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The Facts About DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy)


Q. What is the latest FDA update on DCM about?

A. On July 12, 2018, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a brief stating that they were investigating recently reported cases of a type of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM. The brief noted that some dogs who had this disease may have been fed certain types of diets. When researching a health concern, the FDA seeks to provide consumers with periodic updates on their progress. A second update was provided on February 19, 2019.

The FDA’s update of June 27, 2019 says it is “continuing to investigate and gather more information in an effort to identify whether there is a specific dietary link to development of DCM.” More specifically, its update provides no causative scientific link between DCM and our products, ingredients or grain-free diets as a whole.

Q. What is DCM?

A. DCM is a serious but rare condition. Of note, of the 77 million dogs in the U.S., 0.5% to 1% have DCM, and of those dogs with DCM, less than 0.1% are speculated to have DCM related to diet, although that is not scientifically proven. It is more prevalent in certain breeds, especially many larger dogs. While the cause of DCM is still unknown, it has recently been speculated by some that grain-free foods containing certain carbohydrates could potentially lead to a deficiency of the amino acid taurine in some dogs. Insufficient taurine in the body has been linked to DCM in several species of animals, including dogs. The carbohydrates cited in those reports cover a broad category of ingredients classified as legumes, which includes peas and lentils. In the recipes Champion makes, we emphasize fresh and raw meat with total animal-derived ingredients ranging from 50 to 85 percent of the finished product. Legumes are not a significant feature in Champion’s recipes, and never have been.

Q. What has the FDA learned so far from its research?

A. The FDA has not provided any scientific data or research on the cause of DCM, or whether or not diet has anything to do with the disease. Research on issues such as this typically take several years to complete.

Q. Which brands did the FDA list?

A. Over 50 brands were listed in the FDA’s ‘Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy Complaints Submitted to FDA-CVM Through April 30, 2019’, which included the majority of brands sold at specialty, but included non-specialty and multi-national brands.

Q. Why did the FDA list Champion foods in their update?

A. FDA claims it has an obligation, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to disclose the names of brands that are reported related to any specific health concern that the FDA is researching. The FDA’s announcement provides no causative scientific link between DCM and our products, ingredients or grain-free diets as a whole and it is unfortunate that the release of incomplete information is causing confusion among Pet Lovers about the food they purchase for their pets and the diets they follow.

Q. What role does diet play in DCM?

A. The exact cause of recent reported incidents of DCM has not yet been identified, but genetic predisposition is known to be a highly contributing factor to DCM in dogs in general. It is possible that multiple factors are playing a role.

Q. Does the FDA know what it is about these foods that may be connected to canine DCM?
A. At this time, it is not clear what it is about these diets that may be connected to DCM in dogs. There are multiple possible causes of DCM. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a potential cause of DCM, but it is not the only cause of DCM. Nutritional makeup of the main ingredients or how dogs process them, main ingredient sourcing, processing, amount used, or other factors could be involved.
The FDA has not yet determined the nature of the possible connection between these foods and canine DCM, so we do not have definitive information indicating that the food needs to be removed from the market.
Based on the data collected and analyzed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.
There have been a greater proportion of males than females, consistent with what is seen in genetic forms. The significance of this is unknown, but it may be that some cases are genetic in origin or a combination of diet and genetic tendencies.

Q. What’s Next?
A. The FDA is continuing to investigate and gather more information in an effort to identify whether there is a specific dietary link to development of DCM and will provide updates to the public as information develops.

Q. What is Champion doing about this potential issue?

A. Champion takes seriously our commitment to provide safe pet food that delivers complete and balanced nutrition, and we welcome new information that can help us keep this commitment. In the meantime, we have taken several actions and will continue to do so, which include:

