This August marks the 31st anniversary of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in the UK. That's 31 years of dogs being judged as 'dangerous' based on how they look.

What is Breed Specific Legislation?

In the UK, BSL bans the ownership of four different types of dogs, they are; Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos and Fila Brazilieros.


Breed Specific Legislation was introduced 31 years ago as part of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, to restrict the ownership of certain types of dogs deemed to be dangerous to people. Dogs suspected of being a banned type are typically seized by the police who unfortunately have no choice but to implement the law. These dogs can spend significant time in kennels away from their owners during which they are assessed to determine whether or not the dog is a banned type. Whilst some dogs will return home to be kept under strict conditions, sadly, some have to be euthanised. Assessments are based on looks and characteristics rather than DNA.


Dogs taken into rehoming organisations and found to be of prohibited type cannot legally be rehomed to members of the general public, and so the only option is euthanasia. Since 2016, the RSPCA has had to euthanase 310 dogs because of how they look, despite many having the potential to make great family pets.


There is no research to demonstrate that these breeds are any more aggressive than other dogs.


Whether or not a dog is aggressive can be influenced by factors such as how they are bred and reared as well as what the individual dog has experienced throughout their life. Breed is not a good predictor of a possible risk of aggression. Despite the legislation, dog bites in the UK continue to increase. Breed-specific legislation not only fails to protect public safety but has also resulted in the suffering and destruction of thousands of dogs that are deemed 'dangerous' simply because of how they look.


To learn more about how this affects dogs and their families, read this article, published by the national RSPCA -