XL Bully Dogs

On 14 November 2023, the Government announced that the XL Bully will be added to the list of banned dog breeds in Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This means that:

  • From the 31 December 2023, it will be illegal to sell, give away and breed from an XL Bully. It will also be illegal to abandon an XL Bully or allow one to stray. All XL Bully’s, when in public places, must be kept on a lead and wear a muzzle.
  • From the 1 February 2024, it will be illegal to own an XL Bully type dog without a Certificate of Exemption.

Would my dog be considered an XL Bully type?

If you are in doubt, Central Government are advising owners to check their dogs against the Official definition of an XL Bully dog. You do not need to send your dog away to be checked.

Your dog’s height should be the first thing you check, measuring from the feet to the top of the withers (top of the shoulder blades, behind the neck). If your dog meets the minimum height requirements (20in/51cm for adult male and 19in/48cm for adult female) and a substantial number of the physical characteristics then it could be considered an XL Bully type dog. If your dog does not meet the height requirements, then it will not be considered an XL Bully type.

If your dog meets the criteria in the official definition, and you are still unsure then you should Apply for a Certificate of Exemption and adhere to the conditions imposed. Further information can be found on the Gov.uk XL Bully dogs guidance page.

The Government guidance acknowledges that other breeds, recognised by the UK Kennel Club, may fit some of the criteria. They are not in scope of the ban.

Can I keep my XL Bully type dog in my home after 31 December 2023?

Yes, provided you hold a Certificate of Exemption by 1 February 2024. You must also ensure that your home is secure as allowing an XL Bully type dog to stray will be an offence from 31 December 2023.

I know/think my dog is an XL Bully type. What do I need to do?

You must Apply to DEFRA for a Certificate of Exemption by 31 January 2024.

In order to be granted a Certificate of Exemption you must:

  • Get third party liability insurance cover for your dog.
  • Permanently neuter your dog by the dates shown below. You and your vet need to complete a confirmation of neutering form to DEFRA to confirm the neutering – this applies if your XL Bully has already been neutered. Your vet needs to return this to DEFRA.
  • Pay a £92.40 fee.
  • Complete the application process by 31 January 2024.

You should also lead and muzzle train your dog as this will be a legal requirement for all public spaces. 

You must ensure that your dog is microchipped. This is already a legal requirement for all dogs over 8 weeks old. If your dog is under 8 weeks old when you apply for your Certificate of Exemption, you will have until 31 March 2024 to microchip your dog.

More information on the requirements to keep your XL Bully type dog can be found at online.

By what date do I need to neuter my XL Bully type dog?

You must permanently neuter your dog through castration (male) or spaying (female) by:

  • 30 June 2024 if your dog is older than 1 year old on 31 January 2024.
  • 31 December 2024 if your dog is younger than 1 year old on 31 January 2024.

Can I take my XL Bully type dog out in public after 31 December 2023?

Yes but you will need to ensure that your dog wears a muzzle and remains on a lead in all public places.

More information on dog exclusion areas can be found on the Dog Exclusion Areas page.

Who is responsible for enforcing the law on dangerous dogs?

Devon and Cornwall Police are responsible for confirming typing of XL Bully dogs. If you believe someone is keeping an XL Bully type dog without a Certificate of Exemption after 1 February 2024, you should report this to them online.

It is already an offence for dogs to be out of control and to cause the public to feel endangered in public and private places.

Will I be able to buy an XL Bully type dog after 31 December 2023?

No. From 31 December 2023, it will be illegal to breed, sell, rehome or exchange ownership of an XL Bully type dog. This also applies to rehoming and rescue centres.

If you believe a breeder is trying to sell you an XL Bully after this date, please inform Devon and Cornwall Police and our Licensing Team.

What do I do if I see a stray or abandoned XL Bully type dog?

It will be an offence to abandon an XL Bully type dog, or allow it to stray.

Please report all stray or abandoned dogs using our Report a Stray Dog form on the Lost and Stray Dogs page.