Over the last few decades the ownership of dogs primarily as companion animals has increased in the urban population, with benefits for the individual and the community. But, inevitably, it has also had some drawbacks.
Dog bite injuries have recently received increased publicity. Serious incidents involving dangerous dogs in several Member States have sparked fierce reactions and have led some Member States to call for a Community initiative to address this problem. This should however be seen in the context that the majority of dogs never bite anyone.
Dog bite injuries may be caused by various factors such as uncontrolled playing behaviour, lack of training, fear, pain, inappropriate offensive or defensive reactions. Sometimes dogs are also used as a weapon by criminals or are kept for fighting purposes.
To attempt to control these negative aspects of the dog-human interaction different countries have implemented various legislative measures. These measures can be divided into two categories. The first addressing the behaviour of the individual dog and the second addressing the behaviour of certain breeds or breed types.