Scotland faces an influx of XL bully dogs from south of the border, campaigners have warned, after Scottish ministers refused to follow the Prime Minister’s decision to ban the breed.

The dogs, which have been responsible for several fatal attacks including one death in Scotland, will join the list of those banned in England and Wales at the end of the year.

But in a letter to the UK government, Siobhian Brown, the Scottish minister for victims and community safety, has confirmed a similar prohibition will not be introduced in Scotland.

From December 31 it will be illegal to breed, sell, or rehome XL bully dogs in England and Wales and existing owners will have to keep their dog on a lead and muzzled in public. However, Scotland will retain the use dog control notices (DCNs), focusing on owners who have allowed their dogs to be out of control.

READ MORE: SNP urged to act as XL bully dogs to be banned in England and Wales

Doug Smith, a spokesman for the campaign group Bully Watch, said the government’s position would entice owners and breeders dogs to relocate to Scotland.

“Breeders of XL bully dogs will absolutely move to Scotland, they will 100% move to be able to legally breed and export these dogs from Scotland, “ he told The Times.

“The position the Scottish Government has taken is the worst thing they could have done, either they should have said we’re definitely going to ban them or definitely said they won’t ban but sticking to this on-the-fence middle ground is just going to cause confusion for everyone.”

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Sophie Coulthard owns an XL bully and belongs to the group Don’t Ban Me, Licence Me which campaigns against a ban. She said she is already aware of some owners being enticed by Scotland’s more relaxed approach to the breed.

“I know there are people who’ve said that and I’ve seen people posting on social media about it,” she said.In a letter to Lord Benyon, the environment minister, Ms Brown said the plan to continue with the current system of DCNs was premised on the ethos of “deed not breed” and supported by animal welfare organisations including the SSPCA.

She also said it was up to the UK Government to ensure that XL bullies were not abandoned by their owners in Scotland.

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In 2021, Adam Watts, the manager of kennels near Dundee, was killed while trying to restrain an XL bully in his care. There have been a number of other incidents, including one in which three children were hurt in Forfar.

Ms Coulthard insisted the Scottish Government was taking the right approach and that any action should be based on early intervention and catching problems before they escalate. She said her organisation would be applying for an injunction against the ban in England and Wales.

Jamie Greene, a Conservative MSP said Scots would be rightly concerned if the ban went ahead elsewhere in the UK but not in Scotland.

He said: “If the SNP don’t follow suit with a ban in Scotland, then it will look like another example of wanting to be different from the UK government for the sake of it.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The UK government announced the proposal to ban XL bullies without any notice to the Scottish government. Any change to the rules must be evidenced based and we are moving swiftly to carefully consider the evidence so we can make the right decision for Scotland.

“Public safety is paramount to our deliberations. Scotland already has a dog control notice regime that is unique in the UK and focussed on preventing dog attacks from happening in the first place.”

The UK Government has urged Scottish ministers to reconsider their position.

A Defra spokesperson said: We encourage all Devolved Administrations to strongly consider the case for introducing their own measures in light of the restrictions which will be applying in England and Wales.

“We are engaging closely with the Devolved Administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland about whether they plan to take forward a ban.”

Up until 2021 there were around three dog fatalities per year in the UK. There have been twenty three since the start of 2021 – with the XL Bully being disproportionately involved in this rise.

From 1st February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to possess a XL Bully type dog in England and Wales unless the owner has a Certificate of Exemption for their dog.

If Scotland do not bring in similar legislative measures, it will continue to be possible to breed, sell and rehome XL Bullies in Scotland.