Dangerous dogs

What is a dangerous dog?

The dangerous dog types are:

  • Pit Bull Terriers 
  • 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).

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:

  • Reports of lost & stolen dogs (lost dogs to be recorded as lost property) 
  • 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 a 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.

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.

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 Lancashire 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 have access to resources that can identify illegal dogs.

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.

How to report a dangerous dog


More information on dangerous and aggressive dogs can be found on the gov.uk (external link) website.


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