XL Bullies Ban 2024

On 31st October 2023, the government added XL Bullies to the list of dogs banned in England and Wales under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

What will this mean for XL Bully owners?

It is the owner's responsibility to read the Official definition of an XL Bully dog and decide if their dog meets the breed specifications.  As vets we are not involved in this process in any way. The law is concerned with the appearance and type of dog rather than the breed, heritage or DNA. If in any doubt, the owner should follow the guidelines and obtain an exemption certificate.

From 31st December 2023:

  • Breeding XL Bullies OR mating other breeds to produce XL Bullies will be a criminal offence.
  • Buying, selling, advertising, rehoming, exchanging, giving away, abandoning or allowing XL Bully to stray will all be criminal offences.
  • XL Bullies must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public (Presence of other people) and be kept in a secure place they cannot escape from.

From 1st February 2024, it will be a criminal offence to own and XL Bully without a certificate of exemption. In addition to the above, XL Bullies MUST be:

  • Owned by someone who is over 16 years of age.
  • Microchipped
  • Insured (for third party liability)
  • Neutered with a proof from vet that the neutering took place.
    • XL Bullies born BEFORE 31st January 2023 must be neutered by 30th June 2024.
    • XL Bullies born AFTER 31st January 2023 must be neutered by 31st December 2024

FAQ for Owners of XL Bully types

Is it illegal for me to own an XL Bully?

From the 1st of February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog. You will have until January 31st 2024, to apply for exemption. 

What is an American Bully XL or XL Bully?

The American Bully XL, also known as an XL Bully, is the largest dog of the American Bully type. It is not a breed recognised by the UK (United Kingdom) Kennel Club as it is a cross breed.

My dog's dad is an XL Bully, his mum is a Staffy - will he come under the new law?

Identifying whether he is classed as an XL Bully completely depends on whether he fits the description, not his parents or his family genetics.  Please read the definition of an XL Bully which includes height https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog

How will I know if my dog will be classed as an XL Bully?

The law is concerned with the type of dog rather than the breeding, and prohibited types are identified on their appearance rather than their breed name, genetics (DNA), or parentage.

The Government has produced guidance that will be used to identify the dogs that will be impacted by the ban: Official definition of an XL Bully dog - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). The general description is a large, powerfully built dog with a muscular body and blocky head, that suggest great strength and power for its size. Males from 51cm at the withers and females from 48cm

Before the government decided to add XL Bullies to the dangerous dogs list, my vet told me I should wait to neuter my XL Bully puppy until they were at least 18 months old - can I still wait?

This is our advice for many large breeds, but we must abide by the law, and puppies born after 31st January 2023 must be neutered by 31st December 2024. This should mean that legally bred puppies are at least 12 months old and may be as old as 23 months before they are neutered.
Please make sure you book your pet’s surgery well in advance as appointments may be limited.

Can my vet help if I don't think my dog is an XL Bully?

No, vets cannot certify whether an animal is or isn't an XL Bully - this is up to the authorities. It is the owner’s responsibility to determine if their dog is covered by the ban. Read the guidance and if you think your dog has or may have characteristics of an XL Bully, you should follow the government guidance for XL Bullies.

Will my XL Bully have to be put to sleep?

No, if you get a Certificate of Exemption and comply with the new laws, your pet will not have to be euthanised. There is no compulsory euthanasia order on any banned breeds.

What do I need to do to keep my XL Bully?

  • You must be over 16 years old
  • You must obtain a Certificate of Exemption by 31st January 2024, and present it within 5 days, whenever you are asked to by a police officer or dog warden. DEFRA must be informed of any change of address and when your dog dies.
  • You must insure your pet against third party injury (third party liability insurance).
    This is available with most pet insurance or can be provided through Dogs Trust Membership (current cost £25/year) Dogs Trust Membership | Dogs Trust
  • You must make sure your pet is microchipped, and your contact details are up to date
  • You must keep your XL Bully muzzled and, on a lead, when in public and keep them in a secure place they cannot escape from when not. In public is defined as in front of other people and can include your home.
  • You must have your pet neutered by
    • 30th June 2024 if your pet will be older than 1 year old by 31st January 2024
    • 31st December 2024 if your pet will be less than 1 year old by 31st January 2024

Following the surgery, a proof of neutering form must be completed by the vet and returned to DEFRA.

How do I get a Certificate of Exemption?

Owners will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for an exemption certificate. There is a £92.40 application fee, to cover administration costs. The Government will provide more information on how to apply for these soon. Look out for information on the government websites like this one: Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Will I need to show anyone my certificate of exemption?

You must be able to present this when asked by a police officer or a local authority representative.  You vet might ask you for this is they think your dog fits the XL Bully description and is not muzzled in a public place, such as the vets.

Do I legally have to have my XL Bully dog insured?

We always recommend pet insurance to help with vet bills, but now it's a legal requirement to have third party insurance for accidents to other people and their property. This is usually included in pet insurance but can be purchased separately.

Will my XL Bully have to wear a muzzle at the vets?

From 31st December 2023, your dog will need to be muzzled and on a lead whenever they are in public including the vets, pet shops, parks and even when other people are at your home.

Start muzzle training now to reduce the stress for your pet. The following resources will show you how to approach it:

  • How to muzzle train your dog - PDSA
  • Muzzle Training Your Dog | The Battersea Way - YouTube
  • Dogs and muzzle training | Blue Cross
  • Teach Your Dog To Wear A Muzzle | Training | Dogs Trust

All dogs that are nervous and potentially could injure our team or someone in the waiting room need to be muzzle trained and wear a muzzle at the vets regardless of their breed.

If your dog is anxious or fearful, we may discuss giving them medication prior to a veterinary visit.

For clients concerned about dog attacks and aggressive dogs

We recommend the simple RSPCA guide for all dogs meeting unfamiliar dogs and how to keep children safe around dogs.

You can find more information about rules for banned breed types on the Government’s website.