Dangerous dogs

Responsible ownership is key to preventing dog bites or strikes. We believe that dog behaviour results primarily from the rearing and training provided by the owner and only in part from inherited characteristics.

In principle, we are opposed 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 - the "deed not breed" principle. 

The following sections include useful information and resources on dangerous dogs:

Our position on dangerous dogs

Previously, BVA issued a policy statement on dangerous dogs supporting the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe's position on the problems of breed specific legislation.

Dangerous dogs legislation

In the UK, it is illegal to own the following types of dog:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero

However, the four types identified by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (amended, 1997 & 2014) are not recognised breeds in the UK and they are not described in the Act. This makes identification difficult.

Associated legislation

Our activity on dangerous dogs

In November 2011 we also formed a joint lobbying group of 19 leading animal welfare and veterinary organisations, trade unions, and enforcement bodies. 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.

Devolved administrations

We successfully lobbied MSPs, 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 subsequent Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act (2010) represented a step forward in dangerous dogs legislation, giving primary importance to the principle of 'deed not breed'.

Further information