Full list of banned dog breeds in UK — and what to do if you have one

Police release video of American XL Bully attack, along with stark warning

In the wake of the latest vicious dog attack in Britain, pressure is growing for the Government to add to its list of banned dog breeds. 

This weekend saw three people, including an 11-year-old girl, end up in hospital in Bordesley Green, Birmingham, after an attack by an American Bully XL. The girl was helped by two men who suffered bites to their arms and shoulders, one of whom was dragged behind a car by the out-of-control dog. 

It was a lucky escape for the three this weekend, but others have not been so lucky; there have been six fatal dog attacks in 2023 alone, two of which came from the American Bully XL. The breed was also responsible for the deaths of five Brits in separate attacks in 2022. 

On Monday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman wrote on X/Twitter: “This is appalling, The American XL Bully is a clear and lethal danger to our communities, particularly to children. We can’t go on like this. I have commissioned urgent advice on banning them.” 

If American Bully XLs are added to the banned dog list, they will join the four breeds already banned in Britain — here, looks at the banned dogs and what to do if you own one. 

READ MORE: What the public needs to know about the rise in dog attacks and how to stay safe

Which dog breeds are banned in the UK? 

In 1991, the Dangerous Dogs Act banned the breeding, sale and exchange of the Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro. They cannot be owned without an exemption from a court. The act also covers cross-breeds of the four types of dog. 

The Pit Bull Terrier and the Japanese Tosa were bred unapologetically for fighting, the latter being the only breed still used in legal Japanese dog fighting.

Down the line, the Tosa was mixed with a number of breeds such as the English bulldog and European Saint-Bernard to increase its size for fighting. 

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The Dogo Argentino had a similar lineage, with Bull Terriers mixed with Pyrenean Mastiffs for fighting and hunting game. The Fila Brasileiro has a Mastiff lineage and is used as a guard dog, for big-game hunting and cattle herding.

When slavery was still legal in Brazil, they were trained to capture escaped enslaved people and drag them back to the plantations. 

Meanwhile, the American Bully XL was bred in the 1980s and 90s, supposedly as a companion dog, though experts say they have been bred for fighting in many regions. 

What should you do if you own a banned breed? 

Unless you have a court-mandated exemption, you should not keep any of these banned dogs. If you do, the police or council can remove it from you, even if it’s not acting dangerously or posing any threat. 

If your banned dog is in public, they can seize it immediately. If it’s in your property, police need a warrant. 

Experts will then judge the danger to the public posed by the dog and you may need to appear in court. If it is decided the dog is banned and dangerous, it will not be returned to. You could be convicted of a crime, fined or sent to prison for six months — or both. The dog will be humanely destroyed. 

According to the Government website, you can avoid going to court by giving up ownership of your dog: “You can give up ownership of your dog but you cannot be forced to. If you do, your dog could be destroyed without you even going to court.”

You can report a dog that’s out of control here or call 020 8026 4296 for more information. 

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