XL Bully – Banning the breed will not solve the underlying issue

Friday March 1st 2024

German Shepherd

German Shepherd trained by Nick McMechan.

This View has been written by Midlothian Dog Trainer Nick McMechan.

I wrote last year about “Why the XL Bully shouldn’t be the next banned breed”. And, yes, it happened south of the border and now it’s happening in Scotland too. From 31st July 2024 it will be an offence to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate in Scotland

When I wrote the article I was making a point. Banning the breed will not solve the underlying issue. The underlying issue is clearly irresponsibly bred dogs being sold to the wrong owners. XL Bully are large powerful dogs, German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Dobermans are large powerful dogs yet we don’t have the same issues.

Why? My opinion and experience tells me that most of the German Shepherd, Rottweiler and Doberman owners I meet take their responsibilities of owning a large powerful breed seriously. Indeed, I have a number of Rottweiler clients and they are the most loving, sweet, cuddle monsters you’ll meet. Wonderful dogs, with wonderful and highly responsible owners that are an excellent advert for what great dog ownership looks like.

Owning a large, powerful breed of dog is a privilege. not a right. Owning a Shotgun is a privilege, not a right and you need a licence to do so as they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Holding an alcohol licence is privilege, and not a right and again be dangerous in the wrong, irresponsible hands. So, why, when society already has systems and laws in place, are the wrong hands allowed on large, powerful dogs?

Licensing is the way forward. For a moment, let’s consider licensing in one of our European neighbours, Spain. In September 2023 Spain introduced animal licensing which included restrictions around the sale of certain pet animals, microchipping, prohibition of violent methods of training, prohibition of ear cropping and tail docking, restrictions on the time that an animal can be left alone and completion of of an online course before a license is issued. There are more than this and that’s just a quick summary. Progression that can we can learn from in the UK. But we aren’t.

Importantly, in Spain, breeding is restricted to those on a registered list. And, you can own “dangerous dogs” in Spain. You can own a Pit Bull. Indeed, I’ve seen many on my holidays. Well taken care of and well controlled dogs. I’ve never felt our safety was at any risk whatsoever.

We must have dog licensing in the UK, we must have it enforced by using the licence fee funds to pay for more Dog Wardens with greater controls. We must start with licensing all commercial and pet breeders who must be required to make checks and balances that ensure the right dog is going to the right home. Then, we must licence those owners.

Banning breeds will not make a difference as the irresponsible XL Bully owners and breeders that have caused the problem we see now will just go on to another breed. It’s already happening now. A quick internet search was all I needed to do to find 11 Cane Corso attacks in the UK in the last six months (there may well be more). The breed is larger and more powerful than the XL Bully and, unless we have a change of government policy and approach to these issues, they will be the next banned breed. And, there will be another after that, and another…where will it stop and when will we start solving the root cause of issues rather than putting sticking plasters over the top of them for a quick vote winning fix?
Nick specialises in Loose Leash Walking and Reactivity as well as everything you would expect from a Dog Trainer. You can find out more here: eskvalleydogtraining.co.uk

Tweet Share on Facebook  

Subscribe to the Midlothian View newsletter

Support Midlothian View from as little as £1. It only takes a minute. Thank you.

Comments are closed.