The Scottish Government will not set a date for the ban on American bully XL dogs.

MSPs were told that ministers would need to "consider more voices" before being able to set out a timetable.

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the canines, which can weigh up to nine stone and overpower an adult, will be banned in England by the end of the year. 

It follows a number of high-profile attacks, including 52-year-old Ian Price who died after being attacked on Thursday by two dogs – suspected to be bully XLs – in Stonnall in Staffordshire.

The number of people killed by dogs in England and Wales has gone from an average of three a year between 2001 and 2021, to ten in 2022. 

Because the American bully XL is not a recognised breed, defining which dogs will be banned - and potentially neutered or destroyed - is expected to be complicated.


Although the Dangerous Dogs Act is a UK-wide piece of legislation, Scotland is able to make its own amendments when it comes to the specifics of the legislation.

Responding to a question from Conservative MSP Jamie Green, the SNP's Siobhian Brown, Minister for Community Safety, said Scottish Government officials had met with officials from the UK Government and representatives of teh other devolved administrations. 

She told the Parliament: “We’ve noted the intention of the UK Government to take steps to introduce a ban on American XL bully dogs.

“Scottish Government officials met with DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] and officials from Wales and Northern Ireland last Friday to discuss and hear more about the UK Government’s approach.

“The UK Government are planning to convene an expert group to specify a legal definition of the American Bully XL and this group will consist of a body concerned with animal welfare, veterinary science and practice, and will include representatives from the police and the four nations.

“That work when carried out will inform our own consideration on any ban moving forward."

Asked for a timeline, Ms Brown said: "I think what matters here is careful evidence-based decision making which is focused on protecting the public safety and in Scotland we're committed to giving full consideration to the issue and to ensure that we arrive at the correct decision.

"It's clear from the UK Government's announcement that there's a wide range of views in this area from experts and members of the public and it's imperative that the Scottish Government moving forward will consider more voices.

"I do not have a timescale at this moment for the consultation but I will keep you updated."

Ms Brown added that any ban on the dogs did not necessarily mean they would need to be put down.

She said: “It’s very important that we emphasise that a dog being a banned breed does not automatically mean it’s going to be put down.

"There are conditions that can be met such as having the dog neutered, or keeping the dog muzzled in public, or the dog can be placed on the index of exempted dogs by the court.”

Mr Greene also asked for an update on plans to toughen existing legislation governing extreme and illegal breeding and irresponsible ownership. 

Ms Brown told the MSP:  “We have established an operational working group involving local authorities, Police Scotland and Cosla and other key stakeholders to progress this work. We published updated statutory guidance to help local authorities to carry out their functions under the control of dogs legislation.”