DEFRA - KeepingWolfdogs

header

divider

Parts of the 1976 DWA Act were revoked and changes came into effect with the introduction of the new Animal Welfare Act - details of these changes are shown below courtesy of DEFRA.   These changes mean that Saarloos and Czechoslovakian wolfdogs (not being F1 or F2 hybrids) are now accepted as canis familiaris - domestic dogs

divider

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

What is the Dangerous Wild Animals Act?

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act (DWAA) of 1976 was originally introduced as a private members bill in response to public concern about the keeping of dangerous pets, especially big cats.  It aims to ensure that where private individuals keep dangerous wild animals they do so in circumstances which create no risk to the public and, to a lesser extent, safeguard the welfare of the animals.

How does it work?

Licences are required for any animal which appears on a Schedule to the Act. These are issued by the relevant local authority, and will only be granted when the authority is satisfied that it would not be contrary to public interest on the grounds of safety or nuisance; that the applicant is a suitable person; and the animal's accommodation is adequate and secure.
Where the local authority grant a licence it shall impose conditions on the licence covering issues such as:

·  a requirement that the animal be kept only by a person or persons named on the licence;

·  restrictions on the movement of the animal from the premises as specified on the licence; and

·  a requirement that the licence holder has a current insurance policy which ensures both licence holders and others against any liability caused by the animal.

The Act does not apply to any dangerous wild animal kept in a zoo; circus; pet shop; or registered scientific establishment. Zoos are regulated under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (as amended)and scientific establishments are regulated under the Animals (scientific procedures) Act 1986. Pet shops (currently regulated under the Pet Animals Act 1951) and the sale of animals as pets will become regulated under secondary legislation timetabled for 2008 under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (a code of practice is also planned). It is also proposed to produce secondary legislation to regulate wild animals in circuses.

Review of the Act

A review was undertaken on behalf of the Government to examine the effectiveness of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Effectiveness Study of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976). Following a consultation exercise on this report, a panel of experts was set up to advise on the animals that should be subject to control. Their advice, on which species should be removed or added to the Schedule, was taken into account and in June 2004 the Government published a consultation paper on proposals for revisions to the Act. Some of the public consultation responses recommended amendments (both additions and deletions) to the Schedule, but few suggestions were backed up with new evidence in support of them.

Changes to the Schedule had been planned to be taken forward in 2006. However there were other legislative changes planned which also related to the keeping of wild animals, such as the Animal Welfare Bill (now Act) and new proposals under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which addressed welfare and conservation objectives respectively. Taking forward changes to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act's Schedule of species in isolation could have had implications for these other objectives, and so the changes were held back, with the agreement of Ministers, pending the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act (which has now come into force). This was important owing to the need to ensure that no de-listed species was left without any welfare protection.

The revised Schedule

Following the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act, Ministers agreed to the revision of the Schedule by secondary legislation, to limit it to those species which the expert panel thought presented a genuine threat to the public. A full list of species which are now controlled can be found in:

·  Schedule of Species (49 KB)

A copy of the full Order can be found at:http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/uksi_20072465_en.pdf

The main body of the Act

Mindful of the current failings of the Act, there is compelling circumstantial evidence to support claims of levels of non-compliance, we have been developing new options for Ministers which aim to deliver the public safety benefits of the legislation and also look to reduce the level of regulatory burden on local authorities and animal keepers. This involved taking a wider view, looking at the range of other relevant legislation, particularly that relating to public safety, and also taking into account other initiatives such as the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The Department is now undertaking a further public consultation, which can be found at the link below, asking for comments on proposals intended to reform the Act so as to better focus its controls on the primary aim of public safety and to apply the controls more proportionately to the level of risk. Also, we consider it is desirable to introduce more flexibility to the requirement for inspections to allow effort to be better focussed on the level of risk. New guidance for local authorities will also be made available that will help in ensuring more consistent implementation of the legislation. These measures should assist with increasing support and compliance amongst animal keepers and, ultimately, in more effective operation of the Act and protection of the public from the potential threat of escaped dangerous wild animals. These changes would also have the benefit of reducing regulatory burdens both for local authorities and keepers.

·  Link to consultation: http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/wildanimalsact/ 

The closing date for responses is 22 August 2008.

