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American Bully XL – Members’ Frequently Asked Questions

American Bully XL – Members’ Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated

21 November 2023

We have been taking questions about the forthcoming American Bully XL ban since it was first announced. We know that members have a lot of questions about what this means for them, their dogs, the dogs they may have adopted out and dogs and owners in their communities seeking advice. We have put below a list of frequently asked questions. Sadly, some of these questions do not have answers – but we believe that it is best that Members are aware where this is the case.

We will update these as more details become clear.

If you have any other questions that are not answered on this page, please get in touch.

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What are the timescales for the ban?

14 November 2023

Members of the public who own American Bully XLs can now apply for exempting their dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This involves filling out a form, ensuring their dog is microchipped, getting the dog neutered or proof from a veterinarian that it is neutered, paying a £92.40 fee and getting third party liability insurance, which must start by 1st February 2024.

31 December 2023

After this date any identified American Bully XLs will be prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act and it will be illegal to sell, advertise, give away, abandon, breed or rehome these dogs. Any rescue organisations will no longer be able to rehome Bully XLs after this date.

15 January 2024

After this date postal applications will no longer be accepted to exempt an American Bully XL. Electronic applications will be open until 31 January 2024.

31 January 2024

After this date it will be illegal to own an American Bully XL unless it has been exempted under the exemption scheme. Any dog that is exempted must be muzzled in a public place, neutered, microchipped and under the control of an adult.

15 March 2024

Final date for claiming £100 compensation for rescues or £200 compensation for private individual owners of American Bully XLs.

30 June 2024

Any XL Bully type dog over one year old on 31 January 2024 will have to be neutered by this date.

31 December 2024

Any XL Bully type dog under one year old on 31 January 2024 will have to be neutered by this date.

Does each dog have to identify with each standard? Or is it a majority or a percentage?

The only standard that is non negotiable is the the height limit so if your dog does not meet this requirement it is not identified as a Bully XL. As with PBTs, the dog will have to meet a “substantial number” of the other nine identification marks which are more subjective. The heights for an adult male are 20 inches (51 cm) at the withers, and for adult females, 19 inches (48cm) at the withers. The full definition is here. Pictures were added on 14 November 2023.

Where can we refer staff/volunteers for emotional support?

ADCH are running two webinars for Members, one in November and one in January. Blue Cross also run a bereavement support line and are prepared to take calls from rescue staff and volunteers.

Could the compensation scheme for the public presenting xl bullies for euthanasia could be open to fraud? Will there be guidelines issued for this?

Yes, this has been raised with Defra. It will be essentially down to the vets to police this, as they will be doing the euthanasia; but if the person self identifies their dog to the vet as a Bully XL and the vet does not consider this to be a wrong assessment, they will sign the form for the compensation to be claimed. There are different forms for compensation depending on the status of the owner (i.e. VCE01 form is for owners, VCE02 form is for rescue and rehoming organisations).

When this ban takes place what are the possible scenarios and timetable for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland?

No decision has yet been taken by either the Northern Ireland or Scottish governments, so it is almost certain that there will be different implementation periods for a ban, if it goes ahead in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Ireland has no plans to change their legislation and the American Bully XL is already a ‘ban dog’.

Artificial insemination businesses are increasing, Defra are instead focusing on Bully XLs. What considerations are possible to manage/monitor these?

The EFRA Committee will recommend canine fertility clinics (CFCs) to be licensed or better monitored – the Government is keen to better manage CFCs better but it is not clear if there will be a lot to do this before the election – this is a devolved issue.

Can we keep an American XL Bully in a rescue?

We are awaiting the next piece of legislation to be laid to confirm the workings of this. As it stands, the following process applies:

  1. Decide based on your identification (or with help from your DLO if this is possible) if you have any American Bully XLs in your care
  2. If you wish to rehome ones that have been behaviourally assessed as safe, rehome before 31st December 2023
  3. After 31 December 2023 it will be illegal for rescues to rehome, advertise any identified American Bully XLs. There are only two options: euthanise these dogs (for which there is £100 compensation, details here) or apply through the exemption scheme to keep them for ever – the details of this scheme are still being worked on.

What advice can we give to owners whose dogs potentially conform to the Bully XL specification, but are known not to be of 'type', e.g. crossbreeds?

The advice we are suggesting members provide owners at the moment is to ‘err on the side of caution’ and start the registration process to apply for an exemption.

It is not clear if there will be a possibility to de-register dogs who are later discovered not to be an American Bully XL type, this will need to be clarified by Defra.

Can I use my fenced off area as a private area, and so allow an American Bully XL off its lead and muzzle there?

The rules that apply to other dogs under the DDA are not changing, but this will be dependent on your local circumstances. Please check with your DLO and your insurer on how they define your fenced off area.

What advice can you give American Bully XL owners as to whether they should get their dog exempt before 31 January 2024?

