England, Wales, and Scotland Ban XL Bullies

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An American pit bull terrier. These dogs were already banned in the U.K.
Source: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy

England and Wales have banned the XL Bully, a breed of pit bull. Scotland banned the breed after a spate of the dogs were abandoned over the country’s border after the implementation of the English and Welsh law. 

Under the ban, existing XL Bullies must be leashed and muzzled in public as of Dec 31, 2023, and must have exemption certificates by Jan. 31, 2024, which require insurance, the dog to be microchipped, and a fee of almost $118 (£92.40). The dogs must also be spayed or neutered. Selling, buying, gifting, or otherwise exchanging the breed is now illegal. The U.K. government is providing $252.97 (£200) in compensation if owners choose to euthanize their XL Bullies instead of taking steps to make the dogs legal.

The U.K. government offers a list of qualities that can identify an XL Bully. Dogs do not have to meet the criteria perfectly to be considered XL Bullies or for the ban to apply.

Barbara Moody, a U.K. resident who owns two XL Bullies says, “To define an XL bully you have to go off their height, jowls and their bite, so to ban a dog you need to have a definition of a breed. XL bullies are of a mixed breed. The person who designed XL bullies said they were designed to be family companions. Unfortunately, they have got into the wrong hands. Backyard breeders have bred some to be fighting dogs. There is a reason why everyone is in uproar – I think a dog is being banned that cannot be defined. At the end of the day the dogs are not to blame – it’s the owners. The blame is being put on the wrong end of the lead.”

The breed, the largest of the American Bully dogs, was involved in an outbreak of attacks in the United Kingdom, with at least six of ten human deaths attributable to the XL Bully. 

Cabinet Member Councillor Alex Farrell says, “Following a concerning rise in attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully dogs nationally, and the tragic death of a man in Stonnall last September [2023] which was attributed to this type of dog, the government has included XL Bully dogs on the list of those banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Whilst keeping local people safe is our priority, we know that this is a very sad time for the dogs and their owners. Our animal welfare inspectors and dog wardens hope that owners will be responsible and follow the law.”

The U.K. bans several other dogs: American pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brazileiro.

1. Should bully breeds, such as the XL Bully, be banned? Why or why not?

2. Should any dogs be banned? Why or why not?

3. If bans were not possible, what other steps could be taken to prevent fatal dog bites? Explain your answers.

Tara Cobham, “XL Bully Dogs Banned From End of Year After Surge in Attacks,” independent.co.uk, Oct. 31, 2023

Jane Dalton, “XL Bully Dogs To Be Banned in Scotland After Owners Cross Border To Beat New Rules,” independent.co.uk, Jan. 11, 2024

Kayleigh Fraser, “XL Bully Owner From Chilton, Durham Speaks As Ban Enforced,” thenorthernecho.co.uk, Jan. 15, 2024

Lichfield County District, “Preparing for the ban on XL Bully Dogs,” lichfielddc.gov.uk, Jan. 15, 2024

Matt Murphy & Jennifer Clarke, “What Is an American XL Bully and Why Are They Being Banned?,” bbc.com, Jan. 4, 2024

U.K. Government, “Check if a Dog Is an XL Bully,” gov.uk, Nov. 22, 2023

U.K. Government, “New Legal Restrictions on XL Bully Dog Now in Force,” gov.uk, Dec. 31, 2023