Dangerous Dogs: Legislation and Causes of Aggression in Dogs

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“Tell me what your dog’s breed is and I’ll tell you if it is good or bad.” Someone could write an article about dangerous dogs breeds this way, but it would be wrong.

The reason is that there are no dogs more aggressive than others. However, everything depends on the training they receive, the environment in which they grow and live, and the characteristics of the dog breed.

For years, we have tried to create classifications of the most dangerous dog breeds, writing their names on black and white lists, thinking that this could diminish possible aggressive behavior against humans.

Professionally and honestly speaking, it can be said that dog attacks do exist. Such aggressions are always preceded by a premonitory sign that we often do not know how to recognize, and they are an infinitesimal percentage compared to the number of dogs of different breeds that live peacefully with their families. The difference is that one dangerous dog makes much more news than millions of non-aggressive dogs that live in our homes.

Dangerous Dogs: Why are Some Dogs Considered to be Dangerous?

All the main dog associations claim the cause of potential aggressiveness of dogs is not innate, but it has its roots in the relationship with the owners. So, why is it believed that dangerous dog breeds exist?

One of the reasons is the reputation that has been created around a breed and that is difficult to change. Another reason is the improper or illegal treatment of certain dog breeds by human beings, as in the case of Pitbull fighting, which has seriously damaged the image of this dog breed, generating a negative reputation that is difficult to eradicate.

Even competent authorities do not help much since they simply stated that because of their size and physical power a dog is more dangerous than others. Needless to say that a bite from a Rottweiler does much more damage than a Chihuahua’s, but this does not mean that a Chihuahua-sized dog cannot be aggressive.

Even the way in which some breeds look plays a significant role. For example, many people still associate the German Shepherd with a wolf because of the similarity in their physical appearance. While other dogs have physical characteristics of puppies even as adults: their heads and muzzles are rounded, their ears hang down, and their body is a bit crouching, just like a Retriever. All the physical characteristics of dogs that can be observed when they are puppies make some dogs less dangerous once they are adults.

Dangerous Dogs: Legislation

How many times have you heard in the news about a serious event involving dogs and the comments that blame the aggression directly on the temper of a certain dog breed?

After a dog attacks, all you hear is: “That dog breed is dangerous”, “Those dogs should be banned”, “Everyone knew that something would happen sooner or later” or “Laws should be more severe for that type of breed.”

However, most ethologists (experts in animal behavior) say that a dog’s aggressiveness does not depend on whether it belongs to a specific breed or not, but on the training and environment where it grows up. The laws of many countries are in line with this way of thinking.

Dangerous Dogs: General Regulations

You cannot own a dog to do the following activities:

  • Training that enhances aggressiveness.
  • Any intervention to select or cross dogs with the purpose of developing aggressiveness.
  • Forcing dogs into doping.
  • Surgical interventions to modify a dog’s morphology or which are not particularly intended for health purposes: debarking, ear cropping, toenails and teeth clipping, tail docking, among others.
  • Sale, exhibition, and marketing of dogs that have undergone surgery.

Dangerous Dogs: Liabilities and General Duties

Owners must comply with a number of rules and duties:

  • The owner shall be always responsible for the welfare and control of his animal; therefore, he shall answer civilly and criminally for the damages or injuries that his dog might cause to people, other animals, or things.
  • Using a leash not longer than 1,50 meters for dogs in urban areas and in places open to the public is mandatory, notwithstanding the areas for dogs identified by the cities. In addition, the dog must always have a muzzle (rigid or soft) to be worn in case of any potential danger.
  • The obligation to entrust the animal only to people who are able to control it.
  • Both the owner and the handler should also learn the physical and ethical characteristics of the dogs and about current regulations.
  • It is mandatory for any person who takes their dogs for a walk in any urban area to collect their pet’s feces, in addition to having the appropriate instruments for collecting them.

Dangerous Dogs: Acts

In several countries, it is no longer possible to establish the risk of increased aggressiveness of a dog on the basis of “belonging to a breed or its crosses.”

Many animal rights associations took this as a great victory agians dog breed discrimination.

