XL Bully Ban

XL Bully dog ban

Following a rise in attacks and fatalities caused by XL Bully dogs, the Government has recently added this breed to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in England and Wales. To support these changes, the Government will require owners of XL Bully dogs in England Wales either to apply for a Certificate of Exemption, or to arrange for their dog to be euthanised by an RCVS-registered veterinary surgeon.

Our governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, has produced the following information and advice to support you in navigating these changes and potentially difficult situations as best you can. We will support you to the best of our ability.

Summary of the ban

Full details of the ban are available on the Defra website.

Stage 1

From 31 December 2023, in England and Wales it will be against the law to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog or let it stray
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle

Stage 2

From 1 February 2024, it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless it has a Certificate of Exemption. As this date has now passed, please see Ban on XL Bully dogs – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) – for what happens if you don’t have a certificate of exemption. If you do have one, then going forward:

For the life of the dog, you must:

  • keep the dog at the same address as the certificate holder (you can keep the dog at a different address for a maximum of 30 days in a 12-month period)
  • tell Defra if you permanently change address (you do not need to do this if the dog is temporarily kept at a different address, which is allowed for a maximum of 30 days in a 12-month period)
  • tell Defra if the dog dies or is exported
  • have third party public liability insurance for your dog and provide Defra with proof that it’s been renewed each year
  • keep the dog muzzled in public places – Defra recommends using a muzzle that does not inhibit the dog from panting, breathing or drinking
  • keep the dog on a lead in public places – the lead must be securely held by someone at least 16 years old
  • keep the dog in secure conditions that will stop it from escaping

When asked by a police constable or authorised local authority officer, you must also provide:

  • access to the dog to read its microchip
  • confirmation of suitable third party liability insurance within 5 days of their request
  • the Certificate of Exemption within 5 days of their request

If you do not follow the requirements, your dog will no longer be exempt from the ban and it could be taken by the police. New exemptions can only be authorised by a court order.

Third party public liability insurance

If you have a Certificate of Exemption for your XL Bully dog, you must have third party public liability insurance for your dog. This can be provided by Dogs Trust Membership.

The policy must:

  • be renewed annually for the life of the dog
  • be in the same name as the person named on the Certificate of Exemption

If you use a different insurance provider, you must check that the policy:

  • covers the policyholder for death or bodily injury to any person caused by the exempted dog
  • is suitable for a prohibited breed as defined under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

You must provide Defra with proof that you’ve renewed the insurance each year. Email your insurance renewal confirmation document to dogsindex@defra.gov.uk, or post it to:

Dogs Index
PO Box 68250



You will need to ensure your XL Bully dogs are permanently neutered, either through castration or spaying, by the following dates:

  • less than 7 months old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30th June 2025
  • 7 to 12 months old on 31st January 2024, it must be neutered by 31st December 2024
  • older than 1 year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024

We understand that Defra’s main objective of neutering is to ensure XL Bully dogs can no longer breed.

Once an XL Bully dog has been neutered, and we have scanned the dog’s microchip, then we will need to fill in sections 1 and 3 of the ‘Veterinary confirmation of neutering’ form (VCN01) and email/post a copy to Defra.

You are expected to complete the declaration in section 2.

The form, accompanying guidance and address details are available on the Defra website.

Confirmation of previous neutering

If an XL Bully dog is already neutered, Defra requires that we confirm this ‘through an appropriate methodology, depending on the circumstances’, prior to completing the ‘Veterinary confirmation of neutering’ form (VCN01).

We will need to confirm that the microchip details on the form match those of the XL Bully dog presented to us.

We appreciate that the dog’s microchip might not have been scanned at the time of previous neutering, in which case we will need to examine the animal, as above, to confirm previous neutering.

Cost of neutering

Defra states that the cost of neutering, or any necessary veterinary procedures to determine whether the dog is neutered, should be covered by the owner. The Government is not offering financial compensation to owners for the cost of neutering or confirmation of previous neutering.

We understand you have some difficult decisions to make as a result of this new government policy, so would advise you to discuss with us any concerns or questions you have – we are here to be helpful.

For us this will lead to an increase in workload for our already-busy practice teams, particularly in the run up to the various deadlines and we have feelings too. We will try and fit in with your needs as best as we can.


To assure team safety if your dog is aggressive (we know most aren’t) then we may wish to arrange with you for your pet to be sedated, prior to attending the practice. We can prescribe tablets for this.


Typing XL Bully dogs and puppies

Prior to carrying out euthanasia, we are not required to declare what breed the dog is. Instead, we are required to confirm that we have performed euthanasia on the dog as described on the form by you, in accordance with your request and based on your declaration that the dog is an XL Bully type.

In the case of puppies, Defra has told us that if you are not sure whether your dog is or will grow to be an XL Bully, then you can take a precautionary approach and apply for a Certificate of Exemption.

Concerns about euthanising healthy dogs

We understand there will be some members of the Veterinary profession, including some of our staff, who do not wish to euthanise healthy XL Bully dogs, either because it is not safe for them to do so, or because they object to it on moral grounds.

There is no obligation in the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for a veterinary surgeon to euthanise a healthy animal. However, your wishes and circumstances will always be taken into account, particularly if public safety and/or the animal’s welfare could be compromised should the request be refused.

Where, in all conscience, we cannot accede to your request for euthanasia, we will recognise the extreme sensitivity of the situation and make sympathetic efforts to direct you to alternative sources of advice.

If we consider that you are not certain about a decision to euthanise your XL Bully dog, we might consider it appropriate to discuss with you the alternative option of applying for a Certificate of Exemption instead.

Cost of euthanasia

The cost of euthanasia and disposal should be paid by you to the practice directly.

Under the Government’s compensation scheme you, having elected to have your dog(s) euthanised, are then entitled to claim £200 towards these costs.

This level of compensation will cover the cost of euthanasia and disposal (cremation) but not if you want the ashes returned or other products associated with euthanasia options.

Please discuss and agree with us your wants and costs in advance.