialist solicitors can help with the transfer of ownership for a banned type dog.


Reeds Solicitors is an award winning and leading top-tier law firm. For legal advice and representation, please contact us through our contact page here. Alternatively you can phone 0333 240 7373, or email us at