Hybrids of domestic animals and the Dangerous Wild Animals Act

Click here for further information on keeping of hybrids of dangerous wild animals with domestic cats and dogs.

Enquiries

If you have any queries, Dave Wootton of the Department's Wildlife Species Conservation Division on   0117 372 8686         or at:

Defra
Zone 1/10
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6EB

zoos.branch@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Page last modified: 2 June 2008

divider

Hybrids of domestic animals

Bengal cats and the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

The Act regulates the keeping of certain kinds of dangerous animals as pets. Licences are required for any animal which appears on a schedule to the Act.

The 'Bengal cat' is not a true species but rather a hybrid of the domestic cat crossed with the Asian leopard cat, several generations removed from the wild ancestor, and currently kept in their thousands in this country without serious problems arising. It was not specifically named on earlier versions of the Schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act but it technically fell within the catch-all listing of all species of Felidae (i.e. the cat family) except Felis catus, the domestic cat. Its effective inclusion in the list of affected species partly arose as the Schedule pre-dated the breeding of these animals in this country.  Other hybrids of Dangerous Wild Animal cat species with domestic cats also fell within the catch-all listing for Felidae.

Defra has been reviewing the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. In 2004 we published proposals to revise the legislation, including a proposal that the Act's Schedule be amended to make it explicit that Bengal cats do not require licensing. This was on the grounds that they are not considered to be sufficiently dangerous to warrant such regulation. We have refined the proposal slightly for Bengal cats, and similar cat hybrids descended from licensable cat species,  as this required improved drafting to improve the clarity and enforceability of the proposal.

We have sought to clarify the position for domestic cat x wild cat hybrids generally within the revised Schedule (which came into force on 1 October 2007).  Cat hybrids descended exclusively  from excepted species (as shown on the Schedule), cat hybrids having a domestic cat as one parent and a first generation hybrid of a domestic cat and a non-excepted cat as the other parent, and cats which are descended exclusively from such excepted hybrids or from such excepted hybrids and a domestic cat, no longer require a licence.

Local authorities are responsible for licensing and enforcement under the Act. Many exercise their discretion in respect of Bengal cats (for example if the animals are many generations removed from the wild ancestor and are essentially indistinguishable from domestic animals) and regard them as domestic cats and therefore not in requirement of a licence under the Act. The revised Schedule now makes it much clearer as to what exceptions can now be made in respect of such hybrids.

If owners are still in doubt as to whether animals require licensing, then Defra advises them to contact their local authority for advice.

Wolf-dog hybrids and the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

The Act regulates the keeping of certain kinds of dangerous animals, except animals kept in zoos, circuses or pet shops. Under the Act, licences are required for the keeping of any animal which appears in the schedule to the Act.

Wolf-dog hybrids are not a true species but rather a hybrid of the domestic dog crossed with the wolf. Such animals are required to be licensed under the Act.  This is because the Schedule to the Act states that any hybrid of a kind of mammal specified in the Schedule must be licensed; a wolf is a mammal specified in the Schedule as it is included in the listing of all species of Canidae (i.e. the dog family) and does not fall within the specified exemptions to this listing, unlike the Canis familiaris, the domestic dog (but not the Dingo, Canis familiaris dingo), raccoon dogs and foxes. 

In addition, under the Act any animal with at least one parent as such a hybrid requires a licence. However, the second generation following a wolf/domestic dog hybrid does not require a licence if neither of its parents are such a hybrid, as illustrated below.

*Wolf     + Domestic Dog or other non-licencable species    
|      
| _*Wolfdog Hybrid    F1     + non-licencable species or F1 or F2 hybrid  
  |    
  | _*Wolfdog Hybrid   F2      + non-licencable species or F2 hybrid
    |  
| _Wolfdog Hybrid   F3

* Licence required

Therefore, taking the example of Czechoslovakian Wolf Dogs, Sarloos or similar “wolf-dog hybrids”, where an animal is third generation, or further removed from the original wolf content, a licence is not required under the Act.

If owners are in doubt as to whether animals require licensing, then Defra advises them to contact their local authority for advice.

The Department and the RSPCA jointly funded research into the keeping of wolf-dog hybrids and this was published in 2001.

