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Advice for pet owners

We can help you to provide the right care and training for your pet.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council can offer advice and point you in the right direction for help.

XL Bully dogs

Under amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act, XL Bully dogs have been added to the list of banned breeds.

If you own an XL Bully type dog, it does not mean that you must dispose of your dog.  It simply means that there are few things that you must do, to keep your dog.

If you think your dog might be an XL Bully, you should look at the Government breed definition guidance

This involves checking the dog's physical characteristics such as its size and height.

If you're not sure if you have an XL Bully dog, you should comply with all new requirements for this dog type. This includes puppies that may grow up to be an XL Bully dog.

The ban only applies to XL Bully dogs. There are other established breeds, such as those recognised by the UK Kennel Club that may meet some of the characteristics of the XL Bully breed type. These are not within scope of the ban.

Stockton Borough Council Animal Welfare cannot tell you whether your dog is an XL Bully type. This can only be done by specially trained Police officers - Please call 101 and ask to be put in contact with the Dog Legislation Officers within Cleveland Police.

The changes will come into force in two stages:

From 31 December 2023

It will be against the law to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog or let it stray
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle

From 1 February 2024

It will be against the law to own an XL bully without an exemption certificate

What do I need to do as an XL Bully Owner?

  • apply for a Certificate of Exemption before 31 January 2024, this costs £92.40 per dog
  • get Third Party Public Liability Insurance, before applying for a Certificate of Exemption - the Dogs Trust Insurance Membership is offering this for £25.00 a year
  • neuter your dog permanently if it is not already neutered - if your dog is older than 1 year old on 31 January 2024 it must be neutered by 30 June 2024, if it is less than 1 year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024 
  • your dog must be microchipped with the correct keeper details and registered to your current address, if you are unsure if your dog's microchip details are up to date or unsure of the chip number, you can contact Stockton Animal Welfare Service on 01642 524789 and we can arrange to scan it for you so you can correctly register it
  • all XL Bully breeds must be kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public, this also includes when in your car

All XL Bully owners should start muzzle training their dogs now. Slowly getting your dog used to a muzzle with positive rewards will be the kindest and most stress-free approach for all. The Dogs Trust are running free webinars to help with this training.

All XL Bully breeds must be kept in a secure place so it cannot escape. If your dog has access to your garden, your garden must be fully secure.

As the owner you must also:

  • be over 16 years old
  • be able to show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a Police Officer or a Council Officer, either at the time or within 5 days

From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless your dog has a valid Certificate of Exemption.This action would be taken by the Police and could lead to an unlimited fine, a prison sentence and/or having your dog seized and potentially euthanised.

What if I don't want to keep my dog?

If you do wish to have your dog destroyed, you can ask a registered vet to do this by 31 January 2024 and apply for compensation. However, the cost of having your dog destroyed is your responsibility and an application for compensation can be made afterwards. The deadline for compensation applications should be made by 15 March 2024 and more information is available on the claim compensation for an XL Bully webpage.

The Council cannot take your unwanted XL Bully on a handover as we are unable to legally rehome the dog.


Other pets

Contact us if you have a pet or are considering buying an animal and you would like advice and guidance on:

  • accommodation
  • behaviour
  • cost
  • diet
  • demands on your time

We can also help you find relevant organisations, training classes and support groups.

Request advice on looking after a pet