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Start preparing for the Ban on XL Bully dogs


The Veterinary Health Centre has drawn together information to try and help our XL bully owners  prepare for the up coming ban of the XL Bully type dogs. 

The the current information from the government website/DEFRA, last updated 14th November 2023, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-for-the-ban-on-xl-bully-dogs

We advise all those with an XL Bully type dog to familiarise yourself with the guidance from the above government site. 

If you're unsure if your dog falls into the XL Bully classification, please go to:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog   A suspected XL Bully breed type does not need to fit the physical description perfectly. If your dog meets the minimum height measurements and a substantial number of the characteristics in the official definition, and is not recognised as an official breed with the Kennel club, it could be considered an XL Bully breed type.

Please also note that The Vetererinary Health Centre can not be held responsible for owners failing to comply with any of the new regulations.


All XL Bully owners, wishing to keep your XL Bully, will need to have applied for an "Exemption Certificate" by the 31st January 2024 

To get a Certificate of Exemption you must:

  1. Get third party public liability insurance cover for your dog (£25/yr currently)

  2. Have your dog Microchipped and know their Microchip number.

  3. Neuter your dog permanently if it is not already neutered. Read Neutering an XL Bully for when you must have your dog neutered. A vet must confirm that your dog is already neutered or has been neutered. We do have these forms to complete on your behalf if we have neutered your bully, a fee does apply for this documentation.

  4. Pay the £92.40 fee for each dog you want to keep. The fee is not refundable.

  5. Apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep an XL Bully dog.

To help current XL Bully owners the new laws will come into force in 2 stages.

STAGE 1 From 31st December 2023 it will be against the law to:

  • SELL an XL Bully dog

  • ABANDON an XL Bully dog

  • GIVE AWAY/ REHOME an XL Bully dog

  • BREED from an XL Bully dog

  • Have an XL Bully in public WITHOUT a LEAD and MUZZLE

If you wish to keep your dog after the ban comes into force on the the 31st December 2023, you must apply for a Certificate of Exemption. In order to apply for the exemption the guidance states that you will 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.

If your dog is not yet neutered it is a good idea to start planning with your vet as soon as possible to ensure that you meet the deadlines.


STAGE 2 From 1st 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 only have until 31st January 2024 to apply for an exemption certificate. This can be done through the government portal.

Before you apply for a Certificate of Exemption you must: 

You’ll need to provide the microchip number. To find the microchip number, you should check the dog’s vaccination record or ask a vet to scan your dog.

To keep an XL Bully dog under the exemption scheme you must ensure it is:

  • Microchipped

  • Kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public

  • Kept in a secure place so it cannot escape

  • The owner must be over 16 years of age

  • The owner must take out third party public liability insurance - This is provided through Dogs Trust Membership. Visit https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/support-us/companion-club

  • 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

  • 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. We recommend that you arrange for your dog to be neutered as soon as possible to ensure that you meet these deadlines.

Frequently asked questions

Q- I no longer want to keep my XL Bully dog, what options do I have after 31st December 2023 since it will be illegal to rehome it?

A- If you choose not to keep your XL Bully dog, you should take it to a registered vet for it to be euthanised. The      government are offering a £200 compensation towards costs if carried out prior to 31st January 2024. Both the owner and vet will need to fill in a compensation form to make a claim. To receive your compensation payment, you must first register on the Rural Payments System to get a single business identifier (SBI) number. To find out how, read Registering with the Rural Payments Agency to claim compensation for the euthanasia of XL Bully dogs.

Q- My dog isn't used to wearing a muzzle, what should I do?

A- The following charities have put together some useful advice on how to start getting your dog

comfortable wearing a muzzle.


Q- I'm not sure if my dog is classed as an XL Bully breed, how can I tell?

A- The Government have provided an official definition of an XL Bully breed, please refer to their website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog/official-definition-of-an-xl-bully-dog

It seems the main qualifyer is height measurement:

  • Adult male from 20in (51 cm) at the withers
  • Adult female from 19in (48cm) at the withers
  • Use the Official definition of an XL Bully dog to check if your dog may be an XL Bully. This involves checking the dog’s physical characteristics such as its size and height.

    Defra recommends taking a precautionary approach. If you’re not sure if you have an XL Bully dog, you should comply with all new requirements for this dog type. This includes puppies that may grow up to be an XL Bully dog.

    The ban only applies to XL Bully dogs. There are other established breeds, such as those recognised by the UK Kennel Club, for example "dog de bordeaux",  that may meet some of the characteristics of the XL Bully breed type. These are not within scope of the ban.

Blue Cross UK has created a video guide on how to measure your dog’s height from the ground to the withers.

Q- My XL Bully is currtenly pregnant, will I be able to sell or rehome the puppies?

A- It will be a criminal offence to breed XL Bully dogs from 31 December 2023. This includes:

  • breeding from an XL Bully dog

  • allowing for an XL Bully dog to be bred from any combination of other dogs

It will not be an offence to allow a litter of puppies that have already been conceived to be born. If the puppies are born after 31 December 2023, it will be an offence to sell them or to rehome them.

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

There is a 9-week period until the ban on selling comes into force to allow puppies that were bred before this legislation was introduced to be legally sold. It will remain the case that puppies must not be sold before they are eight weeks old.

If you purchased a puppy before 31 December 2023, but it is less than 8 weeks old at that point, you will still be able to collect it legally when it is eight weeks old.

We hope that this helps to provide some of the information regarding the up coming ban. Please contact us at the surgery on 01254 53622 for further information or do go to the government website as above.

Daisy Street Vets


23rd November 2023, 11:08
Page updated 23rd Nov 2023, 14:26
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