Learn the specifics of Washington State dangerous dog laws as well as the rules and requirements for keeping a dog that has been labeled as dangerous.

Washington Dangerous Dog Laws: What Is A Dangerous Dog?

We’ve covered Washington’s dog bite laws – but what about the state’s laws regarding dangerous dogs and potentially dangerous dogs? Let’s take a closer look.


The definition of a dangerous dog in Washington State is:

“Any dog that:

  • Inflicts severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property;

  • Kills a domestic animal without provocation while the dog is off the owner's property;

  • Has been previously found to be potentially dangerous because of injury inflicted on a human, the owner having received notice of such and the dog again aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans.”


The definition of a potentially dangerous dog in Washington State is:

“Any dog that when unprovoked:

  • Inflicts bites on a human or a domestic animal either on public or private property;

  • Chases or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack;

  • Has a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury, or to cause injury or otherwise to threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals.”


If you are a Washington State resident and own a dangerous dog according to the definition above, you must take the following actions:


  • Register your dog with the animal control office in your area.

  • Secure your dog in a proper enclosure – a structure with secure sides and a secure top on your property that prevents people from entering the area and that prevents the dog from escaping. The structure must also provide the dog with protection from the elements.

  • Post warning signs on your property regarding your dangerous dog.

  • Obtain $250,000 in liability insurance.


Because keeping a dangerous dog is both difficult and expensive, many dangerous dog owners opt to either give their dog up to someone else or to put the dog to sleep.


It is important to note that outside of state laws, cities and counties may have stricter laws regarding dangerous dogs, potentially dangerous dogs, dangerous dog breeds, or dogs with a history of aggression. Be sure to know all local dog ordinances.


Have you been bitten by a dangerous dog in Washington State? Speak with a Seattle dog bite attorney today to learn more about your case.