Danish Dog Act Goes into Effect July 1

Denmark’s new Dog Act banning 13 breeds goes into effect July 1, 2010. The following breeds are targeted though dogs said to be pit bull terriers and Tosas were  banned in 1991: 

 American Staffordshire Terrier

 Central Asian Ovtcharka

 Dogo Argentino

 Fila Brasileiro

 Caucasian Ovtcharka


 South Russian Ovtcharka


 Tosa (banned in 1991)

 American Bulldog



 Pit bull terrier (banned in 1991)

The new law provides that dogs of these breeds and crosses containing these breeds are not allowed to be bred, purchased, sold, imported, exported or transferred in Denmark though there is a long phase in period for breeders, up to June 30, 2015.

Banned dogs in Denmark as of July 1, 2010 may stay during a phase in period but must be kept on a short lead of no more than 2 meters and wear a closed muzzle when off the owner’s property.

The burden is on the owners to prove upon request by the authorities that their dog is not one of the banned breeds or a mix.   

The new law also provides for an "observation list" to be established by the Ministry of Justice. Breeds on the "observation list" are potentially dangerous breeds. Thus far, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweiler and Bull Mastiff have been placed on the observation list.

The Dog Act will be evaluated after 3 years.

Denmark is moving in the opposite direction from other European Union countries that have discovered breed discrimination does not work to prevent or reduce dog bite incidents.

In a well known study researchers in the UK examined the frequency and severity of dog-bite injuries at a hospital accident and emergency department. The UK’s Dangerous Dog Act bans four breeds of dogs, the pit bull, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasileiro, as well as mixes and dogs with the behavioral and physical characteristics of these breeds.  Under that law the Secretary of State can also ban any dog bred for fighting or which is of a "type bred for" fighting.

Researchers looked at a three month period before the breed bans and found there were 99 bites, 3% of which were by pit bull types. Two years after the ban was implemented, there were 99 dog bites in a 3 month period, and 5% were by pit bull type dogs. The percentage of bites involving "dangerous" dogs increased from 6% to11% following passage of the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The study also determined that the Act did not result in any decline in dog bite incidents with 73.9% before and 73.1% after enactment of the law. ("Does the dangerous dogs act protect against animal attacks: a prospective study of mammalian bites in the accident and emergency department", 1996, Klaassen B, Buckley JR, Esmail A., Department of Accident and Emergency, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, UK)

In fact, the UK Dangerous Dogs Act was declared a failure in 2007 when it was found numbers of dog bites had risen 10% in a year and 50% since 1998-1999. According to the BBC, hospitalizations due to dog bites increased by 25% after ‘pit bulls’ were banned in Britain.

A recent Spanish study compared dog bites during a four year period, 1995-1999, before BSL, and those from 2000-2004, following BSL. Breeds listed as dangerous were responsible for only a small percentage of bites both before and after the legislation. ("Spanish dangerous animals act: Effect on the epidemiology of dog bites", 2007, Belén Rosado DVM, MSc,, Sylvia García-Belenguer DVM, PhD, Marta León DVM, PhD and Jorge Palacio DVM, PhD, Animal Pathology Department, Faculty of Veterinary, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain; Merial Laboratorios, S.A., Tarragona, Barcelona, Spain)  
Another study in Germany from 2000-2002 tested several hundred dogs belonging to several breeds including those banned or deemed dangerous according to BSL. 95% of the dogs, regardless of breed, reacted appropriately during testing. 5% displayed excessive aggressive behavior in inappropriate situations. These instances were associated with the dogs’ fear or inappropriate handling by the owner.

The study found no significant difference between breeds and no indication of dangerousness in specific breeds. The study found no justification for the BSL. (Is breed specific legislation justified? Stud of the results of the temperament test of Lower Saxony, 2000-2002, Esther Schalke, DVM, Stefanie A. Off, DVM, Esther Schalke, DVM, Amelie M von Gaertner, DVM, Hansjoachim Hackbarth, DVM, PhD, Angela Mittmann, DVM, PhD, FTA; Institute for Animal Welfare and Behavior, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Hanover, Germany)

The results were then compared to tests done on a control group of golden retrievers. Again, no significant difference was found among the breeds in displays of aggressive behavior. There was no scientific basis for BSL. (Is there a difference? Comparison of golden retrievers and dogs affected by breed specific legislation regarding aggressive behavior, 2002, Stefanie A. Off, DVM, Esther Schalke, DVM, Amelie M von Gaertner, DVM, Hansjoachim Hackbarth, DVM, PhD, Institute for Animal Welfare and Behavior, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Hanover, Germany)

Basing its opinion on these studies, the Central Administration Court in Berlin, upheld a ruling that voided Lower Saxony’s ban on Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Pit bull Terriers and regulation of Rottweilers and Dobermans.

