Earlier this month, Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced plans for the ‘American XL Bully’ dogs to be added to the banned breed list. 

PDSA Vet Lynne James shares insight into what this means right now, and in the near future, for dog owners and the general public.   

She explained: “Although plans to introduce a ban have been announced, the ban is not currently in place, meaning owners and their dogs can continue their daily routines, as usual, until we await further announcements from the Government. 

“Although we don’t know full details, we do know they plan to allow responsible dog owners to keep their ‘American XL Bully’ dogs through a registration scheme. This means dogs can remain with owners, as long as certain rules are followed and the dog is not decided by the courts to be ‘dangerous’. 

“The ‘American XL Bully’ is not currently a ‘recognised breed’ in the UK, and the Government will firstly need to define what the breed looks like. It’s not illegal to own an ‘American XL Bully’ at this time and won’t be until the law has been updated. Government timelines have not yet been announced, but it is possible this could take several months. 

“It is important for owners of ‘American XL Bullies’ to realise there is nothing they need to do at this time whilst we await further information from the Government.   

“We’d like to reassure concerned dog owners that once the ban is implemented, owners will be given time to meet any requirements the Government introduces. 

“To help themselves prepare, owners of ‘American XL Bully’ dogs can consider the following steps: 

  • Register their dog at a vet
  • Ensure their dog is microchipped (which is already a legal requirement)
  • Arrange to have their dog neutered
  • Look into third party insurance
  • Begin to introduce positive muzzle training (if your dog isn’t already comfortable wearing a muzzle) 

“There are lots of misconceptions around muzzles – they aren’t just worn by ‘dangerous dogs’,” continues Lynne.

“They can be extremely useful for many situations, including during procedures at the vets. 

“It’s important to introduce a muzzle in a positive way, so your dog is confident and happy wearing it. We have advice and a step-by-step video for how to muzzle train your dog on the PDSA websiteWhat should the public do?

“The simple answer is absolutely nothing. It is still legal to own an ‘American XL Bully’ dog, so if you see one out and about you do not need to report it.  Until the details of the ban are confirmed these dogs do not legally need to be on a lead (in a park or exercising area) or wear a muzzle in public. 

“If you have concerns about the dangerous or aggressive behaviour of any dog, you should report this to the police or local authority. Only report a dog if you are concerned about their behaviour, simply owning ‘American XL Bully’ dogs does not need to be reported to the authorities at this time. Safety around dogs

“We know the recent headlines are very distressing, but it’s important to remember that the vast majority of dogs in the UK are not dangerous. 

“You should always be calm and quiet when interacting with dogs. Never approach an unknown dog without checking with their owner first, and make sure you ask their owner before stroking them. 

“Do not approach a dog that is alone outside or running around loose in a garden. If you do see an unaccompanied dog, we recommend you call the council or report the dog online, rather than approaching it, as it may be injured or distressed. 

“We also recommend that you never run or shout around an unfamiliar dog. More advice on dealing with a dog attack can be found on PDSA’s website.

By Ed

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