While it’s sad to tag a dog as “dangerous” simply due to its breed, unfortunately there are numerous dog laws around the world that classify certain dogs breeds as dangerous, or apply restrictions for certain dog breeds. While you may consider your own dog to not be “dangerous”, it may be affected by these rules and complicate travelling with your dog.
Before travelling with your dog, you should find out whether there are restrictions for your dog based on its breed, in any of the countries or regions that you intend to visit. Depending on your dog’s breed, restrictions may range from a ban on entering certain countries to not being allowed on public transport or being required to wear a muzzle.
Dog Breeds Banned by Countries
Many countries around the world ban the import of certain breeds of dogs classified as dangerous, or hybrids with wolfs. These rules vary from country to country, in particular the dog breeds affected and whether only pure breeds or mixed breeds are affected.
For instance, in my home country of Australia, it is not permitted to import these dog breeds:
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Japanese Tosa
- American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier
- Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario
- Czechoslovakian wolfdog or Czechoslovakian Vlcak
- Saarloos wolfdog or Saarloos wolfhound
- Lupo Italiano or Italian wolfdog
- Kunming wolfdog or Kunming dog
If you have a dog potentially affected by these rules, always check in advance before making plans to travel to any country. The website PetTravel.com has a section on banned breeds for each country covered.
Dog Breeds Classified as Dangerous
Additional dog breeds may not be outright banned from entering a country, but may be classified as dangerous and have certain restrictions and requirements for ownership. This may include:
- Requiring a special license
- Requiring you to take a training course
- Requiring the use of a short leash and muzzle in public
- Being banned from public spaces and parks
- Being banned from public transport
- Being banned from air travel
Note that while I’ve often seen restrictions on dogs staying at certain hotels based on their size, I haven’t usually seen any rules restricting certain dog breeds, but this is likely to also be the case.
There may additionally be rules that apply just in a particular state or city (including in some parts of the USA).
A handy resource to check the rules for different countries is Petolog, but always try to double check this against laws published by the relevant government (or at least listed on other authoritative websites), as rules can charge and there are not many details in this list. In the USA, check out this interactive map published by Animal Farm Foundation.
Dangerous Dog Breed Laws in France
One of the most popular countries for people to visit with their dogs but that has strict rules about dangerous dog breeds is France.
In France, there are two classifications for dogs. Category 1 dogs include:
- Any dog of the type known as American Staffordshire Terrier or Staffordshire Terrier without a pedigree (including cross-breeds)
- Any dog of the type known as Mastiff (including cross-breeds)
- Any dog of the type known as a Tosa without a pedigree (including cross-breeds)
These dog breeds are not allowed to be imported into the country. Presumably this also includes on a temporary basis, while travelling.
Note that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is not grouped with the Staffordshire Terrier and is not classified as dangerous. Make sure you have your papers showing your dog is not one of these breeds (or crossed with these breeds) if any confusion is likely to take place.
On the other hand, Category 2 dogs are able to be imported into France but restrictions apply. The following breeds are Category 2 dogs:
- Pedigree American Staffordshire Terriers
- Pedigree Staffordshire Terriers
- Pedigree Tosas
- Any Rottweiler (with or without pedigree)
There are a number of rules to follow with these dogs, including:
- The owner must be over 18 and not have a criminal record
- The owner must attend a training course
- The owner must have civil liability insurance
- Must have a behavioural evaluation
- Must be walked on a lead and with a muzzle (including on public transport)
- According to the Air France pet policy, can only fly as cargo
While these rules for Category 2 dogs certainly apply if you are moving to France with your dog, it is not clear what rules apply if you are travelling through the country only temporarily with a dog affected by this legislation. (And if you are moving to France, I would expect that you would be allowed a certain period of time before you have to meet all the requirements.)
The strongest safeguard would be to not take a dog belonging to any of these breeds to France. A more workable solution might be to take precautions, including carrying your pedigree papers, always using a leash and muzzle and possibly not taking your dog on public transport.
Dangerous Dog Breed Laws in Spain
Spain also has rules relating to dangerous dog breeds, but they are different to the rules in France. If you are travelling to Spain with your dog, be aware that the following breeds are classified as dangerous (according to the information provided by the UK Caravan Club):
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasiliero
- Tosa Inu
- Akita Inu
- Doberman Pinscher
None of these dog breeds are banned from entering the country, but instead you are required to register your dog and get a license within three months of arriving in Spain. This means that if you are visiting temporarily for less than three months, you do not need to register your dog.
Some personal stories about people’s experience in Spain have been shared in this forum.
Tips for Travelling with a Dangerous Dog Breed
If you plan to travel abroad with a dog bread that is potentially classified as dangerous, I recommend taking these precautions:
- Try to find out the laws for the countries (or states) that you will be visiting (although I know from personal experience that it can be impossible to find information published by the actual government, but often other websites will contain some information, or ask in an online forum)
- Try to follow the laws stipulated by the country
- If in doubt, keep your dog on a short leash and wearing a muzzle in public
- Before taking public transport, try to find out whether your dog breed is allowed onboard
- Be aware that additional restrictions or requirements may apply to your dog when flying, similar to short-nosed dog breeds
If you have any doubt about the safety of your dog, particularly if there is a chance it may be outright banned by the country you intend to visit, or if it looks similar to those breeds and you do not have papers, the safest option is to unfortunately leave your dog behind.
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