It is now a criminal offence to own or possess an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless you have a valid Certification of Exemption. 

It is an offence to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog or let it stray
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed or breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully dog in public without a lead and muzzle


You can now no longer apply for a Certification of Exemption unless authorised by a court order. Local Authorities cannot supply Certificates of Exemptions or assist with Court Orders. 

What is an XL Bully and how do I know if I have one? 

The Government have now released an official definition of an XL Bully dog to identify if your dog may be an XL Bully. This involves checking the dog’s physical characteristics such as its size and height. Further information can be found on the GOV.UK website: Applying the XL Bully breed type conformation standard (

What should I do if I have an XL Bully dog?

As of 1st February 2024 you must hold a Certification of Exemption for your dog. Your dog must be microchipped, kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public and kept in a secure place so it may not escape. 

Your dog must also be neutered. If your dog was under a year old on 31 January 2024, you have until 31 December 2024 to have them neutered. If they were older than a year as of 31 January 2024 they must be neutered by 30 June 2024.

As an XL Bully owner you must also:

  • Be over 16 years old
  • Have valid insurance against your dog injuring other people
  • Be able to show the Certification of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council officer, either at the time or within 5 days. 


Where can I get further information?

Official guidance and information on the XL Bully ban can be found on the GOV.UK website. 

A number of animal charities are offering support and information for XL Bully owners, including:

Dogs Trust 

Battersea Dogs Home 

Blue Cross


For further advise you can contact DEFRA via email.