London — American XL bully dogs will be banned in England and Wales from the end of the year, the UK government said on Tuesday, following a rise in fatal attacks involving the breed.
From December 31, owners will be required to muzzle the dogs in public and it will be illegal to breed, sell or advertise them.
The new laws outlawing American XL bully dogs were laid in parliament on Tuesday in the wake of a string of horrifying incidents, some of them fatal.
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said ministers had taken “quick and decisive action to protect the public from tragic dog attacks”.
The move will see XL bully dogs added to the list of banned dogs under existing dangerous dogs legislation.
Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to bring in a ban after a man died after being savaged by two XL bully dogs in September.
That attack came nearly two years after a ten-year-old boy was also killed by an XL bully at a friend’s house, prompting calls by his mother to have the breed banned.
Emma Whitfield’s son Jack Lis is one of several children killed by the dogs.
According to the Bullywatch website, XL bully, bully type or crossbreed dogs now account for the majority of UK dog attacks.
The group, which aims raise awareness of the scale of dog attacks linked to XL bullys, says it believes there have been 11 confirmed deaths since 2021 and three more suspected deaths.
The general rise in dog attack fatalities in the UK “can be explained directly” by the introduction in recent years of XL bully type dogs, it says.
Under the new laws, owners will have until the end of January 2024 to register them.
They will also have to have their pets microchipped and they will have to be neutered by the end of 2024 at the latest, depending on the age of the dog.
Owners who decide to have their dogs put down instead will be able to apply for compensation, the government said in a statement.
Many owners of XL bully dogs have defended them and stressed the importance of good training.
Critics, however, say XL bully dogs have been specifically bred to be highly aggressive and even responsible ownership cannot prevent them from attacking on occasions.