Amendments to the Danish Act on Dogs in 2014
On June 11, 2014, the Danish Parliament adopted amendments to the Danish Act on Dogs.
The amendments came into force July 1, 2014.
According to the Danish Act on Dogs, the police are obligated to euthanize dogs, which savage a person or another dog in an attack. However, the amendments introduce a new, more specific definition of ‘savaging’. Also according to these new provisions, the owner of the attacking dog can request an expert assessment of the case.
In 2010, a prohibition of the ownership and breeding of 13 specified dog breeds and cross-breeds hereof was introduced (including Pitt Bull Terrier and Tosa Inu and crossbreeds hereof which have been prohibited in Denmark since 1991.)
The prohibition of dog breeds has been evaluated during 2013. It was decided by the Danish Parliament that there will be no amendments to the prohibition based on the evaluation. The prohibition of specific dog breeds will therefore be maintained.
The prohibition list of 13 dog breeds and cross- breeds hereof
Sections 1 a-b of the Danish Act on Dogs prohibit the keeping and breeding of 13 specified dog breeds, including crossbreeds involving the 13 specified dog breeds.
The provisions prohibit private individuals, including tourists, from bringing the prohibited dogs into Denmark during e.g. a holiday.
Import of the specified dogs, including crossbreeds, into Denmark for commercial purposes is also prohibited.
The following 13 dog breeds and cross-breeds hereof are prohibited in Denmark:
- Pitt Bull Terrier
- Tosa Inu
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Fila Brasileiro
- Dogo Argentino
- American Bulldog
- Central Asian Shepherd Dog (ovcharka)
- Caucasian Shepherd Dog (ovcharka)
- South Russian Shepherd Dog (ovcharka)
If doubt arises as to whether a dog belongs to one of the prohibited dog breeds or cross-breeds hereof, the police may request that the possessor proves the dog's breed or type.
The Act on Dogs does not lay down rules on the method of proving that the dog is not prohibited. It may constitute sufficient proof of the dog's breed, if the owner can produce a pedigree chart or a certificate relating to the dog and its parents or statements proving the dog's descent. These statements cannot only be based on the dog's appearance or behavior. The statements must prove the dog’s descent (parents, siblings). It is not mandatory that the statements have been issued by a veterinarian.
Possessors of a dog, which in appearance have some features in common with one or more of the prohibited breeds, are recommended to ensure that they possess documentation of their dog’s breed.
In accordance with transitional rules of the Danish Act on Dogs, people who acquired a dog from the list of the 13 prohibited breeds before 17 March 2010 may keep the dog.
However, it should be noted that the transitional rules do not in any event apply to the dog breeds Pitt Bull Terrier and Tosa Inu including crossbreeds involving these races, which have been banned in Denmark since 1991.
When a prohibited dog is kept according to the transitional rules, it may still be kept legally in Denmark and may also be brought into Denmark. However, a prohibited dog covered by the transitional rules must always:
Everyone wishing to secure and document their rights according to the transitional rules are advised to carry documentation for the date they acquired their dog.
- Be on a lead with a maximum length of 2 meters
- Wear a securely closed muzzle when the dog is in areas open to the public.
According to the transitional provisions, the dog may run free if kept in a private, closed area. However, when in an open area such as a camping site or an unfenced area around a summer cottage the dog must be restricted by a lead and muzzle (as described above).
Dogs transported in transit through Denmark
It should be noted that the prohibition of certain dog breeds does not include dogs that are in transit through Denmark.
Transport in transit of a prohibited dog breed is permitted, provided that the dog does not leave the means of transport – apart from quite brief stays outside the means of transport when it is necessary to let the dog out for exercise etc. – and provided that the transport takes place without unnecessary stops in Denmark.
Regulation on savaging
Along with the prohibition of dog breeds, provisions about savaging were introduced into the Danish Act on Dogs in 2014. According to the provisions on savaging, the police are obligated to euthanize a dog, if it has savaged a person or another dog in an attack.
If a dog, brought into Denmark on holiday, bites a person or another dog, the police will carry out an investigation and arrive at a concrete decision about whether the case is savagery and whether the dog must be euthanized, just as the case would be for a Danish-owned dog. The 2014 amendments, as mentioned above, introduce a new, more specific definition of ‘savaging’. Also according to these new provisions, the owner of the attacking dog can request an expert assessment of the case.
The decision of the police can be appealed to the Danish National Police.
Dogs are welcome in Denmark
Tourists travelling with their dog have no reason to be anxious about visiting Denmark.
However, certain dog breeds are banned in Denmark as well as in several other countries. If you own a dog on the prohibition list, you should leave it at home unless you carry documentation showing that you acquired the dog before the Danish Act on Dogs took effect in 2010.
There have been several stories in foreign news media about the Danish Act on Dogs. Since the Act came into force in 2010, a total of 465 dogs on the prohibition list have been put down, and 157 dogs have been euthanized after savaging other animals or people. Thus, a total of 622 dogs that have been put down as a consequence of provisions in the Danish Act on Dogs. This number should, however, be seen in relation to the total number of dogs living in Denmark – namely more than 585.000. (According to the most recent numbers from the Danish Police).
In foreign media, especially in Germany, there has been a strong focus on the consequences of the Danish Act on Dogs. It should be noted that according to the most recent figures from the Danish National Police, no German dogs have been put down as a consequence of the Danish Act on Dogs.