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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

New XL Bully Dog safeguards to be introduced in Northern Ireland

Xl bully dog

Owners of XL Bully type dogs are urged to prepare for the first stage of new legal safeguards which will come into force on 5 July 2024.

From this date, it will remain legal to own an XL Bully type dog, but owners must ensure their dog is muzzled and on a lead when in a public place. Selling, gifting, exchanging, or breeding from an XL Bully type dog will also be prohibited.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Brian Dooher said:

“I would urge XL Bully type dog owners to read the guidance available. This will assist owners in understanding the new requirements before they come into effect on 5th July and enable them to take action in advance such as muzzle training their dog, walking on a lead and ensuring it has a valid dog licence.”

Stage two of the new rules will come into operation from 31 December 2024, and will make it an offence to own an XL Bully type dog without an Exemption Certificate or having applied for an Exemption Certificate.

This means where XL Bully type dog owners wish to keep their dog they must apply and pay for an Exemption Certificate by that date.

However, if any owner of an XL Bully type dog does not choose to adhere to these measures or no longer wishes to keep their dog, provision will be made to surrender that dog and owners will be able to apply for compensation.

Full details of the application process and the conditions for exemption will be announced soon. Although the application process for Exemption Certificates is not open yet, there are actions owners can take to prepare such as neutering their dog.

Owners of XL Bully type dogs are also advised to appropriately record and account for their dog ahead of new rules coming into force. In Northern Ireland, all dogs must be licensed and microchipped at eight weeks old. It is an offence to own an unlicensed dog, unless the dog is exempted.

Guidance and further details are available at:

The penalties for breach of the new safeguards are up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £5000.

The definition to be used for an XL Bully type dog will be the same as used by the UK Government. This can be found at:

Local councils have existing powers under the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 to serve notices for ‘out of control’ dogs.


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