Number of XL bullies seized by police spiked over past two years

Figures show the number of XL Bullies seized by Essex Police has only spiked in the past two years as owners prepare for new rules.

Altogether the number of offences recorded by Essex Police under the Dangerous Dogs Acts for all breeds has more than doubled since 2015.

In 2015 there were 387 offences recorded by Essex Police. That number had increase to 883 in 2023.

In separate figures the number of recorded dog attacks increased from 729 in 2019 to 1,154 in the first nine months of 2023.

In that time there has been a stark emergence of the number of XL Bullies seized by Essex Police– from zero in 2019, 2020 and 2021 to eight in 2022 and five in the first nine months of 2023.

The dangerous breed is thought to have been introduced to the UK in 2014 or 2015. But it was following an attack on an 11-year-old girl in Birmingham in September that the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced her intention to get the dog breed banned in the UK last year claiming on social media the dogs are a “clear and lethal danger”, especially to children.

Since December 31 2023 it has been against the law to sell, give away, abandon, or breed from an XL Bully dog. It has also been illegal to have an XL Bully dog in public without a lead and muzzle.

From February 1 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless they come with a Certificate of Exemption for them. Owners have until January 31 2024 to apply for this exemption.

Along with this, owners must ensure the dog is microchipped, neutered, kept securely at home, and insured against injuring other people. Anyone owning or taking an XL Bully dog out in public must be over 16 years old.

It has also been a criminal offence to breed XL Bully dogs since December 31 2023 either from an XL Bully dog or alllowing for an XL Bully dog to be bred from any combination of other dogs.

It will not be an offence to allow a litter of puppies that have already been conceived to be born. If the puppies have been born after December 31 2023, it will be an offence to sell them or to rehome them.

The RSPCA said banning the breed was “not the answer” and warned of a “huge risk” that rescue centres and vets will be unable to cope. Dr Samantha Gaines, dog welfare expert at the charity, said: “The ban on XL bullies not only remains devastating for so many dogs, but is also taking a heavy toll on owners, on rescue centre staff who have grown close to dogs in their care, and to veterinary teams who face the prospect of being asked to put to sleep healthy dogs whose behaviour poses no risk.”

“There is a huge risk that rescue centres and the veterinary profession will not be able to cope with the demands put on them by this law. We urgently need more information and support from the UK Government so that we can help support owners and dogs affected by this ban but we will also need help and support to get through this too.”

The breed joins pit bull terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos,  and Fila Brazilieros in a list banned in the UK.


Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter