Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs

The most up to date government guidance can be found within the link below, this is currently the only information we have access to within the veterinary profession.

GOV.UK link

Definition of an XL bully

The official definition of an XL bully can be found by clicking on the following link:

Definition of an XL bully

You’ll need to check the dog’s physical characteristics such as its size and height.  It is up to the owner or keeper to self-identify whether a dog may be an XL Bully.

Defra recommend taking a precautionary approach. If you’re not sure if your dog is an XL Bully, you should prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs. This includes puppies that may grow up to be an XL bully.

Rules of the ban

There are 2 stages to the ban:

1st stage – 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

2nd stage – 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.

You will need to adhere to strict rules such as microchipping your dog and keeping it on a lead and muzzled when in public.  Your dog will also have to be neutered, for those over 1 year of age on 31st Jan 2024 then this will need to be carried out by the deadline of 30th June 2024.

As the owner, you must also:

  • be over 16 years old
  • take out insurance against your dog injuring other people – this is provided through Dogs Trust Membership
  • be able to show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or a council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days

Exemption certificate

If you want to keep your dog after the ban, you must apply for a Certificate of Exemption and you will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for this exemption.

Before you can apply for the certificate you must have:

Paid the £92.40 application fee, to cover administration costs.

Have third party public liability insurance for banned breeds – this can be provided by Dogs Trust – you will need the start date of this policy.

You will need the dogs microchip number.

Apply for certificate of exemption

Muzzles and leads

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

We recommend that owners should start to train their dogs to wear a muzzle when in public and to walk on a lead before 31 December 2023. Leading animal welfare organisations have developed a range of helpful resources and free online learning opportunities to support owners to muzzle train their dogs. Read the training from:

For any further help or advice you may email the Companion Animal Welfare Team

We will update this page as more information is available.  Last updated 15.11.23