05th Nov 2023

UK Government adds the American XL Bully type to the banned breeds list

On 31st October the UK Government announced that the American XL Bully type dogs have been added to the banned breeds list in England and Wales, with legislation coming into effect from 31 December 2023, and the requirement to complete registration for a certificate of exemption by 31 January 2024. 

Like so many other rehoming charities we too are dealing with the consequences of the ban. We await further clarification on the guidelines and the implementation to determine how it will affect dogs currently in our care before making any assessments. We are unable to issue any further comment in regard to this.  

The Government has directed that we would be legally unable to rehome a XL Bully type dog after 31st December and we will comply with the legislation. Given the time it takes us to rehome a dog it is with deep regret we have taken the unwelcome decision not to accept XL Bully type dogs. We are a small rescue and rehoming centre. With our limited resources and facilities, we do not have the capacity to take in dogs for sanctuary. We must focus our efforts on taking in the many dogs for whom we can offer the best possible care and welfare in preparation for finding them a new home, and in that way, we can help many more dogs. Our policy of taking back an ex-SDR dog remains unchanged. 

Further details of the Government announcement can be found here 


An organisation that cares passionately about the welfare of dogs, we are truly sad that this legislation has had to happen. We understand that dog owners are upset and worried about the XL Bully ban and what this means for their dogs; in giving our support we can offer the following advice: - 

Owners of an XL Bully type dog will be able to legally keep their dogs subject to conditions, but they will need to take immediate action to ensure they understand the legislation and are able to take the required actions within the timescales. 

We would urge owners to ensure they read the UK Government advice carefully on how to prepare for the ban which can be found here  

If you’re unsure if your dog will be classified under the legislation, it is important to check as soon as possible. 

From 1 February 2024, it will be illegal to own a Bully XL in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog. Owners will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for this exemption. 

No further guidance has yet been issued by the Government on the on the process for exemption. 

From 31 December 2023, XL Bully dogs must wear a muzzle and be kept on a lead when in a public place. 

We strongly recommend that owners should start to train their dogs to wear a muzzle when in public and to walk on a lead before this date. It's important to introduce your dog to a muzzle gradually and positively. 

The Dogs Trust has some excellent advice here: 

Owners must ensure their XL Bully is: 

  • microchipped 

  • neutered (or if your dog is less than one year old on 31 January 2024, they must be neutered by 31 December 2024) 

  • kept in a secure place so that they cannot escape. 

Owners must also: 

  • have third party liability insurance against your dog injuring other people – The Dogs trust has a scheme available at Dogs Trust Membership | Dogs Trust  

  • be aged over 16 

  • show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days 

  • let the Index of Exempt Dogs know if you change address, or your dog dies. 

Once your dog has a Certificate of Exemption you must adhere to the conditions otherwise you could be committing a criminal offence, and your dog could be seized. 

It is important to note that it will also be illegal to sell, breed, give away a Bully XL dog from 31st December 2023. 

Owners are being asked to identify whether their dogs are an XL Bully. The UK Government has published a standard definition of an XL Bully 

You will need consider the definition and carefully look at your dog’s physical appearance and various body parts as well as measuring their height. It is hoped there will be further clearer guidance from the UK Government on how to interpret this definition, so owners can understand if it will affect them and their dog. 

Issue: 05/11/2023