This is up to the individual, but Defra are advising a precautionary approach, and if you feel you dog matches the identification guide then you should put in for the dog to be exempted.

You might find it helpful to refer owners to the RSPCA’s FAQ on their page here.

Is the identification guide going to change?

No, but we have made it clear that the only mandatory standard is the height of the dog. Photos were added to the guidance on 14 November 2023.

How do we go about identifying puppies?

Puppies should be identified between 9-12 months.

The rules set up when they should be neutered under the exemption process (<12 months on 31 December 2023 should be neutered by 31 January 2024, >12 months should be neutered by 30 June 2024). They need to be exempted by 31 January 2024.

We recognise that puppies born to pregnant mothers and entering rescues now will be difficult to type as they grow, and therefore decide on their future. It is possible that any puppies born to owners will have to go through the court process to be exempted if not exempted by 31 January 2024. Any puppies born in the care of rescues and of type will have to be euthanised after 31 December 2023, depending on what new rules Defra give for rescues under a final piece of legislation

What if my vet refuses to, or cannot, microchip and neuter my dog?

There are no exemptions to the rules, any exempted dog needs to be neutered if over one year on 31 January 2024 by 30 June 2024 and if less than one year by December 31 2024.

My vet will refuse to PTS any healthy XLBs presented to them, I am wondering how many other vets share their views. Is there any other veterinary feedback?

The veterinary sector has said that they are concerned on their capacity to deal with the numbers of dogs with both euthanasia and neutering. Each individual vet practice or vet corporation will make a decision on whether they will euthanise.

Will rescues be able to keep Bully XLs under the ban, as opposed to a named individual?

This is still to be clarified under the SI that Defra said they will lay in December but needs to be confirmed by the new Secretary of State.

What should owners do who clearly don't have an American XL Bully, but whose dogs they believe conform to the specifications?

The advice we are suggesting Members provide owners at the moment is to ‘err on the side of caution’ and register their dogs. The possibility to later ‘de-register’ dogs is not confirmed by Defra.

Whether there will be a behavioural requirement for exemption like with the current DDA, and how this may impact reactive dogs?

No – the assessment is purely on using the Government’s identification guide and not on behaviour.

Will there be a chance to overthrow exemptions, on dogs that potentially won't type once DLOs get their training?

Defra have yet to give advice on this, but ADCH would advise you to err on the side of caution – once a dog is typed and put under the exemption list it may not be able to be unexempted but we will share information if this changes.

Should we accept these breeds into our rescue prior to the clarification of the restrictions?

This is up to the individual rescue – some rescues have stopped accepting Bully XLs, others are still accepting.

Will the ADCH considered petitioning the government for a full review of the Dangerous Dogs Act?

Yes – ADCH members continue to do this.

Will DLOs assess potential Bully XL types in rescues as they currently do for potential Pit Bull Types?

This will be up to the individual DLO  – Defra have said the process for rescues as well as owners of Bully XLs are self assessment but ADCH would advise you to ask your DLO to give a second opinion to type any suspected dogs – some DLOs will be trained by mid-December, but some are already using the Government identification guide.

What are the steps to getting an exemption?

This is on the Government website updated on Tuesday (14 November) for dog owners; there is no advice yet for rescues and this will be updated once the new SI is laid.

What is the ADCH's position on Breed specific legislation? Is the ADCH likely to be at the forefront of campaigns to change this?

Many ADCH members are also members of the Dog Control Coalition which has been campaigning for the past few years for an overhaul and review of the DDA. ADCH doesn’t have a position on it, but many of our members campaign on it.

When will it be appropriate/possible to have dogs officially typed?

A rescue can self-assess but is advised to have a DLO officially type the dog – some DLOs will be trained by mid-December, but some are already using the Government identification guide.

If a dog fits all the physical criteria, but is slightly short at the whithers, is it likely to be "typed" by the DLO?

No – the minimum height is either a pass or fail and is mandatory – if your dog is shorter than 20” (male) 19” (female) it is not a Bully XL.

Government guidance says that pocket, classic/standard are not part of the ban. What is the height parameter for these types?

This is now on the website – the minimum height is either a pass or fail and is mandatory – if your dog is shorter than 20” (male) 19” (female) it is not a Bully XL.

Will there be any training offered to help identify a typed dog?

No – the only government training is for DLOs; ADCH is not providing any training, but you can utilise the government identification guide.

Are any rescue organisations still offering help with rehoming very young bully XL puppies that are too young to be typed?

This is up to individual rescues – ADCH does not have an accurate summary at present

What to do with puppies too young to 'type' or not knowing what a bitch (not an XL) has mated with and rehoming those puppies?

Puppies that are younger than one year on 31 January 2024 do not need to be neutered until 31 December 2024 if less than one year old or one than one year old on 31 January 2024 by 30 June.  Puppies younger than eight weeks old when applying for exemption do not have to be microchipped until 31 March 2024.