Dangerous dog breeds: list

Here is a list of all dangerous dog breeds:

  • American bulldog
  • Sharplanina Shepherd Dog
  • Kangal Shepherd Dog
  • Central asian shepherd Dog
  • Caucasian shepherd Dog
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brazileiro
  • Majoero dog
  • Presa canario
  • Majorcan bulldog
  • Pit bull terrier
  • Rafeiro do alentejo
  • Rottweiler
  • Tosa inu

Dangerous Dogs: European Regulation

The Dutch, who have always been considered hospitable people and particularly attentive to ecological problems, opted for strict control of the law regarding dangerous dogs.

In fact, the Netherlands government has drawn up a list that includes about twenty dog breeds and their crosses considered dangerous. Said list includes the following breeds: The Pitbull, the Rottweiler, and the Caucasian Shepherd Dog.

As from next year, the owners of these breeds will have to undergo a mandatory procedure if they wish to continue hosting their dogs in their homes. This procedure aims to prove the non-aggressiveness of these breeds that are regarded as dangerous.

The government has chosen to be stricter against the attacks by dangerous dogs with the aim of reducing the number to a minimum. Apart from having presented a list of dangerous dogs and the compulsory procedure for owners, the Minister of Economic Affairs is working on a list of banned dogs and the introduction of new acts in the local administrations, so that they can eliminate aggressive and dangerous dogs in some areas of the city.

In addition, the Dutch Government is about to introduce both a Central Register where all the cases of aggression by dogs of dangerous breeds are recorded and a telephone line for citizens who wish to report a dangerous dog or neglected owners.

This reflects a clear position taken by the Public Administration against the increasing number of accidents caused by aggressive dogs.

This initiative has also generated many controversies among dog breeders and animal protection associations who consider that the new act discriminates against and harms some breeds which, if properly trained and controlled, do not develop violent behavior. This is the reason why they challenge the laws.

Dangerous Dogs: How do Other Countries Act?

In England, it is against the law to dock a pet dog’s tail, in whole or in part: animal cruelty is a criminal offense. The Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino, and the Fila Brasileiro are banned in the UK.

At least 39 states in the United States have dangerous-dog-laws that are intended to protect the public from dogs that are dangerous. In order to save the animal from being euthanized, owners must generally meet certain conditions, ranging from keeping the dog confined or muzzled to buying liability insurance. In many states, it is a crime to violate these restrictions, particularly if the dog hurts someone. Penalties range from fines to prison time for a felony.

In Australia, for example, there is a ban on aggressive dog breeds that were specifically bred for fighting. This ban is in place to safeguard the public and other animals. Some of the dog breeds that are banned in Australia are: the Dogo Argentino, the Pit Bull Terrier breeds, and the Japanese Tosa.

Many other countries have legislated on dangerous dogs.

When traveling with a dog that is considered dangerous, our advice is to inform yourself about current regulations, legal updates, local regulations and possible sanctions.

For further information and inquiries about prohibitions and obligations on all dog breeds in your country, you can check the following links:

  • Australia: Australian National Kennel Council
    Contacts: Tel. 00 61 7 3398 8608
    e-mail: info@akc.org
    Website: www.ankc.org.au
  • Canada: Canadian kennel Club
    Contacts: 416-675-5511 – Toll-Free 1-855-364-7252
    e-mail: mailinformation@ckc.ca
    Website: ckc.ca/en
  • England: The kennel Club
    Contacts: 0129 631 8540
    e-mail: KC.Academy@thekennelclub.org.uk
    Website: thekennelclub.org.uk
  • India: Kennel Club of India
    Contacts: 00 91 44 2621 4035 – 00 91 44 2621 3661
    e-mail: info@kennelclubofindia.org
    Website: kennelclubofindia.org
  • Ireland: Irish Kennel Club
    Contacts: Tel. 00 353 1 453 3300 – 00 353 1 453 2309
    e-mail: info@ikc.ie
    Website: www.ikc.ie
  • New Zealand: Dogs New Zealand
    Contacts: 00 64 4 237 4489
    e-mail: secretary@dogsnz.org.nz
    Website: dogsnz.org.nz
  • Scotland: The Scottish Kennel Club
    Contacts: 0131 665 3920
    e-mail: info@scottishkennelclub.org
    Website: scottishkennelclub.org
  • South Africa: Kennel Union of Southern Africa
    Contacts: 00 27 21 423 9027
    e-mail: kusa@kusa.co.za
    Website: kusa.co.za
  • United States: American Kennel Club
    Contacts: Tel. 001 212 6968234 Fax. 001 212 6968252
    e-mail: info@akc.org
    Website: www.akc.org

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