Banned breeds of dogs in Northern Ireland

Any dog can be a danger to the public, but certain types of dogs are banned in Northern Ireland.

Banned dogs

There are four breeds of dogs that are banned in Northern Ireland:

  • Pit Bull terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero

It is an offence to breed, sell, offer for sale or make a gift of a dog of a banned type. If you are found guilty of any of these offences you face a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of £5,000.

A dog identified as banned by a dog warden will be presumed to be so, unless the owner can prove that it's not banned in court.

In most cases, a court will order a dog seized as a banned breed to be put down, even where the council decides not to prosecute the owner.

An owner of a seized Pit Bull must let the court know that they plan to give evidence that the dog is not a banned dog type at least 14 days before the hearing is due to take place.

Once seized, your dog will be kept in kennels before a court hearing - this could be for several weeks or months.

Judging whether your dog is a banned breed

A council dog warden, or an expert used by the council, will assess your dog's physical characteristics. They will judge the type of dog you have and whether it appears to be a banned breed. Following the assessment, the council will decide either of the following:

  • your dog will be released if it is not believed to be a banned breed
  • your dog will be kept in kennels while the council applies to a court for a destruction order

You can give up ownership of your dog but you cannot be forced to. If you do, your dog could be destroyed without a court order.

When the court allows you to own a banned dog

If a dog is a banned type but the court believes it would not be a danger to the public if it was kept under certain strict conditions, the court may make a ‘contingent destruction order’. This exempts the dog from the ban as long as the exemption conditions are met.

The exemption conditions are:

  • the dog is neutered
  • the dog is kept leashed and muzzled when in a public place
  • when not in a public place, the dog is in sufficiently secure conditions
  • the dog is made available to council dog wardens for inspection
  • the council is notified of any change of address of the dog, or of the death or export of the dog
  • third party insurance policy is taken out for the dog

In these circumstances you have two months to show that the exemption conditions have been met. Then you can apply for dog a licence from the council.

If the exemption conditions are not met, it is likely to lead to the destruction of the dog concerned.

Where a dog has been exempted from the ban on certain dog types, it is still an offence to breed from that dog, advertise it for sale or exchange, or transfer its ownership without informing the council.

The role of the PSNI

The PSNI may assist council officers where a dog is a risk to public safety.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email:
rating@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about property valuation, email:
valuation@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about land registry for land registry, email:
CustomerInformation.LandRegistration@finance-ni.gov.uk

For mapping queries, email:
Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.