What is an XL bully dog? Why Suella Braverman faces a tough time banning them

What is an XL bully dog? Why Suella Braverman faces a tough time banning them

American XL bully dogs are back in the headlines following a horrific attack on a young girl in Birmingham that also injured two men.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary,  is pushing for a ban on the canines following a spate of recent attack.

But what is an XL bully and how likely is a ban?

American XL bully’s are dogs are close to the pitbull terrier and have been crossbred with other breeds such as English bulldogs, Olde English Bulldogge and American bulldogs.

XL’s got recognition as a breed from the US United Kennel Club in 2013 but they are not recognised by the main dog associations in the UK.

XL refers to their size and there are four categories: pocket, standard, classic and XL, which tend to be around 33-50cm in heigh and weigh in at 20-60kg.

Two of four fatal in the UK in 2021 involved an XL bully, with the number increasing to at least six out of ten in 2022. According to Bully Watch, a group set up by a group of dog owners to monitor the breed, XL’s were responsible for 45 per cent of dog attacks on human and other dogs this year.

Ms Braverman has called for a ban on the dogs, saying they present a “clear and lethal danger”, particularly to children.

She has commissioned “urgent advice” on outlawing the dogs after she highlighted the “appalling” attack on an 11-year-old girl over the weekend.

However, adding dogs to the banned list is the responsibility of environment secretary Therese Coffey’s department and there are reportedly concerns over the feasibility of adding the American bully.

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Should XL Bullys be banned? Have your say in the comments here

Because the breed is not recognised by the Kennel Club it could be hard to define and a ban could inadvertently outlaw a range of other dogs, some fear.

Ms Braverman seized on news that West Midlands Police was investigating after the girl and two men who intervened were injured in the incident in the Bordesley Green area on Saturday.

“This is appalling. The American XL Bully is a clear and lethal danger to our communities, particularly to children,” Ms Braverman wrote on social media.

“We can’t go on like this. I have commissioned urgent advice on banning them.”

The advice was commissioned last week, an adviser said.

Home secretary calls for ban on XL bully dogs

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It is against the law to own, breed or sell dogs on the list drawn up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

But it is also against the law to have a dog that is dangerously out of control, which can be punished by prison sentences and unlimited fines.

Emma Whitfield, the mother of 10-year-old Jack Lis – who died after being mauled by an American bully in Caerphilly, South Wales, has been calling for a change in the law.

Sir John Hayes, a close ally of Ms Braverman, has been pushing in the House of Commons for a ban on the dog he has claimed is “bred to kill”.

However, animal charities including the RSPCA have been pushing for an end to breed-specific bans which they say work against dogs perceived to be “dangerous” and lead to thousands of “innocent” animals being put down.

Instead they want to focus on individual actions and dangerous owners.

A Dogs Trust spokesman said: “Dogs Trust wants to see the current dog control laws replaced with one consolidated law that allows for early intervention with a focus on the prevention of dog bite incidents and includes measures that deter and punish owners of dogs whose behaviour is dangerous.

“We will continue to look for reform in existing dog control laws until we are satisfied that any new measures are preventative, breed-neutral and effective, and ultimately protect both dogs and people alike.”

There are currently four banned breeds of dog in the UK: the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasileiro.

Last month a 28-year-old woman and mother was hospitalised after being attacked by one of the dogs while pushing her pram in Doncaster.

She was taken to hospital for treatment for serious injuries to her arms.

Earlier this year, a six-year-old boy was hospitalised with potentially “life-changing” injuries after he was attacked by an American Staffordshire terrier in Highfields, also in Doncaster.

In March last year, a newborn baby was mauled to death by her parents’ Siberian Husky during an attack in woodland at Ostler’s Plantation near Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire.

Her parents Vince King and Karen Alcock were spared jail, as a judge at Lincoln Crown Court handed the pair suspended sentences.

Jack Lis, a 10-year-old boy, died from “unsurvivable injuries” after being attacked by an XL bully named Beast at a house in Caerphilly, Wales, in 2021.

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