What Dogs Are Banned in the UK?

A dog is a man’s best friend, or so the saying goes, and with approximately 13 million dogs in homes up and down the country, there is definitely some weight to that statement.

There are some though that just aren’t allowed to become your trusty companion. In the UK several types of dog complete a list of banned breeds. And whilst the list is not a long one, the rulings around it mean that a dog that resembles those on the list could find itself banned even if the breed may not match those on the list. For example, if a dog matches most of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it could well be a banned dog even if you believe it to be something different.

The current list of banned dogs covers 4 types:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro

Ownership of one of these could result in severe penalties.


What are the laws around banned dogs in the UK?

Owning any of the four types of dogs listed above is illegal and as a result, they should be hard, if not impossible to buy. Unfortunately, the trade in illegal animals in the UK is a large one and with the global side of the crime worth an estimated £17bn, it comes as no surprise that some of these illicit funds are moving around our country alongside the animals themselves.

So, whilst it is illegal to own a Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino or Fila Brasileiro, it is also illegal to sell them. Some may think this is an easy way to get around the crime of ownership, but it isn’t. Criminals selling their illegal dogs are often caught. Should an owner decide that selling a banned dog may draw too much suspicion they would be wise to know that it is also against the law to do the following:

  • Abandon a banned dog
  • Give away a banned dog
  • Breed from a banned dog

Should you commit any of these offences, you could find yourself in prison for 6 months, fined or both.

Can you bring banned dogs into the UK?

There are rules around bringing a pet to the UK and a failure to follow them can result in large penalties. If you own a dog that is on the UK-banned dogs list and you attempt to bring it into the country there is every chance that the police will not only confiscate it, they may also destroy it too.

You could also find yourself fined and imprisoned. The simple message here is, do not attempt to bring a banned breed of dog into the UK. It does not end well for anybody at all.

What should you do if you have a banned dog?

If you own a banned dog and somehow did not realise or have decided that you will keep it despite it being illegal, you could find a few things happening. The police or a dog warden can take it away from you, regardless of whether there has been a complaint made or whether the dog is not acting dangerously.

In some instances, the police may need to seek court approval, but should you be in a public place, no warrant is needed. If you are in a private place a warrant will be required, should the police have been required to attend the property for an unrelated matter though and hold a warrant for that particular issue, they do have the power to seize the dog at the same time.

Once the dog has been assessed to establish its exact type and any risk it poses, a decision will be made. It may be released back to you or sent to kennels whilst an application is sent to the court. During this time, no matter the bond you have formed with your dog, you will not be allowed to visit it.

This can be a stressful time for the owner and dog, and that is partly why at this time you are allowed to give up your dog. For some, this could be seen as the best result for everyone, as hard as it may be to initially understand. You cannot be forced to do this though and it could mean that your dog is destroyed before you have even had the chance to go to court and seek a suitable resolution.

What happens if I go to court about a banned dog?

Once a court date has been agreed upon, you will be asked to prove that the dog is not from the banned list. If so, the dog can be returned to you. However, if it cannot be proven or you plead guilty to the ownership of an illegal dog, you will face the penalties we mentioned earlier. Prison time, a fine, or both.

Sometimes though there is a little bit of leeway, your dog may be on the banned list but not deemed as a danger to the public. This could see it put on the Index of Exempt Dogs.

What is the Index of Exempt Dogs?

The Index of Exempt Dogs means that your dog can remain yours subject to certain conditions being met. This exemption runs for the life of the dog and will only be granted if:

  • The dog is neutered
  • The dog is microchipped
  • The dog is kept on a lead and muzzled when out in public
  • The dog is kept in a secure location where it cannot escape

Furthermore, as the owner, you must also meet certain requirements for your dog to be added to the index.  You must:

  • Be aged over 16
  • Take out insurance against your dog injuring other people
  • Show the certificate of exemption to the police or dog warden upon request or up to 5 days after the request
  • Inform the Index of Exempt Dogs of any address changes or the death of the dog.

What can I do if I see a dangerous dog?

If you believe you have seen a dangerous or banned dog, you can contact the local police or dog warden service. They will then take on any necessary steps.


Owning, selling or abandoning any of the banned dogs found on the UK list can see you finding yourself in serious trouble. To save the legal ramifications and the potential euthanizing of a dog, find one from the many legal breeds we can enjoy in the UK. Once you have them settled in you can even consider taking them on holiday with you! Simply speak to our team at PBS Pet Travel. We are experts in helping organise safe, efficient and quick dog travel anywhere in the world. We even help with paperwork requirements so that both entry and exit to the country are made simple. Contact us today and get a free quote!