Which dog breeds are banned in the UK?

XL bully dogs are set to be banned. (PA)
XL bully dogs are set to be banned. (PA)

Thousands of banned dogs are living in homes in England, Scotland and Wales, according to government data.

The BBC has obtained figures from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which showed 3,499 banned dogs are registered.

Nearly all of the dogs are Pit Bull Terriers, with 3,316 in England, 149 in Wales and 13 in Scotland.

There are currently four dog breeds on the Dangerous Dogs Act banned list (see list further down this page).

This doesn't include American XL bully dogs, though Rishi Sunak said last month they would be added to the list by the end of the year, calling the breed a “danger to our communities”.

Earlier this month, a woman was injured after she was attacked by her own American XL bully in Norfolk.

Last month, Ian Price, a 52-year-old man from Staffordshire, died in hospital after being attacked by two American XL bullies.

Jack Lis, 10, died after being mauled by a dog in Pentwyn, South Wales, in November 2021. (PA)
Jack Lis, 10, died after being mauled by a dog in Pentwyn, South Wales, in November 2021. (PA)

In November 2021, Jack Lis, 10, was killed by a American XL bully while at a friend’s house in south Wales. The owners of the dog, Amy Salter and Brandon Haydon, were jailed as a result of the attack.

This week, the government said it is “pretty close” to bringing forward the proposed ban on the breed.

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Environment secretary Therese Coffey said she thought a “good definition” of the dog type had been agreed, with only a “few other things” such as compensation needing to be signed-off.

Coffey said the government has estimated there are about 10,000 American XL bullies in the UK, while the Blue Cross animal charity suggested it was more like 15,000.

Here, Yahoo News UK sets out which breeds are currently banned.

What dog breeds are banned in the UK?

As per current government guidelines, there are four dog breeds that are illegal to own:

  • Pit Bull Terrier

  • Japanese Tosa

  • Dogo Argentino

  • Fila Brasileiro

While the breeds themselves are banned, there are also activities associated with them that are illegal in the UK.

Under the guidelines of the Dangerous Dogs Act, which came into effect in 1991, anyone who owns – or sells, abandons, gives away or breeds from – an illegal breed faces punishment.

The maximum punishment could be up to six months in prison or an unlimited fine or both, while community orders can also be handed out, depending on the perceived risk factor to the public.

Head shot closeup of a japanese bandog tosa inu
Japanese Tosas are one of four dog breeds banned in the UK. (Getty/file pic)
Dog Dogo Argentino - full length portrait. Argentinean mastiff. Beautiful white dog sits on a background of water and sky. Pet for a walk. Close-up. Copy space
It is illegal to own an Argentino Dogo in the UK. (Getty/file pic)

The dogs will also be destroyed.

Anyone with a banned dog can have it removed by the police or local council, even if there have been no complaints and the dog is not acting dangerously.

Police can also seize a banned dog without a warrant if seen in a public place – experts will then determine if the animal is an illegal breed.

American pit bull terrier is watching with suspicion.
The Pit Bull Terrier is not permitted in the UK. (Getty Images)
big young guardian dogs, female of Fila Brasileiro, Brazilian Mastiff, outdoor on green grass
Fila Brasileiro dogs are banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. (Getty Images)

Courts can determine that a banned dog is not a danger to the public and will allow an owner to keep it if put on the Index of Exempted Dogs (IED).

However, the dog must be neutered, microchipped, kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public and kept in a secure place so it cannot escape.

Owners must be over 16 and also take out insurance against the dog injuring other people, while the certificate of exemption must be shown to police or council dog wardens when asked.