The contractors found that very few wolf-hybrids were kept and that advertisements for wolf-dogs were generally misleading and had been embellished to attract public interest and justify high prices. The report also outlines some physical characteristics to help identify true wolf-dog hybrids, which local authorities may find useful. The full research report is available at The Keeping of Wolf-Hybrids in Great Britain [PDF] (556 KB)

The reference in the study to licences being required for breeds claiming any amount of wolf content, however diluted, should now be viewed in light of the information regarding hybrid generations detailed above.

Dangerous dogs are regulated under their own legislation. Further information on dangerous dogs can be found on the animal welfare pages.

Page last modified: 01 December 2008
Page published: 23 October 2008

http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/protection/dwaa/hybrid.htm

divider

THE DANGEROUS WILD ANIMALS ACT 1976 (MODIFICATION) (NO.2) ORDER 2007

2007 NO.2465

The following is a list of animals for which, when kept privately, a licence is required under the Act.

Scientific name of kind

Common name or names

MAMMALS

Marsupials

Family Dasyuridae:

The species Sarcophilus laniarius.

The Tasmanian devil.

Family Macropodidae:

The species Macropus fuliginosus, Macropus giganteus, Macropus robustus and Macropus rufus.

The western and eastern grey kangaroos, the wallaroo and the red kangaroo.

Primates

Family Cebidae:

All species except those of the genera Aotus, Callicebus and Saimiri.

New-world monkeys (including capuchin, howler, saki, uacari, spider and woolly monkeys).

Night monkeys (also known as owl monkeys), titi monkeys and squirrel monkeys are excepted.

Family Cercopithecidae: All species.

Old-world monkeys (including baboons, the drill, colobus monkeys, the gelada, guenons, langurs, leaf monkeys, macaques, the mandrill, mangabeys, the patas and proboscis monkeys and the talapoin).

Family Hominidae:

All species except those of the genus Homo.

Anthropoid apes; chimpanzees, bonobos, orang-utans and gorillas.

Family Hylobatidae: All species.

Gibbons and Siamangs.

Family Indriidae:

All species of the genera Propithecus and Indri (Avahi laniger is excepted).

Leaping lemurs (including the indri and sifakas). The woolly lemur is excepted.

Family Lemuridae:

All species except those of the genus Hapalemur.

Large lemurs.

Bamboo or gentle lemurs are excepted.

Edentates

Family Dasypodidae:

The species Priodontes maximus.

The giant armadillo.

Family Myrmecophagidae:

The species Myrmecophaga tridactyla.

The giant anteater.

Carnivores

Family Canidae:

All species except those of the genera

Wild dogs, wolves, jackals, the maned wolf, the bush dog and the dhole.

Alopex, Cerdocyon, Dusicyon, Otocyon, Pseudolopex, Urocyon, Vulpes and Nyctereutes.

The species Canis familiaris, other than the subspecies Canis familiaris dingo, is also excepted.

Foxes, raccoon dogs and the domestic dog (but not the dingo) are excepted.

 

Family Felidae:

All except—

 

(a) the species Felis silvestris, Otocolobus manul, Leopardus tigrinus, Oncifelis geoffroyi, Oncifelis guigna, Catopuma badia, Felis margarita, Felis nigripes, Prionailurus rubiginosus and Felis silvestris catus;

 

(b) a hybrid which is descended exclusively from any one or more species within paragraph (a);

 

(c) a hybrid of which—

 

(i) one parent is Felis silvestris catus, and

 

(ii) the other parent is a first generation hybrid of Felis silvestris catus and any cat not within paragraph (a);

 

(d) any cat which is descended exclusively from any one or more hybrids within paragraph (c) (ignoring, for the purpose of determining exclusivity of descent, the parents and remoter ancestors of any hybrid within paragraph (c));

 

(e) any cat which is descended exclusively from Felis silvestris catus and any one or more hybrids within paragraph (c) (ignoring, for the purpose of determining exclusivity of descent, the parents and remoter ancestors of any hybrid within paragraph (c)).

All cats including the bobcat, caracal, cheetah, jaguar, leopard, lion, lynx, ocelot, puma, serval and tiger.

