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Menacing and dangerous dogs

Menacing dogs

A dog can be classified as menacing either by its breed or behaviour.

Menacing by breed

The Dog Control Act  automatically classifies dogs that are wholly or predominantly of these breeds as menacing, no matter how they behave individually.

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Brazilian Fila
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Perro de Presa Canario.

American Staffordshire Terrier

We recognise the American Staffordshire Terrier as a Pit Bull type of dog.

If you believe your dog is an American Staffordshire Terrier, it will not be classified as menacing if you can prove that it is an American Staffordshire Terrier or that is the predominant breed.

To do this you will need to provide one of these documents:

  • certificate from Dogs New Zealand (New Zealand Kennel Club)
  • a DNA certificate showing the largest percentage of the breed make-up as American Staffordshire Terrier.

You can also request a visual inspection at any of our animal shelters, where an approved assessor will determine the main breed of your dog.

These inspections are by appointment only.

Menacing by behaviour

Any dog can also be classified as menacing by deed regardless of its breed.

This happens when a dog has been proven to be a risk to the public, other animals or protected wildlife.

If we classify your dog as menacing

We will issue a notice of your dog's classification.

Once your dog is classified as menacing, it must be:

  • muzzled in public except when in a vehicle or cage
  • either neutered or certified unfit to be neutered within one month
  • microchipped within two months.

Dangerous dogs

A dog can be classified as dangerous, regardless of its breed, if:

  • there is a reason to believe that it poses a threat to the safety of any person, animal, or protected wildlife based on evidence of aggressive behaviour
  • the owner has been convicted of an offence due to the dog rushing at a person, animal or vehicle
  • the owner admits that the dog poses a threat to the safety of any person, animal or protected wildlife.

For more information, see Territorial authority to classify dangerous dogs under the Dog Control Act 1996.

If we classify your dog as dangerous

We will issue a notice of your dog's classification.

Within one month of getting the notice of classification, your dog must be:

  • kept in a fenced area of your property - this should be separate and fenced from the entry into your property
  • either neutered or certified unfit to be neutered before the date specified
  • muzzled in public except when in a vehicle or cage
  • on a leash at all times in public, except when in a dog exercise area.

Your dog's registration fee will be higher than dogs that are not classified as dangerous. You must not change ownership of your dog without our written consent.

Dogs causing harm

For details on rules and penalties regarding dogs causing harm, see the relevant section from the Dog Control Act 1996.

You should know

If you do not comply with the requirements for keeping dangerous and menacing dogs, you can be fined up to $3000.

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