Credit American Kennel Club

The government published requirements to keep for XL Bully families on October 31st 2023 including their definition of what an XL Bully is.

Their definition is as follows:

General impression

Large dog with a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting great strength and power for its size. Powerfully built individual.


  • Adult male from 20in (51 cm) at the withers
  • Adult female from 19in (48cm) at the withers
  • Heavy, large and broad
  • The length from the tip of the nose to a well-defined stop (indentation between muzzle and the head) is equal to around a 1/3 of the length from the stop to the back of the head
  • Muzzle blocky or slightly squared to fall away below the eyes
  • Topline of muzzle straight
  • Prominent cheek muscles with strong, well-defined jaws and lips semi-close
  • Often having prominent wrinkles on face
  • Nose is large with well opened nostrils


Level or scissor bite.


  • Heavy, muscular, slightly arched, tapering from the shoulders to the base of the skull
  • Medium in length


  • Shoulder blades are long, well-muscled and well laid back
  • Upper arm length is about equal to the length of the shoulder blades and joined at a 35 to 45 angle to the ground
  • Front legs straight, strong and very muscular with dog standing high on the pasterns (area between feet and ankles)
  • Elbows set close to the body
  • Distance from the withers to elbows about the same as the distance from the elbow to the bottom of the feet


  • Heavily-muscled
  • Large, blocky body giving impression of great power for size
  • Broad, deep chest with well sprung ribs
  • Chest may be wider than deep
  • Topline level and straight
  • Loin short and firm
  • Generally appears square shaped from point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks compared with the withers (tallest point on the dogs body excluding head and shoulders) to the ground


  • Strong, muscular and broad
  • Thighs well developed with thick musculature
  • From behind, both pasterns are typically straight and parallel to each other
  • Muscular development, angulation and width in balance with forequarters


  • Rounded, medium in size and in proportion to body
  • Compact and well arched


  • Medium length and low set
  • Tapers to a point to end at about the level of the hocks
  • Generally assumes a straight or pump handle shape when dog relaxed


Glossy, smooth, close, single


Bite: the relative position of the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed.

Coat: the hairy outer covering of the skin.

Croup: part of the back from the front of the pelvis to root of the tail.

Forequarters: the front part of dog excluding head and neck.

Hindquarters: rear part of dog from behind the loin.

Loin: the region between the last rib and the beginning of the pelvis.

Muzzle: the length from the tip of the nose to the stop.

Pasterns: the pastern is the lower part of the foreleg, just above the foot and below the wrist. Similarly, in the hind leg, the pastern is the portion located above the foot and below the heel (also known as the hock). Every canine possesses a pair of front and rear pasterns.

Scissor bite: the upper front teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Spring of rib: degree of curvature of rib cage

Tail set: the position of the tail on the croup

Topline: an outline after the withers to the tail set. Viewed from the side of the dog or from above.

Withers: the highest point of body immediately behind the neck where height is measured.

From Gov.UK you can find here

The XL Bully is a cross breed dog and a “type” now characterised in the UK by the information given above. It is possible that many dogs not XL Bully’s will now fall victim to the definition. If you are at all concerned the safest thing to do for your dog is work toward compliance. Should your dog be seized on suspicion of being type you will stand a much better chance of having your dog returned if your dog is already neutered, muzzle trained & of good temperament.

Actions You Need To Take To Be Granted Exemption

If you want to keep your dog after the ban, you must apply for a Certificate of Exemption.

You will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for this exemption.

Applications will be subject to a £92.40 application fee, to cover administration costs.

To keep an XL Bully dog you must ensure it is:

  • microchipped
  • kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
  • kept in a secure place so it cannot escape

You will also need to neuter your dog. 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. We recommend that you arrange for your dog to be neutered as soon as possible to ensure that you meet these deadlines.

As the owner, you must also:

  • be over 16 years old
  • take out insurance against your dog injuring other people – this is provided through Dogs Trust Membership
  • be able to show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or a council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days
  • Neutering
  • You will need to neuter your dog.
  • 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.
  • We recommend that you arrange for your dog to be neutered as soon as possible to ensure that you meet these deadlines.
  • Once your XL Bully dog has been neutered you should ask your vet to fill in the proof of neutering form and return to it Defra. 
  • If your dog has already been neutered, you can ask your vet to fill in the proof of neutering form and return to Defra.  
  • If neutering was undertaken by a different vet or at a different practice, your current vet may have to check that neutering has taken place. You may have to pay a fee for the vet to do this. Alternatively, you may be able to contact your previous vet to fill in the form. 
  • You should ask your vet to complete and return the relevant form to the Index of Exempted Dogs. The relevant forms and contact details will be provided shortly. 

Defra will provide more information on how to apply for an exemption for an XL Bully dog soon.

