Adopter un chien catégorisé : le parcours du combattant

Adopting a regulated dog: the obstacle course

In France (and everywhere else), adopting a so-called "categorized" or "dangerous" dog can turn out to be more complicated than it seems.

If, like us, you love these animals beyond prejudice and want to save an animal from the shelter, we recommend that you read the following lines.



In France, so-called "categorized" dogs are listed as follows:

  • Category 1: "attack dogs"

"Pit bull" type dogs

"Mastiff" type dogs

"Tosa" type dogs

As a general rule, first category dogs are not LOF.


  • Category 2: "guard and defense dogs"

American Staffordshire Terrier




Owning a category dog involves obligations for the owner as well as restrictions. A detention permit has been made compulsory since 2010, and is obtained from the town hall of your place of residence, after having provided the following supporting documents (useful links here and here):

  • Certificate of ability

7-hour training on the subject of canine education and behavior, the main goal of which is the prevention of accidents and risky behavior. Training can only be given by a state-approved trainer. To obtain a list of trainers, contact the DDPP of your department or your town hall.


  • Behavioral assessment

The dog must be evaluated by a licensed veterinarian between 8 months and 1 year, or for a dog that has bitten. The evaluation allows the veterinarian to rate the dog's aggressiveness and dangerousness with a score from 1 (non-dangerous) to 4 (dangerous).

  • Level 1 – no particular risk – the assessment does not need to be redone

  • Level 2 – low risk – assessment to be repeated every 3 years

  • Level 3 – critical risk – assessment to be repeated every 2 years

  • Level 4 – high risk – assessment to be repeated every year


We strongly condemn this practice because the purpose of this evaluation is to push the dog to its limits to check if, in the long term, it is led to bite. A non-dangerous or uncategorized dog could very well be pushed to defend itself and take action, yet only categorized dogs are tested.


  • Identification of the dog

Issued by I-CAD


  • Rabies vaccination


  • Certificate of sterilization (only compulsory for dogs of 1st category)


  • Holder's civil liability insurance certificate

    (Dangerous dogs option to add to your insurance policy)


  • Be of legal age and provide a clean criminal record


All categorized dogs must, without exception:


  • Be identified
  • Be vaccinated
  • Kept on a leash by an adult and muzzled in public spaces


You know the obligations and restrictions inherent in keeping these dogs, you still want to adopt and save a dog from the shelter, here is our advice.



The visit to the shelter

Expect a definite refusal from the shelter's caregivers, depending on the dog you have in mind and your environment. This has happened to us many times!
They know the background of the dog, they take care of it every day.

Instead of turning against them in case of refusal, keep their arguments in mind. Shelters have very strict criteria to find the right family for the dogs in their shelter, they want to be sure to make the right placement, we can understand that! Do not hesitate to engage in an open and sincere discussion with the caregiver, while remaining calm. From experience, it is better to have a long discussion and show your determination to get a dog out of the shelter rather than leaving empty-handed.


The steps to follow (patience is required!)

You have found the dog that could correspond to you, the animal agents are ready to do tests, several steps await you:

  • Take the dog out of its kennel


Walk him on a leash, muzzled, if possible outside the premises of the refuge.


Study his reactions and his interactions with you, with other walkers, with other dogs. Pay attention to his reactions to noises and cars.


Don't rely too much on his training (or lack thereof) at this time. Shelter dogs generally go out once a day, for half an hour, walked by volunteers who are not dog trainers.

They are excited, stressed, can pull and won't want to spend their daily half hour outside listening to your commands.


You can try, using treats, and if allowed, testing basic commands such as "sit", "down" or "heel" if the dog has been exercising enough.


Take advantage of the outing to check the general condition of the dog (skin, lesions, gait, energy, etc.). The shelter is required to treat small problems and bigger ones.

This will also allow you to know the reaction of the dog when it comes to handling it.

  • You already have one or more dogs at home

You will need to make sure that your animals get along before bringing an additional dog into the pack.

Most shelter dogs are advertised as having a bad relationship with canines, for several reasons. If you know your dogs well, and you know that the problem will not come from them, try a meeting, on a leash at first, and analyze the behavior of each (indifference, players, aggressiveness, etc.). The signals that emerge from the first meeting will allow you to know if a second visit can be considered or if it is necessary to stop there.

Multiple visits allow the refuge to ensure a good placement, and allow you to visualize what will come next.


  • You already have one or more cats at home

Here again, you risk coming across dogs who, at first glance, do not approve of felines. It is up to you to take the necessary steps and precautions to ensure that felines and canines get along and can live under the same roof. Nothing is impossible, we have experienced it ourselves.


Congratulations, you've passed all the steps and are on your way to finalizing your adoption! A few tips for the first few days at home:

  • Don't let go of your dog just yet
  • Prepare a dedicated space for him, away but not locked up
  • Avoid toys (if you have other dogs at home)
  • Your dog should only have eyes for you for the first few days. You are the new pack leader, your orders count and your presence is important
  • Be patient, get to know each other. The dog has a past that you do not necessarily know. Bring him security, routine, a frame
  • Integrate the dog into your pack or your loved ones gradually
  • Do not wait to instill the education you want to put in place. It's never too late to correct, but don't wait too long.
  • Pass your health visit to your veterinarian (after 90 days)

For more tips on integrating into your pack, be sure to come back to our blog here.


If adoption is not yet possible for you, consider the small gestures that can help shelters and dogs in need:

  • Donations of clean blankets, food or accessories.
  • Financial donations, memberships and sponsorships
  • Volunteering (walks, DIY, care, etc.)
  • Spread awareness to those around you 


2 years after the passing of our female Amstaff, the Pets Ark welcomed a new furry friend to its pack, Raya, adopted from the shelter.



See you next on The Pets Ark!  

The Pets Ark Family 


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