The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans the ownership, breeding, sale and exchange, and advertising for sale of the following ‘types’ of fighting dogs:

Pit Bull Terrier

Pit Bull.jpg

Japanese Tosa


Dogo Argentino


Fila Braziliero


These dogs are dangerous because they were originally bred for their ability to fight.

Some common Pit Bull type names are: Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull

Type, American Staffordshire, Irish Staff, Irish Blue Staffordshire.

These dangerous dogs are prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991).

The Act deliberately uses the word ‘type’ as the law does not only apply to ‘pure’ breeds. Types are defined by the physical and behavioural characteristics of the prohibited dog.

Descriptions of the main characteristics of the four prohibited dogs are given by Defra in its leaflet ‘Types of dog prohibited in Great Britain’. An assessment of the physical characteristics of a dog is made by a court on a case-by-case basis. The leaflet also explains exemptions to the Act.

The maximum penalty for illegal possession of a prohibited dog is a fine of £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment.

Do the Dangerous Dogs Act(s) only apply to these types of dangerous dogs?

No, the law also gives protection to the public from any type of dog, which is dangerously out of control in a public place, or in a private place where it has no right to be.

Who has responsibility to respond to a dangerous dog?

If there is a dog of any type that is dangerously out of control in a public place, the Police have the responsibility to respond and take action where appropriate. Complaints regarding dangerous breeds are also the responsibility of the Police. However, the control of stray dogs is the responsibility of the council.

In addition to dangerous dogs, the Police also have the responsibility for:

  • Dogs involved with road traffic accidents
  • Dogs relating to persons being detained
  • Dogs left by the death of their owner
  • Dogs involved with the scene of a crime

What should I do if I'm worried about behavioural problems with my own dog?

If you have concerns regarding the general behaviour or temperament of dog and feel that it may pose a potential threat to the public or other animals, you can report it to the council online and in confidence.

Please give as much detail as possible including any history of incidents involving the dog and the dates and times they happened.

Report a dog online
If a dog is dangerously out of control at the present time and presenting an immediate risk you should report it to the Police at once.

Report online

Telephone Number: 0300 3333000

What should I do if I think I have a dangerous dog?

If an owner has a dog that they believe to be a prohibited type under the Dangerous Dog Act, such as a pit bull, they should contact their local Police who can assess the dog and provide advice.

What should I do if I suspect that a relative, friend, colleague or neighbour owns an illegal dog?

If you suspect that someone owns an illegal dog you should contact West Mercia Constabulary. Alternatively, if you want to remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Crimestoppers is a charity independent to the Police. You won’t be asked your name or personal details.

Who will decide if a dog is illegal?

The Police has access to resources that can identify illegal dogs. West Mercia has 5 Specially trained Dog Legislation Officers (DLOs).What happens to illegal dogs once it has been seized?

The court will decide if the dog is to be destroyed or to put strict restrictions on the owner and place the dog on an exempted list. This list is called the ‘Index of Exempted Dogs’, which is managed by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

What are these strict restrictions?

Any dog on the index list must be neutered, tattooed and micro-chipped. It must be kept on a lead and muzzled when in a public place. The owner must maintain insurance against the dog injuring anybody and the dog cannot be left in possession or control of anybody under the age of 16.

What happens to an owner of a dangerous dog?

If an owner has a banned dog they are breaking the law and liable to prosecution. The court will decide what sentence to impose and whether the dog should be put on the exempted list or destroyed. The maximum penalty for illegal possession of a prohibited dog is a fine of £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment.

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Worcestershire Regulatory Services
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Finepoint Way
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