American Bully XL ban: What does this mean for owners?

31 Oct 2023

On 15 September 2023 the Prime Minister announced plans to ban American Bully XLs in England and Wales; and on 18 January 2024 the Scottish Government announced an XL Bully ban in Scotland, which replicates the laws set in England and Wales.

As of 31 December 2023, in the England and Wales, and as of 23 February 2024, in Scotland, it is against the law 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.

As of 1 February 2024, in England and Wales, it is a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog. The same will apply in Scotland from 1 August 2024.


What is an American Bully XL, and how do I know if I own one?

The Government have now released an 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. To help with this, Blue Cross have made a useful video on how to measure your dog.

We have also created a free online webinar with our expert trainers providing advice and support on various topics.

This is new guidance and more details can be found on the Government website.

Is it illegal for me to own an American Bully XL, and what should I do if I own one? 

As of 1 February 2024, it is a criminal offence to have possession of an XL Bully type dog in England and Wales unless the dog has a valid Certificate of Exemption. As the owner of an exempt XL Bully, you must be over 16 years old and able to ensure that your dog is microchipped, neutered, kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public and kept in a secure place so they cannot escape.

If your dog was less than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If your dog was older than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024. We recommend that you arrange for your dog to be neutered as soon as possible to ensure that you meet these deadlines.

As the owner, you must also:

  • Have taken out third party public insurance against your dog injuring other people through a provider with a policy suitable for banned breed types.
  • If asked by a police officer or a council dog warden to show a Certificate of Exemption for your dog, you must be able to show it at the time or within 5 days of being asked.

Advice for owners with a Certificate of Exemption can be found on the Government website.

What type of muzzle does Battersea recommend for an American Bully XL?

We recommend using a basket type muzzle as these allow you to feed your dog treats while they are wearing it. A basket muzzle will also allow your dog to pant and drink freely. The most important thing is to make sure that any muzzle you buy fits your dog correctly – with a basket muzzle there should be a small space between their nose and the end of the muzzle so it is not uncomfortable to wear. 

You will usually need a width measurement (looking to measure around the widest part of the dogs nose) & Length (looking to measure the distance from just below the eyes, to make sure there is a small gap between the eyes and the start of the muzzle, to the tip of the nose). Ideally you will want to use a piece of string or something similar to get this measurement so as not to scare your dog whilst taking the measurements. You can then follow our video on how to train your dog to wear a muzzle.

How can I get my dog exempted? 

The UK Government published guidance for owners wishing to seek a Certificate of Exemption for their dog. This included a form that owners needed to complete by 31 January 2024. The application process is now closed.

The UK Government has updated their website to include next steps for owners who did not apply for a Certificate of Exemption before the deadline.

From 1 August 2024, you must also have an exemption certificate in Scotland. The Scottish Government has not yet announced how owners will be able to apply for Certificate of Exemption, including the start date, costs and how to apply, and they recommend checking their website for updates. 

What is Battersea’s view on the proposed ban? 

The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public - but banning the breed will sadly not stop dog bite incidents recurring.

Unfortunately, history has shown breed bans to be ineffective at tackling dog bites. Since the introduction of the Act that bans certain breeds dog bite incidents have risen significantly. NHS Data shows hospital admissions for dog bites and strikes in England have increased from 3,377 in 2000-01 to 8,758 in 2021-22, an increase of 159%. That’s despite four types of dog already being on the banned breeds list.

We need the UK Government to deal more effectively with owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control and pose a risk. We also need action against breeders who are using these dogs for profit.

There needs to be more effective enforcement and early interventions - which bring dogs to the attention of law enforcement earlier if there is concern about their behaviour before it escalates. We also need to work with people to identify and prevent incidents from happening but, in addition to tough sentences to punish and deter those who use dogs to harm other people.

The law shouldn't focus on certain types of dogs - but instead deal with aggression in all dogs with the response tailored on a case-by-case basis. Only then can we properly protect the public from aggressive behaviour in all dogs.

Members of the Dog Control Coalition all agree we cannot and should not keep adding dogs to the banned list as a sticking plaster solution, rather than dealing with the root causes. We instead need fundamental change to the law on dogs acting dangerously to protect the public now and in the future. 

Our views on breed specific legislation


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