Dog Laws In North Carolina

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While North Carolina does not have a dog bite statute, it does have a “Dangerous Dog” statute. The owner of a dangerous dog shall be liable for damages or any injuries that a dog inflicts upon a person, without the need to prove that the owner was negligent, provided the injured person was not was committing a willful trespass, tormenting, abusing, assaulting the dog or committing or attempting to commit a crime.

North Carolina’s dangerous dog statutes do not apply to certain dogs such as law enforcement dogs and hunting or herding dogs.

There is no requirement that the injured person prove that the dog that caused their injury actually bit someone in the past. “Owner” means any person or legal entity that has a possessory property right in a dog. In general, the owner of a dog that has been deemed dangerous will be liable for damages without the need to prove that the owner was negligent.

Under North Carolina law, a dangerous dog means a dog that without provocation:

  • kills or inflicts severe injury on a person;
  • Is determined to be potentially dangerous because the dog has engaged in one or more of the behaviors listed in subdivision (2) of this subsection;
  • A dog owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting, or any dog trained for dog fighting.

Under North Carolina law, a “Potentially Dangerous” dog is one that has:

  • Inflicted a bite on a person that resulted in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization;
  • Killed or inflicted severe injury upon a domestic animal when not on the owner’s real property; or,
  • Approached a person when not on the owner’s property in a vicious or terrorizing manner in an apparent attitude of attack.

In North Carolina, a landlord can be found liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog when the landlord has control of a tenant’s dog through language in a lease, or otherwise, and the landlord knew of a dog’s dangerous tendencies.

Damages that can be recovered depend upon the nature and extent of injury, medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, periods of total and/or partial disability, physical pain and mental suffering, disfiguring scarring, permanency of injury, and loss of consortium.


In North Carolina, the statute of limitations is 3 years from the date of injury. This means you must file a lawsuit against the owner/keeper of the dog within that time, or you will be forever time barred from pursuing a case.


N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 67-1 through 18

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The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed through the use of this website.  Laws relating to dog injuries can, and do, change.  To learn your legal rights, contact The Snow Law Firm, or contact a licensed and experienced attorney in your state.


In most states, when a minor is bitten or injured by a dog, the statute of limitation period does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18.  Thus, for example, if an 11-year-old child is bitten or injured by a dog in a state that has a 3 year statute of limitation period within which to file a lawsuit, they will have three years from the date they turn 18 years of age, and would thus have to file a lawsuit before they turn 21 years of age.  In most instances, however, it is recommended that a parent or guardian bring a claim for a dog bite or injury claim on behalf of a minor child before waiting for the injured child to turn 18.


Some states limit the type of damages that a person bitten or injured by a dog can recover.  In most states, however, a person who is bitten or injured by a dog can recover damages that include medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, physical pain and mental suffering, scarring, permanency of injury, periods of total and/or partial disability and loss of spousal consortium.