What dog breeds are banned in the UK?

The UK government banned Pit Bulls in 1991 after a spate of attacks – here is a list of all the dog breeds banned in the country

Faiza Saqib
Thursday 01 February 2024 04:48 GMT
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'Strong case' for banning XL Bully dogs, says Keir Starmer

New rules for owning American XL bully dogs are being put in place in the UK after a spate of violent attacks across the country.

On 31 December 2023, it officially became illegal to sell, give away and breed from an XL Bully. It also became illegal to abandon an XL Bully or allow one to stray.

Furthermore, as of 1 February of this year, owners can not own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless their dog has a valid Certificate of Exemption. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said, advertising, gifting and exchanging the pups will also be banned.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the restrictions on XL bullies last year after labelling the breed a danger to the public.

Speaking to BBC Radio West Midlands in September 2023, Mr Sunak said: “These American XL bully dogs are a danger to our communities and we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and to protect the public, not just in the West Midlands but across the country.”

Which dog breeds are banned in the UK?

American Bully

The XL Bully was developed through the crossing of various bull breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier.

The breed is typically larger both in height and body body as it is more muscular than other bully breeds.

Height: An XL male no more than 23 inches tall and females up 22 inches.

Size: The males can weigh between 31 kilograms and 58 kilograms of muscle and bone.

Pit Bull Terrier

This breed, known as an American Pit Bull Terrier or just Pit Bull is a fighting dog first developed in the 19th century in England, Scotland and Ireland from a bulldog and a terrier.

Although pit bulls were bred and trained to be aggressive against other dogs, aggression against humans was not encouraged because the animals had to be handled by their trainers. The dogs that showed signs of aggression towards humans were not selected for breeding.

However, over recent years there has been a resurgence of dogfighting where the animals are bred to be aggressive.

After a number of fatal attacks in England and Wales by Pit Bulls on humans between 1981 and 1991 – the UK government decided to take action and ban the breed in 1991 under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Size: Medium-sized dogs, with males weighing around 13 to 36 kilogrammes.

Height: 19 inches.

Japanese Tosa

The Japanese Tosa, also called the Japanese Mastiff, is a breed of fighting dog created in Japan in the mid-nineteenth century.

“Outside Japan, the Tosa was crossbred with large and giant breeds, including the Great Dane and Mastiff, to produce very large individuals, while those bred in Japan remain truer to the original type, at around half the size,” Dog Zone.com says.

The breed is considered “dangerous” in the UK and controlled very strictly in Ireland. If the dog is not trained and socialised properly, it can be aggressive towards strangers and it is not recommended for families with children and other pets.

The Japanese Tosa was also banned in 1991 under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Size: The breed generally weighs between 36 to 61 kg.

Height: 24 to 32 inches.

Dogo Argentino

A breed of a “working dog” developed in Argentina in the 1920s as a pack-hunting and big-game hunter – these are dogs that are known to hunt bigger animals.

The breed was created by two brothers, the Argentinian physicians Antonio and Agustín Nores Martinez. They decided to mix the nearly extinct Viejo Perro de Pelea Cordobés which was an old fighting dog of Cordoba, with several other breeds.

Due to it being a potentially dangerous breed, this animal has also been banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Size: Weighs between 36 to 45kg.

Height: 24 to 27 inches.

Fila Brasileiro

This breed was developed in Brazil many centuries ago as a large game-hunting dog and a working dog. The Fila Brasileiro is also known as the Brazilian Mastiff, Brazilian Bloodhound, Cao de Brasil, Cao de Fila, and the Fila.

The word “filar” in Portuguese means to “hold, arrest, grab,” – which is why it has been named such - given that the breed is known to be instinctively protective, extremely wary of strangers and incredibly agile when protecting its master.

This animal is banned or restricted in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, and others.

Size: Weighs between 40 to 81 kg.

Height: 25 to 30 inches.

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