In June, 2008, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Gerda Verburg, announced to the parliament that the 15 year old rule banning pit bulls in The Netherlands would be lifted. A rule banning rottweilers that was instituted in 2000 will also be lifted. The reason? The breed specific  legislation failed to reduce incidents of dog bites.

These laws known as RAD or "Arrangement for Aggressive Animals" exempted registered, purebred dogs. RAD sought to eliminate non-registered dogs if their appearance was of the "pit bull type".

John Payne, then president of The Netherland’s Institute of Animal Control Officers, told the committee that then recommended elimination of the BSL, that an American pit bull terrier could be an "extremely good animal" depending on the owner.


Go to Animal Law Coalition’s BSL Watch and find out where state and local governments are considering breed discriminatory laws and use our talking points and resources to provide information and support for the effort to stop the discrimination and killing based on myths about a dog’s breed or appearance.    


6 thoughts on “Danish Dog Act Goes into Effect July 1”

  1. Instead of banning breeds why doesn’t Denmark ban the ACTUAL source of aggressive dog problems– irresponsible owners?

  2. It the person holding the leash that matters. Any breed can bite, even the little dogs. However, the reason the large dogs are a target is because the size of the bite usually requiring stitches. Little dogs bite just as much but not report
    because they normally do not require stitches.

    Add in the dog fighters, back to the person holding the leash. It is not the breed,
    but the owner at fault.

    When will the laws target the OWNERS and not the breed? Officials need to be educated on do behavior.

  3. Dog owners need to be proactive about all breeds of dogs. If nearly 3/4’s of all bites are not from the “dangerous” breeds, than most of the incidents are accidents that can have been prevented. Posting a property with simply a “Dog in Yard” sign gives visitors the heads up that a dog may be in the yard. Even the gentlest dog can become aggressive if surprised. this is a simple solution to what is becoming an out of control problem–but it doesn’t have to be. Visit http://www.doginyard.com!

  4. Not only are the owners responsible but you must factor in the breeders, over breeding, not selecting proper persons to sell their dogs too is contributing to the problem.
    Also the media needs to take ownership here as well…how many Poodle bites to they report??
    The correct way to handle BSL is from a multi-teir approach. Be proactive not re-active. With some understanding and common sense this problem can be resolved…the rite way…
    Everyone needs to contact the people making the decisions and speak up before we all loose our dogs.
    Maybe they should be the ones who put the dogs down so they can see their handy work first hand…
    Let them try taking my Boerboel! Like hell…
    The Boerboel Network

  5. Hello everyone

    I live in Denmark and I’m a dedicated dog lover but I don’t own any of the banned breeds.

    An outline of this new law:
    The following dogs are on the ban list:
    1)Pitbull terrier
    2) Tosa inu
    3) American staffordshire terrier
    4) Fila brasileiro
    5) Dogo argentino
    6) American bulldog
    7) Boerboel
    8) Kangal
    9) Central asian ovtcharka
    10) Caucasian ovtcharka
    11) Sout russian ovtcharka
    12) Tornjak
    13) Sarplaninac

    Regarding those breeds:
    A) All puppys “hatched” between March 17th and July 1th must be destroyed.
    B) All other dogs must use a leash of max 2 metres and wear a muzzle in public.
    C) It’s illegal to own, breed, import ANY of those races including mutts.
    D) They may only be handled by a person of 18 years or older.

    Worst of all, it’s the owners responsibility to prove the race of the dog.
    That means that all other races/mutts who LOOKS LIKE a banned breed is in risk of muzzles and destroying, unless the owner can prove which breed the dog is.

    Breeds on an observationlist, more likely to be banned:

    Polski owczarek podhalanski
    Cao fila de sao miguel
    Dogue de bordeaux
    Mastino napoletano
    Cane corsa italiano
    Staffordshire bullterrier
    Dogo canario
    Anatolian sheep dog
    Iberisk dogge
    The “Iberisk dogge” is a danish name, no FCI standard exists on a dog and google search results, return only pictures of snails. The Department of Justice says that the dog does not exist in Denmark, but a search of “Iberian Dog” will tell what kind of dog it is. I did the search, but none results on dog and still, the FCI does not have a standard of that dog-breed.
    It does not exists? But the Department of Justice bans it?

    Of course, something has to be done, but it’s proved in several other countries that BSL won’t work. And even worse, the danish government endanger all mutts and other breeds who LOOKS LIKE. In Denmark there are estimated 400.000 dogs without a pedigree, which makes them “lawless”.

    Does any of you know a way to put pressure on a government, organizations which can help, dog-lover-groups, contacts to dogexperts, aggression-studies, etc. All sorts of information will be appreciated.

    Best Regards
    Henrik, Denmark

  6. I totally agree with you. Its the owner 99% of the time who is the problem. Lack of supervision while around children etc. Kids aggravate dogs. I have seen it. No wonder the dog retaliates. I would also. Slap me I’ll slap you back. Kids can be mean.

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