The following are excepted:

(a) the wild cat, the pallas cat, the little spotted cat, the Geoffroy’s cat, the kodkod, the bay cat, the sand cat, the black-footed cat, the rusty-spotted cat and the domestic cat;

(b) a hybrid cat which is descended exclusively from any one or more species within paragraph (a);

(c) a hybrid cat having as one parent a domestic cat and as the other parent a first generation hybrid of a domestic cat and any cat not within paragraph (a);

(d) any cat which is descended exclusively from any one or more hybrids within paragraph (c);

(e) any cat which is descended exclusively from a domestic cat and any one or more hybrids within paragraph (c).

 

Family Hyaenidae:

All except the species Proteles cristatus.

Hyænas. The aardwolf is excepted.

 

Family Mustelidae:

All species of the genera Amblonyx, Arctonyx, Aonyx, Enhydra, Lontra, Melogale, Mydaus, Pteronura and Taxidea.

The genus Lutra except the species Lutra lutra.

The species Eira barbara, Gulo gulo, Martes pennanti and Mellivora capensis.

Badgers (except the Eurasian badger), otters (except the European otter) and the tayra, wolverine, fisher and ratel (otherwise known as the honey badger).

 

Family Ursidae:

All species including the species Ailuropoda melanoleuca and Ailurus fulgens.

All bears including the giant panda and the red panda.

 

Family Viverridae:

All of the genus Civettictis.

The African, large-spotted, Malay and Indian civets and the fossa.

 

All of the genus Viverra.

The species Cryptoprocta ferox.

Pinnipedes

Family Odobenidae: All species.

The walrus.

Family Otariidae: All species.

Eared seals.

Family Phocidae:

All species except Phoca vitulina and Halichoerus grypus.

True or earless seals.

The common seal (or harbour seal) and grey seal are excepted.

Elephants

Family Elephantidae: All species.

Elephants.

Aardvark

Family Orycteropodidae:

The species Orycteropus afer.

The aardvark.

Odd-toed ungulates

Family Equidae:

All species except Equus asinus and Equus caballus.

Asses, horses and zebras.

The donkey and domestic horse are excepted.

Family Rhinocerotidae: All species.

Rhinoceroses.

Family Tapiridae: All species.

Tapirs.

Even-toed ungulates

Family Antilocapridae:

The species Antilocapra americana.

The pronghorn.

Family Bovidae:

All species except any domestic form of the genera Bos, Bubalus,Capra and Ovis.

Antelopes, bison, buffalo, gazelles, goats and sheep.

Domestic cattle, buffalo, goats and sheep are excepted.

Family Camelidae:

All species of the genus Camelus.

Camels.

Family Cervidae:

All species of the genera Alces and Rangifer, except any domestic form of the species Rangifer tarandus.

The moose or elk and the caribou or reindeer.

The domestic reindeer is excepted.

Family Giraffidae: All species

The giraffe and the okapi.

Family Hippopotamidae: All species.

The hippopotamus and the pygmy hippopotamus.

Family Suidae:

All species except any domestic form of the species Sus scrofa.

Old-world pigs (including the wild boar and the wart hog).

The domestic pig is excepted.

Family Tayassuidae: All species.

New-world pigs (otherwise known as peccaries).

Hybrids

Any hybrid of a kind of animal specified (other than by way of exception) in the foregoing provisions of this column where at

Any mammalian hybrids with at least one parent of a specified kind, and any animal of which at least one parent is such a hybrid.

least one parent is of a kind so specified, and any animal of which at least one parent is such a hybrid.

This does not include an excepted hybrid of the Family Felidae.

This does not apply to excepted cat hybrids.

 

BIRDS

 

Cassowaries

 

Family Casuariidae: All species.

Cassowaries.

 

Ostrich

 

Family Struthionidae: All species.

The ostrich.

 

REPTILES

 

Crocodilians

 

Family Alligatoridae: All species.

Alligators and caimans.

 

Family Crocodylidae: All species.

Crocodiles and the false gharial.

 

Family Gavialidae: All species.

The gharial (otherwise known as the gavial).

 

Lizards and snakes

 

Family Atractaspididae:

All species of the genus Atractaspis.

