XL Bully's

HOW TO APPLY FOR A CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION

Government New XL Bully Legislation

We understand that people are concerned and confused about the new XL Bully legislation that has been published and that comes into effect on 1st January 2024.

Here are a couple of images that may help with the measurements and jargon used in the Government Legislation.

This page is to help visitors to the website.  It does not reflect our views on XL Bully's.

It is for information and reference only and the wording has not been altered in any way from the original Government Legislation pages.  The links to the pages has been included below.

Below is a direct copy from the Gov.uk website information.

This is a direct copy from the Government website for information. It does not reflect our views in any way. 

It is to assist visitors to this page. 

The original source on the Gov.uk website can be found here

Details

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

Defra recommends 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.

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

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, it could be considered an XL Bully breed type.

If you think your dog meets the minimum height measurements and has a substantial amount of the physical characteristics set out in the official definition, your dog may be in scope of the ban. This includes if it was not sold as an XL Bully.

Enforcement officers should use the PDF version of the official definition of an XL Bully dog.

XL Bully breed

The XL Bully breed type was developed through the crossing of various bull breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier.

The XL Bully breed type is a variant of the wider American Bully breed type. The XL Bully breed type is typically larger (both in terms of height and body shape) and more muscular than other Bully breed variant types such as the ‘Micro’, ‘Pocket’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Classic’.



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

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, it could be considered an XL Bully breed type.

If you think your dog meets the minimum height measurements and has a substantial amount of the physical characteristics set out in the official definition, your dog may be in scope of the ban. This includes if it was not sold as an XL Bully.

General impression

Large dog with a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting great strength and power for its size. Powerfully built individual.

Height

  • Adult male from 20in (51 cm) at the withers
  • Adult female from 19in (48cm) at the withers

Head

  • Heavy, large and broad
  • The length from the tip of the nose to a well-defined stop (indentation between muzzle and the head) is equal to around a 1/3 of the length from the stop to the back of the head
  • Muzzle blocky or slightly squared to fall away below the eyes
  • Topline of muzzle straight
  • Prominent cheek muscles with strong, well-defined jaws and lips semi-close
  • Often having prominent wrinkles on face
  • Nose is large with well opened nostrils

Teeth 

Level or scissor bite.

Neck   

  • Heavy, muscular, slightly arched, tapering from the shoulders to the base of the skull
  • Medium in length

Forequarters 

  • Shoulder blades are long, well-muscled and well laid back
  • Upper arm length is about equal to the length of the shoulder blades and joined at a 35 to 45 angle to the ground
  • Front legs straight, strong and very muscular with dog standing high on the pasterns (area between feet and ankles)
  • Elbows set close to the body
  • Distance from the withers to elbows about the same as the distance from the elbow to the bottom of the feet

Body  

  • Heavily-muscled
  • Large, blocky body giving impression of great power for size
  • Broad, deep chest with well sprung ribs
  • Chest may be wider than deep
  • Topline level and straight
  • Loin short and firm
  • Generally appears square shaped from point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks compared with the withers (tallest point on the dogs body excluding head and shoulders) to the ground

Hindquarters

  • Strong, muscular and broad
  • Thighs well developed with thick musculature
  • From behind, both pasterns are typically straight and parallel to each other
  • Muscular development, angulation and width in balance with forequarters

Feet    

  • Rounded, medium in size and in proportion to body
  • Compact and well arched

Tail     

  • Medium length and low set
  • Tapers to a point to end at about the level of the hocks
  • Generally assumes a straight or pump handle shape when dog relaxed

Coat   

Glossy, smooth, close, single

Glossary  

Bite: the relative position of the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed.

Coat: the hairy outer covering of the skin.

Croup: part of the back from the front of the pelvis to root of the tail.

Forequarters: the front part of dog excluding head and neck.

Hindquarters: rear part of dog from behind the loin.

Loin: the region between the last rib and the beginning of the pelvis.

Muzzle: the length from the tip of the nose to the stop.

Pasterns: the pastern is the lower part of the foreleg, just above the foot and below the wrist. Similarly, in the hind leg, the pastern is the portion located above the foot and below the heel (also known as the hock). Every canine possesses a pair of front and rear pasterns.

Scissor bite: the upper front teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Spring of rib: degree of curvature of rib cage

Tail set: the position of the tail on the croup

Topline: an outline after the withers to the tail set. Viewed from the side of the dog or from above.

Withers: the highest point of body immediately behind the neck where height is measured.

How to prepare for the ban on XL Bully's

Again, this is a direct copy from the Government website for information.  It does not reflect our views in any way.  

It is to assist visitors to this page.

The original source on the Gov.uk website can be found here.

Following a concerning rise in attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully dogs, the government has added this breed to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

To help current owners adapt to 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 or let it stray
  • 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 dog in England and Wales unless your dog has a Certificate of Exemption.

Read Keeping an XL Bully dog to find out how to get a Certificate of Exemption.

Check if your dog is an XL Bully dog

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, that may meet some of the characteristics of the XL Bully breed type. These are not within scope of the ban.

Keeping an XL Bully dog

If you want to keep your XL Bully dog after the ban, you must apply for a Certificate of Exemption by 31 January 2024.

To get a Certificate of Exemption you must:

Get third party public liability insurance cover for your dog.

