Voices: Independent readers split over XL Bully and other dog breed-specific bans

People take part in a protest in central London, against the Government’s decision to add XL bully dogs to the list of prohibited breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act (Jeff Moore/PA) (PA Wire)
People take part in a protest in central London, against the Government’s decision to add XL bully dogs to the list of prohibited breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act (Jeff Moore/PA) (PA Wire)

New rules for owning American XL Bully dogs have been put in place in the UK after a spate of violent attacks - but not everyone agrees the legislation will work.

XL Bullys aren’t the only breed banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act. They have joined Pit Bulls Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentino and Brazilian Mastiffs on the list of breeds deemed too dangerous to be domestic pets.

When we asked for your opinions, many Independent readers were concerned about the uptick in recent attacks involving the Bully breed - and several claimed “history is repeating itself”, labelling breed-specific legislation ineffective.

Some readers argued that certain breeds are “dangerous in the wrong hands” while others said “all dogs are ultimately a danger”.

Here’s what you had to say:

‘No place for them’

Of course they should be banned they are dangerous killers of people and other pets.

No place for them in modern society


‘Deadly in the wrong hands’

Being a dog lover, I would have been on the anti-dog-axe side, that was until we [my son and I) had an incident with two vicious XL bullies (with no ears).

Ok I know it was the owner’s fault, they even laughed when the two dogs lunged at us. I had never known terror of a dog until this incident. It knocked me sick for several days, especially thinking about what would have happened if they’d have pulled the owners over and attacked us.

These dogs are, without a shadow of a doubt, deadly in the wrong hands and the deaths/injuries are testament to this.

My neighbour has a cane corsa and he’s a beautiful dog, because his owners have taken time out to train/socialise him, however, how many people are prepared to do this? Pounds all over the UK, are full of unwanted/untrained lockdown/cost-of-living dogs with behavioural problems.

In my opinion, if people [like my neighbour] want certain large breeds that can be dangerous in the wrong hands, by law they should:

1) Have to take out third-party insurance

2) Training should be mandatory

3) Muzzling when in public

4) Breeding of these dogs should be strictly regulated and done by licensed breeders

This should stop the appeal to those people [like those we came across]

Too extreme? Then do you want to continue seeing death after death?


‘It will be another breed next’

So, the XL bully is banned because IF it did flip and went for someone/another dog, because it’s larger it could cause more damage than a smaller dog? So shouldn’t you be saying ban all dogs that are large?

I can guarantee it will be another breed next, Cane Corso, Belgian Malinois etc. It’s like saying someone small and 5’5” or below should get a lesser prison sentence for GBH than someone who is large and 6ft because they have “less power” or could “cause less damage”? MAKE IT MAKE SENSE.

And now you want me to muzzle my harmless dog so that he can’t defend himself if he gets attacked? Okay then, let’s throw someone handcuffed into the middle of a fight and see if they can defend themselves. How can you discriminate against a breed purely due to its size and power because of a few cross-bred dogs that the owners have been irresponsible with and NOT trained properly?

Bullies can’t even be reactive now, if someone stood on the other side of the street shouting at you, you wouldn’t shout back no? But a “safe” breed of dog can go mental at a Bully but even he even barks back then he is the issue?? STOP BLAMING THE WRONG END OF THE LEAD.

ALL dog owners should require a license to own a dog. Big or small.

BSL DOES NOT WORK. The only people who are suffering here are the responsible owners who have exempted and will follow guidelines to keep their family member safe. The people who have let this breed down and who are responsible for bringing a dog up to be dangerous will not follow the guidelines. This will solve NOTHING.


‘History is repeating itself’

History is repeating itself yet our government is stuck in 1991! Nobody cares about science, expert opinion and the opinion of professionals in the canine field.

What was the point of the dog control coalition? What was the point of DEFRA’s own funded research to help to understand the reasons behind these dog attacks? All was there black on white and yet they chose to follow hysteria and back of napkin so-called evidence.

The government enabled dog abusers to continue the abuse, breeders to continue their dodgy business, and owners to lay their hands on dogs that they know nothing about. It seems to me that somebody is paying the gov real good to continue this farce.


‘Owners should take full responsibility’

I am totally in favour of the ban being ditched.

It’s entirely down to the owners to take full responsibility and educate themselves on dog breeds that may fall into the category of dangerous.

How about educating the potential owners of these pups before being allowed to own one in their home?


‘They need to listen to genuine experts’

If the weekend is something to go by, the ban on any breed DOES NOT WORK.

We abolished capital punishment yet find it acceptable to have BSL.

This was a bad move by the government, yet again. They need to listen to the genuine experts, not be a minority pleaser, all the time.


‘Having an animal as a pet is a privilege’

The breed-specific ban doesn’t work and never will. The problem is not the dogs it is us humans we seem to think we are the superior race but we are not, every single life on this planet has meaning and should be respected.

Having an animal as a pet is a privilege and we should respect that and do everything we can do to keep our pets happy, healthy and out of danger. The problem is people will buy a dog purely on looks and without understanding the breed and their needs and they haven’t got a clue how to read a dog’s body language and how to train them.

