XL Bully dogs

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This is obviously a really worrying time for people who own large “Bully type” dogs, especially given an XL Bully is a “type” not a registered breed, so has very broad guidelines in terms of what physical characteristics/measurements will define a dog as an XL Bully.

Our staff have all been horrified at this breed-specific legislation becoming law. We are well aware that not all XL Bullies (or dogs that fit this description) have behavioural concerns, or are any risk to the public. In fact, the overwhelming majority of these dogs are loving family members.

Although none of our staff believe that a ban of XL Bullies, and in particular the euthanasia of a healthy dog, is the most appropriate way to go about reducing aggressive dogs attacking humans, ultimately we must operate within the law. So whether these legal requirements are imposed on us by the law of the land, or by our governing body, we have to act within them, regardless of what our personal views are.

Here are the guidelines the government are using to define an XL bully:


If your dog meets the height requirements and many of the characteristics of these guidelines (note, they do not need to have all of the stated characteristics), and is not a purebred of a Kennel Club recognised breed, unfortunately, it likely they will be caught up in this situation.

The first stage of the law comes into place from 31 December 2023. It will then be against the law to:

  1. Have a XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle
  2. Allow one to stray (this means you MUST have a secure garden so there is no risk of your dog escaping, and be super vigilant that they don’t wander out of an open door/window etc)
  3. Sell, breed from, give away or abandon one. This means that even a litter that has been conceived prior to 31 December 2023 will not be able to be sold or rehomed.

Until 31 December 2023, we are offering a free nurse appointment to advise on positive ways to train your dog to wear a muzzle; and advise on appropriate types of muzzle and how to fit one.

Here is a good link about muzzle training dogs in a positive way:


Note, this video includes peanut butter as a reward- if you are using peanut butter, please check it does not contain a particular sweetener called XYLITOL, as this ingredient is toxic to dogs.

The next stage of the law comes into force from 1 February 2024. It will then be against the law to own a XL Bully unless you have a Certificate of Exemption (which you must have by 31 January 2024)

To get a Certificate of Exemption you must:

  1. Have your dog microchipped and registered on a database (this is already a legal requirement for all dog breeds)
  2. Have third party public liability cover for your dog, this policy must renew annually for the life of your dog. The most straightforward way to do this is through a Dogs Trust membership. https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/support-us/membership
  3. Neuter your dog permanently if it is not already neutered (male dogs castrated, or female dogs speyed). If your dog is older 1 year old by 31 January 2024, they must be neutered by 30 June 2024. If your dog is under 1 year old by 31 Jan 2024, they must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If your dog has already been neutered, a vet must certify this. If we have neutered your dog here, we can certify this, but would need to get your dog in to check their microchip details If they have been neutered at a different vet clinic, you can ask this vet to certify this. Neutering an XL Bully
  4. Apply online at gov.uk, and pay the application fee. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-certificate-of-exemption-to-keep-an-xl-bully-dog

The government have provided general guidance on how to prepare https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-for-the-ban-on-xl-bully-dogs and are also running a scheme for dogs without an exemption certificate to be euthanased https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/claim-compensation-for-an-xl-bully-dog.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us on 01442 833 198 or by email to info@hopevets.com.