Dogs and puppies

Dogs and puppies

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When you buy a dog or a puppy, it must be:

  • of satisfactory quality;
  • fit for its purpose;
  • as described.

In addition, any person buying a dog or a puppy has the right of an implied guarantee that the seller can sell the dog or puppy. This means that, although this guarantee may not be in writing, the seller still promises that nobody else has any right to prevent the sale.

You can find out more about your rights in the section Introduction to your legal rights.

Other laws regulate the keeping, breeding and selling of dangerous dogs.

Identification of dogs and puppies

Owners must make sure your dog wears a collar with an identification tag with the owners' name, address and telephone number as required by the Control of Dogs Order 1992 and, in Northern Ireland, the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983.

All dogs must be microchipped by 6 April 2016 for identification purposes.

Dangerous dogs

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 make it a criminal offence to own, sell, gift or breed certain types of dogs that are considered to be dangerous (unless they're registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs). The following kinds of dog have been outlawed:

  • pit bull terrier
  • Japanese tosa
  • dogo Argentino
  • fila Brasileiro

In the UK, dangerous dogs are classified by type, not by breed. This means that whether a dog is banned depends on its physical characteristics and whether they match the description of a banned type of dog. The courts are responsible for assessing the physical characteristics of the dog and can decide whether the dog should either be destroyed or placed in the Index of Exempted Dogs.

It's also an offence to be the owner of any dog that is dangerously out of control in a public place or in a private place where the dog isn't allowed to be (e.g. a neighbour's house or garden). This rule applies to all dogs, not just dangerous ones.

Caring for the animal

Most sellers want to emphasise the need to care for the animal. To address this, the seller often puts a term in the contract of sale that asks the buyer to that they'll look after the animal. Unfortunately, this kind of term is very difficult to enforce and means very little in practice.

If you suspect that a dog or puppy is being mistreated, contact the following organisations: