Dangerous dogs

In this section you can find out more about dangerous dogs.


The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, as amended in 1997, makes it illegal to own any ‘Specially Controlled Dogs’ without specific exemption from a court. However, the four types identified by the Act - the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero – are not recognised as breeds in the UK and there is no description of them in the Act. This makes identification difficult.

The BVA believes that the manner in which a dog behaves is partly a result of its inherited characteristics, but more importantly the rearing and training provided by the owner.

The BVA has therefore long been opposed in principle to any proposal or legislation that singles out particular breeds of dogs rather than targeting individual aggressive dogs. The problems caused by dangerous dogs will never be solved until dog owners appreciate that they are responsible for the actions of their animals. This is known as the ‘deed not breed’ principle.

What the BVA has done

  • Welcomed the most recent Government proposals to introduce compulsory microchipping and to extend the offence of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control to private property. However, we stressed that more efforts need to made to educate the public about responsible ownership and to adopt a truly preventative approach. See:
  • BVA-BSAVA joint submission to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Inquiry into Dog Control and Welfare. BVA and BSAVA will also be submitting oral evidence to the Committee in October.
  • BVA-BSAVA-SPVS joint response to the Consultation on Tackling Irresponsible Dog Ownership in England.
  • Formed a joint lobbying group of 19 leading animal welfare and veterinary organisations, trade unions, and enforcement bodies in November 2011. The group issued a joint briefing paper ‘Finding solutions to irresponsible dog ownership’ to government and parliamentarians calling on them to urgently review failed dog control legislation. The group also set up an e-petition.
  • Responded with BSAVA to the Government's 2010 Consultation on Dangerous Dogs covering England and Wales. Read the joint response.
  • Lobbied MSPs, along with the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group, to support an amendment to the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Bill which removed the reference to a dog's "size and power" when considering whether or not it is out of control. The amendment was successful and the new Act represented a step forward in dangerous dogs legislation, giving primary importance to the principle of 'deed not breed'.
  • Issued a policy statement supporting the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe's position on the problems of breed specific legislation.

The BVA supports

More information

Other current issues concerning companion animals