American XL Bully dogs to be banned in the UK following string of attacks

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says the dogs are a "danger to our communities."

September 15, 2023, 12:35 PM

LONDON -- American XL Bully dogs could be banned in the U.K. by the end of the year, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Friday.

There have been a string of attacks involving the canine breed, including a fatal one in Staffordshire, England.

In a statement, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said a male victim had "sustained multiple life-threatening injuries" and was in "critical condition" after an attack by a suspected XL Bully dog.

"The American XL Bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children. I share the nation’s horror at recent videos we’ve all seen. Yesterday, we saw another suspected XL Bully dog attack, which has tragically led to a fatality," Sunak said in a video statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Although recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club, the American Bulldog is not officially recognized as a breed by the U.K.'s Royal Kennel Club.

Sunak said he has tasked ministers with assembling a team of experts to define the breed.

"It is not currently a breed defined in law. So, this vital first step must happen fast. We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be in place by the end of the year," he said.

He went on, "It’s a pattern of behavior and it cannot go on. While owners already have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control, I want to reassure people that we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public."

The pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo argentino and fila brasileiro are currently banned in the U.K.

American XL Bully dogs have been at the center of a national debate following viral footage depicting a suspected American XL Bully violently attacking several people, including an 11-year-old girl, in Birmingham, U.K.

"This is appalling," said U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman following the attack. "We can’t go on like this … I have commissioned urgent advice on banning them."

Originating in the United States in the 1980s, the American XL Bully is a cross between the American Pit Bull Terrier (Pitbull) and the American Staffordshire Terrier. They have been described as being "friendly" pets by the American Kennel Club. Arriving in the U.K. around 2014, the breed is commonly known for its fighting ability.

The breed has different variations: pocket, standard, classic and XL.

According to Bully Watch UK, the scale of fatal attacks involving the breed is "growing."

"The genetic makeup of these dogs is often unknown due to constant breeding, making their temperament unpredictable. Peer-reviewed medical studies from around the world clearly show that pit bull type dogs, which include the American Bully breeds, inflict the most damage when they bite," said Bully Watch. "It is the style of biting, tearing at flesh and bone."

According to Britain’s Dangerous Dogs Act, it is illegal to own a dog that is "dangerously out of control" and dog owners could face up to 14 years in prison "if a person dies as a result of being injured" from an attack.

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