Burrowing asps, also known as mole or burrowing vipers and stiletto snakes.

 

Family Colubridae.

All species of the genera Malpolon and Thelotornis.

The species Dispholidus typus, Rhabdophis subminiatus, Rhabdophis tigrinus, Elapomorphus lemniscatus, Philodryas olfersii,

Tachymenis peruviana and Xenodon severus.

Certain rear-fanged venomous snakes, Montpellier snakes and African vine snakes (otherwise known as African twig or bird snakes).

The boomslang, the red-necked keelback, the yamakagashi (otherwise known as the Japanese tiger-snake), the Argentine black-headed snake, the South American green racer, the Peruvian racer and the Amazon false viper.

 

Family Elapidae: All species.

Certain front-fanged venomous snakes including cobras, coral snakes, kraits, mambas, whipsnakes and all Australian poisonous snakes (including the death adders).

 

Family Hydrophiidae: All species.

Sea snakes.

 

Family Helodermatidae: All species.

The gila monster and the (Mexican) beaded lizard.

 

Family Viperidae: All species.

Certain front-fanged venomous snakes (including adders, the barba amarilla, the bushmaster, the fer-de-lance, moccasins, rattlesnakes and vipers).

 

INVERTEBRATES

 

Spiders

 

Family Ctenidae:

The genus Phoneutria.

Wandering spiders.

 

Family Hexathelidae:

The genus Atrax.

The Sydney funnel-web spider and its close relatives.

 

Family Sicariidae:

The genus Loxosceles.

Brown recluse spiders (otherwise known as violin spiders).

 

Family Theridiidae:

The genus Latrodectus.

The widow spiders and close relatives.

 

Scorpions

 

Family Buthidae: All species.

Buthid scorpions.

 

Family Hemioscorpiidae:

The species Hemiscorpius lepturus.

Middle-Eastern thin-tailed scorpion.

 



 

divider

The highlighted section makes it clear that all Carnivores Family Canidae need licence except Alopex, Cerdocyon, Dusicyon, Otocyon, Pseudolopex, Urocyon, Vulpes and Nyctereutes.  The species Canis familiaris, other then the subspecies Canis familiaris dingo, is also excepted.
So, in laymans terms, Wild dogs, wolves, jackals, the maned wolf, the bush dog and the dhole need licences.  Foxes, raccoon dogs and the domestic dog (but not the dingo) are excepted.   Since Saarloos and Czech wolfdogs are not hybrids and are accepted as breeds of domestic dog in their own right, they are included as Canis familiaris - domestic dogs.

Carnivores

Family Canidae:

All species except those of the genera

Wild dogs, wolves, jackals, the maned wolf, the bush dog and the dhole.

Alopex, Cerdocyon, Dusicyon, Otocyon, Pseudolopex, Urocyon, Vulpes and Nyctereutes.

The species Canis familiaris, other than the subspecies Canis familiaris dingo, is also excepted.

Foxes, raccoon dogs and the domestic dog (but not the dingo) are excepted.

divider

This email from DEFRA was sent to a friend to confirm the situation regarding these dogs, reproduced here with the kind permission of the author and recipient.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 10:35 AM

From: "Wootton, Dave (WSC)" <Dave.Wootton@defra.gsi.gov.uk>

Add sender to Contacts To:
email address removed

Dear Avril

There has been a recent flurry of phonecalls on this subject so some
people are clearly confused about whether such wolf-dog hybrids require
a licence under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

Wolf-dog hybrids, such as those you have mentioned, are not a true
species but rather a hybrid of the domestic dog crossed with the wolf.
Such animals technically fall within the Act's catch-all listing of all
species of Canidae (they are not specifically named in the Schedule)
(i.e. the dog family) with certain exceptions such as Canis familiaris,
the domestic dog (but not the dingo, Canis familiaris dingo), raccoon
dogs and foxes , and therefore require a licence in order to be kept
privately. It is not illegal to keep such animals providing a licence is
in place.

Local authorities are responsible for licensing and enforcement under
the Act. If an animal is many generations removed from the wolf ancestor
and is essentially indistinguishable from a domestic dog in appearance
and behaviour then a local authority might conceivably choose to
exercise discretion and regard it as a domestic dog (which would not be
licensable).
In any case the Act specifically exempts the requirement
for a licence for F3 generation hybrids and beyond
.

