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expert reaction to proposed ban of American bully XL dogs

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced urgent work to define and ban the American bully XL dog breed.


Prof Carri Westgarth, Professor in Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Liverpool, said:

“There is no scientific consensus that particular breeds are more likely to act aggressively than others. Dogs of all breeds are represented in the dog bite records and we know there is wide variation in behaviour between individuals within a breed. There are also genetic tendencies towards aggression within particular breeding lines, so with any breed, breeding for good temperament is vitally important. Other factors such as socialisation, training methods, and health, are also significant for a dog’s risk of aggression

“However, the data does support the fact that large powerful dogs, including those of bull breeds, are more likely to do significant damage IF they do bite someone, and as such, XL Bullies and other large powerful breeds feature strongly in fatality lists.

“This announcement raises many questions that must be considered. Key to the ban is the statement about looking into defining the XL Bully breed before it can be banned – however, proving a dog’s particular breed is difficult, especially when that breed is not recognised by most Kennel Clubs, and looks similar to other breeds. This has complicated the application of the current legislation concerning Pitbull types, and likely will again with XL Bullies, which are also just one size type of the American Bully.

“It also raises the question whether banning a single breed will encourage those who want to own such a type of dog turn to owning and breeding other types, as happened with the development of the American Bully after Pitbulls were banned.

“Overall, experts including anti-bully groups agree that if dog bites are to be effectively reduced, much more intervention and legislation are needed than simply banning one breed.”



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