UK Dog Laws

1. Overview

It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, such as:
in a public place
in a private place, eg a neighbour’s house or garden
in the owner’s home
The law applies to all dogs.

2. Banned dogs

In the UK, it’s against the law to own certain types of dog. These are the:
Pit Bull Terrier
Japanese Tosa
Dogo Argentino
Fila Brasileiro

It’s also against the law to:
sell a banned dog
abandon a banned dog
give away a banned dog
breed from a banned dog
Whether your dog is a banned type depends on what it looks like, rather than its breed or name.
Example
If your dog matches many of the characteristics of a Pit Bull Terrier, it may be a banned type.
If you have a banned dog
If you have a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if:
it isn’t acting dangerously
there hasn’t been a complaint
The police may need permission from a court to do this.
If your dog is in:
a public place, the police don’t need a warrant
a private place, the police must get a warrant
a private place and the police have a warrant for something else (like a drugs search), they can seize your dog
A police or council dog expert will judge what type of dog you have and whether it is (or could be) a danger to the public. Your dog will then either be:
released
kept in kennels while the police (or council) apply to a court
You’re not allowed to visit your dog while you wait for the court decision.
You can give up ownership of your dog but you can’t be forced to. If you do, your dog could be destroyed without you even going to court.
Going to court
It’s your responsibility to prove your dog is not a banned type.
If you prove this, the court will order the dog to be returned to you. If you can’t prove it (or you plead guilty), you’ll be convicted of a crime.
You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) for having a banned dog against the law. Your dog will also be destroyed.
Index of Exempted Dogs (IED)
If your dog is banned but the court thinks it’s not a danger to the public, it may put it on the IED and let you keep it.
You’ll be given a Certificate of Exemption. This is valid for the life of the dog.
Your dog must be:
neutered
microchipped
kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
kept in a secure place so it can’t escape
As the owner, you must:
take out insurance against your dog injuring other people
be aged over 16
show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days
let the IED know if you change address, or your dog dies

Index of Exempted Dogs

dogsindex@defra.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 8026 4296
Fax: 020 8415 2520
Find out about call charges

Dogs Index
PO Box 68250
London
SW1P 9XG

3. Public Spaces Protection Orders

Some public areas in England and Wales are covered by Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) – previously called Dog Control Orders (DCOs).
In public areas with PSPOs, you may have to:
keep your dog on a lead
put your dog on a lead if told to by a police officer, police community support officer or someone from the council
stop your dog going to certain places – like farmland or parts of a park
limit the number of dogs you have with you (this applies to professional dog walkers too)
clear up after your dog
PSPOs only apply to public land.
Penalties
If you ignore a PSPO, you can be fined:
£100 on the spot (a ‘Fixed Penalty Notice’)
up to £1,000 if it goes to court
You can’t be fined if you’re a registered blind dog owner.
PSPOs in your area
Local councils must let the public know where PSPOs are in place.
Example
If dogs aren’t allowed in a park, there must be signs saying so.
If the council plans to put a new PSPO in place, it must put up a notice and publish it on its website.
The notice must tell you:
where the new PSPO will apply
if there’s a map and where you can see it

4. Dog fouling

You can be given an on-the-spot fine if you don’t clean up after your dog. The amount varies from council to council. It’s often £50 and can be as much as £80.
If you refuse to pay the fine, you can be taken to court and fined up to £1,000.
Registered blind dog owners can’t be fined.
Some councils have stricter rules on dog fouling. They may make owners carry a poop scoop and disposable bag when they take their dogs out to a public place.
You can report dog fouling to your local council.

5. Report a dog

Anyone can report a dog and their owner to the police.
You can report a dangerous dog to your council’s dog warden service.
You can also report dog fouling to your local council.