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Kurī whakamatakū, mōrearea rānei

Dangerous or menacing dogs

If you own a dog that is classified as dangerous or menacing, you have an obligation to ensure you take all the necessary steps to ensure your dog is safe and secure at all times.

Dangerous dogs

Dogs can be classified as dangerous if:

  • the owner is convicted of an offence under the Dog Control Act 1996
  • the dog has acted aggressively and constitutes a threat to any person, stock, poultry, domestic animal or protected wildlife 
  • the owner admits in writing the dog constitutes a threat to any person, stock, poultry, domestic animal or protected wildlife

A dangerous dog classification lasts for the life of the dog. If there is a change of ownership, then all conditions imposed on the current owner apply.

Dog owners with a classified dangerous dog must:

  • keep the dog in a fenced off portion of the property which is not necessary to enter to access a door of any dwelling 
  • neuter the dog within four weeks of the classification 
  • microchip the dog within two months of the classification 
  • muzzle the dog when it is removed from the fenced area of the property or taken into any public place (even when on a leash) 
  • control the dog on a leash at all times
  • pay the dangerous dog rate for dog registration for the rest of the dog’s life, this is 150% of normal registration
  • obtain written permission from the council before selling or disposing of the dog 
  • disclose the dangerous dog classification to any new owners if there is a change of ownership 
  • advise any temporary owner or carer of all the requirements.

Dog owners legal responsibilities

Menacing dogs

In an attempt to reduce dog attacks, the Government introduced new legislation in 1996 - the Dog Control Act - that required certain types of dogs to be given a menacing dog classification.

The five breeds identified below have a reputation of being more likely to attack people than most other breeds. Dogs wholly or predominantly of these breeds will be classified as ‘menacing’.

  • American Pit Bull Terrier 
  • Brazilian Fila 
  • Dogo Argentino 
  • Japanese Tosa 
  • Presa Canario

In addition, council may also classify any dog as menacing if it considers the dog to pose a threat to any person, stock, poultry, domestic animal or protected wildlife.

An owner can object in writing to council to oppose the classification.

Department of Internal Affairs - Dog control

What does classified as dangerous or menacing mean for owners?


Dangerous or menacing dogs must be muzzled in public and kept on a lead. The Tauranga District Court has ruled that a classified dangerous dog must even be muzzled and controlled on a lead if it is in your house.


All dogs classified as menacing must be neutered, including dogs that are transferred to our district.

Neutering your dog (997kb pdf)


As the dog's owner, you will need to be extra cautious to ensure your dog cannot roam or cause nuisance/danger to any person or animal. 

Please do not leave your dog unattended around children or visitors. Any incident involving your dog will be treated seriously, due to your dog’s classification.

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