If owners are in doubt as to whether animals require licensing, then
Defra advises them to contact their local authority for advice.

The Department and the RSPCA have jointly funded research into the
keeping of wolf-dog hybrids (published in 2000).

The contractors found that very few wolf-hybrids were kept and that
advertisements for wolf-dogs were generally misleading and had been
embellished to attract public interest and justify high prices. The
report also outlines some physical characteristics to help identify true
wolf-dog hybrids, which local authorities may find useful. The full
research report is available at The Keeping of Wolf-Hybrids in Great
Britain (556 KB)
http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countrysi...gs/wolfdogs.pdf

I hope this helps.

Regards

Dave Wootton
Policy Advisor
Wildlife Species Conservation Division
Defra
Zone 1/10, Temple Quay House
2 The Square, Temple Quay
Bristol, BS1 6EB
 0117 372 8686 

dave.wootton@defra.gsi.gov.uk



So, other than the keeping of wolves or first and second cross hybrids (F1 and F2) everything else is considered to be a domestic dog (canis familiaris) and does not require a license. There is no 'grey' area of doubt.

divider

This excerpt from the Statutory Instruments confirms the revocation of the original 1976 Act.

STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS

2007 No. 2465

ANIMALS

DANGEROUS WILD ANIMALS

 

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2)

Order 2007

  

Made ----20th August 2007

Laid before Parliament 24th August 2007

Coming into force in accordance with article 1

 

The Secretary of State makes the following Order in exercise of the powers conferred by section

8(1) of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976(a).

 

In accordance with that section, he is satisfied that the scope of that Act should be both extended

so as to include animals of a kind not for the time being specified in the Schedule to that Act and

diminished so as to exclude animals of a kind for the time being specified in that Schedule.

 

Citation, extent and commencement

 

1.—(1) This Order may be cited as the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification)

(No.2) Order 2007.

 

(2) Articles 2 and 3(2) extend to England and Wales only.

(3) This article and article 3(1) come into force on 30th September 2007.

(4) Articles 2 and 3(2), and the Schedule, come into force on 1st October 2007.

Modification to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

 

2. For the Schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976(b) substitute the Schedule set out

in the Schedule to this Order.

Revocations

3.—(1) The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) Order 2007(c) is revoked.

 

(2) The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) Order 1984(d) is revoked.

(a) 1976 c.38.

(b) As substituted by S.I. 1984/1111.

(c) S.I. 2007/1437.

(d) S.I. 1984/1111.

divider

The Dangerous Dogs Act below details the prohibited types of dog - which does not include Saarloos Wolfdogs, Czech Wolfdogs, Northern Inuit dogs or any such cross.

Animal welfare: The Control of Dogs

3 June 2008 – News release: Getting tough on irresponsible dog owners. A leaflet on 'Control of dogs, the law and you' is available.

It is an offence to own or keep any of the types of dog listed below, unless it is on the Index of Exempted Dogs and is in compliance with the requirements. In any event it is an offence to breed from, sell or exchange (even as a gift) such a dog, irrespective of whether it has been placed on the Index of Exempted Dogs. Page 3 of Annex A provides further details about the Index.

Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits four types of dog:

·         the Pit Bull Terrier

·         the Japanese tosa

·         the Dogo Argentino

·         the Fila Brasileiro

·         The Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997

It is important to note that, in the UK, dangerous dogs are classified by “type”, not by breed label. This means that whether a dog is considered dangerous, and therefore prohibited, will depend on a judgment about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited 'type'. This assessment of the physical characteristics is made by a court. A leaflet providing guidance on the physical characteristics that a court would consider in reaching its judgement can be found below.

The 1991 Act was amended by the Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997. The 1997 Act removed the mandatory destruction order provisions of the 1991 Act by giving the courts discretion on sentencing, and re-opened the Index of Exempted Dogs for those prohibited dogs which the courts consider would not pose a risk to the public. Only courts can direct that a dog can be placed on the list of exempted dogs.

Section 3 of the 1991 Act created a new offence of being an owner of a dog of any type or breed which is dangerously out of control in a public place or a non-public place in which it is not permitted to be.