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 if your dog is already neutered.

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

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

To keep an XL Bully dog it must be:

  • microchipped
  • kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
  • kept in a secure place so it cannot escape
  • neutered

As the owner, you must also:

  • be over 16 years old
  • take out third party public liability insurance against your dog injuring other people
  • 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

Third party public liability insurance

You must have third party public liability insurance for your XL Bully dog. The cover must start no later than 1 February 2024. This can be provided by Dogs Trust Membership. The policy must renew annually for the life of the dog.

If you use a different insurance provider, you must check the policy:

  • covers the policyholder for death or bodily injury to any person caused by the exempted dog
  • is suitable for a prohibited breed as defined under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

Microchips

You must make sure your dog is fitted with a microchip and registered on a database by the time it’s 8 weeks old. Find out how to get your dog microchipped.

If you’re not sure if your dog is microchipped, you should ask your vet.

Dogs less than 8 weeks old

If your dog is less than 8 weeks old when you apply for a Certificate of Exemption, you’ll have until 31 March 2024 to give the microchip number to Defra. Email the microchip number to dogsindex@defra.gov.uk or post it to:

Dogs Index
PO Box 68250
London
SW1P 9XG
 

Defra will send you a new Certificate of Exemption when you provide the microchip number.

Dogs certified as unfit for a microchip

If a vet certifies that your dog is unfit to have a microchip for a period of time, you must send a copy of the veterinary certificate to Defra by 31 March 2024. You must then arrange to have your dog microchipped and provide the microchip number to Defra within 28 days of the expiry date of the veterinary certificate.

Email the veterinary certificate to dogsindex@defra.gov.uk or post it to:

Dogs Index
PO Box 68250
London
SW1P 9XG
 

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.

You should start to train your dog to wear a muzzle when in public and to walk on a lead before 31 December 2023. Animal welfare organisations have developed helpful resources and free online learning to support owners to muzzle train their dogs. Read the training from:

Neutering an XL Bully dog

You must arrange to have your XL Bully dog neutered through castration in the case of a male dog, or through spaying in the case of a female dog. If your dog is:

  • less than 1 year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024
  • older than 1 year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024

Defra recommend having your dog neutered as soon as possible so that you meet these deadlines.

Confirmation of neutering

Once your XL Bully dog has been neutered, you and your vet will need to fill in the confirmation of neutering form. Your vet should then return the form to Defra. 

If your dog has already been neutered, you and your vet must fill in the confirmation of neutering form. The vet should return the form to Defra.

If the vet is unable to return the form, the owner of the dog can return it to Defra.

Your current vet may have to check that neutering has taken place if:

  • the dog was neutered by a different vet or at a different practice
  • you’re unsure whether your dog is neutered

You may have to pay a fee for the vet to do this. Alternatively, you may be able to contact your previous vet to fill in the form. 

Giving up an XL Bully dog to be euthanised

If you choose not to keep your XL Bully dog, you should take it to be euthanised at a registered vet practice by 31 January 2024.

You can claim £200 compensation towards the costs. You and your vet will need to fill in a compensation form to make a claim. You must apply by 15 March 2024.

Buying, selling or transferring XL Bully dogs

From 31 December 2023 it will be illegal to rehome, sell, buy, or transfer ownership of an XL Bully dog to another person.

If you are concerned that someone is trying to sell you a XL Bully after this date, visit the Petfished website to find out how to spot the signs of a deceitful pet seller.

Breeding XL Bully dogs

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.

Defra recommends breeders should stop all XL Bully 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. Puppies must not be sold before they are 8 weeks old.

Owners who purchased a puppy before 31 December 2023, which is less than 8 weeks old at that point, will be able to collect it legally when it’s 8 weeks old.

Stray and abandoned dogs

From 31 December 2023, it will be illegal to abandon an XL Bully dog or allow it to stray.

If you find a stray or abandoned dog of any breed, you should contact your local council.

Rescue and rehoming centres

From 31 December 2023, it will be illegal to rehome, sell or transfer ownership of XL Bully dogs. From this date, rescue and rehoming centres should not rehome XL Bully dogs.

If you’re not sure whether a dog in your care may be considered an XL Bully, use the official definition of an XL Bully. Rescue and rehoming centres should consider whether the dogs in their care may be XL Bully dogs.

Rehoming centres can decide to:

  • keep an XL Bully and apply for a Certificate of Exemption
  • euthanise an XL Bully

Rescue and rehoming organisations can claim a £100 contribution towards any euthanasia cost. Compensation must be claimed by 15 March 2024.

Vets

Vets may be asked by XL Bully owners to euthanise their dog. Owners can claim £200 per dog. Rescue and rehoming organisations centres can claim £100. The euthanasia must be performed by 31 January 2024. Owners must apply for compensation by 15 March 2024.

Vets may also be asked to confirm an XL Bully dog has been neutered.

It’s the responsibility of owners to:

  • use the official definition and guidance to determine if their dog is within the scope of the ban
  • make a declaration as part of their claim for compensation

Vets should be able to recognise dogs as being XL Bully type dogs for the purposes of undertaking euthanasia. 

Vets will not be expected to report XL Bully dogs and their owners to the police. 

Vets should: 

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Last updated February 2024.

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