American XL bully: Breed added to list of banned dogs in England and Wales

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American XL bully dogs have officially been banned by the government - here's when it will take effect.

American XL bully dogs have officially been banned and the government has issued guidelines outlining regulations for current owners. According to the BBC, starting from February 1, 2024, owning one of these dogs in England and Wales will constitute a criminal offence, unless owners have successfully applied for an exemption.

Owners will also have a more extended deadline to ensure their dogs are neutered and microchipped, the report added. This move comes in response to a series of incidents involving this breed, although owners insist the dogs make lovable pets.

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The guidelines also say that effective December 31, 2023, it will be unlawful to sell, abandon, breed, or give away an American bully XL. Additionally, these dogs must be on a lead and wear a muzzle while in public.

For dogs under one year old as of January 31, 2024, neutering must be completed by the end of the following year, December 31. For dogs aged over one year by January 31, 2024, the deadline for neutering is set at June 30.

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

She added: “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.”

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

American XL bully dogAmerican XL bully dog
American XL bully dog

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 bring their dogs.

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An official definition of the breed has now been published by the Government, with features of the breed 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 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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