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Why is the UK banning American XL Bully dogs?

American XL Bully dogs are to be banned in the UK by the end of the year, the country’s Prime Minster Rishi Sunak has announced.

It comes after a man in England died following what Mr Sunak described as “another suspected XL bully attack” on Thursday. It was the latest in a series of deadly incidents.

Mr Sunak said he had ordered work to legally define the breed behind the recent attacks so it can be banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, which applies in England, Wales and Scotland.

UK banning American XL Bully dogs

American Bully XL dogs
Why is the UK banning American XL Bully dogs?

What is an American XL Bully dogs?

The American bully is a comparatively new dog breed from the US. Its first official breed registry, the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC), was founded in 2004.

The foundation breed used in its creation was the American pit bull terrier – but the ABKC says as many as four other dog breeds went into its creation, including the American bulldog and the English bulldog.

It comes in a range of size categories, from pocket-sized, to XL (extra large) or XXL. Extremely large varieties of XL and XXL Bullies can weigh upwards of 60kgs – sometimes as much as 90kg – and are considered very strong.

The ABKC says the American Bully “should give the impression of great strength for its size”, and should have a muscular body and “blocky” head. “The American Bully should have the appearance of heavy bone structure with a bulky build and look,” it said.

There is a general consensus the breed has the potential to be dangerous. In 2021, two of the four fatal dog attacks in the UK involved an American bully, while in 2022, they were involved in six out of 10 fatal dog attacks.

American XL bully
Why is the UK banning American XL Bully dogs?

American XL Bully dogs attacks in UK

American XL Bully dogs have been involved in several high-profile attacks in the UK.

The most recent suspected attack happened in Walsall, in England’s West Midlands region. Following the man’s death, Mr Sunak announced his decision to seek a ban on the breed.

An 11-year-old girl was attacked by an American bully XL in Birmingham on Saturday. Two men who intervened were also treated in hospital after being bitten by the animal.

In April, a 65-year-old grandmother was killed after she tried to break up a fight between her two American bullies at her home in Liverpool. The coroner noted that she had been found with “catastrophic injuries”.

Last year, a 17-month-old toddler was mauled to death in her own home by one of the dogs in St Helens, one week after her family had bought it.

And in 2021, 10-year-old Jack Lis died from severe neck and head injuries after he was attacked by an American bully XL in Caerphilly, Wales. His mother, Emma Whitfield, has called for the dogs to be banned.

American XL Bully dogs
Why is the UK banning American XL Bully dogs?

American XL Bully dogs banned countries

American XL Bully dogs are illegal in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

The breed is also restricted in some countries, including the Republic of Ireland, where any American Bully must be muzzled and on a leash no longer than 2m (6ft 7in) when out in public.

Which dog breeds are banned in the UK?

Under the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act, which prohibits any dog that is “dangerously out of control”, it is against the law to own the following breeds:

Pit bull terrier
Japanese tosa
Dogo Argentinos
Fila Brazileiro

Dogs that share physical characteristics to the banned breeds – such as cross breeds – are also banned.

What happens if you have a banned breed in the UK?

The police or local council dog wardens can take away the dog and keep it, even if it is not acting dangerously and no complaint has been made.

If the matter ends up in court, it is the owner’s responsibility to prove their dog is not a banned type. If they cannot prove it or plead guilty, they will be convicted of a crime for which the penalty is an unlimited fine or up to six months in prison. The dog will also be destroyed.

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Simon Kabutey
Simon Kabutey
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