Britain will ban the American XL Bully dog by the end of the year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Friday, after a fatal attack earlier this week following other recent incidents—and despite many animal experts calling breed-specific legislation misguided.
Sunak—who said the dog is a “danger to our communities”—said Friday that he had requested the American XL Bully be legally defined as a breed, allowing the government to ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act by the end of the year.
The American XL Bully, though specifically defined as a breed in the U.S., is not considered a specific breed by British dog associations and first appeared in the U.K. between 2014 and 2015.
A decision to ban the dog followed a fatal attack on Thursday, Sunak said, after two dogs believed to be XL Bullies killed a man in Stonnall, though their breed has not been confirmed.
The XL Bully breed has been linked to at least two fatal attacks this year and six of the 10 fatal dog attacks in the U.K. last year, according to the BBC, after a 65-year-old-woman was killed while breaking up a fight between her two dogs in April.
The XL Bully, if classified as a breed, would be the fifth breed to be banned in the U.K. The pit bull terrier, Japanese toso, dogo Argentino and fila Brasileiro are all banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, which also prohibits any dog that is “dangerously out of control.”
The Dog Control Coalition—which includes several animal welfare organizations like the Blue Cross—told the Guardian that the “government needs to focus on the improvement and enforcement of enforcing current breeding and dog control regulations, and on promoting responsible dog ownership and training” rather than issuing a ban. The American Veterinary Association said breed-specific legislation “may look good on the surface,” but is “not a reliable or effective solution for dog bite prevention.” The association also argues that breed-specific bans are difficult to enforce, are discriminatory against responsible owners and dogs and do not address irresponsible pet ownership.
Suella Braverman, the U.K.’s home secretary, said Monday she was pushing to ban the American XL Bully dog after one dog attacked an 11-year-old on Saturday. Braverman—who said she was seeking “urgent advice”—said the dog posed a threat to children, while Sunak’s office indicated it was considering the issue “extremely seriously.” The XL Bully is believed to have originated in the U.S. in the 1980s as a mix between the American pit bull terrier and American Staffordshire terrier, though it has since been crossed with other breeds. The dog is also banned in the United Arab Emirates, France and Turkey, while XL Bully dogs are required to be muzzled and on a leash shorter than 2 meters when out in public in Ireland.