Advice for owners of XL Bully dogs

What are the legal changes for XL Bully Dogs?

From 31 December 2023, breeding, selling, exchanging, advertising, rehoming, gifting, abandoning, and allowing an XL Bully dog to stray will be illegal, and these dogs must be muzzled and on a lead in public.

From 1 February 2024, it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in England and Wales unless the owner has a Certificate of Exemption.

Key dates and further information are available on the Government website.

How do I know my dog is an XL Bully?

The government website provides an official definition of an XL Bully dog.

If an owner is unsure if their dog is a XL Bully or whether any puppies may grow up to be of this dog type, they should comply with the relevant requirements and restrictions as they come into force. To be considered a type ‘known as the XL Bully’ a dog must meet the minimum height measurements set out in the definition.

Can I keep my dog?

Owners who wish to keep their dogs must apply for a Certificate of Exemption (link above).

Is there any advice for muzzle use?

The Blue Cross, Dogs Trust and PDSA have all released free and online resources dedicated to muzzle training.

What are my other options?

Owners who choose to have their dog put to sleep can apply for compensation. Further details on how to apply for compensation can be accessed via the Government website.

LAIA licensed kennelling, home boarding or day care of XL Bullies 

It will still be possible for businesses to provide these services for exempted XL Bully type dogs if they wish to do so.

It is a requirement of the Certificate of Exemption to keep a prohibited breed type at the same address as the person to whom the certificate is issued except for up to a maximum of 30 days in a 12-month period.  During these 30 days, the dog may be kept in suitable care which could include licensed kennels, home boarding or day care.

Licence holders must ensure that they can continue to meet and maintain all their licence conditions should they agree to board an exempted XL Bully. They may also wish to ask the owner of the dog to see their Certificate of Exemption before agreeing to provide their services.

The owner should ensure that the licence holder, or their designated manager, is aware the dog is a prohibited breed type, show them the Certificate of Exemption, and provide all relevant information to ensure the business can comply with the legislation. This includes that from 31 December 2023, the dog must be kept on a lead and muzzled when in public. 

In general, the licensed premises are unlikely to be considered as a public place for the purposes of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (that is a place which members of the public have access to without the invitation of the person occupying the property). However, depending on the individual set up, some part of the premises used by the licensee may be accessible to the public without the licensee’s permission. We would advise that licence holders that are unsure whether their premises or a part of their premises constitute a public place should consult their own legal team for views. If a licence holder or their legal team do consider the premises to be a public place, then an XL Bully would be required by law to be kept on a lead and muzzled. 

When transporting exempted XL Bully dogs, they should be on a lead and a muzzle at all times when they are in a vehicle as this is considered to be a public place.

XL Bully owners who are licensed boarding operators  

Owning an exempt dog does not prevent individuals from holding or applying for a licence under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (“the 2018 Regulations”). The statutory guidance published in support of the 2018 Regulations is available.

Last updated 31 January 2024
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