  • We held two long-term feeding trials with enhanced DCM protocols on two different breeds of dogs – Beagles and Labs. We do these trials regularly on all of our diets, but we enhanced these trials to measure taurine levels in blood to see how diet impacted taurine levels over time. Not only did the dogs appear to enjoy the diet(s), the results were very positive, and all dogs did very well on our foods. We specifically tested ACANA Pork and Squash in these trials but generally have tested all of our product families in both ACANA and ORIJEN brands over the past few years.
  • We completed studies on starch, fiber, and amino acids including taurine in all our ACANA and ORIJEN diets. We compared across other industry diets that are both grain-based and grain-free. The purported theories around dietary links to DCM were not validated in any way in the data. We completed studies on starch, fiber, and amino acid in all our diets and found no concerns.
  • We performed digestibility and bioavailability studies of amino acids on different diets, with positive results.
  • We are actively working internally and with other industry leaders to research and learn more about DCM.
  • Champion’s senior nutrition scientist is working with a committee of nutrition experts from other pet food companies who meet regularly to review any DCM developments, research data, and evaluate ideas to continue to study and understand this topic.
  • We continuously evaluate all nutrients in our dog foods with the goal of constant improvement and evolution of Champion’s recipes. In September 2018, we reformulated and launched our ACANA Singles foods, adding more meat and taurine supplementation to exceed a Champion established minimum.
  • Our Biologically Appropriate foods mission is based on the best available research at any one time, including research into DCM. As more facts become known and accepted, Champion adjusts its foods accordingly with the ultimate goal of creating an ideal or optimal nutrient range for dog foods.
  • We created the Champion Transparency Council, opening our doors to established independent veterinarians and to pet lovers in the spirit of true openness.

Q. Is grain-free pet food safe for my pet?

A. Millions of dogs are thriving on grain-free dog food every day. The FDA’s investigation focuses on certain ingredients that figure more prominently in some pet food products labeled as grain-free. FDA is focusing on certain ingredients, including legumes like peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes, in its investigation, but has not identified any established causative scientific link between certain ingredients and incidents of DCM. In the recipes Champion makes, we emphasize fresh and raw meat, with total animal-derived ingredients ranging from 60 to 85 percent of the finished product. Legumes are not a significant feature in Champion’s recipes, and never have been. Grain-free diets can have many tangible benefits over grain-based foods in general and should not be categorized as a potential concern or problem.

Q. Should I avoid certain ingredients or grain-free dog food as a whole?

A. The FDA stated on July 12, 2018, February 19, 2019 and June 27, 2019 that the agency does not advise any dietary changes based solely on the information gathered. Grain-free diets can have many tangible benefits over grain-based foods in general and should not be categorized as a potential concern or problem.

Q. Should I be concerned if my pet’s food contains one of the ingredients mentioned by the FDA?

A. FDA has not linked any specific pet food or ingredient to incidents of DCM and has not recommended any changes to diet. It is important to make sure the food you are feeding your pet is formulated to be complete and balanced for a pet’s life stage. If you have additional questions related to a specific ingredient we suggest reaching out to us directly.

Q. What if Champion foods prove to have some effect on DCM?

A. There is still much to be learned about DCM. Of note, of the 77 million dogs in the U.S., 0.5% to 1% have DCM, and of those dogs with DCM, approximately 0.1% are speculated to have DCM related to diet, although that is not scientifically proven. There is no causative scientific data drawing conclusions or providing any evidence that links our foods, any grain-free foods, to DCM.

We are pet lovers ourselves, and as such, if any scientific evidence of dietary causative link to DCM was discovered, we would immediately move to modify our formulas and nutritional philosophy to continue to ensure we make the World’s Best Petfood.

Q. Why should I trust Champion?

While we and the industry work to learn more about DCM, you can trust that Champion foods (ACANA and ORIJEN) are safe for your pets. From our company’s founding in 1975, we have worked to source the highest quality ingredients and to source them whenever possible from local suppliers. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build the most sanitary, most state-of-the-art pet food facilities in the world; in fact, our operations surpass most human food production facilities. We make all our foods ourselves, we don’t use contract producers, so you can trust that ACANA and ORIJEN are made in strict accordance to our own recipes from high quality ingredients. And we employ food scientists and nutritionists who hold numerous PhD’s, MSc’s and who, along with our in-house veterinarian, test and research our foods every day. So, if you want to know if you can trust Champion, we ask that you judge us by our actions, not by unproven theories or by what others may say about us. Champion’s goal has always been to make the World’s Best Petfood, and to earn the trust of Pet Lovers everywhere.

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Guidelines for interacting with guide dogs


Guide dogs are usually working when we see them out and about. It is very important to abide by a few simple guidelines to keep the handler safe and the dog focused on the job at hand.

Guide dogs are friendly by nature; your help is required to maintain their good manners.
Please do not interact with a guide dog unless the dogs’ handler gives permission.
No interaction includes:
avoid eye contact with the dog
don’t talk to the dog
don’t feed the dog.

If the dog attempts to interact with you, please ignore it, move away if necessary, or turn your back on the dog.