Taken from Gov.UK here

Breeders, Pounds and Rescue Organisations

From 31st December 2023 it will be illegal to rehome, sell or transfer ownership of a XL Bully.

In the case of XL Bully’s in rescue it is highly likely that they will be pts. Rescue orgs are being offered £100 in compensation to help with the costs.

Dogs found straying fitting type picked up by the dog warden will not be able to be rehomed and will most likely be pts. Anyone allowing their XL Bully to stray will be committing an offence.


If your XL Bully type isn’t already muzzle trained please begin this training as soon as possible. We recommend this training resource from dog trainer Joe Nutkins of Dog Training Essex and Suffolk.

There are a variety of muzzles on the market to choose from. Our favourite is The Company Of Animals baskerville ultra muzzle. Size & fit is so important and each individual dog will vary a little. The baskerville can be reshaped to give your dog maximum comfort. The video below shows how to do this. We have been told by users that a size 6 does the best job for XL Bullys. Please note that we are not receiving financial reward from the company for recommending this product but we do sell them on our fundraising website. All sales support our core programmes with dogs in need.

Help With Neutering Costs

If you are struggling with the unexpected cost of neutering there are some options for you.

The PDSA offer this service to eligible families. Eligibility is dependent on your financial circumstances and your location. You can check your eligibility here

The Blue Cross may also be able to assist, you can check availability and eligibility here

There is a financial product in the UK called Carefree Credit. The company work with vets and their clients when patients guardians struggle to pay unexpected veterinary costs. Please be sure that this product is right for you. Dog Desk Action CIC is not affiliated with Carefree credit and does not receive financial reward for suggesting this product. Always seek the guidance of a financial advisor before purchasing any kind of financial product.

Your local vet practice may be able to offer a spay or neuter at a reduced cost or have a payment plan in place. Please contact them to discuss.

Dog Desk Animal Action may be able to provide support where funds are available. Should you wish to apply you can do so using the form below.


The only insurance we have found so far for exempted dogs is via The Dogs Trust.

Please see their website for more information.

You can find them here

What To Do If Your Dog Is Seized

Do not sign anything!

Get in touch with an organisation which specialises in dog seizures such as Rocky’s Army who can be found here The gentleman who runs the organisation is called Mark. He is always quick to respond but please bear in mind that response time may be longer due to number of cases or enquiries.


Dog Desk Animal Action does not advocate pts.

If you feel that you really can’t keep your dog the government has offered £200 in compensation towards the cost of ending their life.

Your vet will need to fill out a form for you.

What Can You Do To Challenge The Ban

Dog Desk Animal Actions position is that something needs to be done to protect the public from dog bites, maulings & fatalities. However, we are very concerned by the speed & lack of scrutiny by our government regarding this ban. Our concern is that many innocent dogs which have never behaved badly & never would will lose their lives under the ban. We are also extremely concerned that dogs which are not XL Bully’s but fit the “type” will also be in danger of pts. We know that dogs currently in rescue who fit “type” will be euthanised.

There are a group of professional people involved in a campaign to legally challenge the governments decision with the assistance of John Cooper QC

You can find them here

Our Position

Dog Desk Animal Action recognises the need to prevent bites, maulings & attacks by dogs. We do not condone behaviour which results in people or animals being harassed, frightened, injured or losing their lives to dog attacks. We fully acknowledge that something needs to be done to prevent these events & support efforts that seek to prevent such events.

However, we have concerns regarding the XL Bully ban.

We are concerned that dogs who fit the “type” but are not XL Bullys will be defined as XL Bullys & fall in to the banned breed category when they shouldn’t be there.

We are concerned that euthanasia of healthy well behaved dogs will happen as a direct result of the ban.

We are concerned that vets will be negatively impacted psychologically because they will have to end the lives of healthy well behaved dogs.

We are concerned that rescue organisations and organisations which offer free neutering will be burdened by the ban. In the case of rescue organisations we are concerned about the well-being of medical & non medical staff as euthanising healthy well behaved dogs is extremely detrimental to their mental health.

We have worries that XL Bullys may be found straying as owners who do not have the means to meet the criteria to keep reach out to rescues who will be unable to accept them. We know from experience when certain individuals (no matter the breed) are unable to surrender they will abandon to the streets leaving dog wardens to deal with the dog, this will result in the dog losing their life.

We have concerns that the ban may not work. In the case of adding the Pit Bull Terrier to the banned breed list bites did not reduce.

We have further concerns that breeders who sell to individuals who weaponise large breed dogs will manufacture a new breed of dog to meet their clients nefarious needs.

We have concerns that due to media hype there will be more pressure group calls to ban further breeds with little or no decision making scrutiny due to the speed of the current ban.