XL Bully dogs are to be banned within weeks – and the breed added to the list kept by the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Under new laws, which come into force on December 31, it will be illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow XL Bully dogs to stray in England and Wales.
From this date, existing owners of XL Bully type dogs will also have to keep their dog on a lead and muzzled in public.
The government, which says it has brought forward legislation after a ‘concerning rise in fatal attacks’, is also now spreading a message among breeders that they must stop mating the dogs in preparation for it being a criminal offence to sell or rehome the breed.
American bully XL dogs are related to the pitbull terrier, from which they were originally bred from.
However these days they are also likely to be crossbred with other dog breeds such as American bulldogs and Olde English bulldogges, which are taller and heavier than their English counterpart.
Owners who aren’t clear as to whether their animal may be an XL Bully type dog can get further help and advice from official definitions now published on the government website, which says classification will involve checking the dog’s physical characteristics such as its size and height.
Households who wish to keep their dogs will have until the end of January 2024 to register them and will then be forced to comply with strict requirements. Alongside being muzzled and kept on a lead in public, these dogs must also be microchipped and neutered.
From February 1, 2024 it will then become illegal to own an XL Bully dog if it is not registered with the Index of Exempted Dogs.
Ministers say by staggering the two dates, owners are being given time to adequately prepare themselves and their animals for the new rules.
From February, owners without a Certificate of Exemption face a criminal record and an unlimited fine if they are found to be keeping an XL Bully type, and their dog could be seized.
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “We are taking quick and decisive action to protect the public from tragic dog attacks and today I have added the XL Bully type to the list of dogs prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
“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.”
Guides for XL Bully owners and information about preparing for the ban are now available from the government’s website by clicking here.
Owners who choose to give up their animal to be euthanised, says DEFRA, will be supported and helped with compensation costs, more details for which will be published soon.