Posts Tagged ‘certificate of exemption’

Understanding the XL Bully type dog ban

The Government has confirmed that it is bringing in legislation banning American XL Bully type dogs with effect from 31st Dec 2023. It has published advice for owners entitled ‘Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs’.

We do of course understand this may be a stressful time for many dog owners. It is important to be aware that it is the pet owner’s responsibility to be fully aware of the legislation and comply if it applies, or may apply, to your dog. If you have any concerns or questions, please discuss this with a member of our team and we will do our very best to guide you through the changes.

Summary of the law

From 31st December 2023,

  • Breeding XL Bullies or mating other breeds to produce XL Bullies will become a criminal offence.
  • Buying or selling, advertising, rehoming, exchanging or giving away, abandoning or allowing an XL Bully to stray will all be criminal offences.
  • XL bullies must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public (i.e., in the presence of other people) and be kept in a secure place that they cannot escape from.

From 1 February 2024, it will become a criminal offence to own an XL Bully without a Certificate of Exemption which can be applied for through the Government website. In addition to the above, XL Bullies must be:

  • Owned by someone over 16 years old
  • Microchipped
  • Insured against causing injury to people (third-party liability insurance)
  • Neutered (with a proof of neutering form completed by the vet and returned to DEFRA)
    • By 30th June 2024 for all XL Bullies born before 31st Jan 2023.
    • By 31st December 2024, for all XL Bullies born after 31st Jan 2023.

If a Certificate of Exemption is requested by the police or dog warden, you must be able to produce it within 5 days. The standards used to define an XL Bully type are broad and owners must decide on an individual basis whether their dog needs one.

How do I know if my dog is an XL Bully

Unfortunately, there is no genetic testing to determine if a dog is an XL Bully and identification by an owner relies solely on the Government’s official definition.

Vets are unable to officially determine a breed and therefore will not be able to provide you with any written statement confirming breed or type. However, if we think your dog may fit the description of an XL Bully, we will advise you that you may wish to consider taking a precautionary approach and comply with the requirements of the new legislation.

The guidance relating to the legislation advises that a dog will be considered to be of a type “known as the XL Bully” if the dog has a substantial number of the characteristics set out in the Government’s official definition.

I think my dog is an XL Bully

If you own an American XL Bully type dog, you can continue caring for it as normal. Legislation will require dogs to be neutered, microchipped and muzzled in public places. Therefore, you can prepare by ensuring your dog is neutered, microchipped, and trained to wear a muzzle. You can also obtain third-party liability insurance, which is available at a reasonable cost to members of the Dogs Trust.

When the ban comes into force, you’ll need to apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep your dog and comply with rules around banned breed types.


The following timescales for neutering have been provided by the Government:

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

Once the pet has been neutered, your vet will fill in the proof of neutering form and return to it Defra.

Please contact your local branch to arrange neutering and allow plenty of time to get this booked as some vets will have waiting lists or will need to refer you to one of our other practices.

To learn more about neutering your dog please visit our neutering information page.

Safety and muzzle training

In the case of XL Bully type dogs, it will be a legal requirement for owners to keep their pet securely muzzled in public and this includes at your veterinary practice. You should start to train your dog to wear a muzzle when in public and to walk on a lead before 31 December 2023.

Click here for the Dogs Trust guide to muzzle training

If you have any concerns about your dog’s behaviour at the veterinary practice or they are anxious when coming to the vet please see our blog ‘Guide to anxious dogs when visiting the vet clinic‘.

I will be unable to care for my XL Bully type dog after the ban

Under the ban, it is not possible to rehome an XL Bully and, if due to personal circumstances, the only option for some owners will be the need to say goodbye to your XL Bully through euthanasia. We understand this will be a difficult time and will assist you in this in compliance with the law.

If you choose or are unable to keep your XL Bully dog, then you will need to approach a veterinary practice to have him or her euthanised by 31 January 2024.

If you would like to know more about saying goodbye to your pet, please contact your local branch for a copy of our booklet ‘Saying Goodbye to Your Pet’ and we recommend a pre-euthanasia appointment to discuss the procedure and your options with the Vet.

  • Owners can claim £200 compensation towards the costs of euthanasia. The owner and vet will need to fill in a compensation form to make a claim. The owner must apply by 15 March 2024. In this circumstance, your vet will be required to recognise that the dog is likely to be or have been an XL Bully type.

Whilst no vet is obliged to carry out the euthanasia of a dog upon an owner’s request, we will make every effort to offer the appropriate/required support and treatment regarding the overall welfare of the dog and its owner in the context of this law.