What will happen to XL bullies if they are banned? Owners may have to neuter and muzzle their pets under Dangerous Dogs Act

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American 'extra large' bullies will be banned in the UK by the end of the year, according to government

Dog owners who already have a soon-to-be-banned XL bully may have to muzzle their pet every time they leave the property, and get a special tattoo to identify it by.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Friday (15 September) that the controversial American XL bully dog - a fairly new breed derived from already-banned pit bulls - will be banned by the end of the year.

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This comes after two attacks involving the breed in the span of a week, one which saw an 11-year-old Birmingham girl and two men who tried to help her bitten, and one which saw a man in Staffordshire killed.

But with the RSPCA reporting XL bullies increasing in popularity in recent years, what will happen to all of them when the breed is banned?

Here's everything you need to know:

What have politicians said so far?

Sunak said that he has tasked ministers to bring together police and experts, to firstly define the breed of dog behind these attacks, with the view to then outlawing it.

"It is not currently a breed defined in law, so this vital first step must happen fast," he said. "We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be in place by the end of the year."

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What will happen to people who already own XL bullies once the breed is banned? (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)What will happen to people who already own XL bullies once the breed is banned? (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)
What will happen to people who already own XL bullies once the breed is banned? (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock) | NationalWorld/Adobe Stock

Lord Baker, the former home secretary who brought in the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991, said American XL bully dogs should be “neutered or destroyed” once Rishi Sunak’s ban has come into force. Speaking to LBC, the Conservative peer said XL bullies are "bred in order to fight and to be aggressive".

"It has already done enough damage and the Prime Minister is absolutely right to add it [to the Act]," he continued. He said American XL bully dogs should be “neutered or destroyed”, and that any permitted to live should be “muzzled for the entire time”.

“They should be removed from the dog-loving public as soon as possible. They have no role in that range of domestic dogs,” he added. “There are some breeds that should not be part of the dog-loving public.”

Asked if when the law is passed whether anyone who has a bully dog would have to give it up, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said the details still needed to be worked out.

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But he imagined there would be a consultation, "after which we’ll need to look at those who have existing dogs and discuss the right approach through policy and further consultation".

What happened the last time dog breeds were banned?

Dog breeds have been banned in the UK in the past. In 1991, four breeds - the pit bull, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino, and the Fila Brasileiro - were banned, when the Dangerous Dogs Act was first brought in after a spate of dog attacks in the 1980s. The Prime Minister has said they plan on banning XL bullies under the same piece of legislation, which lines up with Lord Baker's comments.

When the four other breeds were first banned, the Daily Mail reports anyone who owned one when the legislation came into force had to spay or neuter their dog, and get it registered with both a tattoo and microchip.

The dogs had to wear muzzles when out for walks or off the property, and their owners had to get third-party insurance in case their dog injured anyone. Once a dog breed has been banned, it is illegal to sell, abandon, give away, or breed from that animal.

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Once some time has passed, XL bullies will likely be treated the same way as other banned breeds. If you are found to own one, the police or local council dog warden can take your dog away, even if it isn't acting dangerously - or just looks like it could belong to a banned breed.

It will be taken to a kennel and assessed by an expert. If they are determined to have enough characteristics matching a banned breed, you may then been charged. If found guilty, you can be given an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months for having a banned dog, and the dog may also be destroyed.

So far, only 'XL' or extra large bullies have been mentioned by politicians, but the same breed also comes in a number of other size-based categories, from "pocket" to XXL - or extra extra large dogs. It has not been specified whether these varieties will also be banned.

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