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Coverage of XL Bully announcement

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There has been widespread coverage, including in the BBC following our announcement that the XL Bully type has been added to the list of dogs banned under Dangerous Dogs Act.

This means that from 31 December 2023 breeding, selling, advertising, rehoming, abandoning and allowing an XL Bully dog to stray will be illegal. Also from 31 December 2023 XL Bully dogs must be muzzled and on a lead in public.

We also announced that from 1 February 2024 it will also become illegal to own an XL Bully dog unless it is on the Index of Exempted Dogs. We are not accepting applications for Certificates of Exemption yet. Further details on how to apply to keep your dog will be provided soon.

Guidance for owners as well as the breed definition were also published yesterday.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: 

We are taking quick and decisive action to protect the public from tragic dog attacks and today I have added the XL Bully type to the list of dogs prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

It will soon become a criminal offence to breed, sell, advertise, rehome or abandon an XL Bully type dog, and they must also be kept on a lead and muzzled in public. In due course it will also be illegal to own one of these dogs without an exemption.

We will continue to work closely with the police, canine and veterinary experts, and animal welfare groups, as we take forward these important measures.


Although we are not accepting applications for Certificates of Exemption yet, there are actions owners can take to prepare. Please see a timeline of these below:


Date Action
Up until 31 December 2023 Owners should check their dog against the standard.

Owners should start training their dogs to wear a muzzle and walk on a lead now, ahead of the restrictions coming into force on 31 December 2023.

XL Bully breeders should stop all breeding activity as it will be a criminal offence to sell, transfer, exchange, gift or advertise these dogs from 31 December 2023.

From 31 December 2023 All owners of XL Bully breed types must comply with strict conditions. This includes ensuring they put their dog on a lead and muzzle in public, and do not breed, sell, exchange, gift or abandon their dog.


Up until 1 February 2023 Owners of XL Bully type dogs or owners of young dogs that could grow to be XL Bully type dogs have two options:

Apply for their dog to be added to the Index of Exempted Dogs - We are not accepting applications for Certificates of Exemption yet. Further details on how to apply will be provided soon.

Owners should contact Dogs Trust to arrange for insurance. Owners should make sure their dog is microchipped and registered on a microchip database. They should also plan to have their dog neutered.


Put their dog to sleep: The Government will pay a contribution towards the costs associated with euthanasia that takes place before 31 January 2024. This contribution will be a total of £200 per dog. Owners and their vet will need to complete a form in order to make a claim. Details of how to apply for compensation will be provided shortly.

From 1 February 2024 It will be a criminal offence to be in possession of an XL Bully in England and Wales, unless owners have received an exemption.
By 30 June 2024 If your dog is older than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024. Owners will need to have provided us with evidence of this by this date to keep their exemption. More details of how to do this will be provided soon.


By 31 December 2024


If your dog is less than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. Owners will need to have provided us with evidence of this by this date to keep their exemption. More details of how to do this will be provided soon.



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  1. Comment by Tanya greyson posted on

    In hospital with copd with this stress over my fur babies it's breaking my heart to hear they getting band they my world but I will put up a fight for them

  2. Comment by Sarah Mason posted on

    How is this fair to all bully ‘type’ breeds it could be anyone and all of them? !!
    My dog meets some of this criteria as do thousands of others! It even meets the description of a mastiff, Rottweiler, boxer, to name a few
    Your condemning a ‘type’ of dog to an unfullfilling life
    Why not go to the source who bred the ‘ dangerous’ dogs should not the back street breeders be targeted in fact anyone whose dog is being used for breeding should be registered !
    I’m having sleepless nights worrying over this my dog is not an xl bully but to some people she could be mistaken for one and this would be dependant on who’s eyes were looking ! As not all will see the same thing
    This is prejudiced against a ‘type’ and all those who have a bully ‘type’ these dogs will now be persecuted !

  3. Comment by Jen posted on

    Defra stop dragging your heels and wasting valuable time (that’s ridiculously short already) and just tell people how to apply for exemption! It’s starting to look like your going slow on purpose

  4. Comment by Jennifer Richardson posted on

    The guidelines are too vague and I need clarity please. My male American Bulldog is 19inches tall at the withers therefore under the height restrictions. He is also slender, his chest is deep not wide. His cheeks are not pronounced. But to the untrained eye he could be mislabelled as an XL bully.

