Guidance on XL Bully dogs

The Government has announced that from 31 December 2023 it will be illegal to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle

This follows a concerning rise in attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully dogs, leading to the breed being added to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog.

More information on what XL Bully owners, breeders, vets and rehoming centres need to do to prepare for the ban can be found on the Government’s website.

Keeping an XL Bully dog

If you want to keep your dog after the ban, you must apply for a Certificate of Exemption - you will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for this exemption.

Defra has provided more information on how to apply for an exemption for an XL Bully dog.

Applications will be subject to a £92.40 application fee, to cover administration costs.

To keep an XL Bully dog you must also ensure it is:

  • microchipped
  • kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
  • kept in a secure place so it cannot escape

You will also need to neuter your dog. If your dog is less than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If your dog is older than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024.

As the owner, you must also:

  • be over 16 years old
  • take out insurance against your dog injuring other people - this is provided through Dogs Trust Membership
  • be able to show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or a council dog warden, either at the time or within five days

We recommend that owners should start to train their dogs to wear a muzzle when in public and to walk on a lead before 31 December 2023. Leading animal welfare organisations have developed a range of helpful resources and free online learning opportunities to support owners to muzzle train their dogs.

Buying, selling or transferring XL Bully dogs

From 31 December 2023 it will be illegal to rehome, sell, buy, or transfer ownership of an XL Bully dog to another person.

If you are concerned that someone is trying to sell you a XL Bully after this date, we recommend you visit the Petfished website to find out how to spot the signs of a deceitful pet seller.

Giving up an XL Bully dog to be euthanised

If you choose not to keep your XL Bully dog, you should take it to a registered vet for it to be euthanised.

You can claim £200 compensation towards the costs.

You and your vet will need to fill in a compensation form to make a claim.

Defra will provide more information on how to apply for compensation.

Guidance for council tenants

If you live in a council property and own an XL Bully, you must comply with the new Government legislation around the breed.

If you have a pet in your home, it is outlined in your tenancy agreement that pets must be well cared for, as well as kept under control at all times to ensure that they do not negatively impact other residents or members of the public.

Check if your dog is an XL Bully

Use the official definition of an XL Bully dog to identify if your dog may be an XL Bully. This involves checking the dog’s physical characteristics such as its size and height.

Last updated on 14/12/2023