Do XL Bullies Have to Be Muzzled?

An American XL Bully dog wearing a basket dog muzzle

Navigating breed-specific legislation, such as the recent amendments to the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, requires careful attention, particularly for owners and breeders of targeted breeds like the XL Bully. Understanding the implications of these legal changes is crucial. One common question that arises is do XL bullies have to be muzzled? This article aims to provide clarity on this matter, helping XL Bully owners and breeders comprehend the current legal landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • The UK has implemented a ban on XL Bully dogs with phased enforcement beginning in 2023, including muzzle mandates and Certificate of Exemption criteria.
  • XL Bully owners must be aware of the legal requirements for muzzles, microchipping & neutering their dog as well as insurance coverage to ensure its safety.
  • Owners can access resources to navigate challenges associated with owning an XL Bully post-ban.
  • Current live petition gaining significant interest.
  • RSPCA granted judicial review for mid-January

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XL Bully Ban Update January 2024: RSPCA Gains Judicial Review

In a significant update on the XL Bully ban, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has been granted a judicial review hearing. This development could potentially challenge the UK government’s recent decision to ban XL Bully dogs. The review is due to be conducted mid-January 2024.

This breed-specific legislation, part of the government’s effort to address a spike in dog attacks, has sparked widespread debate and concern among dog owners and animal welfare groups alike. Check out further information on applying for an exemption certificate in our detailed guide.

Scotland Announces XL Bully Ban

Scotland’s announcement they will follow England and Wales in implementing the XL Bully Ban marks a significant shift in the nation’s approach to dog legislation. This ban, mirroring measures in England and Wales, aims to address growing concerns about the safety and welfare associated with XL Bully dogs.

It encompasses restrictions on owning, breeding, and selling these dogs, reflecting a commitment to public safety and responsible pet ownership.

The ban’s alignment with the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act underscores its importance in the broader context of animal legislation. Owners of XL Bully dogs in Scotland now face new legal responsibilities and are encouraged to stay informed about the changing landscape of dog ownership laws.

Summary of the XL Bully Ban in the UK

The Dangerous Dogs Act has led the UK government to put a ban on XL Bully dogs, with gradual implementation set for 31 December 2023. This was not an easy decision. It had been triggered by several fatal incidents associated with such canines in September and October of that same year.

From that day onward, possession of one without any Certificate of Exemption will be considered unlawful both in England and Wales, now also applying to Scotland – as well as criminal offence for breeding/selling them or permitting their strayness across those regions too.

For these reasons, it’s essential that all XL Bully owners understand the stipulations outlined under this act, otherwise they could face serious legal repercussions if found at fault.

An XL Bully dog wearing a muzzle in a public place

Muzzle Mandates for XL Bully Dogs

The XL Bully ban has led to new regulations for the owners of these dogs. As of 31 December 2023, all bully dogs will be expected to wear a muzzle and leash when in public places. It can seem like an intimidating change, but it is not impossible if preparation begins as soon as possible with positive reinforcement techniques used by owners.

Selecting the appropriate muzzle type is particularly important. Experts recommend opting for basket muzzles that still allow drinking and panting while providing adequate protection.

There are various facets surrounding this issue such as legal aspects, the requisite preparation process involved, and choosing suitable products concerning which more information should be sought out.

The Legalities of Muzzling

Dog breeds classified as dangerous may be mandated to wear muzzles in public places for safety, with the XL Bully dogs on the prohibited breed list set to follow this regulation from 31 December 2023.

Owners can submit an application for a Certificate of Exemption which could exempt their pet dog from having to use a muzzle when going out in public, yet they are still expected to remain accountable and adhere strictly to all other legal obligations too.

Preparing Your Dog for a Muzzle

Achieving success with getting an XL Bully to wear a muzzle can be difficult, much like teaching a child the importance of wearing protective headgear when cycling. Creating positive feelings towards using the muzzle is important for successful training. By associating it with praise and treats, instead of fear.

To begin this process, let your pup explore and sniff at the muzzle before putting it on them, then regularly encourage good behaviour while wearing it. Remember that consistency will help bring about results leading up to the deadline date set for muzzling regulations. Check out our step-by-side guide on muzzle training for XL Bullies.

Selecting the Right Muzzle for Your XL Bully

Finding the perfect muzzle for your XL Bully is as necessary as training itself. It should fit properly, be comfortable and serve its intended purpose. According to The Muzzle Movement website, a basket type of muzzle like the Baskerville muzzles are recommended in this instance since they allow dogs to open their mouth regularly enough for drinking and panting without compromising comfort levels.

