Defra urges owners to take action ahead of XL Bully ban

25 January 2024


Veterinary staff in small animal practice may wish to be aware that Defra has issued advice to the public reminding all XL Bully owners to take action ahead of the 1st February deadline when the XL Bully ban comes into force. Defra are advising owners of XL Bullies that if they do not wish to register their dogs, they should contact their veterinary practice regarding euthanasia.

This may result in practices receiving an increased number of contacts from XL Bully owners and they may wish to forward plan for this.

The Defra press release (25/01/24) is as follows:

  • From next week, it will be illegal to own an XL Bully dog that is not registered
  • Owners must act now to register their dog by 31 January
  • Decision to ban this breed of dogs comes after a number of dog attacks and fatalities caused by this dangerous breed

XL Bully dogs will be banned in less than one week, as the Government takes action to protect the public.

From the 1st February, anyone found in possession of one of these dangerous dogs, if it is not registered and does not adhere to strict conditions, will face a criminal record and an unlimited fine.

The decision to ban XL Bully comes after a concerning rise in tragic dog attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully dogs.

In order to safely manage the existing population of these dogs, owners of XL Bully dogs have less than one week to register their dog, if they have not already done so. The registration system for the breed will close at noon on Wednesday 31 January and owners have until then to obtain their certificate in time.

The UK’s Chief Vet is urging any remaining unregistered XL Bully owners not to delay any further and register their dog. Alternatively, the owner can arrange an appointment with their veterinarian for their dog to be put down by 31 January.

By registering their XL Bully, owners will have to comply with restrictions to ensure pets do not pose a danger to the public. This includes having them microchipped, kept on a lead and muzzled when in public and, to make sure these dogs cannot continue breeding, they must also be neutered. For most dogs, this will be by 30 June, and for dogs under one year old, this should be by the end of 2024.

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:

“Please do not risk leaving it to the last minute if you want to keep your dog, you should register it now.

“If you are unsure if your dog is an XL Bully or whether any puppies may grow up to be of this dog type, you should comply with the relevant requirements and restrictions.”

If owners are unsure whether their dog could be classed as an XL Bully, they should check their dog carefully against our guidance and photo examples of XL Bully dogs to help them decide. If someone has a dog that is clearly another established breed, the ban does not apply.

Owners can access the most up to date information on what action they need to take and when on this dedicated page, Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs – GOV.UK (

BSAVA has collated relevant resources to support BSAVA members in small animal practice which can be accessed here: