What to do if a dog bites?

Verified 17 March 2023 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

You were bitten by a dog? We explain the steps that you can take and those that the owner or keeper of the dog must take.

Dog bites can cause infections and cosmetic sequelae.

Clean the wound, disinfect it, and dressing it with sterile gauze pads.

Monitor the appearance of the wound within hours and days.

See a doctor or go to the emergency department especially if:

  • Your tetanus vaccine is not up to date
  • Wounds are large or accompanied by other symptoms (pain, swelling, lymph nodes, infection, etc.)
  • You are immunocompromised (due to treatment, HIV, etc.) or have diabetes
  • You were bitten by a dog from a foreigner country that may have been infected with rage
Who shall I contact
Who shall I contact

1- You must report the bite to your town hall

You must report the bite to the municipality of your municipality of residence.

If your dog was under the care and supervision of another person at the time the bite occurred, that person can make the declaration to the town hall of his municipality of residence.

Any professional who has knowledge of the event in the performance of his duties (doctor, insurer, veterinarian, etc.) may also make this declaration.

Who shall I contact

2- You must submit your dog to a behavioral evaluation

You must submit your dog to a behavioral evaluation by a veterinarian selected from a departmental list.

The costs of this evaluation are at your expense.

The list of competent veterinarians is available on the website of your prefecture or on request from the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations.

Who shall I contact

The purpose of the behavioral assessment is to assess the potential danger your dog may pose.

There are 4 levels of danger.

The veterinarian classifies your dog at one of these 4 levels.

And, depending on the level of danger your dog is classified in, you may or may not need to renew the behavioral assessment within a certain time frame:

Tableau - Validity of the behavioral evaluation of the dog

Danger level of the dog


Renewal of evaluation

Level 1

No particular risk apart from those inherent to the canine species


Level 2

Risk of low hazard for certain people or in certain situations

Every 3 years

Level 3

Risk of critical dangerousness for certain people or in certain situations

Every 2 years

Level 4

Risk of high hazard for certain people or in certain situations

Every year

Depending on your dog's classification level, the veterinarian proposes preventive measures to reduce its dangerousness.

The veterinarian also makes recommendations to limit contact with certain people and risk situations.

The veterinarian communicates the results of the behavioral assessment to your city hall.

Following this assessment, the Mayor may require you to take training in canine education and behavior and accident prevention.

This training leads to a certificate of fitness to keep a dog.

The duration of this training is one day.

It includes a theoretical part on dog knowledge, the relationship between the handler and the dog, aggressive behavior and its prevention.

This training also includes a practical part consisting of demonstrations and scenarios.

The training costs are at your expense.

If you don't meet these obligations, the mayor can order that your dog be impounded.

He may, in the event of serious and immediate danger and after obtaining the opinion of a veterinarian, have him euthanized.

3- You must subject your dog to health surveillance

You must have your dog monitored by a veterinary health officer to check that it does not carry the rabies virus.

The list of veterinarians with the health authorization in your department is available on the website of your prefecture or on request from the departmental directorate for population protection.

Who shall I contact

You must subject your dog to this health surveillance whether or not it is vaccinated against rabies.

This surveillance consists of 3 visits to the same veterinarian over a period of 15 days:

  • The 1re visit should be done within 24 hours of the bite
  • The secondme visit must be made at the latest 7 days after and the 3me the 15the day

In the absence of any symptoms leading to a suspicion of rabies, the veterinarian shall, after each of the first two visits, draw up a provisional certificate attesting that your dog does not show any suspicious signs of rabies.

After 3me visit, the veterinarian writes a definitive certificate attesting that your dog has at no time exhibited any symptoms that might suggest rabies.

During this surveillance period, you cannot sell or donate your dog, have it vaccinated against rabies, slaughter it or have it slaughtered without the authorization of the veterinarian.

The veterinarian shall draw up each certificate in 5 copies.

3 copies are provided.

You have to give 1 to the person who's bitten and 1 to the city hall.

During the surveillance period, if any signs of disease occur or if your dog dies, you must take your dog or its remains to the veterinarian without delay.

If your dog escapes and disappears, you must also immediately inform the veterinarian.

In case of suspicion of rabies, your animal is kept under observation and strictly isolated, unless impossibility would justify its immediate slaughter.

If your dog is found to be carrying the rabies virus, it is shot.


If your dog is not present at one of the 3 visits, the veterinarian must inform the police and the director of veterinary services of the department.

As the owner or keeper of the dog during the event, you are civilly liable for the damage caused by the animal, i.e. you must compensate the victim for the damage he has suffered.

You must immediately file a claim with your home insurer.


If you have taken out property and casualty insurance, the third party liability guarantee is included in your contract.

When declaring an accident, you must specify the circumstances of the event: date, place, contact details of the victim and witnesses.

Your insurer compensates the victim for the consequences of the bite.

If it is established that the victim committed a fault which caused the attack of the animal, your responsibility is not impugned.

If you're not insured, the victim can to bring proceedings before the court of justice competent to make good personal injuries.


If the owner of the dog cannot be identified, the victim may also to bring proceedings before the court of justice competent to make good personal injuries.

If the accident is due to negligence on your part, the victim can file a complaint.

If the victim dies as a result of the bite, you can be prosecuted.

Such aggression may constitute a manslaughter.

The public prosecutor may decide to sue you. If he decides that a trial must take place, he takes place before the correctional court.

You could face up to 5 years in prison and €75,000 of fine.

The penalties are increased to 7 years' imprisonment and €100,000 fines in the following cases:

  • Ownership or detention of the dog was prohibited by law or a court order
  • You were clearly intoxicated or under the clear influence of narcotics
  • The dog is a 1st or 2nd category dog and you don't have the training to be able to hold such a dog
  • The dog is a dog of 1re or 2e category and you don't have a detention permit
  • The dog of 1re or 2e category was in a public place and was not muzzled or leashed by an adult
  • The dog was abused by you
  • Vaccination of the dog against rabies is not up to date (when mandatory)

The penalties are increased to 10 years' imprisonment and €150,000 a fine where at least 2 of those circumstances were present when the manslaughter occurred.