Support for XL Bully owners

The ban on American Bully XL dogs is now in place in England and Wales.

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American Bully XL dogs are now banned in England and Wales and will be banned in Scotland later this month. Find out more about the rules and how we can support owners.

The deadline to apply for an exemption in England and Wales has now passed. If you missed the deadline, you need to contact your local police force for advice on how to exempt your dog. See our commonly asked questions below for more information.

American Bully XL ban: what to do if you own an American Bully XL

It is now illegal to own an American Bully XL dog in England and Wales, unless you have an exemption. From 31 July 2024, American Bully XL dogs will also be banned in Scotland.

We have a programme of practical support, which includes muzzle training, and advice to help dog owners understand the ban.  

Key dates for the American Bully XL ban in England and Wales

  • 31 October 2023 — the Government announced that the American Bully XL type dog had been added to the banned breeds list in England and Wales.  
  • 31 December 2023 — it became illegal to breed, sell, advertise, rehome, abandon or allow an American Bully XL type dog to stray.  
  • 15 January 2024 — deadline to apply for a Certificate of Exemption by post.
  • 31 January 2024 — deadline to apply for a Certificate of Exemption online (12 noon).
  • 1 February 2024 — it became illegal to own an American Bully XL type dog if they are not registered on the Index of Exempted dogs. Owners must also have third party public liability insurance in place, and dogs must be microchipped and neutered (unless they’re too young, see other dates below).
  • 31 March 2024 — deadline to have your dog microchipped and give the microchip number to Defra, if your dog was less than eight weeks old when you applied for a Certificate of Exemption.
  • 30 June 2024 — deadline to have your dog neutered and give evidence to Defra, if your dog was more than one year old on 31 January 2024.
  • 31 December 2024 — deadline to have your dog neutered and give evidence to Defra, if your dog was less than one year old on 31 January 2024.

Key dates for the American Bully XL ban in Scotland.

  • 23 February 2024 – it will become illegal to breed, sell, give away or allow an American Bully XL to stray. It will also be illegal to have an American Bully XL in public without a lead and muzzle.
  • 31 July 2024 – it will become illegal to own an American Bully XL type dog if they are not registered on the Index of Exempted dogs.  

On 1 March Scotland released details of the exemption process, and the rules that owners will need to adhere to. Full details can be found here: legislation.gov.uk.

What happens if I own an American Bully XL? 

In England and Wales, to keep a banned breed, you need to have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog and comply with the exemption rules. 

To comply with the exemption rules, your dog must be:

  • microchipped
  • neutered (If your dog is older than one year old on 31 January 2024, they must be neutered by 30 June 2024. If your dog is less than 1 year old on 31 January 2024, they must be neutered by 31 December 2024. We recommend that you arrange for your dog to be neutered as soon as possible, when they are old enough.) 
  • kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
  • kept in a secure place so that they can’t escape.

And owners must:

  • have third party public liability insurance for your dog
  • 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 if your dog dies. 

You can find more information about the ban on the government’s website.  

In Scotland, details of the exemption process and the rules haven’t been announced yet. We will update this page with information as soon as we receive it.  

If you own an American Bully XL type dog, watch our video or read the information on this page to find out more on what the announced ban may mean for you and the steps you need to take.

Commonly asked quesitons

What do I do if I've missed the deadline?

If you missed the deadline to apply for an exemption, the only way to now get a certificate of exemption is to contact your local police force. 

As we currently understand the process, a Dog Legislation Officer would need to assess your dog to confirm if they are a prohibited …

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How will I know if my dog will be classed as an American Bully XL?

The law is concerned with the type of dog rather than the breed, and prohibited types are identified according to their appearance rather than their breed name, genetics (DNA), or parentage.  The Government has developed an official definition of an American Bully XL. It …

...

How do I apply for a certificate of exemption?

In England and Wales, the deadline to apply for a Certificate of Exemption has now passed. If you have missed the deadline to exempt your dog, you will need to contact your local police force for advice on how to get your dog exempted.

