Guidance for XL Bully owners
The Government has announced that the American Bully XL, or XL Bully type dog will be added to the breed types banned in the UK by 31st December 2023. This follows a number of high profile dog attacks across the country.
The American Bully XL is the largest dog of the American Bully type. It is not a breed recognised by the UK Kennel Club as it is a cross breed. The Government has developed a breed standard to identify the dogs that will be impacted by any ban.
There are now five dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, which include Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro and XL Bully.
In order to help XL Bully owners adapt to the new laws, these changes will come into force in three stages.
The announcement for the first stage occurred on 31st October 2023, and the second and third stages will take effect on 31st December 2023, and 1st February 2024, respectively.
Owners of an XL Bully should visit the UK Government website and look at their advice and guidance – but we have provided key information below.
What will the XL Bully ban mean for owners?
On 31st October 2023, the UK Government announced that XL Bully dogs are now banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. There are three different stages to help owners comply with the law.
Following the ban announcement, applications for exemption certificates for XL Bully owners have begun with immediate effect. Owners have until 31st January 2024 to apply for a Certificate of Exemption to be registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that further legislation to ban XL Bully type dogs has come into effect (14 November), as the transition period for owners to apply for an exemption scheme is underway.
During the transition period, which runs until 31st January 2024, owners who wish to keep their dogs must apply to an exemption scheme. Applications for exemption certificates are now open.
After the transition period, owners without a Certificate of Exemption could receive a criminal record and an unlimited fine if they are found to be in possession of an XL Bully type.
If you decide not to keep your XL Bully, the Government has announced the option to take your dog to a registered vet to be euthanised. During the transition period, owners who no longer wish to keep their dogs and who arrange for a vet to euthanise them may apply for compensation towards this. Owners and their vets will need to complete a form in order to make a claim.
We recommend that you start to muzzle and lead train your XL Bully dog now so that they will be more comfortable with it by the time it comes into law on 31st December 2023. Breeding of XL Bully dogs should now stop, and you should look into arranging for your dog to be neutered and microchipped if not already done.
From 31st December 2023, it will be illegal in England and Wales to:
- Sell an XL Bully dog
- Abandon an XL Bully
- Give away an XL Bully
- Breed an XL Bully
- Have an XL Bully in public without it being on a lead and wearing a muzzle
- Own an XL Bully that has not been microchipped (this is already a legal requirement for all types of dog)
From 1st February 2024 it will be illegal to own an XL Bully dog unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog and you follow the rules.
To keep an XL Bully dog it must be:
- kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
- kept in a secure place so it cannot escape
As the owner, you must also:
- be over 16 years old
- take out third party public liability insurance against your dog injuring other people
- be able to show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or a council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days
Neutering will be compulsory for XL Bully dogs by 30th June 2024 for dogs over one year old on 31st January 2024, or by 31st December 2024 for dogs under one year old on 31st January 2024. All owners of XL Bully dogs will have to follow these specific guidelines.
If you are found in possession of an XL Bully dog without a Certification of Exemption, the law may subject you to a criminal record and an unlimited fine, and authorities could also seize your dog.
Find out more
More support and guidance, including how to identify your dog, can be found on the Dogs Trust website