·         Information on Wolf-dog hybrids can be found on the Wildlife and Countryside pages of the Defra website.

Prohibited Types of Dog

Leaflet: Types of dog prohibited in Great Britain (PDF 239 KB) - Contains guidance on the types of dogs prohibited in Great Britain. It also explains the impact of the legislation on dogs being brought into Great Britain.

The leaflet is aimed at both enforcement agencies and members of the public who would like to bring their dog into Great Britain via the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) but are unsure whether their animal is banned from Great Britain.

Hard copies can be obtained from animal.welfareact@defra.gsi.gov.uk quoting product code PB8311.

Detailed guidance on the legislation was issued to police forces and the courts between 1991 and 1998 by the Home Office. The guidance issued can be found below (in PDF format):

·         Home Office Notice (69 KB)

·         Home Office Circular 67/1991 (245 KB)

·         Home Office Circular 80/1992 (113 KB)

·         Home Office Circular 9/1994 (86 KB)

·         Home Office Circular 17/1997 (71 KB)

·         Home Office Circular 29/1997 (111 KB)

·         Home Office Circular 29/1998 (77 KB)

Overseas legislation on prohibited types of dog

If you need to know the law on prohibited types of dogs in other countries, please contact the Embassy of the relevant country. Please note that you should contact the Embassy of the country concerned within the UK, rather than a British Embassy abroad. Contact details of embassies in the UK are available.

Dogs out of control in a public place

If a dog is dangerously out of control in a public place - then the owner or the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence, or, if the dog while so out of control injures any person, an aggravated offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. In proceedings against a person who is the owner of a dog but at the material time was not in charge of it, it should be a defence for the accused to prove that the dog was at the material time in the charge of a person whom he reasonably believed to be a fit and proper person to be in charge of it.

Section 10(2) of the 1991 Act defines a public place as meaning any street, road or other place to which the public have, or are permitted to have access. This is a wide definition of a public place and one which specifically includes the common parts of a building containing two or more dwellings. It is intended to cover, for instance, those parts of a block of flats where, although there may be a secure front entry door so that the interior of the flat is not a place to which the public has unrestricted access, nevertheless the common parts are, in all other respects, a public place.

A person found guilty of an offence may face imprisonment or a fine, and the courts may disqualify the offender from having custody of a dog for any period.

Other legislation

Under the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847 it is an offence for any person in any street: to let an unmuzzled ferocious dog be at large so that it obstructs or annoys the residents or passengers in the street or puts them in danger; or to set on or to urge any dog to attack, worry or put in fear any person or animal. A dog will not be at large while it is held on a lead. The word 'street' here is given an extended meaning to include any road, square, court, alley, thoroughfare or public passage.

In the Metropolitan Police District a similar offence has been created by the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839. This differs only from the first part of the 1847 Act offence in that it is sufficient that an unmuzzled dog be at large (no obstruction, annoyance or danger need be shown), and that the place of the offence is described as any thoroughfare or public place.

Under the Dogs Act 1871, any person may make a complaint to a magistrates court that a dog is dangerous, or report the matter to the police. If the court is satisfied that a dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control, it may make an order for it to be controlled or destroyed.

The Animals Act 1971 provides that the keeper of an animal is liable for any damage it causes, if he knows it was likely to cause such damage or injury unrestrained.

Dog Control Orders

Dog Control Orders replaced Dog Byelaws in April 2006. Existing byelaws remain in effect until such time as a dog control order for the same issue is made on the same land. Further information on these Orders is available here.

Using the legislation

Section 3(5) of the 1991 Act clarifies the application of the Dogs Act 1871. The strength of the 1871 Act is that as it is not part of the criminal law, it operates on a lower standard of proof and proceedings can be taken even when a criminal offence has not been committed. It provides a remedy in a wide range of circumstances for the destruction, or imposition of controls, on dangerous dogs. A particular advantage of the 1871 Act is the fact that it applies everywhere, even in and around a private house which is why it is particularly appropriate for action on behalf of people such as postmen and women who are regularly at risk from dogs in front gardens.