These guidelines are for the safety of the guide dog handler. If a guide dog gets distracted or excited by people then it can be a safety
risk and may have to be withdrawn from guiding work.

If the handler does give permission for you to interact with the guide dog, please ensure you maintain a calm voice and gentle
handling. The aim is not to excite the dog too much in a workplace or public place. Guide dogs get plenty of time to play and have fun
when off duty. But when in a workplace we must ensure appropriate behaviour is maintained.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Blind Foundation Guide Dogs (09 269 0400) or talk to the guide dog handler

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NZ’s horrible animal abuse record – we won’t forget

animal abuse word cloud

For a country with so many pets, working and farm animals and a reputation for being clean and green, our treatment, or mistreatment of animals does not meet expectations.

Over 6500 animal abuse cases are reported every year. The SPCA release a list of shame each year containing examples of the worst of the worst. Unfortunately they don’t name them even though they have been convicted without name suppression. As a nation we should be ashamed of this record.

One website is not allowing convicted animal abusers to be lost over time. Have a look at and visit Petvocate on Facebookanimal abuse


The SPCA lists of shame are below, just click to visit.

WARNING some people may find the contents of the lists of shame upsetting.

SPCA’s List of Shame 2018

SPCA’s List of Shame 2017

SPCA’s List of Shame 2016


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BHA/BHT – Does ORIJEN contain BHA/BHT?

Champion’s ingredients and foods are never preserved with BHA/BHT or any other chemical preservative.

Champion never adds BHA or BHT (or any other chemical preservative) to our pet foods or ingredients, and all ingredients and foods are preserved with our proprietary blend of vitamin E with botanical extracts.

As BHA and BHT are typically present in pet food ingredient supply chains (for example, BHA and BHT are often present in the feed fed to chickens, turkey or duck) we work with our suppliers to ensure our ingredients enable Champion’s final product standards.

Champion’s BHA, BHT standard is set at true trace level not to exceed 5 ppm (parts per million) of BHA/BHT, which is 0.0005%, or one half of one thousandth of 1% – the lower limit of what most certified laboratories are able to detect or measure.

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Human Grade Ingredients?


All of our local poultry, fish, red meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables are passed fit for human consumption by the Government of Canada before arriving at our kitchens fresh each day. Our poultry, fish, lamb and beef meals, fats and oils are produced only from animals passed fit for human consumption by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – something few producers can claim.

Despite our lofty standards, we never claim our that our ingredients are “human-grade”. That’s because once ingredients leave the producer or processor and enter the pet food processor, they lose their “human-grade” classification. We encourage pet lovers to contact the producer of their food and ask whether they can actually verify their claim of “human grade”.

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NO. All our products are shipped directly from Canada to NZ then trucked direct to our facility in Whangarei where we are Biosecurity certified to unpacked it ourselves in-house.  MAF do not require ORIJEN or ACANA products be irradiated or treated in anyway what-so-ever and are completely safe for your pets.

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Animal Testing


This is a question we’re asked a lot, and our position on animal testing is simple – we conduct only those tests in which we would allow our own companion dogs and cats to participate.

If it’s not OK for our dogs and cats, THEN IT’S NOT OK FOR ANY OTHER CATS AND DOGS. 

We perform only non-invasive tests, which including palatability (taste), urine pH and digestibility (the latter through stool analysis only). These tests are never performed with dogs or cats kept in a laboratory environment (cages).

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Help your pet survive fireworks.


With Guy Fawkes just around the corner, pet owners across the country are gearing up to help their pets get through the stress that firework filled celebrations often bring.

Understand that the firework explosion that you hear is far more distressing to an animal. Fireworks emit sounds of up to 190 decibels (a full 110 to 115 decibels higher than the point at which damage to the human ear begins) and can damage the animal’s far more acute sense of hearing. They generate a noise level higher than the noise from gunshots (140 decibels) and low-level flying jets (100 decibels).

In an effort to keep pets safe and comfortable, here is an action plan with some ideas for you to use.


scared little dog

Plan your schedule around the celebrations so that you can ensure you are home with your pets from the early evenings onwards.

Take special measures to make this time easier on your pets:

Keep them securely indoors, with sufficient food and water. Try feeding them before the fireworks start. A full belly can help them relax and stay calmer.

