The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and Breed Specific Legislation within the UK

Hey, fellow pet lovers!

In today’s post, I am going to talk about something that frustrates me so much and this is Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) within the UK. I have gone through the current legislation and want to make sure everyone is aware of this horrible Act that is in place!

Let’s jump straight in and learn all about The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA) and Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) within the UK.


So let’s get started, I gathered most of my information from the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA) and the UK government site where the legislation is outlined in the section Controlling your dog in Public.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) was introduced as part of The Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) on the 12th of August 1991.

Within this legislation, it is against the law in the UK to own certain types of dogs and these types are:

  • Japanese Tosa.

  • Pitbull Terrier.

  • Dogo Argentino.

  • Fila Brasileiro.

These four breeds of dogs are banned within the UK and you can not:

  • Own a banned dog.

  • Breed or sell banned dogs.

  • Abandon a banned dog.

  • Or give away a banned dog.

What really gets me with this bit of legislation is the fact that your dog doesn’t have to be a banned breed to fall into the BSL act. Whether your pet is a banned type does not depend on its overall genetics rather how it looks, which is absurd!

So if your dog has similar characteristics and a similar appearance to a Pit Bull or any of the other banned breeds but it is not, then it can still be seized under this awful act.

There are many innocent dogs who are seized under this act that wouldn’t hurt another sole but this doesn’t seem to matter when BSL is concerned.

There are many heartbreaking stories out there where you hear of innocent pets that have been seized under this terrible act when they have not committed a single act of violence in their lifetime.

One of these innocent souls was Fudge an adorable five-month-old puppy, the owner got Fudge when he was just six weeks old and she was not aware of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) during the time she had her innocent bundle of joy.

When Fudge was just five months old the police knocked on his owners’ door and stated that her neighbour had called and informed them that Fudge resembled a Pit Bull type. The owner, unknowingly, signed a disclaimer which meant Fudge could be put to sleep and this was the horrific outcome.

How on earth could someone do this to a small innocent puppy that hadn’t even had the chance to live?

If they thought this puppy was or could become a dangerous dog, then why didn’t they put measures in place so it got the behavioural training required to ensure no aggressive or undesirable traits formed, as this puppy could have and should have been saved!

Unfortunately, Fudge is not a minority and there are so many more innocent dogs out there that are being killed because of the way they look.

To learn more about Fudge and other real-life stories head over to:

Not all dogs that are seized are euthanized, some are lucky enough to be seen as exempt and are given a Contingent Destruction Order, which means that if the owner does not comply with the conditions that have been outlined then the dog will be destroyed.

So if your dog is considered a dangerous dog but has been exempt and is not considered a danger to the public it can be put on the Index of Exempt dogs (IED). The owner will be given a Certificate of Exemption and this is valid for the lifespan of the pet.

This means the owner is allowed to keep their pet as long as they do not break any of the outlined conditions, which are:

  • The dog must be neutered.

  • The dog must be microchipped.

  • When in public the dog must be kept on a lead and muzzle at all times.

  • Lastly, the dog must be kept in a secure place so it cannot escape.

As an owner of a pet that has been classed as a dangerous dog type but has been exempt and placed on the IED, there are conditions you must follow, which are:

  • Take out third-party insurance against your dog injuring other people.

  • Be over the age of 16 and ensure your dog is never walked by anyone younger.

  • Show your Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or dog warden, either at the time or within five days of being asked.

  • Lastly, let IED know if you change address or if your dog dies.

These are what owners must do when their pet has been classed as a dangerous dog but is not considered a danger to the public and has been placed on the Index of exempt dogs (IED). I am so happy there is some hope for people who have their dog seized and that there is a possibility their innocent pet can come home.

However, when they are aware that the dog is not a danger to the public and has not exhibited any aggressive signs then why does this dog have to be put under so many strict rules?

I feel bad complaining about this as the other option is to euthanize the pet but it is still difficult to think that a dog that is harmless is still looked upon as a danger due to its similarities and prejudices towards a breed.

By having to ensure that a pet needs to wear a muzzle and a lead at all times you are in a sense creating a problem due to lack of normal socialization and still saying this dog is dangerous even though it has been proven otherwise.

What is truly shocking is when Breed Specific Legislation was first introduced under the Dangerous Dogs Act  1991 (DDA) there was no hope for your pet if it was classed as a banned type. This was due to the fact that there was no Index of Exempt dogs, which meant your pet was euthanized once it was considered a dangerous dog.

