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Prohibited Dogs

Possession of a prohibited breed of dog (Section 1 & Section 4B Dangerous Dogs Act 1991)


Under Section 1 Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 it is an offence to be in possession of any of the following types of dog unless they have been registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs and the conditions of exemption are complied with:

Pit bull terrier
Dogo Argentino
Japanese tosa
Fila Braziliero

If the court decides your dog is a pit bull type then they must either make a destruction order or, if they are satisfied that you are a suitable owner and that your dog doesn’t pose a risk to the public, they can make a contingent destruction order which allows your dog to come home subject to stringent conditions including neutering, micro-chipping, tattooing with a unique number provided by Defra, third party insurance for life and registration on the Index of Exempted Dogs. Thereafter he must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public, can only be walked by someone over the age of 16 years and your home and garden must be secure to prevent escape. Failure to comply with these conditions could lead to your dog being seized and you being prosecuted.

If you are no longer able to look after your dog or if the court do not consider you a suitable person to own a dog of that type it may be possible to appoint a person to be the registered keeper for your dog however, the law on keepership has recently changed making it much more difficult to do this.

Not only is it unlawful to own an unregistered prohibited type of dog it is also unlawful to sell one, give one away, abandon it or allow it to stray. It is also unlawful to breed, or breed from, a prohibited dog or to advertise one for sale. All offences under s1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 can only be dealt with in the magistrates’ court and carry a maximum sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment. The court can also disqualify a person from keeping dogs.

Section 4B Dangerous Dogs Act 1991


Section 4B of the Dangerous Dogs Act is the civil equivalent of s1 of the Act and allows the police to apply to the magistrates’ court for a destruction order, or a contingent destruction order, without the owner being prosecuted. The advantage of this section is that the owner avoids a criminal record. In some areas this section is only used when the owner accepts that his dog is a pit bull type and where the police are satisfied that the owner is responsible and the dog friendly but, in other areas, most cases go to court under this section which can be a problem to owners as legal aid is not available and expert evidence can be expensive. We are in regular contact with a number of charitable/not for profit organisations who may be able to assist with funding your case if legal aid is not available.

Case study - Ella

Ella caused quite a serious injury to a young child but no-one saw what happened. By adducing expert evidence the court were persuaded that the injury had been caused accidentally and not as the result of a deliberate dog attack. Ella is now subject to conditions that she is kept on a lead and muzzle whenever she is in a public place.

Case study - Pepita

Pepita was alleged to have been involved with 4 other dogs in a fatal attack on an elderly woman. By calling evidence from an expert animal behaviourist and a forensic odontologist we were able to convince the court that Pepita had not been involved in the attack.

Case study - Vali

Vali was accused of injuring a woman by biting her in the face. Vali’s owner admitted that he had jumped up at the woman trying to get to her dog which was in her arms but maintained that the injury had been caused by the woman’s own dog and not Vali. The court accepted that Vali had not caused the injury.