FAQs for our clients with XL Bully types

Is it illegal for me to own an XL Bully?

From the 1st of 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 January 31st 2024, to apply for exemption. Information on how to apply will be available soon.


What is an American Bully XL or XL Bully?

The American Bully XL, also known as an XL Bully, is the largest dog of the American Bully type. It is not a breed recognised by the UK (United Kingdom) Kennel Club as it is a cross breed.


My dog's dad is an XL Bully, his mum is a Staffy - will he come under the new law?

Identifying whether he is classed as an XL Bully completely depends on whether he fits the description, not his parents or his family genetics. Please read the definition of an XL Bully which includes height https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog


How will I know if my dog will be classed as an XL Bully?

The law is concerned with the type of dog rather than the breeding, and prohibited types are identified on their appearance rather than their breed name, genetics (DNA), or parentage.

The Government has produced guidance that will be used to identify the dogs that will be impacted by the ban: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog The general description is a large, powerfully built dog with a muscular body and blocky head, that suggest great strength and power for its size. Males from 51cm at the withers and females from 48cm

Before the government decided to add XL Bullies to the dangerous dogs list, my vet told me I should wait to neuter my XL Bully puppy until they were at least 18 months old - can I still wait?

This is our advice for many large breeds, but we must abide by the law, and puppies born after 31st January 2023 must be neutered by 31st December 2024. This should mean that legally bred puppies are at least 12 months old and may be as old as 23 months before they are neutered.
Please make sure you book your pet’s surgery well in advance as appointments may be limited and a confirmation of neutering form must be submitted to DEFRA before the deadline.


Can my vet help if I don’t think my dog is an XL Bully?

No, vets cannot certify whether an animal is or isn’t an XL Bully - this is up to the authorities. It is the owner’s responsibility to determine if their dog is covered by the ban. Read the guidance and if you think your dog has or may have characteristics of an XL Bully, you should follow the government guidance for XL Bullies.


Will my XL Bully have to be put to sleep?

No, if you get a Certificate of Exemption and comply with the new laws, your pet will not have to be euthanased. There is no compulsory euthanasia order on any banned breeds.


What do I need to do to keep my XL Bully?

  • You must be over 16 years old
  • You must obtain a Certificate of Exemption by 31st January 2024, and present it within 5 days, whenever you are asked to by a police officer or dog warden. DEFRA must be informed of any change of address and when your dog dies.
  • You must insure your pet against causing third party injury or death (third party liability insurance).
    This is usually available with pet insurance, but most companies refuse to cover banned breeds. Some specialist insurers may offer this service but are likely to decline cover for aggressive dogs. Try using a broker (search here for brokers by region: https://www.biba.org.uk/find-insurance/) or join the Dog’s Trust Companion Club (current cost £25/year) which includes £1 million third party liability cover (with a £200 excess) https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/support-us/membership.
  • You must make sure your pet is microchipped, and your contact details are up to date
  • You must keep your XL Bully muzzled and, on a lead, when in public and keep them in a secure place they cannot escape from when not. In public is defined as in front of other people and can include your home.
  • You must have your pet neutered by
    • 30th June 2024 if your pet will be older than 1 year old by 31st January 2024
    • 31st December 2024 if your pet will be less than 1 year old by 31st January 2024

Following the surgery, a proof of neutering form must be completed by the vet and returned              to DEFRA.

How do I get a Certificate of Exemption?

Owners will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for an exemption certificate. There is a £92.40 application fee, to cover administration costs. You can apply here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-certificate-of-exemption-to-keep-an-xl-bully-dog


Will I need to show anyone my certificate of exemption?

You must be able to present this when asked by a police officer or a local authority representative.  You vet might ask you for this is they think your dog fits the XL Bully description and is not muzzled in a public place, such as the vets.

Do I legally have to have my XL Bully dog insured?

We always recommend pet insurance to help with vet bills, but now it’s a legal requirement to have third party insurance for accidents to other people and their property. This is usually included in pet insurance but can be purchased separately.

My insurance company will no longer cover me once the ban is in place meaning I have no vet bill cover or the required third-party liability insurance.  What can I do?

Mainstream pet insurance companies usually do not provide pet insurance and/or third-party liability cover for XL Bullies or other banned breeds.

Currently we are only aware of the Dog’s Trust who provide third party liability cover to its Companion Club members’ banned dogs allowing them to obtain a certificate of exemption to keep their pets; membership costs £25 / year and will provide up to £1 million cover, with an excess of £200. See https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/support-us/membership for more details. 

We would recommend using a broker to try and find a specialist insurer. Try https://www.biba.org.uk/  (Tel: 0370 950 1790) who can advise what is available for both vet bills and third-party cover.

Will my XL Bully have to wear a muzzle at the vets?

From 31st December 2023, your dog will need to be muzzled and on a lead whenever they are in public including the vets, pet shops, parks and even when other people are at your home.

Start muzzle training now to reduce the stress for your pet. The following resources will show you how to approach it:

  • https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/pet-health-hub/other-veterinary-advice/how-to-muzzle-train-your-dog
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JfhC37fceE
  • https://www.bluecross.org.uk/advice/dog/behaviour-and-training/dogs-and-muzzle-training
  • https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/dog-advice/training/outdoors/muzzle-training

All dogs that are nervous and potentially could injure our team or someone in the waiting room need to be muzzle trained and wear a muzzle at the vets regardless of their breed.

If your dog is anxious or fearful, we may discuss giving them medication prior to a veterinary visit.

For clients concerned about dog attacks and aggressive dogs

We recommend the simple RSPCA guide for all dogs meeting dogs they don’t know: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/company/unfamiliar

and coming into contact with children:  https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/company/children/safe.

You can find more information about rules for banned breed types on the https://www.gov.uk/control-dog-public/banned-dogs.