In October, the government made the dramatic announcement that by the end of the year, XL Bully dogs will be added to the list of banned dog breeds in the UK. They will become only the fifth breed on the list, which also includes the Pit Bull Terrier, the Fila Brasileiro, the Japanese Tosa and the Dogo Argentino, and is the first to be added for over thirty years.
The ban comes in the wake of a spate of fatal attacks by dogs of the ‘Bully’ type and aims to reduce the risk to the general public. The government has stopped short of a compulsory euthanasia bill but there are still a number of rules that must be followed by XL Bully owners once the law comes into place. We know this may be an unsettling time for many and we will do our best to support owners through this phase.
The biggest date to be aware of is the 31st December 2023. From this day, it will be illegal to sell, abandon, give away, or breed from an XL Bully, or have them in public without a lead and muzzle. In short, this is the date that they will be classified as a ‘banned breed’. Current owners must have registered for a ‘Certificate of Exemption’ in order to be allowed to keep their dog. People can apply for this licence from now and it must be done by 31st January 2024. The cost is £92.40.
In order to apply for the Certificate of Exemption, owners must also have proof of their dog’s microchip and take out third party public liability insurance for banned breeds of dogs. The Dogs Trust can provide this through their membership which costs £25 per year. A registered owner must be over 16 years old and be able to produce the Certificate of Exemption when asked to by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days.
XL Bully dogs must be kept in a secure place and, when taken out, must be muzzled at all times. This may not be as simple as just putting a muzzle on and getting on with it, as many dogs will need to be given time to get used to wearing one. Now will be a good time to start muzzle training, and many organisations can provide free resources online. If you need any additional help, please feel free to speak to a member of our team.
In order to abide by the ban on breeding XL Bullys, owners of the breed must have them neutered, if they’re not already. This will apply to both male and female dogs and the dates by which it must be done vary depending on how old the dog is currently.
- if they will be over 1 year old on 31st January 2024, they must be neutered by 30th June 2024
- If they will be less than 1 year old on 31st January 2024, they must be neutered by 31st December 2024
The reason for the difference is because XL Bullys are typically quite a large breed therefore, for health reasons, it is thought to be better to allow them to reach maturity before neutering, hence why younger dogs are given an extra 6 months before the neutering deadline.
As soon as the dog is neutered, your vet must provide proof to DEFRA that it has been carried out.
If a litter of XL Bully puppies have already been conceived, they will be allowed to be born, but if they are born after 31st December 2023, it will be an offence to sell, transfer, exchange, gift, advertise or re-home them.
Another option available for XL Bully owners is to give up their dog to be euthanised by a vet. This must be carried out by 31st January 2024. There is £200 compensation available towards the costs until 15th March 2024.
Although the information provided in the legislation as detailed above is very well defined and clear cut, one area that is more vague is exactly how to define what is and what isn’t an XL Bully. The main reason is that the XL Bully isn’t actually a breed, it is a ‘type’ and so cannot be identified definitively by DNA testing.
The guidelines that have been released currently aim to try to distinguish the key features of this type of dog, such as size, head and body shape and conformation.
For example, the guidance described the type as “Large dog with a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting great strength and power for its size. Powerfully built individual.” Their height is listed as “Adult male from 20in (51 cm) at the withers; Adult female from 19in (48cm) at the withers”. However, dogs will not have to fulfil all the criteria to be classed as an XL Bully, and if there is any doubt as to whether they are or not, the current advice it to assume they are and therefore adhere to the regulations.
It will not be up to vets to determine for sure if a dog is an XL Bully – that duty falls to police dog legislation officer – and vets will not be expected to report XL Bully dogs and their owners to the police.
We appreciate there may be some confusion and many questions surrounding this new legislation. Below are some links that may help but also, don’t hesitate to give the surgery a call and we will try to help as much as we can.
The official government announcement: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-for-the-ban-on-xl-bully-dogs
Dogs Trust Membership: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/support-us/membership
Muzzle training information: https://muzzleupproject.com/
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