XL Bully type dogs to be banned

31 October 2023


New laws banning XL Bully type dogs have been laid in Parliament today, as the Government adds the breed to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The announcement fulfils the Government’s pledge to put in place laws to ban the breed by the end of the year and protect the public following a concerning rise in fatal attacks.

Under the new rules, which come into force at the end of the year, 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, these dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public. Owners of XL Bully dogs 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.

Breeders have also been told to stop mating these types of dogs from now in preparation of it being a criminal offence to sell or rehome these dogs.

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. By staggering these two dates, current owners of this breed will have time to prepare for these new rules.

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.

Environment Secretary Thérèse 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.

“It will soon become a criminal offence to breed, sell, advertise, rehome or abandon an XL Bully type dog, and they must also be kept on a lead and muzzled in public. In due course it will also be illegal to own one of these dogs without an exemption.

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

Owners may choose to have their dog put to sleep by a vet, with compensation provided to help with these costs. Further details on how to apply for compensation and the evidence required to make a claim will be provided soon.

As part of the process, the definition of the ‘XL Bully’ breed type has also been published today. This follows meetings of an expert group, convened by the Environment Secretary 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 can access the most up to date information on what action they need to take and when on this dedicated page.

Owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control are already breaking the law, and the enforcement authorities have a full range of powers to apply penalties to them. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, people can be put in prison for up to 14 years, be disqualified from ownership or their dangerous dogs can be euthanised.