Dangerous dogs FAQs
What is a dangerous dog?
A dog that the council has declared dangerous because it has caused the death of or serious injury to a person or animal by biting or attacking.
Councils can also declare dogs to be dangerous if the dog is a menacing dog and its owner has received at least 2 infringement notices for failing to comply with restraint requirements, if the dog has been declared dangerous under corresponding legislation in another State/Territory, or for any other reason prescribed.
Serious injury: an injury requiring medical or veterinary attention in the nature of a broken bone, a laceration, the total or partial loss of sensation or function in a part of the body, or an injury requiring cosmetic surgery.
What are the requirements for keeping a dangerous dog?
Owners of dangerous dogs have imposed on them a series of obligations to make sure that members of the public are not attacked by such a dog.
A dangerous dog must be muzzled, on a lead, chain or cord and under control of a person over 17 years of age in public places. It must always wear a characteristic red and yellow striped collar and the premises it is on must have dangerous dogs signs posted at the entrances.
It must be confined behind an escape proof 1.8 metre solid or mesh fence if guarding, unless it is in the owner's house from which it cannot escape and any person entering is under supervision of a person over 17 years of age. Outside the private dwelling the dog must be kept in an enclosure that can be locked and from which the dog cannot escape.
The dog must be registered, wear the council marker and be permanently identified by microchip. Its details and that of the owner must be placed on the Victorian declared Dogs Registry.
Our website has full details on ownership requirements for Dangerous Dogs, including standards for the prescribed enclosures.
How can I find out if a dog has been declared dangerous?
Contact your local council with the details of the dog in question. They can inspect the dog and refer to their registration database or access the Victorian Dangerous Dogs Register to see if the dog has been declared as a dangerous dog.
Failure to comply
I want to report the owner of a dangerous dog for failing to comply with its prescribed restrictions
Contact your local council for investigation. Heavy penalties can be applied for offences of attacking again, being at large and not being kept according to the law on confinement and management of such dogs. The dog can be seized by the council and destroyed.
I want to report the owner of a guard dog for failing to comply with prescribed restrictions.
Guard dogs (on non residential premises) must wear a prescribed collar and be contained by a 1.8 metre high chain wire or solid fence and the gates must be closed. Entrances to the premises must have prescribed signage to indicate a guard dog is kept on site.
Failing to comply with legal requirements can mean owners are subject to heavy penalties. Contact your local council for more information.
What happens if my dangerous dog attacks someone?
Owners are now subject to criminal offences if their dog kills or endangers the life of someone. Owners can be jailed for up to 10 years if their dog kills someone, or for up to 5 years if their dog endangers someone's life. Where the owner of a dog is under the age of 18 years, the parent or guardian of that owner will be deemed the legal owner of the dog and subject to any penalties.
This applies to owners of :
- Attack trained dogs
- dangerous dogs declared due to attack
- declared menacing dogs
- guard dogs
- restricted breed dogs (both registered and unregistered).
Reporting dangerous dogs
How do I report a dangerous dog?
To report a dangerous dog, or a dog attack on a person or animal/pet call your local council. Alternatively you can call the Dangerous Dogs Hotline on 131 186. This number will connect you to the department's Customer Service Centre.
When prompted, select option 1 – to report an animal offence including a dangerous dog.
What is the Dangerous Dogs Hotline?
The Dangerous Dogs Hotline gives the community an additional way of reporting dangerous dogs.
The hotline operates 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and helps ensure local councils are alerted to reports of dangerous dogs.
All reports are recorded and information is forwarded to the relevant local council.
It is the Victorian Government's expectation that all dangerous dog reports received by local councils will be promptly investigated.
Caller information will be provided to councils where consent to do so is obtained by the hotline operators. If a caller's details are provided, it is expected local councils will follow up with the resident to inform them of the outcome.