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XL Bully dog ban: advice published

30 November 2023

In light of the Government adding the XL Bully dog breed to the list of dogs banned in England and Wales under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, we have issued new advice for the veterinary team on navigating the law safely and professionally.  

We recognise that the change in legislation is likely to present veterinary teams with both challenging circumstances and difficult decisions, and also comes during what is already a very busy time for the professions.  

The published advice not only summarises the government’s new framework for XL Bully dogs, with links to all the necessary documentation, but also covers the following key topics: 

  • identifying, or ‘typing’, adult dogs and puppies 
  • sedation and remote prescribing 
  • concerns about euthanising healthy dogs 
  • clinical records 
  • ownership disputes 
  • workload, morale and team safety 

Estimates for the number of XL Bully dogs in the UK vary widely, and so the updated legislation is likely have a significant impact on veterinary workloads in some areas, particularly demand for neutering and, potentially, euthanasia of this dog breed.  
We are encouraging vet teams to plan ahead as far as possible, particularly as the various deadlines approach for XL Bully dog owners, and to seek the support of colleagues to share this additional workload. 
As regards our advice for the professions on the euthanasia of XL Bully dogs, Sue Paterson, RCVS President, said: “We understand there will be some members of the profession who do not wish to euthanise healthy XL Bully dogs, either because it is not safe for them to do so, or because they object to it on moral grounds. 
“There is no obligation in the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for a veterinary surgeon to euthanise a healthy animal. However, the owner’s wishes and circumstances should also always be taken into account, particularly if public safety and/or the animal’s welfare could be compromised should the request be refused. 
“Ultimately, this is a matter for your professional judgement, based on individual circumstances but, whatever you decide to do, please ensure you record accurate, contemporaneous clinical notes about your decisions and actions.” 

Please note: the Scottish Government has said the ban will not be introduced in Scotland on the timings set for England and Wales and will continue to assess the relevant evidence in respect of Scotland. At the time of publication we were awaiting a response from the Northern Ireland Executive regarding its intentions.  

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