This article provides information on upcoming changes or regulations regarding XL bully breeds in the UK, including important dates and deadlines that owners need to be aware of.
By Dr Daisy May MRCVS BVSc (Distinction), Veterinary Surgeon

The phased introduction of the XL Bully ban in the United Kingdom is already underway, yet many UK pet owners still report feeling somewhat unclear with regards to their responsibilities as well as the exact timeframe they need to adhere to. This article aims to provide clarity in the form of a concise, easy to follow checklist plus answers to the most frequently asked questions in relation to the ban.

DEFRA’s advice is that UK dog owners should take a precautionary approach with regards to the ban, meaning that if you aren’t sure whether or not your dog meets the criteria to be classified as an XL Bully or not, you should err on the side of caution and assume your dog will be classed as an XL Bully. The department has also advised that dog owners hold ultimate responsibility for “typing” their dogs, and that vets ought not to be asked to confirm or deny a dog as being XL Bully type.

Typing should be carried out based solely on the “Official definition of an XL Bully dog” which can be found on the government website (

Blood tests claiming to provide proof of breed are not accepted.

Key Dates Checklist

31st December – It became illegal to:

  • Sell, abandon or give away an XL Bully.
  • Let an XL Bully go stray (meaning you must keep your dog in a secure location from which it cannot escape at all times).
  • Breed from an XL Bully.
  • Have your XL Bully in public without a lead and a muzzle.

Tip: if you purchased an XL Bully puppy (which was less than 8 weeks old) before this date, you will still legally be able to collect it when it turns eight weeks old.

By 31st January 2024 – You Must:

  • Obtain a certificate of exemption in order to keep your XL Bully.
  • If you choose not to keep your XL Bully, it will need to be humanely euthanised at a registered veterinary practice before this date. Rehoming is no longer an option.

From 1st February 2024:

  • It will be illegal in England and Wales to own an XL Bully without a certificate of exemption.
  • You must have third party public liability insurance for your XL Bully, with cover starting no later than this date.

Tip: membership to Dog’s Trust Companion Club ( provides excellent value third party liability insurance, including for banned breeds. Membership only costs £25/year (£12.50/year if you’re over 60).

By 15th March 2024:

  • Pet owners and rescue centres who intend to claim compensation following euthanasia of an XL Bully will need to have submitted their application.

By 31st March 2024:

  • XL Bully puppies who were less than 8 weeks old at the point of application for an exemption certificate will need to have their microchip registered to DEFRA.

Tip: if an XL Bully dog is unfit to have a microchip implanted for medical reasons, a vet must certify this fact and send a copy of this certificate to DEFRA by this date.

By 30th June 2024:

  • Your XL Bully must be neutered, if he/she was older than one year of age on 31st January 2024.

By 31st December 2024:

  • Your XL Bully must be neutered, if he/she was younger than one year of age on 31st January 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who might need to see my certificate of exemption?

Your certificate must be shown (upon request) to any police officer or council dog warden, either at the point of enquiry or within five days.

  1. Can my XL Bully dog be chemically neutered rather than having surgery?

No, chemical methods (such as the Suprelorin implant) are not considered an acceptable substitute for surgical neutering under the terms of the ban. XL Bully dogs must be permanently neutered by the dates given above, in order to comply.

  1. How can I tell whether my rescued female XL Bully dog is neutered or not?

Start out by requesting medical records from the rescue centre or veterinary practice (if known) at which your dog was previously registered. If this isn’t possible, a vet can help by carrying out a clinical examination and if necessary blood testing (AMH and progesterone testing) and/or an abdominal ultrasound scan.


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