"XL Bully" - Government Enacts Urgent Reforms

Craig MacKenzie
Craig MacKenzie

Published: November 3rd, 2023

5 min

The Dangerous Dogs (Designated Types) (England and Wales) Order 2023 was laid before parliament on 31 October 2023, which has important implications for the owners of the dog breed "XL Bully". This statutory instrument will be accompanied by other legislative changes that form a package of laws that will fundamentally change the ownership rules in respect to this dog breed.

The government says that the principal objective is to introduce controls on the existing population of the XL Bully dog type to reduce the risk that they pose to public safety and to reduce the overall number of dogs of the XL Bully type in the dog population. The government has published an official definition of the XL Bully Breed, if you are in any doubt as to the breed of your own dog you should seek expert veterinary advice as soon as possible.

On 31st December 2023 the offences in section 1(2) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 ("1991 Act") will apply to the XL Bully type. This will mean that all owners of dogs of the XL Bully type must keep their dogs on a lead and muzzled when in a public space. It will also mean that anyone doing any of the following will be committing an offence under section 1(2) of the 1991 Act:

  • breeding, or breeding from, a dog of the XL Bully type.

  • selling, gifting or exchanging XL Bully type dogs (this will include rehoming).

  • abandoning or allowing XL Bully type dogs to stray.

  • advertising XL Bully type dogs for sale, exchange or gifting.

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. You will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for this exemption. Applications will be subject to a £92.40 application fee, to cover administration costs.

To keep an XL Bully dog you must 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 5 days.

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.

Our solicitors can advise you in relation to any aspect of the laws concerning animal ownership. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are facing an investigation or prosecution.

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