Navigating the Latest UK Legislation for XL Bully Dogs

In a recent announcement on October 31, the UK Government declared a significant development in dog legislation. The American Bully XL type dog has been added to the list of banned breeds in England and Wales. This change comes into effect on December 31, 2023, and brings forth a set of regulations that impact owners of these dogs. In this blog post, we will break down the key aspects of the new legislation and guide XL Bully owners on what to expect and how to comply.


The Legislation Overview:

Key Dates:
December 31, 2023: Breeding, selling, advertising, rehoming, abandoning, and allowing an American Bully XL dog to stray becomes illegal.
February 1, 2024: Illegal to own an American Bully XL dog without being registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs.


Ownership Requirements:

Microchipped: All American Bully XL dogs must be microchipped.
Neutered: Dogs under one year old by January 31, 2024, must be neutered by December 31, 2024. Dogs over one year old must be neutered by June 30, 2024.
Lead and Muzzle: Dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public.
Secure Containment: Owners must ensure that their dogs are kept in a secure place to prevent escape.


Owner Responsibilities:

Third-Party Liability Insurance: Owners must have third-party liability insurance covering their dog’s potential to injure others.

Age Requirement: Owners must be aged over 16.
Certificate of Exemption: Owners must possess and be ready to show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by authorities.
Notification of Changes: Owners must inform the Index of Exempt Dogs about any change of address or the death of their dog.


Identifying an American Bully XL:

The law focuses on the type of dog rather than the breed. The government provides an official definition based on characteristics such as height, shape, and other features.

Key features include:
Height: Adult males must measure from 20in (51 cm) at the withers, and adult females must measure from 19in (48cm) at the withers.

Other Characteristics: The government’s definition covers various aspects, including bite, coat, croup, forequarters, hindquarters, loin, muzzle, pasterns, scissor bite, spring of rib, tail set, topline, and withers.

Applying for a Certificate of Exemption: To legally own an XL Bully, owners must apply for a Certificate of Exemption before February 1, 2024.

The application process includes:
Payment: A £92.40 application fee per dog.
Insurance: Proof of third-party public liability insurance for banned breeds.
Microchipping: Providing the dog’s microchip number.
Neutering: Evidence of the dog’s neutering through a completed VCN01 form.

The application can be submitted online or via post, with specific deadlines for each method.



While the new legislation may raise concerns for XL Bully owners, being informed and proactive is key. Prepare by ensuring your dog meets the criteria, applying for a Certificate of Exemption, and staying updated on any changes through resources like the government’s website and support from organisations like Dogs Trust. By navigating these regulations responsibly, owners can contribute to the well-being and safety of their XL Bully companions.