The American XL Bully Controversy in the UK Explained


    The American XL Bully, a breed that has gained popularity for its muscular build and gentle temperament, finds itself at the center of a heated controversy in the United Kingdom. The debate revolves around whether or not the breed should be banned or regulated due to concerns over public safety. 

    In this article, we will delve into the key arguments both for and against the ban to provide a comprehensive understanding of the American XL Bully controversy in the UK.

    Background to the Ban

    Dog bites in the UK have risen dramatically over the last few years, with an increase of over 22% being reported.  Following a series of attacks and fatalities involving XL Bully dogs, the UK Government decided to add the breed to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act. 

    This places a number of requirements on the owners, including obtaining a certificate of exemption, having their dogs neutered, taking out third-party liability insurance, and dogs being muzzled and on a lead when in public spaces. 

    At the start of 2024, the legislation applies to England and Wales, but it is also expected to come into force in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Pros of the Ban:

    Public Safety Concerns

    One of the primary arguments in favor of banning American XL Bullies is the concern for public safety. Critics argue that the breed’s physical attributes, such as a strong jaw and muscular build, could potentially pose a threat if the dog becomes aggressive. Advocates for the ban argue that by restricting or regulating the breed, instances of dog-related injuries or attacks could be reduced.

    Being involved in a dog bite incident is hugely traumatic, leaving both physical and psychological scars, Many victims find themselves in a situation of needing to consult with dog bite claims solicitors to try and seek compensation for the trauma and expense that they experience following the attack.

    Irresponsible Ownership

    Proponents of the ban often point to irresponsible ownership as a significant factor in the controversy. They argue that some owners may lack the knowledge or commitment needed to properly train and socialize American XL Bullies, leading to behavioral issues. Banning the breed altogether could prevent potential problems arising from irresponsible ownership.

    Preventing Criminal Use

    Critics suggest that XL Bullies are sometimes bred for aggressive purposes, attracting individuals involved in illegal activities, such as dogfighting. Banning the breed could help curb criminal use and discourage the breeding of dogs with aggressive tendencies.

    Protecting Other Animals

    Concerns extend beyond human safety to include the well-being of other animals. Some argue that the breed’s powerful physique may lead to a higher likelihood of injuries to smaller pets and wildlife. Banning the breed aims to protect not only humans but also other animals from potential harm.

    Cons of the Ban

    Breed Stigmatization

    Opponents of the ban argue that a blanket restriction on American XL Bullies unfairly stigmatizes the entire breed. They claim that responsible ownership and proper training can mitigate any potential risks associated with the breed, and a ban punishes responsible owners and well-behaved dogs.

    Lack of Scientific Basis

    Some critics assert that breed-specific legislation lacks a solid scientific foundation. Studies have shown that factors such as genetics, environment, and individual temperament play significant roles in a dog’s behavior. Banning a specific breed may not address the root causes of aggression or problematic behavior.

    Alternative Solutions

    Those against the ban advocate for alternative solutions, such as implementing stricter regulations on ownership, mandatory training programs, and increased penalties for irresponsible owners. They argue that a more nuanced approach could address the concerns without resorting to an outright ban.

    Impact on Responsible Breeders

    Banning the XL Bully could have unintended consequences on responsible breeders who adhere to ethical breeding practices. Critics argue that a blanket ban penalizes those who prioritize the health, temperament, and well-being of their dogs, contributing to the loss of genetic diversity within the breed.

    The XL Bully Type

    The term “XL Bully” generally refers to an extra-large version of the American Bully breed. The American Bully is a relatively new breed that was developed primarily for companion and family purposes. It is not recognized by major kennel clubs such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the UK Kennel Club but is recognized by certain other breed registries and organizations.

    The American Bully is known for its muscular build, blocky head, and gentle temperament. Within the American Bully breed, there are different size categories, and the “XL” designation typically refers to the largest size category. The size categories for American Bullies are usually:

    • Pocket: Height between 11 to 14 inches at the withers.
    • Standard: Height between 14 to 17 inches at the withers.
    • XL (Extra Large): Height over 20 inches at the withers for males and over 19 inches for females.

    The XL Bully is characterized by its larger stature within the American Bully breed, often having a more substantial build and greater height than the standard or pocket varieties.

    It’s important to note that while size categories are one aspect of defining an XL Bully, the breed standard also outlines other physical characteristics, such as head shape, body structure, coat type, and color patterns. Responsible breeders aim to produce dogs that adhere to the established breed standard to maintain the health, temperament, and overall quality of the American Bully breed.

    When considering XL Bullies or any other specific breed, it’s crucial to seek information from reputable breeders who prioritize the well-being of the dogs, adhere to ethical breeding practices, and provide accurate details about the breed’s characteristics. Additionally, local regulations and breed-specific legislation should be considered, as certain areas may have restrictions on owning specific breeds or types of dogs.


    The American XL Bully controversy in the UK is a complex issue with valid arguments on both sides. Striking a balance between public safety and the rights of responsible owners and breeders is essential. Whether through breed-specific legislation or alternative measures, finding a solution that considers the welfare of both dogs and the community remains a crucial challenge in the ongoing debate.