When choosing a suitable option, you have to take into account many factors such as size, breathability or security when measuring your dog accordingly – ensuring that there’s sufficient space but not too much room around its snout so that breathing isn’t an issue while also being able to secure enough on their face during wear time.

Basket Muzzle

Fitting your XL Bully with a muzzle will become a legal requirement starting 31st December 2023. Accordingly, we have selected a muzzle available on Amazon that is specifically designed for the comfort and breathability of your XL Bully. This choice ensures a secure fit, while simultaneously allowing your dog to pant and drink water. You can check out muzzle training guide here.

Top Selling

Basket Muzzle

  • Allows dogs to pant when hot or stressed and drink

  • Can be heat shaped to fit different dog nose shapes

  • Strong Thermo Plastic Rubber (TPR)


Lead Regulations for XL Bullies

In addition to the muzzle, it’s important that XL Bully dogs are kept on a lead in public. The lead must be held by an individual who is at least 16 years old.

It is advisable to use a harness with a no more than 2 meter dog lead for your XL Bully. The recommended lead should be heavy-duty and strong to ensure the safety and control of the dog.

Front Range™ Dog Lead

Top Selling

  • Combines a strong connection with an elegant design

  • Includes a padded handle, Ruffwear's unique lockable Crux Clip™ hardware, and a bold design

  • Keeps you comfortably connected to your canine companion


Double-Clipped Harness

Top Selling

  • Front Range Harness is a padded everyday dog harness

  • Easy to put on and comfortable for dogs to wear 

  • Features two leash attachment options


How to Secure a Certificate of Exemption for Your XL Bully

XL Bully owners have a beacon of hope in the form of apply for a Certificate of Exemption. This will enable them to legally possess an XL Bully dog breed, given they meet certain conditions – such as having their pup neutered and microchipped.

To apply for this certificate before its January 31st 2024 deadline, it is advised to take necessary actions ahead of time. Both online applications must be received by 12pm on the said date while postal submissions should reach 15 days prior (by 15th January) so that there’s enough room for potential delays due to post services.

You can find all relevant details on the UK Government’s website on the Official Definition of a XL Bully for detailed information.

In the case you need to contact the authorities to determine your dogs breed, here are the contact details:

Index of Exempted Dogs
Telephone: 020 8026 4296
Find out about call charges

Dogs Index
PO Box 68250

How to check if your dog is an XL Bully dog

In order to be eligible for a Certificate of Exemption, it is important that your XL Bully Dog meets the criteria specified in the government’s definition. A male adult dog must measure at least 20 inches (51 cm) and females 19 inches (48 cm).

There are other factors such dog’s physical characteristics such as shape and size which will impact whether or not an animal can be classed as an XL bully. Be sure you have correctly identified this type of dog before filing any paperwork with local authorities.

For more clarification on what constitutes these dogs, always refer back to the official definition provided by relevant governing bodies so nothing gets overlooked when determining their eligibility!

Meeting the Criteria for Exemption

Once you have established your canine companion as an XL Bully, it is essential to meet the requirements for exemption. Before the expiration of the ban imposed on these breeds, having your dog microchipped and neutered must be done in order to keep up with the criteria needed for acceptance of any applications.

Microchip identification makes sure that necessary information about who owns which pet is readily available if a legal issue arises. While neutering contributes towards limiting reproducing numbers among this breed family’s population growth rate.

Should there be no compliance before time runs out, then authorisation will likely not go through due to unfulfilled conditions- so make sure everything concerning XL Bullies has been completed promptly!

Application Process and Fees

Applying for a Certificate of Exemption is straightforward. It’s essentially like getting your dog a passport, you can do so either through the GOV.UK service or by submitting an application form via post, along with £92.40 as payment (via online transfer or postal order).

The decision should come within 4 weeks from submission and having proof of third-party public liability insurance, microchip number and neutering ready helps make the process smoother than usual.

Neutering an XL Bully dog

XL Bully dogs must be neutered, as per the current legal regulations. This is seen as a health measure to minimize XL Bullies’ breeding and should be considered in the same way that vaccinations are, important preventive maintenance for any canine companion.

Dogs one year or older by 31 January 2024 have until 30 June 2024 to present proof of their sterilisation procedure. Those under this age have an additional six months before they must provide evidence that it has been done, with deadlines falling one year old on 31 December 2024.

Chemical castration is unlikely to be accepted due to impermanence of this type of hormonal implant.

