Legal Safeguards Now In Force For XL Bully Dogs

New XL Bully Dog safeguards now in force

Owners of XL Bully dogs are reminded that from today (Friday 5th July 2024), the first stage of new legal safeguards are now in force.

XL Bully type dogs have been added to the list of restricted breeds.

The definition to be used for an XL Bully type dog will be the same as used by the UK Government. This can be found on the: website(external link opens in a new window / tab)

The American Bully XL is a larger variant of the American Bully breed, known for its robust build and muscular appearance. They are characterised by their large heads, broad shoulders, and powerful stature, which distinguish them from other Bully varieties.

DAERA has introduced legislation to control XL bully dogs.

Whilst it remains legal to own an XL Bully type dog, from today, owners must ensure their dog is muzzled and on a lead when in a public place. Selling, gifting, exchanging or breeding from an XL Bully type dog is also prohibited.

Speaking as the new laws come into force, DAERA Minister Andrew Muir said: “When I made the announcement of my intention to introduce safeguarding measures for XL Bully type dogs in March 2024, I stated that the public safety of the people of Northern Ireland is my utmost concern and that remains true.

“The restrictions being introduced are designed to protect the public. From today, owners of XL Bully Dogs are not allowed to breed, sell, exchange, gift or abandon their dog.

“Owners are also required to have their dog muzzled and on a lead when in public. The dog must also be kept in a secure place.

“These new safeguarding measures are there for the safety and protection of the public, livestock and other animals.”

This is the first set of legal safeguards, with the second stage coming into effect on 31 December 2024 which will make it an offence to own an XL Bully type dog without an Exemption Certificate or having applied for an Exemption Certificate.

More details will be released by the Department soon.

District councils are responsible for the enforcement of the new safeguarding measures. Anyone found to be in breach of the legislation could face up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £5000.

Local councils have existing powers under the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 to serve notices for ‘out of control’ dogs.

More information is available at: