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Breed-Specific Legislation

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Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is any law, ordinance or policy which pertains to a specifically named breed or breeds, but does not affect any others.

Some examples of BSL:

  • Restrictions on or the prohibition of ownership of American Pit Bull Terriers in some municipalities of the United States, Ontario, Canada and Queensland, Australia, and the Federal ban on importing them into Australia.
  • Restrictions on the availability of homeowners insurance for owners of many breeds, including American Pit Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, Dobermanns, Akitas, etc., in some areas of the United States.
  • Proposed legislation in some Australian states that would prohibit the breeding of any breed of dog not recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council, or restrict or prohibit the propagation of some breeds.
  • Bans on the transporting of some breeds by some airline carriers during the 1990s
  • Prohibition of ownership of the Welsh Corgi in some municipalities in Italy
  • A ban on the importing of the German Shepherd Dog into Australia for a large part of the 20th century
  • The requirement that Greyhounds wear muzzles in public in some Australian states

Pros and cons

Proponents of BSL usually cite the need to protect the public from dog breeds believed to have inherent tendencies to aggressive behaviour. Others believe that BSL will help eliminate irresponsible dog breeding, and thereby reduce the number of unwanted dogs, particularly mongrels.

Opponents of such legislation believe that instances of bad dog behaviour are an issue of irresponsible human ownership rather than inherent dog nature. Some also believe that media sensationalism has made the problem seem worse than it really is. They point out that some of these policies have been randomly or illogically thought out, and are often implemented and enforced capriciously or inconsistently. In their view, an alternative to Breed Specific Legislation might be the consistent enforcement of existing dog laws, or the creation of new breed-wide regulations or requirements where needed.

The owners of breeds not affiliated with all-breed clubs, and the owners of breeds in development are concerned about BSL that affects breeding.

Recent developments

In September 2005 the government of the Australian state of Victoria announced proposed changes to the Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994, to be implemented by the current session of the Victorian parliament. The proposed laws include the mandatory desexing of any dog belonging to a restricted breed, or any dog that is declared dangerous. The legislation follows laws of the 1990s banning the importation of restricted breeds into Victoria; the new laws will in effect spell the end of the existence of certain breeds in that state. Breeds affected by the ban include American Pit Bull Terriers and Pit Bulls, (although it is not yet clear what other breeds may be covered by the appellation (Pit Bull”), Japanese Tosas, Argentinean fighting dogs and Brazilian fighting dogs.

In Germany, four breeds may not be imported except for short term visits: Pitbull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bullterrier and Staffordshire Bullterrier. Breeding and possesion of particular dog breeds is forbidden in some Federal States (Bundesländer). Three Länder (States) do not have breed-specific legislation, the other 13 Länder have listed between 3 and 18 breeds. See (in German language).

In Switzerland, breed-specific legislation is being discussed since December, 2005.

See also


  • The Age, September 4, 2005, Crackdown on dangerous dogs 
  • Adam Morton in The Age, September 5, 2005, War on terrier given teeth as the law gets tough

External links

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 | Diane Whipple
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