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XL Bully dog safeguards coming into force

Deadline approaches for new rules.

XL Bully dog owners are being urged to prepare for new rules which are expected to come into force this Friday.

New laws laid for consideration in Parliament will make it illegal to sell, advertise, gift or exchange XL Bully dogs, or letting such dogs stray. XL Bully dog owners will also be required to ensure their dog is muzzled and on a lead while in a public place.

This is the first stage of safeguards being introduced. The second stage will mean from 1 August 2024 it will be an offence to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate or having applied for an exemption certificate. Full details on the exemption applications process and the support available will be announced in the coming weeks.  

Minister for Victims & Community Safety Siobhian Brown said:

“With new safeguards for XL Bully dogs coming into force in just a few days it’s vital that owners get ready and prepare from them now.

“Whilst dog attacks remain a rare occurrence, where they do occur, they can have devastating consequences which is why safeguards must be introduced. We are doing so whilst ensuring we promote and support responsible ownership, and public safety as effectively as possible.

“The new regulations aim to protect public safety and are being introduced as a consequence of similar XL Bully controls brought in by the UK Government, which created an unacceptable risk of dogs being moved to Scotland from England and Wales.”


The relevant legislation has been laid at the Scottish Parliament for consideration and will come into force on 23 February. The Criminal Justice Committee is taking evidence from the Minister for Victims and Community Safety on 21 February.

The penalties available to a court upon conviction for breach of the new safeguards are up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £5,000.

More information

The definition to be used for an XL Bully dog is the same as used by the UK Government. This can be found at: Check if a dog is an XL Bully.

Local authorities have existing powers under the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 to serve Dog Control Notices that set out what dog owners must do to bring their dogs under control to combat ‘out of control’ dogs at an early stage.


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