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The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and Its Relevance to Security Dog Handlers: A Comprehensive Analysis

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is a piece of legislation enacted in the United Kingdom to address concerns regarding the rising number of dog attacks and incidents involving certain breeds that were deemed dangerous. This act aimed to protect the public from dangerous dogs and regulate their ownership and handling. In this article, we will delve into the details of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and explore its relevance to security dog handlers.

Background and Purpose of the Act:

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was introduced in response to growing public concerns about dog attacks and their consequences. The primary objective of the act was to enhance public safety and reduce the risk posed by certain breeds or types of dogs that were considered dangerous or potentially harmful.

Breeds Covered by the Act:

The act primarily focuses on four breeds or types of dogs: Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos, and Fila Brasileiros. These breeds were deemed to pose a higher risk due to their size, strength, and perceived potential for aggression. The legislation made it illegal to own, breed, sell, or exchange these dogs, except under certain strict conditions.

Provisions for Ownership:

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 imposes strict requirements on the ownership of the mentioned breeds. Individuals who owned these dogs before the act came into force were required to comply with specific regulations, including registering their dogs, obtaining a license, and ensuring their animals were spayed or neutered. Furthermore, owners were required to meet strict standards for housing and handling their dogs.

Licensing and Handling for Security Dog Handlers:

Security dog handlers play a crucial role in various sectors, including law enforcement, private security, and search and rescue operations. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 acknowledges the importance of such handlers by providing exemptions for security purposes. Licensed security dog handlers are allowed to own and work with certain prohibited breeds if they meet specific criteria and adhere to stringent guidelines.

Licensing Criteria for Security Dog Handlers:

To qualify for a license under the act, security dog handlers must demonstrate their competence and meet several conditions, including:

a) Certification and Training: Security dog handlers are required to hold a recognized qualification and undergo specialized training to handle and control dogs effectively. This training ensures that handlers possess the necessary skills to manage potentially dangerous animals.

b) Licensing Process: Handlers must apply for a license through the appropriate authorities, providing evidence of their training, qualifications, and experience. The licensing process involves thorough assessment and vetting to ensure that only responsible and capable individuals are granted licenses.

c) Responsible Ownership: Security dog handlers must demonstrate responsible ownership and care for their dogs. This includes providing adequate accommodation, appropriate training, and regular veterinary care.

Relevance to Security Dog Handlers:

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 significantly impacts security dog handlers by regulating the ownership and handling of dangerous dog breeds. By implementing licensing requirements and stringent guidelines, the act ensures that security dog handlers possess the necessary skills and knowledge to control and manage these potentially dangerous animals effectively. This helps to mitigate risks to public safety while allowing trained professionals to use these dogs for legitimate security purposes.


The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was enacted to address concerns about dangerous dogs and minimize the risks they pose to public safety. While the act prohibits the ownership of specific breeds, it recognizes the importance of security dog handlers by allowing exemptions for licensed professionals. By imposing strict licensing criteria and guidelines, the act ensures that security dog handlers possess the necessary competence and expertise to handle potentially dangerous dogs effectively. This legislation strikes a balance between public safety and the need for trained professionals to utilize certain breeds in security-related contexts.

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