Information for agents about XL Bully dog rules

Following several high-profile attacks by XL Bully dogs in recent years governments across the UK have put measures in place to ban the breed and impose requirements on people who own them. There has been understandable concern from agents and landlords about the implications for them of the introduction and operation of the new safeguards.

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It is not an agent’s responsibility to check that tenants are complying with the law, nor do they need to identify XL Bully-type dogs. However, they can help advise and signpost landlords and tenants when deciding to allow a pet to be kept in a rental property.

The Dogs Trust charity – Lets with Pets has valuable advice on banned breeds as well as lots of other guidance to help letting agents and landlords and details specifics, including details around a Certificate of Exemption that allows someone to keep a banned dog if it does not behave dangerously and follow certain rules, which is valid for the life of the dog. Other key things to note are:

The dog must be:

  • neutered
  • fitted with a microchip
  • kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
  • kept in a secure place so it cannot escape

The owner must:

  • have insurance against the dog injuring other people
  • be aged over 16
  • show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or council dog warden, either at the time or within five days
  • let the Index of Exempt Dogs know if they change address, or the dog dies

England and Wales

Owning or possessing an XL Bully dog in England and Wales is a criminal offence without a valid Certificate of Exemption.

The application process for Certificates of Exemption is now closed and owners who have not applied should speak to their local police for advice.

Read more on  →


The Scottish Government's first step of a two-stage approach came into force on 23 February 2024 that owners must keep the dogs muzzled and on a lead in public places.

Current owners must apply for an exemption certificate to keep their dogs beyond 31 July 2024, and the registration scheme is being developed. 

Read more on  →

Northern Ireland

Andrew Muir MP, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland announced on 5 March 2024 the intention that measures will mirror those of the rest of the UK and be brought in as soon as possible.

Read more on  →


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