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The ban was in response to increased reports of injuries and deaths caused by dogs, which have been linked in some cases to XL Bully dogs.

Following its September 2023 announcement of a ban, the government convened an expert group to agree a conformation standard for XL Bully dogs, to define the characteristics of the breed. It has since published guidance for dog owners on how to prepare for the ban, including neutering and registering dogs for exemption, and guidance Check if your dog is an XL Bully dog. Owners will be responsible for determining whether their dogs will be covered by the ban. Owning an XL Bully dog without a certificate of exemption after 1 February 2024 will be a criminal offence.

The government said the ban was “a vital first step towards adding [American XL Bully dogs] to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act”. Until the announcement of the ban on XL Bully dogs, the government position was that any review of legislation on dangerous dogs should only happen with a review of the whole existing legal framework regarding dogs. It was also waiting for the report from its Responsible Dog Ownership Working Group before making any decisions.

Stakeholders have expressed concerns about the use of breed-specific legislation to address the reports of increased dog attacks. They have called instead for a full review of the legislation covering dogs and for the Government to focus on responsible dog ownership. An application for a Judicial Review of the ban XL Bully dogs put forward by Don’t Ban Me – Licence Me is currently awaiting a decision.

The Scottish Government announced on 18 January 2024 that it would be introducing similar ‘safeguarding measures’ for XL Bully dogs.

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