American XL Bully dogs will be banned in the United Kingdom next year following a series of attacks and deaths involving the muscular dog breed.
The U.K. government announced Tuesday that the breed is being added to the list of prohibited canines under the Dangerous Dogs Act, according to The Independent.
The law states it will be illegal to own an XL bully from Feb. 1, 2024, with owners facing a criminal record and an unlimited fine after that date unless their dog is on an exemption list and owners comply with strict requirements, such as microchipping and neutering their pets.
Under the new rules, XL Bullies older than 12 months on Jan. 1, 2024 must be neutered by the end of June, while dogs less than a year old on that date must be neutered by the end of 2024. Owners who opt to put their XL Bullies to sleep will be offered around $240, the U.K. government said.
Portions of the law will go into effect at the end of this year. From Dec. 31, it will be illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow American XL Bully dogs to stray in England and Wales. From this date, these dogs must also be kept on a lead and muzzled in public.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak referred to the breed in September as a “danger to our communities,” after a man in England died in a suspected attack by two of the dogs. An 11-year-old girl was also injured by a suspected attack by an XL Bully.
In May, a 37-year-old man died after being mauled while looking after his friend’s dog, reported to be an XL Bully, according to Sky News. Last year a man and a woman were jailed after admitting to being in charge of a XL Bully that mauled a 10-year-old boy to death in 2021.
The series of attacks led to a public outcry.
Sunak called on government ministers to legally define the characteristics of the American XL Bully with the assistance of police and canine experts and vowed to outlaw the breed. The breed is not recognized by groups such as the Kennel Club in Britain or the American Kennel Club in the United States.
American XL Bully owners have held protests in London opposing the ban.
The American XL Bully was originally bred from the American pit bull terrier. Some campaigners have called for the type of dog to be added to the banned list because they believe dangerous characteristics have been bred into the animals.
The U.K. Kennel Club also does not recognize the breed but has argued that no breed is inherently dangerous. The organization does not believe that breed-specific bans address the most important factors contributing to attacks, primarily irresponsible dog owners who train their dogs to be aggressive.
Bully breeds’ names come from their origin used in blood sports, such as bull baiting. The dogs are muscular in stature and have heavier bone structures than pit bulls.
Pitbull terriers, Japanese tosas, dogo Argentinos and fila Brasileiros are already banned in the United Kingdom, according to The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.