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Scotland is joining England and Wales in regulating the American bully XL dog breed, after dog owners began transporting their dogs up north to avoid rules in place in those countries. 

Scottish First Minister, Humza Yousaf, told parliament that Scotland would essentially “replicate the legislation that is in England and Wales,” the New York Times reported. 

“I am afraid that it has become clear in the past few weeks that we have seen a flow of XL bully dogs to Scotland,” he said.


American XL bully dogs were banned in England following a series of attacks and deaths involving the muscular dog breed. In November, the dog was added to the list of prohibited canines under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The law states it will be illegal to own an XL bully as of Feb. 1, 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.

The policy makes it illegal to sell, give away, abandon or breed a bully XL. The dogs must be kept on a leash and muzzled in public. The government said it has received 4,000 exemption requests, though it was unclear how many would be approved, the Times report said. 

Last week, a man said he drove hundreds of miles from Tipton, near Birmingham, England, to Scotland to find a new home for 33 bully XL dogs, the BBC reported. 


An American XL Bully dog looking at the camera

In September, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak referred to the breed 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 group Bully Watch, which was formed in response to the series of American XL bully attacks, said there have been 11 confirmed human deaths caused by the dog breed since 2021, according to its website. There were 351 bully XL dog attacks in 2023, the group said. 

A protester in the U.K. holds a sign defending American XL bully dogs

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. 

“Don’t Ban Me, License Me,” a group that fights restrictions on specific breeds, said the key to reducing dog bites is responsible ownership. 

“By ending breed-specific legislation and focusing on responsible ownership, we can create safer communities for both humans and dogs,” the group said on its website.

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