an American Bully

XL bullies to be banned from end of this year

New laws banning XL Bully-type dogs in England and Wales have been laid in Parliament, as the government adds the breed to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Under the new rules, which come into force from 31 December, it will be illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow XL Bully dogs to stray in England and Wales.

From this date, the breed must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public. The government is recommending that owners of XL Bullies are recommended to start training their dog to wear a muzzle and to walk on a lead ahead of the legal restrictions coming into force.

From 1 February 2024, it will then become illegal to own an XL Bully dog if it is not registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs.

As part of the process, the definition of the ‘XL Bully’ breed type has also been published. This follows meetings of an expert group, convened by Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey and made up of police, local authority, vets, and other animal welfare experts to help define the breed. The definition provides clear assessment criteria for owners and enforcement authorities and is a requirement under the Dangerous Dogs Act in order to deliver the ban.

Owners who wish to keep their dogs will have until the end of January to register them and will be forced to comply with strict requirements. As well as being muzzled and kept on a lead in public, these dogs must also be microchipped and neutered.

Dogs under one year when the ban comes in must be neutered by the end of the year, older dogs must be neutered by the end of June.

From 1 February, owners without a Certificate of Exemption face a criminal record and an unlimited fine if they are found to be in possession of an XL Bully type, and their dog could be seized.

Coffey said: “We are taking quick and decisive action to protect the public from tragic dog attacks and today I have added the XL Bully type to the list of dogs prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act.”

She added: “We will continue to work closely with the police, canine and veterinary experts, and animal welfare groups, as we take forward these important measures.”

The government estimates there are about 10,000 American XL bullies in the UK, while the Blue Cross animal charity suggests it is more like 15,000. 


  • Nigel Lane

    Wow! A few months to sort out your XL Bullie and I presume X Bullies. I feel sorry not only for the people who own these beautiful dogs and the costs involved but also the vets and other dog industries who are going to be impacted by this decision like councils and rescue centres etc who are going to be over run with stray dogs. We are supposed to be a nation of dog lovers. This decision doesn’t feel like it to me

  • Charlotte Kasner, MA, ADipAAB, AdipCBM, AdipFBM, KPA-CTP, ABTC-AT,MISAP

    This is even worse than the “pitbull” ban. The compensation scheme complicates the leagl and ethical situation for vets. Currently, the BVA is clear in permitting vets to refuse to euthanise a healthy dog. So we now have a situation where the owner pf a dog that could be exempt can demand euthanasia instead with £200 compensation (£100 for “rescues”). Where does this leave vets?

    Vets are already under considerable pressure, especially in areas where vet provision is sparse. How are they meant o cope with a potential massive demand for euthanasia and neutering?

    The definition of the XL Bully is very wide and is likely to pull in a lot of dogs that owners do not consider to be an XL Bully as did the “pitbull” ban.

    There will undoubtedly be a lot of people simply abandoning their dogs, whether it is illegal or not and then what? Dog Warden resources are similarly stretched as are the police.

    This is ill-considered, knee-jerk legislation that will do nothing to prevent dog attacks or the next faddish breed from being created. Many, many professioanls have argued this in vain.

    It seems that the government thinks that it can get a quick popularity boost and some positive headlines in the red tops becauyse it certainly is not based on evidence.

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