Debate Sparked Over the UK’s Possible Ban of American XL Bully Dogs

By: Lauren | Last updated: Oct 27, 2023

Dogs are one of the world’s favorite pets, but while the vast majority of dogs are loving, loyal creatures, some can be aggressive and even violent. 

After a recent string of dog attacks in the UK, all by one specific breed, the government has decided to take matters into their own hands and proposed a plan to ban the breed from the country altogether. 

Rising American XL Bully Attacks in the UK

In just the past year, there have been ten American XL Bully attacks in the UK, two of which proved fatal. Natasha Johnston was killed by her own XL Bully while walking it and her other dogs. She died of “multiple penetrating bites to the neck.”

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Jonathan Hogg was also killed by an American XL Bully that he was dog sitting. And just last weekend, one XL Bully apparently attacked three different people, including an 11-year-old child, 

UK Planning to Ban American XL Bully Dogs

Suella Braverman, Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, recently announced that the government may soon completely ban all American XL Bully Dogs due to the many attacks this past year. 

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Braverman feels this canine breed is a “lethal danger” to UK residents and she is asking for “urgent advice” from UK citizens as to how to ensure these dogs don’t kill anyone else. 

Dog Attacks Are a Worldwide Problem

It’s important to note that the UK is certainly not the only place struggling to handle dog attacks. 

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According to the World Health Organization, tens of millions of injuries from dog attacks are reported annually around the world. And in the US alone, 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog every year, most of whom are children. 

What Makes the American XL Bully So Dangerous?

Technically, there are several types of American Bully dogs; they are categorized by size as pocket, standard, classic and XL. However, all American Bully dogs are known for their strength and size. 

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Of course, as the largest variation of the breed, XL Bully dogs can weigh up to 132 pounds, being almost exclusively muscle. According to experts, these dogs can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $12,000. 

XL Bullies Are Seen as a Status Symbol

Because of their high price tag, as well as their impressive stature, American XL Bullies are often seen as a symbol of status. 

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They have become increasingly popular throughout the US and the UK in recent years. But the number of dog attacks has increased with the popularity growth of American XL Bullies, and the government feels it’s time to step in. 

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Most Support Government Decision to Ban XL Bullies

Since the announcement, there has been overwhelming support for the ban on American Bullies in the UK. A petition encouraging the government’s ban to criminalize breeding, selling, and owning XL Bullies has more than 16,000 signatures. 

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And the UK media has been wildly supportive as well, using headlines such as “Ban XL Devil Dogs,” and “New Dog Attack Chaos: Terror On Our Streets.”

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What Dog Behavior Experts Have to Say

Dog behavioral expert Stan Rawlinson explained his point of view to the BBC last week. He said that “The XL bully is the most dangerous dog breed I’ve ever seen,” and that Bullies have an “enhanced prey drive” and “reactivity that is totally off the scale.”

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But another expert, Southend Dog Training Founder Adam Spivey, told the press that “XL bullies are not the problem. Humans are the problem.”

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The Opposing Side Against the American Bully Ban

And Spivey is certainly not the only one with this opinion. Many people agree that the ban is not necessary because American Bullies aren’t the problem—the people who own them are. 

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Various Bully owners also weighed in on social media and explained that their pups have never hurt anyone. One owner said, “My XL Bully is the sweetest boy ever, so placid and loves everyone.” And another said, “I have 3 breeds in my household and with love, respect and ownership these [dogs] are amazing and loving.”

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What Happens to Owners Whose Dog Attacks Someone?

Current laws in the UK state that when a dog injures someone, the owner could be sent to prison for up to five years, but if it kills someone, the owner could spend up to fourteen years behind bars.

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Spivey says that this isn’t harsh enough punishment. “If you unclip that lead and you know that dog will attack someone, you are deploying a deadly weapon,” he explained. He went on to argue that if the punishment for doing so was more aggressive, “people would be quicker to muzzle their dogs, they would take dog ownership and training much more seriously.”

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Will Banning Bullies Make the UK a Safer Place?

So far, there are four dog breeds banned in the UK, including the Pit Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, and the Japanese Tosa. But many are arguing that banning specific breeds has not stopped residents from simply opting for a different dog within the same category, e.g., the American Bully. 

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Spivey also told the press, “Banning breeds will not change anything. Say you ban the XL Bully, there’ll be another breed after that and another breed after that.” He told the world that “If you want to see real change, then you need to target the other end of the lead, and that’s the irresponsible dog owners.” 

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So, Will American XL Bullies Be Banned in the UK?

While the legislation hasn’t passed just yet, it seems that the ban will likely go through in the near future. 

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Even though many people – including Bully owners and dog experts – believe that this ban won’t help curtail the increase in dog attacks, enough residents agree with the plan for it to go forward. While the effectiveness of the ban remains to be seen, if it keeps UK citizens and children safe from dog attacks, it probably can’t hurt. 

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