Scotland’s new law on XL bully dogs: What you need to know

The ban on breeding and selling XL bully dogs

Scotland has introduced new legal safeguards on XL bully dogs, a type of large and muscular dog that has been linked to several serious and fatal attacks. The new rules came into effect on 23 February 2024 and ban the breeding and sale of these dogs. Anyone who owns an XL bully dog must ensure they are muzzled and on a lead at all times when in public, including in a car. It is also an offence to exchange, offer as a gift, advertise, abandon or allow an XL bully dog to strayThe penalties for breaking these rules are up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

The Scottish Government decided to implement these measures after reports of XL bully dogs being moved to Scotland from England and Wales, where similar controls were introduced in 2023. The Community Safety Minister said that the new rules were necessary to protect the public and animal welfare, and to prevent the proliferation of these dogs in Scotland.

The definition and identification of an XL bully dog

The definition of an XL bully dog is the same as the one used by the UK Government. It is based on the physical characteristics and behaviour of the dog, rather than the breed name or pedigree. An XL bully dog is a dog that appears to be bred for fighting and has a combination of features such as a large head, a muscular body, a short coat, and a strong jaw.

Scotland’s new law on XL bully dogs

If you are not sure if a dog in your care is an XL bully, you can use the guide provided by the Scottish Government to check. The guide includes pictures and descriptions of the typical features of an XL bully dog, as well as examples of dogs that are not XL bullies. However, the guide is not definitive and the final decision on whether a dog is an XL bully or not will be made by a court.

The exemption certificate scheme for existing owners

If you already own an XL bully dog and want to keep it, you will need to apply for an exemption certificate from 31 July 2024. Without an exemption certificate, it will be illegal to own an XL bully dog in Scotland. The exemption certificate scheme will allow existing owners to keep their dogs under certain conditions, such as neutering, microchipping, and insurance.

The Scottish Government has not yet announced the full details of the exemption certificate scheme, such as the start date, the costs, and the application process. However, it has said that it will work with the Scottish SPCA and other stakeholders to ensure that the scheme is fair and effective. The Scottish Government has also said that it will monitor the impact of the new rules and the exemption certificate scheme on the number and welfare of XL bully dogs in Scotland.

The reaction and criticism from animal welfare groups

The new rules on XL bully dogs have been welcomed by some animal welfare groups, such as the Dogs Trust and the PDSA, who have expressed their concerns about the health and behaviour problems of these dogs, as well as the risk they pose to the public and other animals. These groups have also offered their support and advice to owners on how to muzzle and train their dogs, and how to apply for the exemption certificate.

However, the new rules have also been criticised by other animal welfare groups, such as the Scottish SPCA and the Dog Control Coalition, who have argued that the restrictions are not the solution to the issue of dog control and safety. These groups have opposed the breed-specific legislation and have called for a more holistic and evidence-based approach that focuses on the owner’s responsibility, the dog’s behaviour, and the enforcement of existing laws . These groups have also expressed their worries about the welfare and fate of the XL bully dogs that will not be able to find new homes or obtain exemption certificates.

By Zane Lee

Zane Lee is a talented content writer at Cumbernauld Media, specializing in the finance and business niche. With a keen interest in the ever-evolving world of finance, Zane brings a unique perspective to his articles and blog posts. His in-depth knowledge and research skills allow him to provide valuable insights and analysis on various financial topics. Zane's passion for writing and his ability to simplify complex concepts make his content engaging and accessible to readers of all levels.

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