I think the whole dog industry and laws need a good shake-up and people need to understand their dogs better.

I am so fed up and upset by this XL Bully ban and so many innocent lives have been lost due to us humans. Things really need to change. People kill people every day, so should we wipe out the human race?!


‘The problem is owners who cannot train their dogs properly’

As someone who has grown up as a young child around breeds that everyone would label dangerous, I would not label any of them that.

From Pitbulls, American Bull Dogs, Dobermans and Rottweilers: all large breeds are the loveliest dogs ever in my opinion, as friends and family who own them train them and show them affection and give them boundaries at the same time. They are loved and treated like family members.

The problem is owners who cannot train their dogs properly from day one as a puppy. It’s very important to socialise them with other dogs at a young age also. All these things shape the kind of dog you end up with as they grow into adults. They need time and patience to train a puppy and if they don’t have that then that’s where the problem begins.

I think it should be mandatory for all dogs to be trained properly and socialised. Training can be costly though if you don’t have the time yourself to do it and need professional help and I think this is what owners also need to take into consideration when deciding if getting a dog is right for them.

I think it should be the owners at fault not the breed!


‘Treated like unexploded bombs’

To recap here, breed-specific legislation...

Is unsupported by scientific evidence - there is no evidence that so-called prohibited dogs are any more dangerous than any other breed. (A 2019 study found only 8% of dangerously out-of-control dog incidents involved prohibited breeds).

Has failed to protect the public - dog bite hospitalizations haven’t gone down (if anything, they’ve increased).

Has led to thousands of non-aggressive dogs being euthanized or treated like unexploded bombs simply because of the way they look.

So, it’s ineffective, not supported by scientific evidence, and condemned by pretty much every animal welfare group and most of the British public, which begs the question.... what good is it, then?

Rather than perpetuating this pathetic, reactionary and ill-informed cycle, what the government should be doing is changing course and setting right what has wronged so many.


‘We can’t definitely say BSL could never have a positive impact’

Is BSL a magic solution? NO

Could I design a better solution? Yes

Could I design a better solution with the resources available which doesn’t further restrict and fine all the responsible dog owners out there? No

Are Pitbulls and their derivatives, the Bully, more dangerous than other breeds? Yes. All over the world. They do more damage and can rarely be stopped. They routinely kill animals but this often isn’t a statistic collected officially.

We can’t definitely say BSL could never have a positive impact because there have never been the resources to enforce it. Plus a lot of deaths are essentially due to people for whom anti-social behaviour is the norm and we don’t have that many solutions for people who just don’t think ahead and consider the consequences.

You can have all the stiff prison sentences you like but these people believe it doesn’t apply to them so they don’t change their behaviour. Once your family member is dead there is no bringing them back so we are stuck with trying to restrict access to the most deadly weapons/dogs.


‘The public need to be protected’

I know that there are some very responsible owners out there with some lovely dogs but the public need to be protected against those that are not.

I don’t believe it’s fair to pick on certain breeds but the XL Bully is so incredibly strong that they are impossible to stop if the worse happens. The only other option is to have ALL dogs on leads in public places, with maybe the bigger breeds muzzled too.

My personal choice would be for that option as even friendly smaller breeds are a nuisance off-lead if not properly trained (and most of them aren’t). I know this won’t be a popular option but surely it’s better than euthanising innocent animals.


‘All dogs are ultimately a danger’

Breed-specific bans do not work. As it’s reported and said, they’ll just move on to another breed type - then another ban...

All dogs are ultimately a danger!

And I would say there are generally five reasons why a dog will bite/attack another dog or a human.

1. If it is forced into a corner and/or fears for its life or owners.

2. If provoked.

3. If trained.

4. If ill-treated.

5. If not given enough exercise or socialisation and becomes frustrated because of very high energy levels.

Just as humans do!

It’s not the dog, it’s the owner of the dog that is to blame for the incidents that have sadly happened recently.

Many innocent dogs and people are trapped in this awful situation.

Look at the terrible situation of teenage knife stabbings... do we round all teenagers up and leash them? No we treat them individually, so why can’t we do the same with dogs?

The XL Bully ban is unfair and wrong! They were bred to be loving family pets but because of a few, dare I say idiots, the majority of decent, loving dogs and their owners are labelled the same and put through this hell and cost for those few...

Repeal the ban and work on legislation that will actually work for humans and dogs alike.


‘Just too dangerous’

The problem with XL Bullies, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned enough, is how inbred they are, whilst I’m sure there are responsible XL breeders out there too many of them are breeding too close to the line, with both the RSPCA and Bully magazine reporting on sibling and parent offspring matings occurring regularly.

There is a strong association between spontaneous aggression in dogs and inbreeding and these practices produce dogs, through no fault of their own, that are just too dangerous, that even in the hands of responsible owners can still be dangerous.

Add to that the amount of lazy owners who do very little to train their dogs and it’s a crying shame but I don’t believe there is a need or place for this breed in British homes.


Some of the questions and answers have been edited for this article. You can read the full discussion in the comments section of the original article.

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