Coming a few weeks before a general election is expected, the government has launched a consultation on amending the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.
The government’s consultation suggests also banning them from people’s homes.
Ministers argue this will also protect postal workers, telecoms engineers and other people whose work takes them on to private land.
Owners could also be forced to microchip their dog and take out third-party insurance in case it bites anyone, according to proposals outlined in a leaked DEFRA document, entitled Consultation On Dangerous Dogs.
Each week, more than 100 people are admitted to hospital after dog attacks.
There has also been a reported rise in levels of dog fighting and illegal ownership, particularly by gangs who are using dangerous dogs as status symbols.
The ‘competency test’ would make dog owners prove they had the skills to handle their animals.
The document stated there had been suggestions for a competency test for all or some dog owners, akin to the driving theory test.
However, the paper also warned the cost of establishing such a scheme was likely to be prohibitive.
Ministers are expected to announce a public consultation within weeks.