    If I am cautious and apply for exemption I am condemning him to a life time of restrictions he shouldn’t be subjected to. If I don’t he’s at risk of being seized. How do I evidence this criteria to prove if he is ever challenged and allow him to life his life appropriately?

  5. Comment by Kyla Pritchard posted on

    You are impacting so many people's mental health. It's heartbreaking. BSL needs to end. It's proven not to be useful at all. You are just giving up on these dogs when it's the other end of the lead that's the problem. Everyone understands that's something has to be done but so many people have agreed that this is not the way. It hasn't helped since it started in 1991. It will never work. Punish the criminals. Not the dogs.

  6. Comment by Kyla posted on

    Hurry up then. You want people to follow your rubbish, inconsiderate, pathetic, vague, ludicrous rules but yet don't want to inform people on how to do it.

  7. Comment by Beverley posted on

    What is the site we go on to get an exempt certificate for my dog pleas

  8. Comment by Jordan posted on

    We want more updates on this, when will the application be available?

  9. Comment by Vicky mcclune posted on

    When can we apply for exemption certificate for our xl bullys am sick with worry there my babys

    • Replies to Vicky mcclune>

      Comment by Natalie posted on

      I am the same. The government have really affected my mental health with this. Drip feeding information. Are they that poorly organised that they have announced the ban without being able to action it.... just want to get my boy exempt now 😪

  10. Comment by Claire posted on

    I am very confused by the criteria list, and how it will be applied.
    My dog is (I believe) slightly under the height.
    The information given as how to work out if your dog is or isn’t included has no sense.
    Does he have to tick every full overarching) category and will be included?
    Is the height strict?
    What is a overl muscular dog? Can I have an example please, if the range of what is considered extremely muscular and extremely powerful for its size? Any fit dog that’s of healthy weight will have good muscles .. so just like a human will look strong for their size/weight. Muscles just show on short coated dogs.
    I know what I think is extremely muscular, but it’s about what you tell me is.
    I’m really not sure how to read the list.
    Is it guidance or law?
    Doesn’t the law have to make sense?
    I am very worried.
    My rescue dog is all I have.
    He is well exercised, well socialised, insured, microchipped, well loved.
    Isn’t it the people who want to hide their dogs from the public until they let them out that’s the problem?
    This law does nothing to stop dangerous dogs, dangerous breeders, irresponsible owners, and is creating cruelty to dogs that are balanced and safe, and destabilising them.
    It will make the situation far worse with actual dangerous being dumped, or kept locked up, increasing the likelihood of further attack.
    I’m very confused.
    Am I reading the law correctly that it’s wanting to be cruel to animals and owners, and the knowledge uts based on includes that dogs have arms?
    How is this all so?

    • Replies to Claire>

      Comment by Natalie posted on

      That's the problem, the standard set out by the government is so vague and lack of information on the standards or how we get exemption is discusting

  11. Comment by Jenni Gallagher posted on

    Wear and when can I apply for my dogs exemption certificate please

  12. Comment by jordan cripps posted on

  13. Comment by Joseph rowlands posted on

    How does the government think it’s a good idea to pay towards the cost of putting down a perfectly healthy dog but not helping struggling families towards the cost of registering / neutering their dogs. Says a lot about the act as a whole and that yet again you have chose the easy way out instead of cracking down on unlicensed breeders and unfit owners, and also massively underestimating the number of Bully dogs and now an even bigger number of ‘Type’ dogs which aren’t bullys to begin with.

  14. Comment by Elizabeth Anderson posted on

    UK is really messed up! Satan must own them.
    Bully breeds are so sweet. God will smite the people who are doing this!

  15. Comment by Brendan posted on

    I'd like to apply

  16. Comment by Keri Meyler posted on

    How do I buy an exemption for my xlbully

  17. Comment by Linda Marie Hevican posted on

    How are Defra supposed to do this with such a short time line....

  18. Comment by Janet Karnovski posted on

    Can rescue centres apply for a certificate of exemption for any bully type dogs that they have?

  19. Comment by mr lane posted on

    the government is a disgrace in these proceedings with xl bullys...

  20. Comment by Gena posted on

    What happens to dogs that are not yet fully grown and as a precaution owners take the guidance and apply for a certificate of exemption but when the dog has reached an age of which it is considered to be fully grown and at which point does not meet the criteria of an "XL Bully" can they then be removed from the index?

