Dangerous Dogs: Owning Attack and Guard Dogs

France has stringent laws regarding ownership of dangerous and attack dogs. Find out more here...

Which Dogs are Considered Dangerous in France?

There are 2 groups of dogs considered dangerous in France, classed as category 1 and category 2. Owners of category 1 and category 2 dogs must register their dog with the town hall and carry a licence for the dog issued by the town hall. In French this licence is called the Permis de détention d'un chien de 1er ou 2ème categorie.

Category 1 Dogs

  • Attack dogs (chiens d'attaque) without pedigree papers: 
  • Staffordshire terrier 
  • American Staffordshire terrier (Pitbull terriers)
  • Mastiff (Boerbull) 
  • Tosa 

Category 2 Dogs

  • Guard dogs (chiens de garde et défense)
  • Rottweiler (pedigreed) 
  • Staffordshire terrier and American Staffordshire terrier (pedigreed), 
  • Tosa Inu (pedigree)
  • Unpedigree and cross breeds dogs with "the appearance of a Rottweiller"

These dogs must be registered with a pedigree, which is recognised by the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. 

Note: The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a smaller breed than other Staffordshire breeds, with no proven dangerous tendencies. It is not classified as a dangerous dog.

Who can own a dangerous dog?

You can only only own a dog on the list of "dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs" (chien susceptible d'être dangereux) if you:

  • are aged 18 or older and if over 18 must not be under supervision
  • have not have been convicted of a crime or imprisoned
  • have not previously had the right to own a dangerous dog withdrawn

How to get a permit for a dog considered dangerous

It is obligatory to register the dog at the Town Hall (Mairie) and receive a licence (Permis de détention). Any dangerous dog owner without a permit may be fined and imprisoned. A form must be completed and submitted to the town hall along with the following documents. The permit is free of charge:

  • A behavioral assessment of the dog, performed by a veterinarian
  • A certificate of competency of the owner, issued by a certified trainer following a training course (the mairie can provide the contact details of certified dog trainers in a region)
  • Proof of identification of the dog,
  • Proof of valid anti-rabies vaccination
  • Proof of third party public liability insurance for the owner or handler of the dog
  • Proof of sterilisation (in the case of a category 1 dog)

If the dog is not yet eight months old, a provisional permit is issued and the dog must undergo a full behavioral evaluation at one year of age before the full licence can be drawn up.

The relevant forms can be downloaded here. Scroll down to Chiens dangereux.

Dog owners' responsibilities

Any dog, regardless of its category, which bites or injures a person must be reported to the town hall by the owner. The dog then undergoes a behavioural evaluation by a vet who will advise what the next steps will be.

Category 1 dog:

  • Acquisition, sale, purchase and importing these dogs is banned
  • Sterilisation of male and female dogs is compulsory (must have a veterinary certificate to prove this)
  • Access to public transport, public places and common areas in apartment buildings is prohibited
  • The dog may be taken to wide open places but must be kept on a lead and muzzled

Category 2 dog:

  • It must be leashed and muzzled in public places and on public transport

The Ministry of Agriculture has issued a safety guide on dangerous dogs (PDF in French)

Importing dangerous dogs into France

It is forbidden to import the following category 1 dogs into France:

  • Staffordshire terrier 
  • American Staffordshire terrier (Pitbull terriers)
  • Mastiff (Boerbull) 
  • Tosa 

Further information