Last chance to exempt XL Bullies before ban comes into force, RSPCA urges

dog control coalition slams the XL bully ban XL bullies

The RSPCA has urged owners of XL Bullies to register their dogs for exemption before the deadline at noon on Wednesday (31 January) – with the charity “heartbroken” by the forthcoming change in law.

From 1 February, it will be illegal to own an XL Bully unless exempted – so the RSPCA is reminding owners to ensure they have registered their dog under the exemption scheme so they can keep them legally.

Online applications to exempt an XL Bully close at noon on Wednesday 31 January. It will be illegal to own an XL Bully in England and Wales from the following day if the exemption process has not been completed.

If an owner can’t show their certificate or proof of application then they are in breach of the law and their dog could be seized, put to sleep or they could face a criminal record and a fine.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said, “We’re all heartbroken that we’ve reached this point and, as members of the Dog Control Coalition, we’ve been working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to try to work with the UK Government to find an alternative to this ban as well as to minimise its harm on dog welfare and human well being. But, sadly, from 1 February it will be illegal to own any XL Bullies without an exemption certificate and it is also illegal to rehome, sell, gift, breed or abandon one.

“That’s why we’re urgently reminding owners of dogs who could be identified as an XL Bully under the UK Government’s new legislation to apply for an exemption certificate, even if they aren’t sure if their dog is an XL bully and are only doing so as a precaution.”

Owners of XL Bullies in England and Wales can apply for exemption on the UK Government website. There is a fee of £92.40 per dog and a requirement to have third party public liability insurance for banned breeds. This type of insurance is available via the Dogs Trust companion club and information is on its website.

As part of the exemption process, XL Bully owners will also have to ensure:
• The dog is neutered (the dates at which your dog needs to be neutered is dependent on their age and more information can be found on the UK Government website);
• The dog is microchipped;
• Third party insurance is obtained;
• A certificate of exemption is issued;
• That the dog is kept at the same address as the registered keeper except for up to 30 days in 12 months;
• They notify the agency of any change of address;
• They notify the agency of the death or export of the dog;
• They keep the dog muzzled and on a lead when in a public place;
• They keep the dog in sufficiently secure conditions to prevent escape.

Dr Gaines addedm “Breed specific legislation punishes dogs based on their appearance and we have spent years fiercely fighting this law and calling for a new approach. We remain opposed to this law and will continue to work with other charities to encourage the UK Government to, instead, focus on legislation which would better protect the public while also protecting dogs and promote responsible ownership.”

Dogs aged less than one year old by 31 January 2024 must also be neutered by 31 December 2024, and dogs older than one must be neutered by 30 June 2024. The RSPCA is urging owners to arrange for their dog to be neutered as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline and risking the ability to legally keep their dog. Blue Cross, Battersea and the RSPCA have partnered on a neutering scheme to help eligible owners.

The RSPCA is part of the Dog Control Coalition, which does not agree with the ban on XL Bullies. Behind the scenes, the Coalition has been working to lobby the governments in the UK to minimise the impact of this legislation on responsible dog owners, behaviourally sound dogs and on veterinary professionals and their teams.

This is a guest post by the RSPCA. Want to write for us? Visit or email


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