‘American XL Bully’ dogs will be banned following a series of horrific attacks, the Government has announced today (15 September).

On the back of a number of shocking ‘American XL Bully’ attacks, the Environment Secretary will urgently convene experts to define the ‘American XL bully’ breed type in the next week.

This is a vital first step towards adding it to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

This group will include police, canine and veterinary experts, and animal welfare stakeholders.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said:

“Dog attacks are devastating for victims and their families and it is clear that more now needs to be done to stop them and protect the public. That is why we are taking decisive action to ban the American XL Bully.

“This is on top of the work the Government has been doing for some time with the police and local authorities to encourage responsible dog ownership and make sure the full force of the law is being applied.”

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, a definition of the ‘American XL Bully’ breed type needs to be specified – including clear assessment criteria for enforcement authorities – in order to impose a ban.

The Government must then lay a Statutory Instrument to add it to the list of dogs banned under the Act. This will make it an offence to own, breed, gift or sell an XL bully.

We will do this by the end of the year.

We need to safely manage the existing population of these dogs, therefore there will be a transition period. Further details on how the transition period will work will be provided in due course.

Current XL Bully dog owners do not need to take any action at this stage however, if XL Bully owners do not come forward during the transition period, they will be committing a criminal offence if they are subsequently found to be keeping one of these dogs.

Owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control are already breaking the law, and we already have a full range of powers to apply penalties to them.

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, people can be put in prison for up to 14 years, be disqualified from ownership or their dangerous dogs can be euthanised.

Further detail on next steps for developing a ban and information for owners will be provided in due course.