Stay with them, providing comfort and love and, if they’re up to it, try playing games with them to make it a more positive experience

Play soothing music to try and drown out the frightening noises outside

If needed, give calming aids such as our K9 Anxiety

Prepare a ‘safe space’ for your pet, where they can retreat to should the stress prove to be too much for them – they will choose the spot, often in small nook – watch where they retreat to when feeling stressed, and prepare a comfortable bed for them with access to water

Remember that a traumatised animal is unpredictable, so source the help of a professional should you wish to aid an animal in distress

If you cannot remain at home during this time, be aware that the number of stray animals tends to increase over this period, largely due to runaways trying to escape the noise that causes fear, anxiety, panic and confusion. These escape attempts can often lead to injury, so try and ensure that they are kept in a safe space, limiting injury causing elements in the space.

Educate yourself on the overall impact of fireworks and consider this before partaking in the celebrations yourself. The negative impact of fireworks on the planet is massive – aside from causing huge emotional distress to all wildlife, not just our pets, they also produce light, noise and air pollution, while their often discarded remains contribute to an already serious litter problem.

In the unfortunate event of your pet going missing, be ready with an action plan to find them – let neighbours know, call all nearby vets in case someone has dropped your pet there, and if not ask your local council and SPCA. All pets should be chipped and having a tag with your contact number on during these higher risk periods can make reuniting you with your pet a lot easier.

Be prepared for fireworks to be let off any night over the next month or so. Not everyone is considerate enough to let them off when pet owners are expecting it and are prepared.


    Stay safe and keep your pets safe. It is up to you as they don’t understand what is happening.
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Remember them when they walk the rainbow bridge


It’s a fact, we will almost always outlive our pets. We all have different ways of remembering our them when they die.

I’ve found an Invercargill business that can help us do exactly that. The products they offer are great and look awesome and the people running the business are fantastic to deal with.

Have a look at their website

or check their Facebook page

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Can a dog walker help you?

dog walker flyer

In some countries it is illegal to leave your dog on its own for longer than 7 hours. I have heard of people wanting to introduce similar legislation in New Zealand although I think this would be extremely hard to get accepted.

But there are some good points raised within the argument for the law, and that’s why dog walking is big business in some areas of the world and growing in popularity in New Zealand.


Should you consider hiring a dog walker?

Does your dog have ‘accidents’ inside or damage furniture while you are gone? How about misbehaving when you get home? A tired dog is a happy dog and a dog walker can be just the ticket to help relieve the extra energy and get this behaviour under control.

When you think about your dog being alone in a kennel all day just waiting for you to come home and play, you can see the benefit of having a professional dog walker exercise your dog once or more per week to break that boredom and loneliness of being alone all day, every day.

The health benefit of the extra exercise can’t be understated. A healthier dog means less vet bills and money saved as well as a longer life for your best friend. The exercise and bonding time you get when you walk your dog is very valuable so don’t replace your walk time completely by hiring a dog walker every day.

 If you have a busy schedule or even a one off event, a dog walker can relieve you of the guilt of not being able to get home in time for the regular walkies.

 Most dog walkers exercise more than one dog at a time unless you request otherwise so the walk becomes a fun social event with playmates to enjoy a good outing with.

 person walking dog

Do your homework, check out a person you are thinking of hiring. Can they produce a clear criminal check? Do they have references or can they give you contact details for past clients that are willing to provide a reference for their service?


Make sure you are happy with the person you hire, chances are you will be inviting them into your property and maybe even your home when you are not there.


We have had a few customers use a local dog walker and from feedback we are happy to recommend this service. If you are thinking about a dog walker give Jan a call to discuss your needs as she offers more than simply walking your dog.


dog walker flyer



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Dr Google and Nurse Facebook

no facebook google

Many people spend months or years studying to become the trusted expert in their field. Not only do these people have educated knowledge they often have a heap of experience to call on when needed.

We seek out these people when we need help, treatment or advice. We trust their opinion and follow what they tell us. It is normal for us to pay them a lot of money for what they offer us.

I’m guessing this cost is a major cause of people deciding to search out answers online, but is it a good idea?

We all know there is a lot of rubbish online and as much as we try to we can’t sort the good from the bad. To be able to do so would mean we already know what the correct information is and therefore we would not need to search in the first place.

So we choose to believe much of what we read online without actually understanding the accuracy of the information we are facebook google

Social media links us to thousands of people with varying degrees of knowledge, so we ask them. Sometimes an actual expert (at least they tell us they are anyway) might answer our question but more often than not, it is an unqualified person who thinks they have an answer for whatever reason, be it through their own experience over time or something they have been told by someone.

