Courts could jail dog owners for up to two years or impose a £5,000 fine if animals cause injuries while "dangerously out of control" in their homes.

Owners also face bills of up to £40 to fit all newborn puppies with microchips, while dangerous breeds seized by the police will be allowed home on "bail" until court cases have concluded.

Announcing a consultation on plans to extend criminal offences in England to cover dog attacks in private dwellings Jim Paice, a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said he aimed to target "a minority of irresponsible dog owners".

But officials admitted burglary victims would not be "immune" from prosecution if they allowed their pets to savage intruders. Caroline Kisko, from the Kennel Club, said it would be "unrealistic" to ask a dog to judge if it was using "reasonable force".

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