Dangerous and menacing dogs

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What is a dangerous or menacing dog?

Dogs can be classified as dangerous or menacing if they act in an aggressive manner bite or attack or behave aggressively towards a person or another animal. 

The Hamilton City Council  may classify a dog as 'menacing'​ if it considers that a dog poses a threat to any person, stock, poultry, domestic animal or protected wildlife because of:
  • any observed or reported behaviour of the dog, or;
  • any characteristics typically associated with the dogs breed or type.
​The owner of any dog that has been classified as dangerous or menacing pays 150 per cent of the usual registration fee - see our fees and charges list for details.

​See below for more information on restrictions and requirements in relation to dangerous and menacing dogs. 

Also below, you'll find links to tips on safety and education around dogs​, including links to maps where you can safely exercise your dog in Hamilton city and its parks and surrounds.

What about barking?

Barking is not necessarily an indication of a dog behaving in a dangerous or menacing manner. Most often, a barking dog is just alerting its owner to something or barking in response to other dogs barking in the area. However, if a dog's barking is frequent or continues over an extended period, the dog may be bored or frustrated. 

Check out our information on barking dogs​ and what to do in relation to this issue.

Report an incident

​​Please contact our Animal Education and Control Team if you wish to report a dangerous or menacing dog or other dog-related issue.

Our team attends a number of incidences every year - check out our team's activities report from last year and check out what might happen when an incident is reported - see incident/complaint outcomes​ below.

What restrictions are placed on a dangerous or menacing dog?

Menacing dogs

Under Schedule 4 (clause 3) of the Dog Control Act 1996​.​ following breeds/crossbreeds of dogs are classified as menacing by breed and cannot be imported into New Zealand:

  • Brazilian Fila.
  • American Pitbull Terrier.
  • Japanese Tosa.
  • Dogo Argentino.
  • Presa Canario.
A dog will be automatically classified as menacing if it is one of the breeds listed above. A dog will also be classified as menacing if there is clear factual evidence of aggressive behaviour on the part of the dog and/or verifiable witnessed behaviour of its actions. The behaviour need not be an actual attack on a person or another animal (see below); frequent and intense displays of aggressions and/or uncontrolled generally aggressive behaviour is sufficient to result in a dog being considered for this classification.

Menacing dogs are required to be microchipped, neutered and muzzled as well as kept on a leash in public places. 

Dangerous dogs


A dog will be classified as 'dangerous' by the Council if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • The dog owner has been convicted under Section 57 of the Dog Control Act 1996​ (dog attacking a person or animal).
  • There is sworn evidence that the dog has been aggressive.
  • The owner admits the dog is dangerous.

Dangerous dogs are required to be microchipped, neutered and muzzled as well as kept on a leash in public places - and they are also are required to be kept within a fully fenced area.​​

Registration and microchipping

All dogs should be registered and microchipped. As noted above, there are also extra requirements in relation to dangerous or menacing dogs. Check out our information on dog registration and microchipping:

​​Incident/complaint outcomes

​If we receive a complaint that your dog has attacked a person or another animal and our animal education (and control staff believe there is an ongoing danger to other people and animals around the dog), we do have the authority under the Act to remove and impound it pending a further investigation of the alleged incident.

The outcome of an incident investigation and further assessment may result in a fine and/or specific conditions being placed on your dog and it will be classified as dangerous (if it has not been already). In severe cases, you may also be asked to surrender your dog to us to be humanely euthanased. 

Each incident is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Safety and education around dogs

Read our tips about safety around dogs and find out how our Animal Education and Control Team's dog education​ services for the community, businesses, organisations and individuals.

Check out our maps which show you where you can safely exercise your dog in Hamilton's parks as well as our city and its surrounds.

Check out the Dog Safety websiteWaikato Canine Obedience Club and Doglinks community portal page​ for more tips, support and resources.


Page reviewed: 30 Aug 2016 1:15pm