These social media contacts are most likely genuinely trying to help and sometimes they do but what worked for them may not work for you.


Please ask a qualified expert for advice and avoid Dr Google and Nurse Facebook when you need help with your dog, unless you can be 100% certain the information is accurate.

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New puppy owners, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

don't panic

New puppy owners, there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Time heals all wounds.  This too shall pass.  Times, they are a changin’…

Yep!  Nothing stays exactly the same for long, and this is especially true for the phases that puppies go through as they grow into adults.

Trainers know that young dogs are just ‘naturally naughty’ – so staying calm and being consistent with the rules is just what the doctor ordered, don’t panic!

And why not?  The dog that you’ve bought 22 chew toys for (who is destroying the tassels on your favorite rug) is often the only one you’ve had as an adult.

It could be the very first time you’re caring for a dog, and if you think all you have to look forward to is living with a chewing, nipping, barking, peeing machine – who wouldn’t freak out just a little bit?

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The 5 reasons so many dogs tear their cruciate ligament

The 5 Reasons So Many Dogs Tear Their Cruciate Ligament

This article is reproduced from this website

by Dr. James St. Clair. Posted in Food for Thought

Why is it that an ACL injury in dogs is the most common orthopedic injury of all veterinary medicine?  Did nature not make this ligament strong enough in dogs? Is it due to bad breeding or are there other factors in play here with relation to this injury?Crucial Ligament

This question comes up a lot in discussions with my clients.  At the end of the day they want to know why their dog got this injury. Here are the 5 Most Common predisposing factors to ACL injuries in dogs.

  1. Bad Breeding: We are all familiar with the term hip dyplasia. It has been well documented that the two most common causes of this disease condition in dogs are bad breeding and over nutrition at a young age. We will dig into this more in a future post. But how do hip problems lead to ACL injury?  It is simple. Compensation.
  2. Over the years we have made the direct correlation that if a dog blows their right ACL then you must X-ray the hips and many times you will see that the left hip is not good.
    This all makes sense right? If your left hip hurts an you are going to compensate and place more weight and stress on your right leg. Over time this added stress weakens the Cranial Cruciate Ligament in that right knee.  All it takes is the right movement or hyperextension in the right and POW you blow the right.
  3. Natural Load: Dogs walk with their knees bent at all times. This means that the ACL ligament always is “loaded” ie. carrying weight. Whereas in humans we walk with force on our knees straight up and down. This is why in people we mostly see injury to the ACL in athletes who hyperextend the knee, for example, football or basketball players.
  4. Weight: It is well documented that approximately 50% of dogs today are clinically overweight and in most cases obese. Obviously, the more weight on the ligament the more strain over time.
  5. Weekend Warrior Syndrome: This is what I call the plague of the domestic dog. Most dogs are natural athletes but in western society due to our lifestyle and work schedules we don’t give our dogs enough exercise on a regular basis. And then when we do allow them to be dogs and exercise more often than not, we overdo it. Clearly, lack of exercise means weaker muscle and weaker soft tissue ligament, therefore, making them more prone to injury.
    The most common description of this injury goes something like this: the dog was chasing a ball, squirrel, other dog and then the owner heard a yelp and when the dog came back into the house it was holding its leg up.
  6. Lack of Recognizing Early Warning Signs: Many times dogs have joint health issues which are underlying and go undiagnosed by both pet owners and veterinarians due to lack of people’s understanding of what I call the 12 subtle signs of arthritis. Check out the video discussing these 12 signs at

So the sum and substance is this:

In order to give your dog the best opportunity of avoiding an injury to their ACL, make sure that they are of ideal body weight, exercise them on a regular basis and don’t allow them to overdo it without proper conditioning, get a prophaltix X-ray taken of their hips and lumbar spine to ensure good body structure and, lastly, be informed about the early warning signs of arthritis

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Help a dog, make an enemy.


Today I had an interesting experience, one I hope is not very common. I happen to walk outside early this morning just in time to see a young boy running with his dog. At first I smiled thinking this is really good. What I saw next was rather disturbing to me.

Obviously the dog was not doing what the boy wanted, not that any attempt was being made to let the dog know what was actually wanted. So the boy decided to hit and kick the dog, not once but several times. I was not the only one to see this behaviour, another person saw it happening again a bit further down the road.

