The first stage of new restrictions on American XL Bulldogs have come into force in Scotland today. 

From Friday (February 23), owners of XL Bullies must keep their dogs muzzled and on a lead in a public place. 

It has also become illegal to breed, sell, abandon or give away an XL Bully type dog.

Read more: When are XL Bullies banned in Scotland? New rules explained

This means Scottish rescue shelters will have to decide whether to put down any XL Bullies which remain in their care as the dogs now cannot be rehomed. 

The second stage of the ban will come into force on August 1, 2024, which will make it illegal to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate. 

The Herald: XL Bullies are described as a large dog with a muscular body and blocky headXL Bullies are described as a large dog with a muscular body and blocky head (Image: Scottish SPCA)

Owners of XL Bully dogs need to apply for an exemption on or before July 31 to be able to continue owning their pet, the Scottish Government has said. 

If owners do not follow new rules, they could face six months’ imprisonment or a £5,000 fine.

The details of the exemption scheme will be announced in the coming weeks, Minister Siobhian Brown said. 

Read more: XL Bullies face being put down if not rehomed, says SSPCA

The new rules come after the dogs were linked to a series of attacks on humans. 

In response, the UK Government announced a ban on XL Bullies which came into force in England and Wales late last year. 

The Herald: XL Bullies have been linked to a number of attacks on humansXL Bullies have been linked to a number of attacks on humans (Image: UK Government)

Due to the difference in rules across the Border, this led to a number of XL Bullies being brought to Scotland to escape the ban down south. 

In January 2024, Humza Yousaf announced the Scottish Government would be replicating the ban to "ensure public safety". 

Minister for victims and community safety Siobhian Brown said the "urgent action" had to be taken as the UK Government has been "unable to confirm" if an owner of an XL Bully dog in England and Wales who comes to Scotland would be breaking the law.

She said: "This has created a loophole in the English and Welsh controls with reports of some owners coming to Scotland to sell their XL Bully dogs.

"As a result, and in a decision not made lightly, the Scottish Government considers it necessary to introduce similar safeguards in Scotland with urgency to address growing public safety and animal welfare concerns."

Read more: Scottish woman helps rescue more than 30 XL Bullies before ban

The Scottish Government said the definition of an XL bully dog will be the same as the UK Government’s.

Guidelines say the large dogs have “a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting great strength and power for its size”.

The estimated height of the dogs is approximately 51cm at the withers for an adult male and 48cm for an adult female.