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Dangerous Dogs

Volume 737: debated on Monday 18 September 2023

The Government are taking urgent action to bring forward a ban on XL bully dog types following a concerning rise in attacks and fatalities, which appear to be driven by this type of dog.

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, a definition of the “American XL bully” breed type needs to be specified in order to impose a ban. The Environment Secretary and the Home Secretary will convene experts to define the “American XL bully” breed type. This group will include police, canine and veterinary experts, and animal welfare stakeholders. This is a vital first step towards adding it to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act. We will engage with the relevant devolved Administrations about adopting a UK-wide approach.

The Government will then legislate to add it to the list of dogs banned under the Act. I intend to have the legislation in place to deliver this ban by the end of the year. This will make it an offence to own an unregistered XL bully, or to breed, gift or sell one. We need to safely manage the existing population of these dogs. Therefore, there will be a transition period. Further details on how this period will work will be provided ahead of the tabling of the legislation later this year. Dog owners do not need to take any action at this stage.

We have been working hard with the police, local authorities and animal welfare groups to help prevent attacks by encouraging responsible dog ownership, to ensure dog control issues are addressed before they escalate and to make sure the full force of the law is applied. Owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control are already breaking the law, and we already have a full range of powers to apply penalties to them. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, any dog that is dangerously out of control can be euthanised and their owners put in prison for up to 14 years and banned from ever owning a dog.

While the courts have the power to allow people to keep banned breeds with certain conditions, like being muzzled and neutered, the number of so-called exempted dogs is higher than a decade ago. That was not the intention of the legislation passed over 30 years ago. Therefore, we will also review our guidance to enforcers of the law.