James Constable

Senior Associate Solicitor

DATE PUBLISHED: 27 Feb 2024 LAST UPDATED: 27 Feb 2024

The Ban on XL Bully Dogs in England and Wales

The XL bully dog was banned on 31 December 2023 across England and Wales under the Dangerous Dog Act.

What is an XL bully dog?

There are four subcategories of the American bully breed: pocket, classic, standard and XL, (XL being the largest). Recent guidance published by the government on identifying an XL bully describes these dogs as muscular, with a blocky head, and with “great strength and power for its size”.

Why was the XL bully banned?

The ban has come about as a result of a number of fatal dog attacks within the past twelve months where XL bullys were “disproportionately involved”. An NHS consultant stated that the dogs’ powerful jaws are capable of inflicting greater “wounds than other breeds, resulting in broken bones, shredded skin and damaged nerves”.

The latest attack by two XL bullys resulted in the death of a 68-year-old grandmother, Esther Martin, on 3rd February 2024 in Essex. The victim was visiting her grandson, who ran out of the house unharmed, when the attack took place.

What is the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991?

The Dangerous Dog Act (DDA) “prohibits the breeding, sale, exchange, advertising”, gift, rehome, abandonment or stray of the following five dog types:

  • Pit Bull Terriers
  • Japanese Tosas
  • Dogo Argentinos
  • Fila Brazilieros
  • XL Bullys

Under the Act, any owner of a dog listed above must ensure that their dog is kept on a lead and wearing a muzzle in public places at all times.

In addition, as of 1 February 2024, “it is a criminal offence to own an XL bully without an exemption certificate”. As a result, at least 150 owners decided to have their XL bully euthanised by a vet before 31 January 2024, and could claim up to £200 in compensation. Any unregistered XL bullys can be seized by the police and owners face a “criminal record and an unlimited fine”.

If you believe your dog is an XL bully and you’ve missed the exemption certificate application deadline, please contact your local police force for further guidance.

It’s important to remember that the owner of any dog, no matter the breed, can be found guilty of an offence under the Act if their dog is out of control in a public space or injures a person.

How can Ellis Jones help you?

With experience in dealing with dangerous dog cases, our expert James Constable in the Crime and Regulatory team can offer a reliable service to those with alleged or proven offences.

If you feel as though you could benefit from seeking advice in relation to a dangerous dog offence, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by emailing james.constable@ellisjones.co.uk or via our online website enquiry form.


About the authors

James Constable

James is a Senior Associate Solicitor based in our London office and specialises in Crime and Regulatory work.

Lovetta Pring

Lovetta is a Secretary based in our London office and works to support our London team across a variety of matters and service areas including Banking & Finance Litigation and Crime.

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