But despite that, there are a few breeds which you are currently not allowed to own in the UK.
If you are thinking of getting yourself a pooch, then make sure you are not buying one that could get you in trouble.
Here’s what you need to know:
Which dog breeds are banned in the UK?
The Dangerous Dog Act 1991 bans the owning, breeding or selling of a number of type of dogs.
It was introduced following a number of attacks in 1991.
The following four breeds were banned:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
Pit Bull Terrier and Japanese Tosa breeds are explicitly mentioned in the act, while the Secretary of State added the latter two in 1991.
Whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name.
If your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type.
Is it just illegal to own a banned dog?
It’s also against the law to:
- sell a banned dog
- abandon a banned dog
- give away a banned dog
- breed from a banned dog
What happens if you have a banned dog?
If you have a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if:
it is not acting dangerously
there has not been a complaint
The police may need permission from a court to do this.
However if your dog is in:
- a public place, the police do not need a warrant
- a private place, the police must get a warrant
- a private place and the police have a warrant for something else (like a drugs search), they can seize your dog
A police or council dog expert will judge what type of dog you have and whether it is (or could be) a danger to the public. Your dog will then either be:
- kept in kennels while the police (or council) apply to a court
You’re not allowed to visit your dog while you wait for the court decision.
Is there any circumstance where you can keep a banned dog?
If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, it may put it on the IED and let you keep it.
You’ll be given a Certificate of Exemption. This is valid for the life of the dog.
Your dog must be:
- kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
- kept in a secure place so it cannot escape
As the owner, you must:
- take out insurance against your dog injuring other people
- be aged over 16
- show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days
- let the IED know if you change address, or your dog dies