Dangerous dogs

A dangerous dog is one that the council has declared to be dangerous because it has bitten or attacked a person or animal, causing serious injury or death.

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 empowers councils to declare a dog to be ‘dangerous’ if:

  • the dog has caused serious injury or death to a person or animal
  • the dog is a menacing dog and its owner has received at least 2 infringement notices for failing to comply with restraint requirements
  • the dog has been declared dangerous under corresponding legislation in another state or territory
  • or for any other reason prescribed.

Serious injury to a person or animal is 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
  • an injury requiring cosmetic surgery.

Dangerous dogs declarations

A dangerous dog declaration has effect throughout Victoria and it cannot be revoked, amended or otherwise altered.

A dog is automatically a dangerous dog under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 if it:

  • is kept for the purpose of guarding non-residential premises
  • has been trained to attack or bite any person or any thing when attached to or worn by a person.

This information does not apply to guard dogs on non-residential premises. For specific information on these dogs refer to the section on guard dogs.

Requirements for keeping a dangerous dog

Owners of dangerous dogs have a series of obligations imposed on them to make sure that members of the public are not attacked by their dog.

In public places a dangerous dog must be:

  • muzzled
  • on a lead, chain or cord.

The dog must always wear a red and yellow striped collar and the premises it is on must have dangerous dogs signs posted at the entrances.

The dog 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 18 years of age. Outside the private dwelling the dog must be kept in an enclosure that can be locked and  the dog cannot escape from.

The dog must:

  • be registered
  • wear the council marker
  • be permanently identified by microchip.

The dog and the owner's details must be placed on the Victorian declared dogs registry.

We have full details on Ownership requirements for dangerous dogs, including standards for the prescribed enclosures.

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

If you want to report the owner of a dangerous dog for failing to comply with prescribed restrictions, contact your local council for investigation.

Heavy penalties can be applied for offences of:

  • attacking again
  • being at large
  • not being kept according to the law on confinement and management of such dogs.

Owners are now subject to criminal offences if their dangerous dog kills or endangers the life of someone.

  • Owners can be jailed for up to 10 years if their dog kills someone.
  • Owners can be jailed for up to 5 years if their dog endangers someone's life.

Where the owner of a dog is under 18 years of age, 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).

The dog can be seized by the council and destroyed.

Report the owner of a guard dog

To report the owner of a guard dog for failing to comply with prescribed restrictions, contact your local council.

Guard dogs (on non residential premises) must:

  • wear a prescribed collar
  • be contained by a 1.8 metre high chain wire or solid fence
  • have closed fence gates

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.

Reporting dangerous dogs

To report a dangerous dog or a dog attack on a person or animal, call your local council or the Dangerous Dogs Hotline on 136 186.

What is the Dangerous Dogs Hotline?

The Dangerous Dogs Hotline gives the community an additional way of reporting.

The hotline 136 186 operates 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. You will be connected to our customer service centre. When prompted, select option 1 — to report an animal offence including a dangerous dog.

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.

Page last updated: 12 Jul 2020