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Banned Dog Types | Breed Specific Legislation | RSPCA – RSPCA

Breed Specific Legislation was introduced in 1991 as part of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. It restricts the ownership of certain types of dogs deemed to be dangerous to people.
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Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) bans the ownership of four different types of dogs including some traditionally bred for fighting:
There’s no robust research to demonstrate that dogs bred for fighting are naturally aggressive towards people or that they are unique in the way they can bite.
Dogs suspected of being a banned type are typically seized by the police who unfortunately have no choice but to implement the law.
These dogs will be held in kennels away from their owner, whilst being assessed to determine if they’re a banned type. They’ll be examined by an expert using a set of standards which are mainly based on appearance; genetics or parentage aren’t taken into consideration. Applying the law means that many dogs are unnecessarily subjected to stressful processes. Many dogs find these processes very difficult to cope with and can result in undesirable changes in health and behaviour.
Banned types who are owned can be lawfully kept and exempt from euthanasia if they don’t pose any risk to public safety and the owner is considered fit and proper. However, conditions must be met for the rest of the dog’s life which can negatively impact its welfare. For example, being muzzled and on-lead whenever in public.
Sadly, not all dogs get to return home to their owners.
The following information does not apply to the XL Bully. We are currently in a transition period which intends to help owners adapt to the new law. Owners of XL Bullies have until the end of January 2024 to apply for a certificate of exemption. As of the 1st of February 2024, it will be illegal to own an XL Bully without one.
There’s no robust research to demonstrate that these breeds or types are any more aggressive than other dogs.
Aggressive behaviour can be influenced by factors such as how they’re bred, reared and experiences throughout their life. Breed isn’t a good way to predict risk of aggression.
Despite the prohibition of certain types of dogs, in the past 20 years (1999 to 2019), bites have increased by 154% from 3454-8775.
Despite the legislation, dog bites in the UK continue to increase. BSL not only fails to protect public safety but has also resulted in the suffering and loss of hundreds of dogs. They’re labelled ‘dangerous’ simply because of how they look.
Between 1989 and 2017, 48 people died in dog-related incidents. Of the 62 dogs involved, 53 were dog breeds not on the prohibited list.
What we think the right approach is and how other countries have tackled BSL.
We believe that a three-pronged approach is needed to better protect public safety:
Ways to effectively protect public safety have been explored in other countries and it’s clear that much of the focus is on encouraging responsible dog ownership and education.
BSL has been reviewed in many countries worldwide and the trend is to repeal this type of legislation. This has been achieved in the Netherlands, Italy and Lower Saxony, Germany as well as many US administrations.
While the law exists, we want to see new measures to improve the welfare of affected dogs. This includes: speeding up the review of cases allowing the rehoming of prohibited types of dog by rescues improving the welfare of seized dogs through the application of our guide on this issue.
Find out more about our proposed solutions and recommendations in our detailed report: Breed Specific Legislation: A dog’s dinner.
Exempt dogs are forced to live a very restricted life despite no danger to the public.
In 1997, the law was amended to allow exemptions from euthanasia for any dog that had been identified as type.
The courts are now permitted to allow for the exemption of such a dog which has been identified as type, if, in their opinion, they don’t pose a danger to public safety and are kept by a fit and proper person.
This is done through the use of a Contingent Destruction Order which sets out the following conditions. The dog must be:
This means that despite a court ruling that the dog is no threat to public safety, its freedom is only conditional. A dog under exemption may not be put to sleep, but it will have to live by strict rules as if it were a dangerous dog, despite being proven not to be.
There are also very severe restrictions on changing keepership. This is only possible if the current owner dies or is seriously ill which means that many owners are faced with euthanasing their pet if their circumstances change e.g. they have to spend a period of time away for work.
We want to see Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act repealed and policy changed. Email your MP to get the law reversed and policy changed. Change the lives for thousands of dogs.
© RSPCA 2024. All rights reserved. The RSPCA helps animals in England and Wales. Registered charity no.219099.


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