Once I had confirmed who the boy was I decided to pay the parents a visit. I’m not sure if this really was the right thing t do but I couldn’t do nothing.

I was rather surprised to find a parent who really didn’t care too much, in fact was defending their son’s actions as he blatantly lied to the parent saying he never did anything. He did quickly change his story slightly to admit hitting and then kicking the dog just once. Still nothing from the parent!

I strongly expressed my dissatisfaction about this behaviour and even offered to teach the boy correct behaviour and how to train the dog, no charge. Once again nothing.


If this is the behaviour being taught to children these days, then some parents really should be ashamed of themselves.


I live in a small town where confronting others can be frowned upon. I have no doubt I am now not a person that is liked by the parent in question and in turn their partner. Do I care? No, of course not. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the parents will do something about this situation. But will they? I doubt it.


I would do this again tomorrow if the same situation arose. I hope I never again have to stand up for a dog being treated this way but in reality I know it won’t be the last time.


How would you react if you were in my position?

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Are you complying with the Dog Control Act?



The law dealing with the care and control of dogs is contained in the DOG CONTROL ACT 1996.

As well as caring properly for their dog, dog owners are responsible for protecting people from their dogs; this is especially so if the dog is known to be aggressive.

Registration of dogs

Every dog owner in New Zealand must register their dog with their local council, if the dog is over three months old. You can be fined up to $3,000 if you do not do this.

You must make sure that the registration label or disc issued by the council is attached to a collar worn on the dog’s neck. A Dog Control Officer or Dog Ranger can seize a dog not wearing the label or disk if the dog is found in public or on someone else’s property and is not under anyone’s control.

You must inform the council within 14 days if you change your address or if the dog gets a new owner. You can be fined up to $500 if you fail to do this.


From 1 July 2006, owners of all newly registered dogs are required to have a microchip transponder implanted under the dog’s skin. This does not apply to sheep dogs and other dogs used solely or mainly for herding or driving stock.

From the same date, all dogs classified as “menacing” or “dangerous” since 1 December 2003 must also be microchipped.

Owners will have two months to comply. Owners who don’t comply can be fined up to $3,000.

Caring for your dog

Dog owners must make sure that their dog receives proper care and attention and is supplied with adequate food, water and shelter. They must also make sure that the dog is adequately exercised. It is an offence not to take proper care of a dog, punishable by a prison term of up to three months or a fine of up to $5,000.

If you believe a dog is not being adequately cared for, you can report the matter to an organisation such as the SPCA or to a Dog Control Officer from your local council.

Control of your dog generally

Owners must keep their dogs under control at all times. If a dog is not under control, a Dog Control Officer or Dog Ranger can seize the dog and either return it to its owner or impound it. The owner can also be fined up to $3,000.

When a dog has been roaming at large, a Dog Control Officer or Dog Ranger can come onto the owner’s property (but not into the house) to seize the dog, if the dog is not constrained or under the control of someone 16 or older.

Your responsibilities when your dog is out in public

From 1 December 2003, you must use or carry a leash at all times when you take your dog out in public (unless the dog is a guide dog, a sheep or cattle dog, or other type of working dog).

“Menacing” dogs must be muzzled at all times when out in public, while “dangerous” dogs must be both muzzled and leashed when in public.


Your responsibilities when your dog’s on your own property

From 1 June 2004, dog owners must make sure that when their dog is on their property it is under someone’s direct control or is confined so that it cannot freely leave the property.

If you fail to comply, a dog control officer or dog ranger can come onto your property (but not into your house) to seize the dog, and you can be fined up to $3,000.

Barking dogs

If someone complains to the council that your dog’s barking is causing a nuisance, a Dog Control Officer or Dog Ranger can give you a written notice requiring you to prevent the dog barking, and if necessary to remove the dog from the property. The Dog Control Officer or Ranger has the right to go onto your property (but not into your house) to inspect the conditions under which your dog is kept. You have the right to object to the local council about the notice.

If you don’t comply with the notice you commit an offence and can be fined up to $1,500.

If a notice has already been issued and the council receives another complaint, a Dog Control Officer or Dog Ranger can go onto your property and seize your dog.

