XL Bully ban Scotland

Information up to 1 February 2024:

With a lot of concern and misinformation (and prejudice) still in the public domain, we wanted to share with you what we have found so far in respect of the upcoming Scottish ban on the XL Bully. Whilst this is in no way meant to alarm or concern boxer owners, we do want to make sure that anyone that is concerned can see the information that we are finding out as it develops.
Please note this is not definitive guidance, and all dog owners are responsible for ensuring that they understand and adhere to UK legislation on being a dog owner. The below is just a summary of what we have found using information that is currently available in the public domain.
With recent updates from the Scottish Government over the last few weeks, and an indicative date of the legislation starting from 23 January 2024, we wanted people to get ahead of any necessary steps they need to take.

Q Why is a boxer rescue posting about an XL bully ban?

Regardless of the ‘type’ of dog, Thistle Boxer Rescue promotes responsible dog ownership and as dog owners being knowledgeable about legal changes and how to keep our dogs safe is of paramount importance.
Many people own boxer crosses and are not sure of the cross match, so we wanted to support any owners with what we are finding out.

Q What do I need to do if my boxer is a cross?

We have also seen many queries on ‘will my boxer cross be impacted’ or ‘what do I do if someone thinks my boxer is an XL bully’ so we wanted to start to share what we are finding out as the legislation continues to be developed.
Whilst the boxer is a fully KC registered breed, many people will own boxer crosses and will be worried about them being caught up with the new legislation.
As XL bullies are considered crossbreeds themselves (eg not recognised by the UK Kennel Club), there is currently no specific mention of how to deal with dogs that are potentially crossed with an XL bully .
However, in light of this the government in England and Wales created their own appearance specifications to ascertain if a dog is a XL bully or not. The attached link has the full governmental guidance that is in place for England and Wales. We are not yet sure if the Scottish government will enforce exactly the same standards, but interviews from the Scottish First Minister in the past few weeks, indicates that this could be the case* :

Applying the XL Bully breed type conformation standard (publishing.service.gov.uk)

*Please note the full guidance is yet to be published so the article is relevant for what we know up to and including 31 January 2024.

Q – Should I get a DNA test done on my dog?

Multiple websites, including the government website, say that it comes down to the physical appearance of the dog, rather than its DNA or what type of dog it was sold as.
The UK Government say that if the said dog meets the minimum height requirements (51cm male, 48cm female) and have a substantial number of specified characteristics (see link above) then it could be considered a Bully, even if it is a cross breed but looks more like a Bully than
any other type of dog. The article will also show you the other characteristics that are referenced even if your dog meets the height requirements, such as the shape and size of their body, tail, feet, coat etc.
Please note this is information coming from rules that apply in England, there’s a chance that different standards could be applied in Scotland.

According to the Full Fact on line website:
“Cross breed dogs which are not clearly identifiable as another recognised breed, and which appear to be
an XL bully type are likely to come within the scope of the designation/prohibition. DNA is not–and never
has been–accepted by courts as a breed type identifier.” The website mentions that it’s up to the owner to
identify whether their dog does or does not fit into this requirement.
Further information can be found here:
Will the XL Bully ban affect other dogs too? – Full Fact

Q – Should I speak to my vet for more advice?

It would be a good idea to check with your vet on what they are doing and preparing for, as no doubt they will have some dogs on their books who are classified as XL Bullies, so if you have a cross, check what the breed states on your dog records.
If you are concerned and you think that your cross may fall into more than one category, you may want to keep in close contact with your vet and the guidance that comes from the government each week as there may be a need to apply for a certificate of exemption and possibly have to follow the other guidelines around keeping your dog on a lead in public places and wearing a muzzle (many organisations, including the Dogs Trust are providing free advice on how to train your dog to wear a muzzle).

Q – Where can I find ongoing advice about the Scottish legislation:

Information on the proposed XL bully ban | Scottish SPCA
American Bully XL ban: what owners need to know | Dogs Trust

Please note the information contained was relevant as at 31 January 2024 and is in line with the guidance found on the attached links.