XL Bully Government Definitions

The XL Bully & UK Criminal Law

By: Colin Tennant MA Canine Behaviour & Psychology – Expert Court Witness

UK government, encompassing England and Wales, has recently implemented changes in the law pertaining to the ownership of American Bully XL dogs. These modifications come in response to concerns regarding the behaviour and potential risks associated with specific dog breeds. The primary goal of these regulations is to enhance public safety and reduce the likelihood of incidents involving such breeds.

Under these updated regulations, American Bully XL owners need to be well-informed about the law and the legal implications associated with their breed. The changes in the legislation are as follows:

  1. Ownership Ban: Commencing on February 1, 2024, it will be unlawful to own American Bully XL dogs in England and Wales, unless an exemption has been applied for and subsequently granted.
  2. Sales, Breeding, Abandonment, and Giveaway Ban: As of December 31, 2023, it is prohibited to engage in the sale, breeding, abandonment, or giving away of American Bully XL dogs.
  3. Lead and Muzzle Requirement: When in public, American Bully XL dogs are mandated to be restrained on a lead and muzzled.
  4. Neutering Requirement: For American Bully XL dogs less than one year old by January 31, 2024, neutering must be completed by the conclusion of 2024. For dogs older than one year, neutering must be performed by June 30, 2024.

Find a CFBA Canine Expert to Assist you with XL Bully Identification

It is of paramount importance for dog owners and breeders in England and Wales to familiarize themselves with these regulations and ensure strict compliance to prevent potential legal consequences and penalties. If there is any uncertainty about the breed’s classification or whether it falls under this legislation, it is advisable to seek an assessment. The Canine & Feline Behaviour Association maintains a nationally accredited team of experts who may provide valuable assistance in this regard. Further information can be found at this link: https://cfba.uk/dog-expert-witness-list/

The UK Government Breed definition is below.

General impression

Large dog with a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting great strength and power for its size. Powerfully built individual.


  • Adult male from 20in (51 cm) at the withers
  • Adult female from 19in (48cm) at the withers


  • Heavy, large and broad
  • The length from the tip of the nose to a well-defined stop (indentation between muzzle and the head) is equal to around a 1/3 of the length from the stop to the back of the head
  • Muzzle blocky or slightly squared to fall away below the eyes
  • Topline of muzzle straight
  • Prominent cheek muscles with strong, well-defined jaws and lips semi-close
  • Often having prominent wrinkles on face
  • Nose is large with well opened nostrils


Level or scissor bite.


  • Heavy, muscular, slightly arched, tapering from the shoulders to the base of the skull
  • Medium in length


  • Shoulder blades are long, well-muscled and well laid back
  • Upper arm length is about equal to the length of the shoulder blades and joined at a 35 to 45 angle to the ground
  • Front legs straight, strong and very muscular with dog standing high on the pasterns (area between feet and ankles)
  • Elbows set close to the body
  • Distance from the withers to elbows about the same as the distance from the elbow to the bottom of the feet


  • Heavily-muscled
  • Large, blocky body giving impression of great power for size
  • Broad, deep chest with well sprung ribs
  • Chest may be wider than deep
  • Topline level and straight
  • Loin short and firm
  • Generally appears square shaped from point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks compared with the withers (tallest point on the dogs body excluding head and shoulders) to the ground


  • Strong, muscular and broad
  • Thighs well developed with thick musculature
  • From behind, both pasterns are typically straight and parallel to each other
  • Muscular development, angulation and width in balance with forequarters


  • Rounded, medium in size and in proportion to body
  • Compact and well arched


Medium length and low set
Tapers to a point to end at about the level of the hocks
Generally assumes a straight or pump handle shape when dog relaxed


Glossy, smooth, close, single


Bite: the relative position of the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed.

Coat: the hairy outer covering of the skin.

Croup: part of the back from the front of the pelvis to root of the tail.

Forequarters: the front part of dog excluding head and neck.

Hindquarters: rear part of dog from behind the loin.

Loin: the region between the last rib and the beginning of the pelvis.

Muzzle: the length from the tip of the nose to the stop.

Pasterns: the pastern is the lower part of the foreleg, just above the foot and below the wrist. Similarly, in the hind leg, the pastern is the portion located above the foot and below the heel (also known as the hock). Every canine possesses a pair of front and rear pasterns.

Scissor bite: the upper front teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Spring of rib: degree of curvature of rib cage

Tail set: the position of the tail on the croup

Topline: an outline after the withers to the tail set. Viewed from the side of the dog or from above.

Withers: the highest point of body immediately behind the neck where height is measured.

XL Bully Dog Ban and Fitting a Muzzle Guide

From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully Dog in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog.

You will need to adhere to strict rules such as microchipping your dog and keeping it on a lead and muzzled when in public.

Getting an XL Bully dog accustomed to wearing a muzzle is a significant process, and it’s vital to introduce the muzzle slowly while creating positive associations for the dog. Hastening this introduction can lead to the dog experiencing stress or anxiety regarding the muzzle.

Fitting a Muzzle (Obtainable on line from the Company of Animals) www.companyofanimals.com

Step 1: Introduction

  1. To ensure your XL Bully dog can comfortably open its mouth while wearing a muzzle, it’s essential to create positive associations. Rushing this process can lead to frustration if your dog reacts negatively. To prevent this, follow these steps:
  2. Start by having your dog sit on a lead and collar, ensuring you have several enticing treats within reach.
  3. Gently place the muzzle on your dog’s snout without fastening it.
  4. Instantly reward your dog through the openings in the muzzle.
  5. Repeat this process five times until your dog immediately associates the muzzle with treats provided in rapid succession.
  6. Next, leave the muzzle on your dog for a few minutes, and then promptly remove it.

This initial impression is vital, as mistakes during this phase can significantly prolong the process.

Step 2: Repetition

Repeat the above process three times a day for about five to ten minutes per session. Continue this routine for three days, ensuring you fasten the muzzle each time.

Step 3: Gradual Progress

On the fourth day, attach the lead and secure the muzzle on your dog. Walk your dog a short distance inside your home or garden and reward your dog at regular intervals.

If your dog exhibits signs of panic, attempts to remove the muzzle, or engages in unusual behaviours like rubbing its head on the floor (which is normal during the adjustment phase), distract your dog with treats and use the lead to encourage it to sit.

Step 4: In-House Training

It’s beneficial to leave the muzzle on your dog indoors for about ten to fifteen minutes twice a day. As your dog becomes more accustomed to the muzzle without fuss, you’re making progress toward normalizing its use.

Step 5: Outdoor Use

Once you can walk your dog around your house or garden without any adverse reactions, your dog is ready for normal outdoor use with the muzzle.

Final Advice

Persistence is crucial, and it’s important not to give up or feel sorry for your dog during this process, as the law serves as a reminder of why you’re undertaking this effort. With patience and consistent positive reinforcement, most dogs will adapt to the muzzle and associate it with enjoyable experiences such as walks and treats.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety while wearing a muzzle. Take your time and follow this gradual approach. There’s no harm in stepping back a few stages if necessary. Different dogs may react differently, and it’s important to acknowledge that dogs may eventually become accustomed to wearing a muzzle but rarely enjoy it, much like you wouldn’t.

Colin Tennant MA Canine Behaviour & Psychology

Chairman CFBA