“Dangerous” dogs

Local councils will classify a dog as “dangerous” if:

  • its owner has a conviction for the dog attacking people or animals, or rushing at people, animals or vehicles, and the Court didn’t order the dog to be destroyed (for those offences, see below “Dogs causing injury or damage” and “Dogs rushing at people, animals or vehicles”), or
  • the council believes the dog is a threat to people, stock, poultry, domestic animals or protected wildlife, on the basis of reasonable grounds and sworn evidence of aggressive behaviour, or
  • the owner has admitted the dog is dangerous

If your dog is classified as dangerous, the council must give you written notice of this. You then have the opportunity to object in writing.

The owner has one month after getting the notice of classification to make sure that the dog is kept within a securely fenced part of the owner’s property. This fenced area must be one that does not need to be entered in order to get to the house.

The owner must also keep the dog muzzled and leashed whenever out in public, although the dog need only be muzzled and not leashed if it’s in a council-designated dog exercise area. (These requirements apply also if the owner knows that the dog is dangerous or that it has attacked people, animals or property, even if the dog hasn’t been classified as dangerous.)

The owner of a dog classified as dangerous must also get the dog neutered, and cannot give or sell the dog to anyone else without the council’s written consent.

Owners who fail to comply with these requirements relating to dangerous dogs can be fined up to $3,000. The dog must also be destroyed unless the circumstances are exceptional.

If a local council classifies a dog as dangerous, this classification applies throughout New Zealand.

“Menacing” dogs

Dogs that haven’t been classified as dangerous may be classified as “menacing” if the council thinks they are a threat to people, stock, poultry, domestic animals or protected wildlife, on the basis of any observed or reported behaviour of the dog or on the basis of any characteristics typically associated with the dog’s breed or type.

Dogs must be classified as “menacing” if they belong, wholly or predominantly, to one of the following breeds:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Dogo Argentina
  • Brazilian Fila
  • Japanese Toza.

The council must also classify a dog as “menacing” if its owner has a conviction for the dog attacking or rushing at people or animals, and the Court didn’t order the dog to be destroyed (see below “Dogs rushing at people, animals or vehicles”). However, the council doesn’t have to do this if the circumstances were exceptional and don’t justify the dog being classified as “menacing”.

If your dog is classified as “menacing”, the council must give you written notice of this. You then have the opportunity to object in writing.

You must keep the dog muzzled whenever it’s in a public place or on someone else’s property. But it doesn’t have to be leashed as well (unlike a “dangerous” dog).

Local councils can also require menacing dogs to be neutered.

Owners who fail to comply with requirements as to menacing dogs can be fined up to $3,000.

If a local council classifies a dog as menacing, this classification applies throughout New Zealand.

Dogs causing injury or damage

The owner of a dog that attacks any person or animal can be fined up to $3,000, whether or not the owner knew that the dog was dangerous. This is in addition to any civil damages the owner may have to pay the person who suffered the injury or damage. If the dog hasn’t already been destroyed, the court imposing the fine must order the dog to be destroyed, unless the circumstances were exceptional.

Anyone who sees a dog attacking a person or animal or who is attacked by a dog may immediately seize the dog or destroy it.

If your dog seriously injures someone or kills any protected wildlife, you can be imprisoned for up to three years or fined up to $20,000, or both.

Dogs rushing at people, animals or vehicles

Dog owners commit an offence if their dog is in a public place and

  • rushes at or startles any person or animal, and in so doing causes a person to be killed, injured, or endangered or causes property to be damaged or endangered, or
  • rushes at a vehicle and causes an accident

The owner can be fined up to $3,000, in addition to paying any civil damages. The court can also order the dog to be destroyed.

The owner may not be liable if they can show that they took reasonable steps to prevent what happened.

Importing of certain dog breeds banned

It is illegal to import any of the following breeds or types of dog (including semen, ova and embryos):

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Dogo Argentina
  • Brazilian Fila
  • Japanese Toza
Cautionary notes
  • In general, dog owners are responsible for their dog’s actions. Take all possible steps to ensure that your dog is under control and will not hurt anyone.
  • Whether you are liable for a fine or civil damages may come down to the facts of your particular case. You may need to get legal advice.
  • Putting up a sign warning of a dangerous dog does not relieve the owner of legal responsibility if the dog hurts someone. In fact it may make matters worse, as it indicates the owner knew the dog was dangerous.


The information contained in the post is correct to the best of our knowledge. K9 Essentials including all staff/owners advise you to talk to the authorities if required and take no responsibility for problems, legal or otherwise arising from information within this post.