Information on the proposed XL bully ban
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Information on the proposed XL bully ban
The UK Government’s announcement that it will ban XL bully type dogs by the end of year has caused some concern among owners, and provoked debate among the public.
There’s still a lot of details to be ironed out in terms of how this will work in practice, but this page will be kept up-to-date with the latest developments on the Government’s proposals.
We are here to support both XL bully owners and people who are concerned about the XL bully types and the Government’s announcement.
What type of dog is an XL bully?
The XL bully is the largest type of American Bully. It is a cross-breed, which means it has been developed by people cross-breeding different types of dog. It is not a recognised breed by the UK Kennel Club. The XL bully has grown in popularity as a pet in recent years.
How can the XL bully be banned if it isn’t a recognised breed?
For any breed to be banned, it has to be defined. The UK Government has said they will convene a group of experts to define a breed standard for the XL bully, and this is what will be used to ban them under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
When pit bull types were banned in 1991, they were a very difficult breed to define due to cross-breeding with different types of dog. We are concerned the same issue will crop up when trying to set a breed standard for the XL bully.
What is going to happen to XL bully dogs which people already have as pets?
Nothing will change until the UK Government announces a breed standard for the XL bully has been agreed. They have said this will be completed quickly with a view to adding the XL bully to the banned list by the end of the year.
The UK Government’s Chief Vet has confirmed there will be an amnesty on XL bullies should they be banned. Given this, there should not be a cull but owners will be expected to comply with certain rules.
If they do so, they will be able to keep their dog. People who own an XL bully will likely have to apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep their dog. Any exempt dog has to be neutered and microchipped. When out in public, these dogs have to be kept on a lead and muzzled at all times.
In Scotland, an exempt dog must be tattooed for identification.
Owners will have to get third-party liability insurance, be 16 or over and present the Certificate of Exemption they have for their dog to a police officer or dog warden within 5 days of being asked to do so.
If there is an amnesty, there should be no widespread cull of XL bully dogs. It has not been confirmed how long any amnesty period will last.
If the UK Government ban the XL bully, does it apply in Scotland?
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Therese Coffey confirmed the UK Government intention to add XL bullies to the 1991 Act and plans to speak to devolved nations to implement this across the UK. If Scottish Ministers agree, then the ban will be applied in Scotland. If a ban is implemented in Scotland then this does not mean XL bullies will be euthanised, they can be added to the index of exempted dogs.
The UK Government plans to convene an expert group to specify a legal definition of the XL bully. The group will consist of animal welfare experts, veterinary professionals, the police, experts in breeds and representatives from the four nations.
The findings of the group will inform Scotland’s actions on the ban going forward.
What is the Dangerous Dogs Act?
It is a piece of law introduced in 1991 which banned four types of dogs from being owned in the UK. These are the:
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Japanese Tosa
- Pit Bull Terrier
The Dangerous Dogs Act outlaws any dogs which are determined to have been bred for fighting, or which have any characteristics of a breed which could have been bred for fighting. It is illegal to own, buy or breed a banned type of dog.
Why is the Scottish SPCA opposed to the Dangerous Dogs Act?
For 32 years, the Act has proven ineffective in reducing dog bites and attacks. If anything, they’ve got much worse. With more and more pets in Scotland, we believe the focus has to be on tackling bad breeders and putting more responsibility on owners.
Recent attacks by XL bully dogs have been tragic. We don’t support a ban, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognise the need for urgent action to stop these attacks from happening and protecting the public.
If not a ban, then what?
Whilst many XL bully dogs are owned by loving families, there are people who own them as a status symbol. XL bully dogs are, in some instances, bred by unscrupulous breeders, and bad breeding practices is proven to increase the likelihood of behavioural and aggression problems in any type of dog.
Our concern is that, if we don’t tackle the root cause, these individuals will find a different type of dog to cross-breed, and we won’t solve the underlying problem.