XL Bully
The ban on the American XL bully dog is part of a controversial government effort to tackle dog-related incidents. Reuters/ PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW

Following two recent incidents, that involved two American Bully XLs, the UK government have revealed that they plan to ban the breed.

On Friday 15 September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the American Bully XL would be added to the list of breeds prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

The new law, which is set to be implemented by the end of 2023, will see the American Bully XL join the Pit Bull terrier, the Japanese Tosa and others on the list.

Ian Prince was taken to hospital, suffering from life-threatening injuries, after he was the victim of a dog attack on Thursday 14th September.

Hours after the attack, the 52-year-old passed away and was declared dead in hospital. The police reported that the two dogs involved in the incident were American Bullies XL.

Reports state that one of the dogs died while it was being restrained by police at the scene, while the other was put to sleep by a vet.

Suella Braverman confirmed that, alongside Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, she is also pushing for the bill.

The second incident, which occurred in Birmingham on Wednesday 13 September, involved an American Bully XL and an 11-year-old girl.

Ana Paun told reporters that she supported the breed ban while she spoke of her experience with the dog.

"At the time I just felt panic. I went to the shop with my sister. The dog was staring at me. He jumped on my arm and bit me," she said.

CCTV footage, that depicts the dog acting stressed in a busy car park, was released as part of the investigation into the incident.

"I want him [the dog] to go away, to die... I think all of the dogs, the bulldogs, all of them should be banned," the 11-year-old declared.

A police spokesperson revealed: "The dog was seized by officers and taken to a vet suffering from heat exhaustion."

The police spokesperson added: "He has now been taken into secure kennels and our dog unit will consider what will happen to it."

One woman, who does not want her name to be revealed due to fear of public penalisation, told me: "My dog (an American Bully XL) Jimmy has never harmed anyone and he is eight years old. I have three young children and he is like a big teddy bear brother to them."

Although MP John Hayes declares that XL Bullies were "bred to kill", the World Animal Foundation argue that the breed is "good-natured" along with "affectionate, loyal and gentle".

It has also been recognised that originally, the American Bully was developed as a companion dog.

Despite the authorities claiming that the incidents caused just one fatality, the owner of the American Bully XL explained: "Those two dogs were put down, and it's highly likely that the other one will be too. It is truly heart-breaking."

The woman continued saying: "I think with any owner you have to know your pets to make sure that they feel comfortable in situations, and you have to watch out for anything that makes them stressed."

"All dogs have the ability to harm anyone in some way I guess, but a lot of humans act out when they are put in uncomfortable situations too," the woman argued.

The 38-year-old also recalled: "I know this year there was a case of two sausage dogs mauling someone to death but that never makes the big headlines, and they aren't going to be put on the dangerous dog list are they?"

The American Bully was originally developed as a companion dog.

In January 2023, two Dachshunds were seized after a dog walker was fatally attacked in Surrey.

Witnesses at the scene referred to the dogs involved in the incident as "a pack of wolves", telling reporters that "it was a frenzy". None of the dogs were considered to be dangerous or forbidden breeds.

The woman was seen to be walking seven dogs, with sources noting that they felt "sadness" for the victim but were also "frustrated people are able to walk so many dogs".

Emotionally, the owner of the American Bully XL also declared: "It upsets me to think that larger dogs are always looked at as 'dangerous' or a 'threat' to people but it's the owners of larger breeds that usually put in the work to change the stereotypes."

"It is an endless cycle for big dogs I'm afraid," the mother of three said.

"I think that it would benefit everyone if there was so much more information out there about how to really care for pets, like so people can notice certain environments and recognise what might make your dog feel on edge," she concluded.

Dog Trainer and Behaviour Consultant Alex Rain spoke to me about the social bias and legal injustice against larger breeds.

Miss Rain told me that she believes the Dangerous Dogs Act to be "outdated".

The Behaviour Consultant explained: "It was made in 1991 and it was amended in 1997. The reason I think it is so outdated is the science behind dog behaviour has progressed so much in the last 20 years into force and fear-free methods, but the law hasn't developed at all."

Miss Rain further expressed: "The biggest problem with the act is that it doesn't protect dogs it protects humans and that's even shown in the way a dog can be deemed as dangerous if a human is worried that they may be injured."

"This means that a bite or attack of any form doesn't have to happen, or the dog can be on lead at the time," she added.

When questioned on her opinion on the American Bully XL breed, the Dog Trainer responded by stating: "I wouldn't say anything specific about the American Bully XL breed because although it is important to recognise a dog's physical characteristics, like their bite force, genetic disposition, breed group and strength, every dog should be treated an individual."

"An XL Bully can obviously do more damage due to their size and bite force, but their behaviour is just as predictable as any other breed", Miss Rain said.

"Any guardian of two XL Bullies would tell you that no XL Bully is the same," she emphasised.

Frank and friends company
Behaviour Consultant argues that "there is no such thing as a dangerous dog". Alex Rain/frankandfriends.uk

Miss Rain, who is also the Founder of force and fear-free company Frank and Friends, revealed: "Although growling, snarling and baring teeth can be used offensively, biting is a defensive behaviour trope used as survival when a dog feels threatened, therefore the way forward is not banning the breed, it's educating people on dog behaviour so that we can recognise stress in a dog when they feel threatened so they don't use biting as a last resort."

Offensive behaviour "hardly ever leads to a bite, and is done to protect a resource like a ball or food", according to the Behaviour Consultant.

After working with dogs for half a decade, Miss Rain concluded: "There is no such thing as an aggressive or dangerous dog, in the same way that there is no such thing as a dominant dog. Therefore, there is absolutely no scientific justification that deems any breed dangerous or aggressive."

Considering the XL Bully is amongst the larger-sized breeds, Miss Rain informed me that it is "unlikely that they would feel threatened by smaller dogs... even if they displayed aggressive behaviour by growling or snarling".

Speaking of her work, Miss Rain assured me: "I am always mindful of every dog encounter I have and how walk-friends are matched. Like I always observe my clients' dogs, and other park dogs' communication closely to keep everyone safe."

"I also always send my colleagues detailed notes specific to dog body language and behaviour, and I make a summary of each dog's individual traits so they are prepared for their personalities," she noted.

On social media, Suella Braverman showed her support for the new law which has already met much controversy.

The Home Secretary wrote: "This is appalling. The American XL Bully is a clear and lethal danger to our communities, particularly to children."

"We can't go on like this," she declared.

The Home Secretary went on to confirm that, alongside Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, she is also pushing for the bill.

Her statement read: "I have commissioned urgent advice on banning them."

Dogs Trust is amongst many others who are criticising the potential ban.

A spokesperson for Dogs Trust told reporters: "Dogs Trust wants to see the current dog control laws replaced with one consolidated law that allows for early intervention with a focus on the prevention of dog bite incidents and includes measures that deter and punish owners of dogs whose behaviour is dangerous."

"We will continue to look for reform in existing dog control laws until we are satisfied that any new measures are preventative, breed-neutral and effective, and ultimately protect both dogs and people alike," they added.

In a public statement, Dogs Trust also acknowledged the difficulties the government will face when trying to identify the American Bully XL breed.

Dogs Trust wrote: "Identifying American Bully types is currently extremely difficult, especially when there are several different variants of the American Bully and many other breeds and crossbreeds, which look similar.

In the statement, Dogs Trust also advised: "American Bully XL owners will need to apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep their dogs, give evidence that their dog is not a danger to the public and comply with rules around banned breed types."