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This is the predicament that owners of XL bullies currently find themselves in. These dogs are the largest kind of American bully dog, but they are not actually recognised as a specific breed by the UK Kennel Club.

The breed has garnered a lot of negative media attention recently after a series of attacks by these dogs across the United Kingdom. As a result of these tragic attacks, England and Wales made it a criminal offence to own one of these dogs from February 1, 2024 without an exemption certificate.

Scotland soon followed suit and on January 18, the Scottish Government announced that it will be introducing a ban in two stages. However, this announcement came after there were reports of people from England and Wales rehoming their dogs in Scotland.

The Press asked readers on their Instagram whether or not you agreed with the ban. 52% of respondents said yes, 30% said they did not agree with it, while 4% said they were not sure, and 14% said they only agreed with some parts of it.

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The first stage comes into force on February 23, when all canines of this type must be muzzled and kept on a lead at all times in public. From this date it will also be an offence to breed, exchange, sell, offer, advertise, or abandon an XL bully.

The second stage takes place on August 1, when it will be illegal to own one of these dogs in Scotland without an exemption certificate, or having applied for one to own the animal.

The Press spoke to two local residents who have XL bullies, and who are concerned about the impact the ban will have on their lives, and their beloved four-legged companions.

Sammy Dowie (35) lives in Rosyth and has an XL bully named Bo, who she described as “amazing.”

Bo goes for pack walks with other dogs twice a week, loves to play peak a boo in the field, and is well-trained. Sammy also has a young son who takes Bo out for his morning walks.

Sammy commented: “He’s so lovable. I mean, going from being scared of dogs to having an XL bully, he’s totally changed my life. I approach any dog now.

“He’s shown me they aren’t scary, they are not aggressive.”

However, Bo’s pack walks will have to come to an end once the ban begins, so now Sammy and her husband Chris will have to come home from work during their lunch breaks to make sure Bo gets the walks he will be missing out on.

“He’ll not be able to go on his pack walks now, so he can no-longer be with his friends. He’ll have to watch other dogs chase their balls and bringing them back, he’ll not be able to do that.” Sammy added.

“He just wants to play.”

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Socialisation with other dogs is extremely important for puppies and young dogs. It gives a dog more experiences which will help them be less anxious and frightened.

Bo even has his own TikTok page called where his family post videos of him out and about. He currently has 1687 followers and 9520 likes in total. #bo#xlbully#lovesaball ♬ Match Of The Day – The Broadcasters


When Sammy was asked what she would like to see happen now, she said: “At least change some of the rules, like his pack walks. He’s on a muzzle, he’s on a lead, why should he not be allowed to go out? The muzzle is not needed, none of it’s needed.

“I think it’s unfair, it’s unnecessary and like everybody’s saying, it’s down to how you treat them and how you bring them up.”

Another concerned resident, who has two XL bullies, has been muzzle training their dogs since the ban came started in England.

The source commented: “It’s going to affect me financially. My worry is when at the end of this month they have to be muzzled, what happens when another dog approaches them off the lead? They are not going to defend themselves.

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“I have always kept my two on the lead, I do not agree with them being kept off the lead unless they are in a dog park.”

The source said that their dogs are “amazing on the lead” and one of the dogs is still a puppy. “He gets excited when he sees humans, he just wants to go over and get clapped.”

Now the source feels “kind of isolated” as everybody knows they have the breed, and that a prospective dog walker was unable to offer their dog walks because the walker’s insurance would not cover it. They added: “He’s been isolated as well.”

The source commented: “I think that all dog owners should have their dog registered, and it shouldn’t just be pinpointed on an XL.”

Now, owners across Scotland are in the process of applying for exemption certificates and muzzle training their dogs before the ban comes into place. Anyone who doesn’t follow these rules could face up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £5000 according to the Scottish Government’s website.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has information on their website to support owners of XL bullies and anyone concerned about this issue.

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