    I think that this guidance is far to broad and it is unacceptable to expect owners to make a decision based on the vague descriptions of criteria set out. Given that this new law could affect so many dogs that are not XL Bully's surely experts in this field should be the people deciding such fate.

  21. Comment by dog owner posted on

    You have to APPLY by 1st Feb (which means, if you apply on 31st Jan, the application may not have been processed but will comply with above timeline) BUT you have to have the exemption by 1st Feb (ie it is possible to comply with the first one but the second one, over which the applicant has no control, may not be met.

    The definition of XL Bully are so broad and vague that it will encompass lots of dogs that are clearly NOT XL Bullies. So the processing at the government's end may not be tens of thousands, but hundreds of thousands or more. Which makes it unlikely that owners will have the right paperwork in place by 1st Feb (esp as there is an unknown delay to actually making the application paperwork available)

  22. Comment by Dawn Donald posted on

    This guidance is all very well, but having put the ban in place the website for the Certificate of Exemption should be in place. This would enable responsible owners to get their dogs registered quickly to ensure they keep their companions. The guidance is also very generic, it could apply to any number of dogs with 'blocky, square faces, ie, boxers, bull mastiffs, especially if people are not familiar with certain breeds.

  23. Comment by Cath posted on

    Poodles and small dogs are more dangerous than the larger breeds
    XL bullies do not need to be banned, poodles do.

  24. Comment by Sonny Davis posted on

    How do you apply for the exemption form for an xl bully

  25. Comment by Joe posted on

    Will there be a way to get your dog officially assessed as to whether they meet the definition XL or not?

    The breed definition seems so subjective. We have a American Bull Dog (neither sold nor bought as an XL Bully). She's an American Bull Dog so obviously fits some of the characteristics in the definition, but at the same time is 2 inches shorter than the height given in the breed definition (the only objectively measureable characteristic that features in the definition). Is this enough to discount her? The guide is completely unclear on this.

  26. Comment by Diane Hughes posted on

    How do I get my dog exempt from please thank you

  27. Comment by Katie johnson posted on

    How can we apply for a court permit by the 1st February if our bitch dog is due in season this month and cannot be spayed until a further 3 months will there be an extension for this purpose.
    Also how will you help with the housing association of the family of these xl bully’s as some tenancy’s state if your to own a banned breed they cannot accept, this will lead to evictions and homelessness for the ones who
    Are and will keep their family pets.
    I also know of this due to my local housing association I’m with. If you’re wanting the dogs neutered and so quickly with the court permit then why isn’t this free. Why has blue cross closed there doors to help families at the time of the nation in living crisis. There’s so many dogs at risk and you’re not doing your duty of animal welfare or the duty of the nation correctly. This is turning into chaos! I’m looking at being homeless in February just so I can keep my family pets. This is disgusting. We are waiting on more information and so if the hole nation. This needs to be better and done correct.

  28. Comment by Barrington posted on

    can you please release a video of a DLO typing this dog type dog because the list is so subjective it describes hundreds of thousands of dogs
    nothing is clear and no one knows if they actually have a dog that could fit type
    The description really is useless to any owner, you are asking owners to self type their dog with no clear guidance

    Height is this the starter point? if you do not meet this do not proceed on to the next characteristic ?

    as it stands it describes anything from a Staffordshire terrier to a rottie as it back tracks and says any of the characteristics ?

    Please go back and reread what you have listed as it makes no sense simply it says you ( police /enforcers )can make any dog fit the type which would then make it a licensing system ,,,,,,,

  29. Comment by michael Ramskill posted on

    How do i apply for the certificate please?

  30. Comment by Brandon posted on

    This is absolutely ridiculous I have an xl Bully and he’s the softest dog I’ve ever met I will follow whatever rules are required to keep my dog but this is all so confusing I don’t understand how or where I apply for exemption if I’ll even be accepted if my dog has to be traumatised in the process what do you guys actually want

  31. Comment by Tanya Del posted on

    The measurements and specifications your using to ban XL bullys is not clear, your targeting non Xl bullies in the process. Also people who own cross breeds are being told once their pets are deemed bully type their dogs health insurance is void as the dog/s are then classed as a ban breed, this has not been thought out at all!

  32. Comment by Mavis posted on

    You have written up until 1st Feb 2023, that's already been.. was it meant to say 2024 or is there a delay on where abouts you're suppose to get the certificate of exemption?