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XL bully dog ban to begin on New Year’s Eve

New rules are being introduced from December 31 after the breed was involved in a series of dog attacks.

David Lynch
Tuesday 31 October 2023 15:48 GMT
New rules surrounding ownership of American XL bullies are due to come into force on December 31 (Jacob King/PA)
New rules surrounding ownership of American XL bullies are due to come into force on December 31 (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

American XL bully dogs will be banned from the end of the year, the Government has confirmed.

New rules due to come into force on December 31 will make it illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, rehome, abandon or allow XL bully dogs to stray in England and Wales.

From New Year’s Eve, owners will also be required to muzzle the dogs under a law change laid in Parliament.

It will also be illegal to own an XL bully from February 1 2024 unless the animal is on an exempt list, called the Index of Exempted Dogs.

The two dates have been staggered to allow owners to prepare for the new rules.

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

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey

Those who want to keep their dogs will have until the end of January to register them with the exempt list, and will then be forced to comply with strict requirements.

This will include the requirement to muzzle them and keep them on a lead in public, but the dogs must also be microchipped and neutered.

Dogs more than a year old on January 31 must be neutered by June 30 next year, while those less than 12 months old must be neutered by December 31 2024.

Owners without a certificate of exemption will face a criminal record and an unlimited fine if they are found to be in possession of an XL bully as of February 1, and their dog could be seized.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey confirmed she is adding the breed to the list of dogs prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act, adding that ministers have taken “quick and decisive action to protect the public from tragic dog attacks”.

She said: “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.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had described XL bullies as a “danger to our communities” when he promised to instigate a ban following a spate of attacks involving the dogs over the summer, but said that work needed to be done to define the breed.

Earlier this month, a woman was injured after she was attacked by her own American XL bully in Norfolk.

Last month, 52-year-old Ian Price, from Staffordshire, died in hospital after being attacked by two American XL bullies.

In November last year, Jack Lis, 10, was killed by a American XL bully while at a friend’s house in South Wales. The owners of the dog, Amy Salter and Brandon Haydon, were jailed as a result of the attack.

Owners of the breed have staged protests against the ban, including a march through central London in September, where demonstrators did not take their dogs.

An official definition of the breed has now been published by the Government, with features including a “heavy, large and broad” head and a “blocky or slightly squared” muzzle.

It is also described as being “heavily muscled” with a “large, blocky body giving the impression of great power for size”, and a glossy, smooth and close coat.

Ahead of the ban coming into force, breeders have been told to stop mating XL bully-type dogs.

The XL bully joins a list of other banned dogs, including the pit bull terrier, Japanese Tosa, fila Brasileiro and dogo Argentino.

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