Home Latest news Guidance for XL Bully owners

Guidance for XL Bully owners

by Jonathan Kearney

The Government has announced that the American Bully XL, or XL Bully type dog will be added to the breed types banned in the UK by 31 December 2023. This follows a number of high profile dog attacks across the country.

The American Bully XL is the largest dog of the American Bully type. It is not a breed recognised by the UK Kennel Club as it is a cross breed. The Government has developed a breed standard to identify the dogs that will be impacted by any ban.

To help current owners prepare for the new laws, these changes will come into force in 2 stages.

From 31 December 2023 it will be against the law to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle

From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog and you will need to adhere to strict rules such as microchipping your dog and keeping it on a lead and muzzled when in public. You will also need to neuter your dog.

If your dog is less than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If your dog is older than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024.

There’s information to help owners apply for a Certificate of Exemption. This must be applied for by 31 January 2024. Apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep an XL Bully dog – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Where can I find out more?

Here’s more information to help XL Bully dog owners, vets and rehoming centres prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs: Official definition of an XL Bully dog – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/xl-bully-type-dogs-to-be-banned

The Dogs Trust can also help with information on Third Party insurance Dogs Trust Membership | Dogs Trust

Support for owners in Knowsley

Free muzzle training and support is available from Dogs Trust, with additional information available on their website:

  • Free muzzle training webinar – book your place on the Eventbrite website
  • You can also find useful muzzle training video on the Blue Cross website
  • Free behaviour support line – call 0303 003 6666
  • Dogs Trust is also providing subsidised dog behaviour training for Knowsley residents from low income households and/or in receipt of certain benefits. The training will take place for owners and their dogs in community centres around Knowsley. You can find more information about the training here.

If you are tenant and are concerned about how owning an XL Bully may affect your tenancy, please contact your landlord directly.

Dogs and children

Statistics show 80% of dog bites happen in a household, with children the victim of the attacks 91% of the time.

The Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) has useful resources available for dog owners with children  and newborn babies.

As part of the Dog Safety Code they encourage dog owners with children to follow some simple advice to keep children safe around dogs:

Be Alert – Always keep an eye on your children around dogs. Never leave them alone together.

Be Aware – Dogs use signals to tell us how they feel. What is your dog telling you?

Be Safe – Any dog can bite. Accidents happen fast.

Responsible dog ownership

Knowsley Council has introduced a range of measures to promote responsible dog ownership in the borough among all dog owners.

People who fail to comply with the Council’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) face fines of up to £1,000. The PSPO requires people in charge of dogs to:

  • Always carry a bag or other means of cleaning up after your dog at all times and dispose of in the nearest bin.
  • Keep your dog on a lead at all times in council-owned cemeteries, allotments and golf courses.
  • Don’t take your dog into enclosed children’s play areas, games areas or areas used for sport and leisure.
  • Remove your dog’s mess if it fouls.
  • Put your dog on a lead if instructed to do so by an authorised officer.

In order to strengthen its commitment to keeping communities safe from harm, the Council is looking to expand the current Order, which expires in March 2024, to include new measures, which may include:

  • An extension of the requirement for dogs to be on a lead in certain areas, e.g. town centres, certain parks and green spaces, all roads, pavements, footpaths and alleyways etc.
  • Exclusion of dogs from school playing fields etc
  • A maximum number of dogs to be exercised at one time.

If you are worried about a banned breed, a dog that is out of control, a dangerous or aggressive dog please report to the police on 101 or 999 if there is an imminent risk.

For further information contact 0151 443 4712 or email: environmentalhealth@knowsley.gov.uk