XL bully ban: Which other dog breeds should government be looking at based on bite numbers?
American bully XLs and bully crossbreds top the charts for breeds involved in the highest numbers of attacks.
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A controversial dog breed behind the lion's share of this year's dog attacks is set to be banned, but data shows a number of other breeds involved in large numbers of the UK's attacks.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Friday (15 September) that the American XL bully dog - a fairly new breed derived from already-illegal pit bulls - will be banned by the end of the year.
This comes after two high-profile attacks by the breed within the span of a week; one which saw an 11-year-old Birmingham girl and two bystanders who tried to help her bitten, and one which saw a Staffordshire man killed.
American XL Bullies are overrepresented in dog attack statistics. Bully Watch - a UK group that tracks dog attacks by breed - reports so far this year, large bully-type dogs have been involved in 351 attacks, making up 43% of 2023's total dog attacks. They have been responsible for 11 confirmed human deaths since 2021 - as well as having suspected involvement in three other deaths.
But what other breeds have been involved in large numbers of attacks - both on humans, and on other animals - in the UK this year? Here's what Bully Watch's numbers say.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers
If you exclude American bully XLs in number one, with 20% of this year's dog attacks (167 total), and bully XL mixes in second place, making up 18% of attacks (152), the next dog on the list is the Staffordshire bull terrier.
"Staffies" as they are often called have been involved in 77 dog attacks, 9% of this year's total, including one this week. Mohammed Sami Raza, 10, was attacked by a loose dog as he played football outside his Walsall home on Wednesday (13 September).
The attack - which was caught on CCTV - lasted more than two minutes before family members and a passing taxi driver rushed to the boy's aid, and Mohammed is currently in hospital awaiting surgery. West Midlands Police confirmed the dog involved was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Staffies originated in the UK - in the Staffordshire and northern Birmingham regions - and have been recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club since 1935. They are the result of bulldog breeds crossed with various terriers to create a more agile breed for dog fighting - a similar origin to pit bulls - although the breed has been known by many names over the years and its history is considered somewhat murky.
The UK Kennel Club says on its website that "despite its early function, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is known as a wonderful family pet".
In fourth place, with 64 attacks - or 8% of this year's total - were German shepherd-type dogs; the favoured breed of the UK's police.
Given that the statistic is for dogs which looked like German shepherds, some involved in the attacks may have also been crossbreeds, or similar-looking breeds like the malinois or the teruvan.
The German shepherd, like its name suggests, originated in Germany as a herding dog, although it has long been used as a working dog by police and armed forces worldwide - thanks to its work ethic. The breed is also sometimes used as a guide dog, or for search-and-rescue work.
NationalWorld has approached Bully Watch for more information as to whether police dog bites are included in the data.
Rounding out fifth place is the American bulldog - also considered by many to be a large bully-type breed. American bulldogs were involved in 36 attacks, 4% of this year's total.
According to the American Kennel Club, this is a breed descended from English bulldogs brought over by their owners in the 1800s. Ranchers used this dog for guarding, as stock dogs, and to catch other animals - with the breed reportedly capable of taking down a feral pig.
Other sources list the breed as sometimes being used for blood sports - namely bull baiting - historically.
It is worth noting these numbers do not take into account the severity of attacks, and a wide variety of other breeds - usually not considered dangerous - also round out the list.
Bully Watch also acknowledges its data - while filling a knowledge gap - might be biased, as people nipped by a French bulldog are far less likely to post about it on places like Facebook or Nextdoor, where much of the data is sourced, or report it to authorities.
Mastiff breeds were involved in 28 attacks this year, huskies in 23, Rottweilers in 21, Labradors in 17, French bulldogs in 15, and greyhounds in 15.
Three pug attacks, a labradoodle attack, and a chihuahua attack also made the list. Bully Watch's full dataset can be found here.