Information for dog owners

Important information including a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) relating to dog control in public spaces, and information for XL Bully owners

Important information for XL Bully owners

The portal to get an XL Bully type dog exempted is now open and you can do it online using the link below. You'll need to make a payment of £92.40 per dog, have Third Party Liability insurance and know the dog's microchip details. It's very straightforward: there is no need for a Court application nor a behavioural assessment.

Apply for a certificate of exemption to keep an XL bully dog

31st January 2024: This is the deadline by which the dog must be exempted from the ban ie there must be a Certificate of Exemption issued.

The dog will have to be neutered by 30th June 2024 or 31st December 2024 (depending on the age of the dog on 31st January 2024)

XL Bully ban: What does it mean?

When will the ban come into force?

The ban is being introduced in stages. Firstly, you should STOP any plans you may have for breeding from an XL Bully, as by the time the puppies are born it will be illegal to sell the puppies (or even give them away).

31st December 2023: This is the date when Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is officially amended. It will then be a criminal offence to: -

• Breed or breed from the dog

• Sell or exchange the dog

• Give the dog away

• Allow the dog to be in a public place without being muzzled and kept on a lead

• Abandon the dog or allow it to stray

The muzzle must be sufficient to prevent the dog from biting a person. The lead must be held securely by a person at least 16 years old. It does not say extendable leads are not permitted but it is recommended that a fixed lead is used.

These offences will apply to:-

• an owner

• someone who has possession of someone else’s dog

• a rescue

31st January 2024: This is the deadline by which the dog must be exempted from the ban ie there must be a Certificate of Exemption issued.

Neutering: The dog must be neutered, but there is not going to be a requirement for this to be done by 31st January 2024 as the deadline will depend on the age of the dog. If the dog is at least 1 year old on 31st January 2024 then it must be neutered by 30th June 2024, whereas if it is less than 1 year old on 31st January 2024 then owners will have until 31st December 2024 to get it neutered.

Compensation: If an owner chooses to have their dog put down rather than go through the exemption scheme, the Government says in due course they will offer compensation of £200 per dog (or £100 if it is a rescue). No details have yet been provided for how this scheme will operate.

Where will the ban apply: This law will apply in England & Wales, but there is a possibility that it could also be brought into force in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Which dogs will the ban apply to?

The wording of the Statutory Instrument makes it clear that the ban applies to “the type of dog known as the XL Bully”. If the Courts interpret this definition in the same way that they do for Pit Bull Terrier types, it means that it will be sufficient if a dog’s physical characteristics ‘substantially’ conform to a breed standard for the XL Bully. The temperament of the dog is likely to be regarded as relevant but not conclusive.

There will be a presumption that once the Police say a dog is an XL Bully type, then that’s what it is unless the owner can prove that they are wrong.

DEFRA has published what it says is the “Official definition of an XL Bully dog” and it summarises what they regard as the main features.

If your dog meets the minimum height measurements and has a substantial amount of the physical characteristics set out in the official definition, your dog may be in scope of the ban, whether it was sold as an XL Bully or not.

What to do now

DEFRA has published a document called “Prepare for the ban on XL Bull dogs”. Please read this document carefully.

It is advisable you check this page and the government website regularly for the most up to date information.

Find out more:

Government guidance on applying the XL Bully breed type conformation standard


Public Space Protection Order (PSPO)

A Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) relating to dog control in public was issued in April 2016 and extended in 2022. This order imposes certain legal responsibilities on dog owners in Three Rivers District.

If you own and walk a dog in the district, you must:

  • pick up your dog’s faeces
  • put your dog on a lead if directed to by an authorised officer of the Authority
  • keep your dog on a lead at all times in the area surrounding the Café in the Park in the Aquadrome
  • do not allow your dog to enter children's play areas, courts, outdoor gyms, skate areas and fenced-off picnic areas
  • keep your dog from entering land used for grazing livestock
  • one person is only allowed to be in charge of a maximum of four dogs at a time

The order does not apply to individuals with disabilities who use a dog for assistance. Please refer to section 7 of the order below for a list of exemptions.

You can read the full PSPO below:

Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) Dogs 2022 (PDF)

It is an offence to breach a PSPO, and you can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £75 or a fine of up to £1,000 if prosecuted.