XL Bully Ownership Post-Ban: What You Need to Know

A person holding the lead of an XL Bully dog in a public place

Owners of an XL Bully, post-ban period must abide by the laws and be responsible for their dog’s safety. From February 2024 onwards, possessing a dog injuring such a breed without having acquired permission with a Certificate of Exemption will not be allowed anymore. Offenders may receive legal penalties.

The police are empowered to take away this type of animal if its owner does not present said document and they can also begin court proceedings in order to determine whether or not it is risky to people as well as verify eligibility for exemption application purposes.

On-Lead Requirements

XL Bully dogs have been mandated to be restrained with and kept on a lead and wearing a muzzle while in public areas and the handler needs to be at least sixteen years of age. It is necessary that these big, strong breeds are taken control over by an individual who can manage them effectively.

In essence, the lead should not only provide security, but serve its purpose as a tool of communication between owner and animal during walks. Thus enabling overall comfortability whilst guaranteeing command when needed so they do not wander off too far from where you want your pup!

To train your dog to walk on a loose lead, check out detailed guide.

Ensuring Your Dog’s Security

When it comes to securing an XL Bully, a secure place, a combination of physical features such as fencing and behavioural training is vital. Providing the dog with interactive activities, making sure there’s somewhere comfortable for them to sleep and observing their behaviour in order to prevent disruptive outbursts resulting from boredom are all important measures you can take when safeguarding your dog at home.

Remember that effective security involves more than just tangible safety precautions. Creating an enriching environment through positive interactions is key too!

Insurance Coverage for XL Bully Owners

Dog owners, particularly those with American Bully XLs, should take out third party liability insurance due to the new laws that mandate this. This type of coverage can pay up to £1 million per claim if an incident occurs and your pet causes injury or damage to somebody else or something they own.

Organizations such as Dogs Trust may be able to offer a certificate of insurance for these dogs which are on Dangerous Dogs Act Register, it is vital that these dogs are insured. You check whether the policy would still apply after any ban has been enforced by insurers.

The Road Ahead for Banned Breed Types

On 31 December 2023, it will become illegal for any rehoming organization to give XL Bully dogs away.

This has raised queries around possession and breeding of these canines as well as the difficulty in accurately identifying them, ultimately prompting worries about their future prospects.

The situation is exacerbated by compensation from authorities amounting only to £200 should one choose euthanasia. A small recompense compared to losing an entire life.

Owning a pit bull terrier or other XL Bully type dog can be challenging and complex. Fortunately, help is available from organisations such as Dogs Trust and PDSA for people in this situation. They provide free muzzle training, behaviour support lines alongside essential advice regarding local regulations/requirements which are enforceable by the council Dog Warden team.

To assist bully owners with their journey, they have created an updated list of all relevant information to navigate these hurdles on their website.

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone here, utilise the resources around you so that together we can make sure your furry family member remains safe and happy!


XL Bully owners and breeders should remain educated on the ban and comply with regulations in order to guarantee public safety as well as their dog’s welfare.

Accomplishing this can be a complicated process, but is achievable if given the proper resources and guidance. For instance, muzzle training & obtaining an Exemption Certificate both play important roles along this journey.

Though initially daunting, there are hopes for brighter prospects arising from these measures taken against bully dogs. It could potentially lead us towards favourable results!


Please note that I am an affiliate for Ruffwear. This means I may earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase through the links provided in this article, at no additional cost to you.

Please be assured that I only recommend products that I genuinely believe in and feel would be beneficial for your dog. My affiliation with Ruffwear does not influence the content and insights I provide in this article, and my priority is always to offer accurate and valuable information to help enhance your and your dog’s experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the new law on XL bully dogs?

According to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, by 31 December 2023 it will no longer be permissible for a person to breed, market, rehome or abandon an XL Bully Dog, nor should one allow these dangerous canines to a stray or abandoned dog.

Can XL bullies be aggressive?

XL Bullies might exhibit aggressive behaviour due to poor-quality breeding and inadequate or improper socialisation, although this can be said for any breed.

What is the bite force of an XL bully?

One of the dog breeds with an impressive biting force, the American XL bully has a jaw strength of 305 PSI, which is among the highest among bullies.

What will happen to XL Bully dogs in rehoming organizations after the ban?

After the ban takes effect on 31 December 2023, XL Bully dogs will no longer be available to the general public. The future of these dogs within rehoming organisations remains uncertain at this time.

Do animal welfare organizations such as the RSPCA provide support for owners of XL Bully dogs?

The RSPCA is dedicated to offering assistance and aid to XL Bully dog owners in response to recently enacted legislation regarding the specific breed. They are committed to supporting those who have taken on this type of canine companion, no matter what.

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