There is a fee when applying to have your dog placed on the Index of Exempt dogs (IED) and currently, it says the fee is £94.

Here is a link to the Dangerous Dogs Exemption Schemes (England and Wales) Order 2015


How does the court decide whether a dog is a danger to public safety?

Once a dog has been seized under the BSL act the court will assess two things and these are:

  • The temperament of the dog and it’s past behaviour.

  • Whether the owner of the dog is a fit and proper person to be in charge of the dog.

These assessments will take place once the dog has been seized and a Dog Legislation Officer (DLO) will be in charge of assessing the dog and will take its measurements and assess its overall characteristics.

Here is a link to a PDF which is a guidance for enforcers:

When a dog has been seized it is taken to police kennels until they can be assessed. This is very stressful for pets as they have been taken away from their owners and are in unfamiliar surroundings.

They can be kept in police kennels for a very long time and owners are unable to see or even know their pets’ whereabouts. This is a living nightmare and I cannot even imagine the heartache and sleepless nights that would follow.

There are stories of it taking six months to longer than a year for a court proceeding to take place and during this time you are completely separated from your pet.


When can a police officer seize your dog?

black and white private property signage
Photo by Travis Saylor on Pexels.com

Depending on where you are a police officer cannot just come up to you and seize your pet. If you are on private property or your own home/garden that you own, then they will need to obtain a warrant to come and take your dog away.

However, if you are in a public place and a police officer or dog warden suspects that your pet may be a banned type then they can seize your dog there and then and do not require a warrant.

The definition in the UK of a public place is:

 “Public place includes any highway and any other premises or place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise ”.

This definition has been taken from:

(Legislation.gov.uk. (1972). Criminal Justice Act 1972. [online] Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/71/section/33 [Accessed 12 May 2018].)


Lawyers who can help if your dog has been seized

close up court courthouse hammer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are various lawyers who are able to help you if your dog has been seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991/Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).

Here are two lawyers who specialize in Dog Law if the unimaginable happens:

  • Cooper & Co. Solicitors

Cooper & Co Solicitors are Specialists in Dog Law and can help with a range of incidents including your dog being seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA).

They are happy to provide free preliminary telephone advice if your dog has been seized Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (whether it’s due to Breed Specific Legislation or if it’s accused of being dangerously out of control).

Their number is: 01304 755 557

Email:  info@doglaw.co.uk 

Next is:

  • Wheldon Law.

Wheldon Law is another specialist in Dog law and they can also help anyone who has had their dog seized due to the BSL Act.

Their number is: 01442 242999

Email: enquiry@wheldonlaw.co.uk


Up until writing this blog post, I knew very little about the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA) and Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and I hope in the near future I won’t need to know anything about it because it is a thing of the past!

Imagine someone being able to just come and take a loved one away because someone thinks they look dangerous, this is pretty much what is happening with this unjust act.

I am aware that there needs to be some legislation in place to ensure public safety and responsible ownership of our pets but at the moment it seems like there are very few sensible laws in place.

Breed Specific Legislation is not a way to protect the public and is causing so much unnecessary pain for both our companion animals and their family’s.

Courts, police officers and people who are scared of certain breeds because of the shit storm the media puts out there need to wake up and realise one thing.

Any dog can bite!!  

By banning certain types or being prejudice towards specific breeds we are doing it all wrong!

Every situation is different and needs to be considered depending on the circumstances not the measurements, appearance or characteristics of an innocent dog. It’s not their fault and clearly, we are not doing the right thing because if we were so many innocent family pets would still be here today, like little Fudge.

I could go on all day about how this is such a ridiculous act and how much hurt it is bringing into the world. I hope that people who think otherwise take the time to imagine if it was their pet who was taken away not because of its wrongdoing, rather it’s appearance.

We need to ensure that pet owners are as responsible as they can be, that people are able to train their dogs correctly and also that people get the correct dog for them. We as pet owners are responsible for their well-being and overall safety at all times and by having these acts in our country it goes against our aim of keeping our pets safe.

So let’s not let a single dog down and come together to end Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) once and for all.

The RSPCA have made a petition with the hopes of getting the UK government to look into the effectiveness of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and to look at other options to ensure public safety and dog welfare.

Follow the link below and head over to their website to sign the petition and help make a change.


Thanks for reading this post and I hope you all found it informative, please share so people all around the world can learn about The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (DDA), Breed Specific Legislation and help towards creating a BSL free future.

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