In Scotland, details of the exemption …

...

How do I exercise an exempted dog?

For any further questions about exercising an exempted dog, please contact dogsindex@defra.gov.uk. We cannot give any further guidance on the use of private fields by owners. with exempted dogs as this is set out by the CPS, and by the field and their insurance. 

...

Where can I go with an exempted dog? Can I use a private field?

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has set guidance around activities involving exempted dogs, including the use of private fields. We are not able to give guidance on the use of private fields by owners with exempted dogs as this is set out by the CPS, and by the field and …

...

Which types of dogs are already banned in the UK?

The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in 1991 and gave the Government the power to ban any breed appearing to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, these breed types are banned in the UK:

  • Pit Bull …
...

Support from Dogs Trust

We’re here for all dog lovers and we’ll do everything we can to support  American Bully XL dogs and their owners. Stay up to date on our latest news and updates on topics that affect you.

Third party public liability Insurance for owners of banned breed types

Our Companion Club (formerly called our Membership Scheme) provides third-party public liability insurance cover for Companions, and covers banned breeds that are registered on the Index of Exempted dogs (run by Defra). To become a companion, you must pay the fee of £25 per year.

You can become a Companion Club member at any time, and you will benefit from our third-party liability insurance. However, it is a criminal offence to own or possess a banned breed in England and Wales without a Certificate of Exemption. If you own a dog that you suspect may be a banned breed, you must contact Defra for a Certificate of Exemption and they will require you to have third-party public liability insurance in place before they can issue a Certificate of Exemption. If you do not have a Certificate of Exemption, the third-party public liability insurance will not cover you for your banned breed.

The third-party public liability insurance cover, included within our Companion Club, offers up to £1million per claim, subject to legal liability being established against you if your dog causes damage or injury to another person, their property or person. An excess of £200 applies for the UK, and £500 in the Republic of Ireland. The cover is subject to any changes insurers make.  

This cover currently meets the insurance needs within the conditions of exemption. It covers all dogs including banned dogs that have been exempted. Please note, this cover may be subject to change if government guidelines change, or our insurers change their terms.  

Please be aware that if you own an exempted dog and make a claim, in order for your claim to be valid, you will need to prove that you were complying with the law at the time. This means that your dog has a Certificate of Exemption covering them when the incident occurred.

If you are part of our Companion Club (formerly called our Membership Scheme), our third-party public liability insurance covers any dogs that are your pets in your home. We do not insure businesses, breeders, or anyone caring for dogs that are not their own pets. If you were to make a claim as a breeder, organisation or company, your claim would be null and void.

The start date of your insurance is the date that your payment cleared to join the Companion Club.  

Your insurance start date and policy number are in your welcome email from Companion Club. 

Muzzle training

If you own an American Bully XL type dog, your dog needs to be muzzled and kept on a lead in public at all times.  We’ve got lots of support available to help train your dog to be comfortable wearing a muzzle and calm on a lead.

We’re offering a 50% discount on our muzzle training 1-2-1's for anyone who needs to muzzle train their American Bully XL type dog. The session will include:

  • information about the most suitable types of muzzle
  • how to ensure a good fit
  • how to teach your dog to enjoy wearing their muzzle.

Our expert trainers, who have muzzle trained thousands of dogs in our care, will also be able to answer any questions you may have. 

Behaviour and training advice  

Our Behaviour Support Line can offer you help and advice about your dog's behaviour and we can signpost you to our services that can provide specialist support. 

Neutering and microchipping 

If you own an American Bully XL type dog, it’s important your dog is neutered and microchipped. Speak to your vet for advice on neutering and microchipping. We are unable to offer a subsidised neutering scheme or a microchipping service. 

Other organisations are currently offering a contribution towards neutering XL bully dogs to those who are struggling financially.

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Staying safe around dogs 

We run an online masterclass to help children and dogs live safely together. Find out more about keeping children safe around dogs and book a masterclass. 

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