XL bully – Dangerous Dog Ban

On 1st February a ban on the breed type XL Bully came into force making it illegal to own an unregistered one.

Why was this law put in place?

Due to the increase in the number of dog attacks, this type of dog has been deemed to be dangerous by the government and ownership of them has been made illegal unless they are registered. This was done to protect public safety. The XL bully was added to the list of banned dangerous breeds meaning a range of rules and restrictions apply.

What Is an XL Bully? And can a vet identify one?

XL bullies have been bred from several different dog breeds and they are the largest of the American Bully breeds. An XL bully can only be typed (formally identified) by a Dog legislation officer (DLO) – a vet cannot say if a dog is an XL bully for the purpose of registering them.

Dog legislation officers will not routinely type dogs, so, if you believe you may own an XL bully, we would advise you to check the relevant websites and register if so. An XL bully type has been defined by the government and must fit certain size requirements, have a large blocky head, powerfully built, with adult males from 51cm at the withers and females from 48cm at the withers. Further details on typing can be found here.

What are the rules an owner must follow?

These are the rules for England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland may have slightly different rules.

The most important rule is that an XL bully owner must have an exemption certificate in order to keep them. If you don’t have an exemption certificate, you will need to follow the exemption steps which will involve going to court and having your dog assessed. Further restrictions are below;

  • Do not breed from them
  • Keep them on a lead in public
  • Keep them muzzled in public at all times
  • They must be microchipped
  • They must be neutered
  • You need third party liability insurance (Dogs Trust insurance offer this)
  • They must be kept secure at home so they cannot escape
  • No one under 16 years old may own or walk one

Can I re-home my XL Bully?

You cannot legally sell or re-home an XL Bully, even if this is giving them away for free it is an offence. Abandoning them is also an offence.

What about neutering them

Although they need to be neutered the timeframe depends on the age of the XL bully. Their age on the 31st of January 2024 is what dictates when to do so:

  • Less than 7 months old – neuter by 30th June 2025
  • Between 7-12 months – neuter by 31st December 2024
  • 12 months or older- neuter by 30th June 2024

Once your pet is neutered, your vet will need to fill in a neutering certificate which can be obtained from Defra. This is proof of neutering and confirms the microchip number too.

Where do I get muzzles from?

Muzzling a dog involves training them with positivity to allow them to accept a muzzle without being fearful or unhappy. The use of food or a suitable dog safe liver paste can be helpful for reassurance during the training. There are resources to help muzzle training .

Due to the shape of XL bully’s face, it can be difficult to get muzzles that fit perfectly. A muzzle should have room for a dog to pant, airspace and also be fed treats. Often, shop bought muzzles will not fit properly, will be unsecure and not allow a dog to open their mouth to pant. Special muzzles can be ordered from  which involve a few home measurements to get the right fit. Other companies also exist to provide specialist muzzles.

If you have any questions or require further information, please contact us and we will be happy to help. Further information on the XL bully type can be found on gov.uk and DEFRA websites.