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Are Pit Bulls Banned in Australia? Restrictions & Facts

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

brown pitbull with collar standing outdoors on grass

Are Pit Bulls Banned in Australia? Restrictions & Facts

Pit Bulls and Pit Bull-type breeds have a reputation for being aggressive, and they are banned or controlled in many countries, including Australia. Along with Presa Canarios, Dogo Argentinos, Japanese Tosas, and Fila Brasileiros, as well as wolfdog hybrids, Pit Bulls are banned in Australia.

Several cat breeds, primarily those that are hybrids of domestic and non-domestic breeds, are also banned. It is impossible to register these breeds with the local council, and failing to register a pet can lead to financial penalties and even jail time.

Read on for more information on Pit Bulls and details of the breeds that are banned in Australia.

About the Pit Bull

Pit Bulls are strong, tenacious, and energetic dogs. They do very well in canine sports and agility, and they can make excellent family pets and companions that are loyal to their owners. They do need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, or they may develop unwanted behaviors. Their loyalty and love also mean that they can become destructive if left alone for too long, and separation anxiety is possible with a Pit Bull breed.

pit bull training
Image Credit: Duane Saipaia, Pexels

Why It Is Banned

Unfortunately, the same characteristics that make Pit Bulls so effective in agility and canine sports have seen the breed raised by unscrupulous owners looking for fighting dogs. They have a strong bite force, will do anything to please their owners, and are fearless and tough. This has led to them being commonly used for dog fighting which, in turn, has led to some Pit Bulls being aggressive with people. Although it is no fault of the Pit Bull itself, the history of aggression shown by the breed has led to many countries around the world banning the breed.

Possible Penalties for Owning a Pit Bull

If the authorities believe that you own a Pit Bull, they will ask for proof that the dog is not a Pit Bull breed. Typically, this needs to be done via DNA testing. A lab result that shows the dog’s breed and that it isn’t a Pit Bull, should enable the owner to register the dog legally and safely. Otherwise, the authorities can seize the dog and can elicit a fine. The courts also have the power to hand down a jail term for owning this breed.

The 6 Other Banned Breeds in Australia

The Pit Bull is one of several breeds, or types, of dog that are banned in Australia.

1. Presa Canarios

Presa Canario purebred dog
Image Credit: TamaraLSanchez, Shutterstock

The Perro de Presa Canario, or Canary Dog of Prey, was first bred in the 15th Century and was used to guard farms. Its roles included bringing down larger dogs. The size and courage of the breed saw it also being bred for dog fighting, although the criminalization of dog fighting in the 1940s saw its decline. The breed is territorial and because it has been bred for fighting, it can be aggressive in the wrong hands, which has seen it banned from a number of countries including Australia.

2. Japanese Tosa

Tosa inu male dog closeup
Image Credit: acceptphoto, Shutterstock

Another dog that was originally bred for fighting was the Japanese Tosa. The difference in this breed is that dog fighting is still legal in its home country, Japan. Although fights are illegal in some major cities, it has not been made illegal at a national level. Most of the fighting dogs that are bred in the country are of the Tosa breed. The dogs, which take part in dog fighting that is said to be similar to Sumo, are large and very strong.

3. Dogo Argentinos

side profile of a dogo argentino's face
Image Credit: wsanter, Pixabay

The Dogo Argentinos is a large Mastiff-type breed. It was first bred in the 1920s as a big game-hunting dog. It hunted wild boar and pumas and was bred from the fighting dog of Cordoba. As well as being strong, it is agile and athletic. With early socialization and ethical training, the Dogo Argentino can become a loyal and loving companion, but it is banned for its history and prowess as a fighting dog.

4. Fila Brasileiros

Adult Fila Brasileiro
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock

Although originally trained to protect cattle from large predators like jaguars, the Brazilian Fila Brasileiro has gained a reputation for being one of the most impressive guard dogs. It is an intense protector and skilled at taking down large predators, which means it has also gained a reputation for being used to attack other dogs and people.

5. Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier
Image By: k9arteu, Pixabay

It is worth noting that the Staffordshire Terrier is not a controlled or banned breed in Australia. However, because it looks similar to a Pit Bull, it has been bred with Pit Bulls in a bid to create a cross that has the ferocity of the Pit Bull and the looks of a Staffy. Laws dictate that the Staffordshire Terrier itself is not illegal, but when crossed with a Pit Bull, the resulting dog breed is illegal to own.

6. Cane Corso

cane corso with collar and leash
Image By: Dioniya, Shutterstock

The Cane Corso is another breed that is legal to own in Australia, but only because there are so few of them. The Cane Corso is a very large and strong dog that has been banned in a lot of other countries, but with estimates suggesting that there are as few as 20 left in the country, Australia does not strictly prohibit them.


The Pit Bull breeds are controlled breeds, which means that they are illegal to own except in very specific circumstances and only with local state permission, which is rarely granted. If a dog is believed to be a Pit Bull and the owner cannot prove otherwise, it may be removed and euthanized, and the owner is given a fine and potentially even a prison sentence.

Other dog breeds that are banned in Australia include the Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, and the Presa Canario. However, pure Staffordshire Terriers are not illegal to own.

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Featured Image Credit: Caroline Ziemkiewicz, Unsplash

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