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From 31st Dec, it will be illegal to sell or breed from XL Bully dogs or have them without a muzzle

In September the Government announced that the American bully XL is being added to the list of banned dogs in England and Wales.

To help current owners in Sefton prepare for the new laws, the Council aims to raise awareness of the changes and the support available.

Important dates

From 31st  December 2023, it will be against the law to sell, abandon, give away/rehome or breed from an XL Bully dog. It will also be against the law to have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle.

From 1st  February 2024, it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog.

Owners will need to stick to strict rules such as microchipping your dog and keeping it on a lead and muzzled when in public. You will also need to neuter your dog and have third-party liability insurance for banned breeds of dog.

If your dog is less than one year old on 31st  January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If your dog is older than one year old on 31st  January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024.

Certificate of Exemption

Owners can apply for a Certificate of Exemption. This must be applied for via post by 15th January 2024, or online by 31st January 2024.

You can find how to apply on the Government website: apply for an exemption to keep an XL bully dog

American XL Bully definition

The law is concerned with the type of dog rather than the breed, and prohibited types are identified according to their appearance rather than their breed name, genetics (DNA), or parentage.  

The Government have released an official definition of an American Bully XL including details on height, shape and other features: Definition of an XL bully dog

Support for owners in Sefton

Free muzzle training and support is available from Dogs Trust, with additional information available on their website:

  • Free muzzle training webinar on Friday 15th December – book your place before it sells out on the Eventbrite website 

  • Free behaviour support line – call 0303 003 6666

  • Dogs Trust is also providing subsidised dog behaviour training for Sefton residents from low income households and/or in receipt of certain benefits. You can find more information about the training on the Dog Trust website: Discounted Dog School

If you choose not to keep your XL Bully dog

You should take your dog to be euthanised at a registered vet by 31 January 2024. You can claim £200 compensation towards the cost of euthanasia.

To claim compensation, you must complete the compensation form with your vet before 15 March 2024. Find out more and apply for compensation

More information and advice

Further and detailed information is available by expert organisations:

If you are worried about a banned breed, a dog that is out of control, a dangerous or aggressive dog, please report to the police on 101 or 999 if there is an imminent risk.

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