Section 3(5)(b) of the 1991 Act enables a court to make an order under the 1871 Act that a dog is in future muzzled, kept on a lead, tethered or is excluded from specified places. This is a flexible provision which can be used to deal with a number of nuisance complaints about dogs including circumstances where dogs in one back garden cause fear of risk or injury to neighbours in another. Section 3(6) enables the neutering of male dogs in addition to, or instead of, other measures or controls.

These laws, when applied individually or in combination, serve as a positive encouragement to the owners of all dogs to exercise safe control over their dogs.

Leaflet: Control of Dogs, The Law and You (PDF 600 KB)

To help people understand dangerous dogs law, Defra has produced a clear and concise leaflet  - ‘Control of Dogs, The Law and You’ (PB13073). The leaflet gives an outline of the law governing the control of dogs.

Dogs and trespass

In civil law a dog owner is liable if he or she deliberately sends a dog on to another person's land in pursuit of game. A civil offence is also committed if a dog owner allows a dog to roam at large in the knowledge that it is likely to kill game. No entry on the land by the owner of the dog is necessary in order for the proceedings to succeed.

If a dog of its own accord enters land without permission but does no more, its owner is not liable under civil law for trespass; nor is it a criminal offence unless there is a contravention of regulations made under the Control of Dogs Order. Under civil law it is likely that the dog's owner would be liable for any damage which it is in the nature of a dog to commit.

It is an offence for a dog to be at large, i.e. not on a lead or otherwise under close control, in a field of sheep. Sheep dogs and police dogs are exempted from this provision.

Dogs worrying livestock

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953

Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 the owner and anyone else under whose control the dog is at the time will be guilty of an offence if it worries livestock on agricultural land. The dog must have been attacking or chasing livestock in such a way that it could reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering or, in the case of females, abortion or the loss or diminution of their produce. An offence is not committed if at the time of the worrying the livestock were trespassing, the dog belonged to the owner of the land on which the trespassing livestock were and the person in charge of the dog did not cause the dog to attack the livestock. The definition of 'livestock' includes cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses and poultry. Game birds are not included.

The Animals Act 1971

Civil liability arises from the Animals Act 1971. Anyone who is the keeper of a dog that causes damage by killing or injuring livestock is liable for the damage caused. For the purposes of the Act the keeper is the owner or the person in possession of the dog. The head of the household is liable where the owner is under the age of 16.

The keeper of the dog is not liable where the damage is due wholly to the fault of the person suffering it or if the livestock were killed or injured on land onto which they had strayed and either the dog belonged to the occupier or its presence was authorised by the occupier.

Under the Act there is a defence available to someone who is the subject of civil proceedings for killing or injuring a dog that was worrying or about to worry livestock. The defence can be used where there were no other means of ending or preventing the worrying or where the dog that had done the worrying was still in the vicinity and not under control and there were no practicable means of establishing ownership.

The definition of livestock in the 1971 Act is wider than in the 1953Act. Here it includes pheasants, partridges and grouse whilst in captivity.

Guard Dogs

Only section 1 of the Guard Dogs Act 1975 has ever entered into force. This means that all the other sections relating to a licensing scheme are not in force and neither are there any plans to do so. Section 1, which is in force, relates to the control of guard dogs.

Section 1 states:

(1) A person shall not use or permit the use of a guard dog at any premises unless a person ('the handler') who is capable of controlling the dog is present on the premises and the dog is under the control of the handler at all times while it is secured so that it is not at liberty to go freely about the premises.

(2) The handler of a guard dog shall keep the dog under his control at all times while it is being used as a guard dog at any premises except:
(a) while another handler has control over the dog; or
(b) while the dog is secured so that it is not at liberty to go freely about the premises.

(3) A person shall not use or permit the use of a guard dog at any premises unless a notice containing a warning that a guard dog is present is clearly exhibited at each entrance to the premises.


The owner of a guard dog may be liable for any injury to a person under s 2(2) of the Animals Act 1971, unless they come within one of the exceptions in s 5.

Page last modified: 18 August, 2008
Page published: 12 July, 2005

 

divider

All the above information can be found on DEFRA's website following the various links 
http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/gwd/wildact.htm

divider

"We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way"

back

logo

copyright  Sansorrella 2010  All rights reserved