Ministers in Scotland have been urged to act swiftly after the UK Government announced that XL bully dogs will join the list of banned breeds in England and Wales at the end of the year.

The breed, linked to several fatal attacks, is being added under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

With the legislation in the area devolved to Holyrood, the Scottish Government is currently considering the evidence about whether the ban on the breed should apply north of the Border. Currently, no firm plans have been announced to do so.

Scottish Conservative Jamie Greene MSP tonight called on ministers in Edinburgh to "stop dragging their heels".

He told The Herald: “The UK Government’s swift action to ban dangerous XL bully dogs is welcome in light a spate of horrific fatalities.

“The SNP Government need to stop dragging their heels on this issue. Ministers must confirm if – and when – they will be following the UK Government in banning these dogs, to give Scots the reassurance they need.”

The ban in England and Wales takes effect on December 31 and will make it illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow XL bully dogs to stray.

Existing owners there must keep them muzzled and on a lead from that date. The rules will be strengthened from February 1 next year when ownership of an XL bully not registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs becomes illegal.

Owners south of the Border without a certificate of exemption face having a criminal record, an unlimited fine and the possibility that their dogs could be seized.

Under the legal changes at Westminster XL bully dogs must also be microchipped and neutered. Dogs under a year old when the ban comes in must be neutered by the end of the year, while older dogs must be neutered by the end of June 2024.

The rules have been staggered to allow owners to prepare.

Thérèse Coffey, the UK environment secretary, said: “We are taking quick and decisive action to protect the public from tragic dog attacks.”

Any owners deciding to have their dogs put down will be helped to meet the cost. The government has also published a definition of the XL bully.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are carefully considering the evidence as to whether changes to ban the XL Bully dogs and breed will be applied in Scotland.”