American XL Bully dogs are officially banned following spate of attacks: Owning one without exemption certificate will be a criminal offence from February

As a ‘mongrel’ crossbreed not recognised by the Kennel Club, XL Bullies are difficult to define.

But under guidelines published today by Defra, the following can be used to determine whether a dog is legally recognised as a banned animal:

General impression

Large dog with a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting great strength and power for its size. Powerfully built individual.


Adult male from 20in (51 cm) at the withers

Adult female from 19in (48cm) at the withers


Heavy, large and broad

The length from the tip of the nose to a well-defined stop (indentation between muzzle and the head) is equal to around a 1/3 of the length from the stop to the back of the head

Muzzle blocky or slightly squared to fall away below the eyes

Topline of muzzle straight

Prominent cheek muscles with strong, well-defined jaws and lips semi-close

Often having prominent wrinkles on face

Nose is large with well opened nostrils


Level or scissor bite.


Heavy, muscular, slightly arched, tapering from the shoulders to the base of the skull

Medium in length


Shoulder blades are long, well-muscled and well laid back

Upper arm length is about equal to the length of the shoulder blades and joined at a 35 to 45 angle to the ground

Front legs straight, strong and very muscular with dog standing high on the pasterns (area between feet and ankles)

Elbows set close to the body

Distance from the withers to elbows about the same as the distance from the elbow to the bottom of the feet



Large, blocky body giving impression of great power for size

Broad, deep chest with well sprung ribs

Chest may be wider than deep

Topline level and straight

Loin short and firm

Generally appears square shaped from point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks compared with the withers (tallest point on the dogs body excluding head and shoulders) to the ground


Strong, muscular and broad

Thighs well developed with thick musculature

From behind, both pasterns are typically straight and parallel to each other

Muscular development, angulation and width in balance with forequarters


Rounded, medium in size and in proportion to body

Compact and well arched


Medium length and low set

Tapers to a point to end at about the level of the hocks

Generally assumes a straight or pump handle shape when dog relaxed


Glossy, smooth, close, single

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