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XL Bully Ban: What’s Next for Owners?

The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced on the 15th of September that the dog breed known as American bully XL will be banned by the end of this year, once the definition of the breed is established.

What is an XL Bully?

The XL Bully breed traces its origins back to the 1980s in the United States. It emerged from the intentional crossbreeding of American Pit Bull Terriers1 and American Staffordshire Terriers. While it may not have received official classification within the primary British Dog Associations, XL Bullies stand out as the physically largest among the American Bully category, often reaching weights exceeding 60 kilograms and are notable for their robust and muscular physique.2

What caused the proposed ban?

Following a series of attacks, spanning the Midlands region and now in London, the XL bully breed catapulted into national headlines, igniting a fervent debate about the breed’s inherent nature and potential dangers. In response to these incidents, the Prime Minister swiftly called for a nationwide ban on the breed. On September 9th, an eleven-year-old girl suffered severe injuries in a harrowing encounter with an XL bully. Tragically, just five days later, a fifty-two-year-old man fell victim to a brutal assault by two XL bullies, and he succumbed to his injuries shortly after being admitted to the hospital.3 These distressing events have stirred significant concern and prompted a call for action on a broader scale.

What does the ban mean for current dog owners?

Firstly, the XL Bully needs to be a defined breed in order to be added to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Once the critical classification has been confirmed, the government will proceed to enact a statutory instrument, officially adding the XL bully to the list of prohibited dogs, subsequently, owning, breeding, gifting, or selling an XL Bully will become a criminal offence.

Due to the existing population of XL bullies, there will be a transition period, where XL bully owners will need to come forward and register their dogs. In addition, they must comply with other criteria’s such as sterilisation and microchipping as well as ensuring the breed is muzzled and on a lead, when out in public. If these conditions are met then ‘dog owners can absolutely keep their dogs’, as stated by the UK’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss.4 However, concerns persist regarding the effectiveness and fairness of such breed-specific bans as despite more dogs being banned, dog attacks have increased.5 In spite of these concerns, the government has affirmed its commitment to implementing the ban by year-end. Importantly, they have clarified that there will be no cull of the XL Bully breed. Consequently, XL Bully owners can rest assured that they can keep their beloved pets, provided they adhere to the government’s outlined criteria once they have been announced. Exact requirements are yet to be published, this information will be provided once the classification of the breed has been confirmed.

If you need advice on the current law or you face criminal allegations related to this subject, please contact one of our crime experts for advice. Call 0330 822 3451 or request a call back online. 

Co-Author of this blog is Emily Wilkinson, Leeds University.

1 Murphy, M. (2023). What is an American bully XL and why are they being banned? BBC NEWS. [online] 11 Sep. Available at: [Accessed 28 Sep. 2023].
2 Harwood-Baynes, M. (2023). XL bully dogs: Why adding the Controversial breed to the dangerous dogs act may not work. [online] Sky News. Available at:
3 Murray, J. and correspondent, J.M.M. (2023). Man who died after double dog attack in Staffordshire named as Ian Price. The Guardian. [online] 15 Sep. Available at: [Accessed 28 Sep.2023].
4 Murphy, M. (2023). What is an American bully XL and why are they being banned? BBC NEWS. [online] 11 Sep. Available at: [Accessed 28 Sep. 2023].
5 Murphy, M. (2023). What is an American bully XL and why are they being banned? BBC NEWS. [online] 11 Sep. Available at: [Accessed 28 Sep. 2023].