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Advice & welfare

Mixed Breed Dogs

Why are SPCA dogs advertised as mixed breeds?

The vast majority of dogs entering SPCA care are mixed breeds. Unless we know the parents or have paperwork, we cannot be sure of which breeds may be part of a dog’s makeup. Research has clearly shown that visual assessment of mixed breed dogs is highly inaccurate, even when conducted by experts such as shelter workers, veterinarians and dog control officers.

How does SPCA assess dogs’ suitability for adoption?

All dogs entering SPCA care are assessed to identify those which require behavioural modification to prepare them for adoption and to assist with matching the animal to appropriate potential adopters. When assessing suitability for adoption, SPCA takes into account the dog’s behavioural history (if available), notes from staff and foster carers, daily behavioural scoring and standardised behavioural assessments.

Breed specific legislation

What is breed specific legislation?

Breed specific legislation is a blanket term for legislation which bans or places restriction on specific breeds or types of dogs. There is no evidence that breed specific legislation makes communities safer for humans or other animals. Decades of data have clearly demonstrated that legislation targeting specific breeds of dogs does not reduce incidents of dog bites. Multiple research studies have also shown that visual assessment of breeds is unreliable and inaccurate, even when assessed by people who are experienced

New Zealand’s Dog Control Act 1996 is an example of breed specific legislation. Under the Dog Control Act (1996), a dog may be classified as ‘menacing’ due to observed or reported behavior or due to their breed or type, as assessed based on visual assessment of the dog’s physical characteristics.

How are dogs classified as menacing due to breed or type?

Only the relevant territorial authority (Council) have the authority to classify a dog as ‘menacing’.

A dog may be classified as ‘menacing’ if there are reasonable grounds to believe the dog belongs wholly or predominantly to one or more breeds or types listed in Schedule 4. Schedule 4 includes four breeds - Brazilian Fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Perro de Presa Canario - and one ‘type’ - American Pit Bull Terrier.

The legislation does not contain a definition of what constitutes an ‘American Pit Bull Terrier type’ and it is left up to each territorial authority to determine how they establish reasonable grounds for believing a dog is wholly or predominantly one of the impacted dog breeds or types. This means that there is a chance that any dog of blocky build or other physical characteristics could potentially be classified by the local territory as ‘menacing’.

What happens if a dog is classified as ‘menacing’?

If a dog is classified as menacing by the Council, the owner must keep their dog muzzled when in public. Depending on the Council, there may be additional requirements, so we encourage you to reach out to your local Council for more information. Failure to comply with obligations can result in a substantial fine.

Can I appeal menacing classification?

Yes. When a dog is classified as a menacing dog, the dog owner has a right to object within 14 days of receiving the classification notice. Objections must be in writing to the territorial authority. Please contact your local Council for more information.

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