The American XL bully breed of dog is a danger to communities and will be banned, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said. 

Following news that a man was mauled to death in Stonnall, Staffordshire yesterday - the breed still unconfirmed at this time - Mr Sunak said he 'suspected' it was another 'XL bully dog attack'.

Announcing the move, the Prime Minister "shared the nation's horror" and stressed the need to end such violent attacks "and keep people safe".

In a video statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, The Tory leader said: "The American XL bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children.

"I share the nation's horror at the recent videos we've all seen. Yesterday we saw another suspected XL bully dog attack, which has tragically led to a fatality.

"It is clear this is not about a handful of badly trained dogs, it's a pattern of behaviour and it cannot go on.

"While owners already have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control, I want to reassure people that we are urgently working on ways to stop these attacks and protect the public.

"Today I have tasked ministers to bring together police and experts, to firstly define the breed of dog behind these attacks, with the view to then outlawing it.

"It is not currently a breed defined in law, so this vital first step must happen fast.

"We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be in place by the end of the year.

"These dogs are dangerous, I want to reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to keep people safe."

What is an American XL bully dog?

The largest type, the American bully XL, can weigh more than nine stone (60kg) and is strong enough to overpower an adult.

American bullies are said to have originated in the US in the late 1980s when American pit bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers were crossed.

They have been crossed with other breeds to create an even more muscular dog. The United Kennel Club in the US told the BBC that an American bully "makes an excellent family dog".

"Despite its powerful appearance their demeanour is gentle and friendly," it says, but also notes that "dog aggression is characteristic of this breed".

There are four variations: standard, pocket, classic and XL. The American bully is regarded as a specific breed in the US.

Bully Watch, a group of London-based policy experts, told BBC News the breed first appeared in the UK "around 2014 or 2015", and that numbers grew rapidly during the pandemic.

"Lots of people started buying with the intention of breeding," a spokesperson said. "There's models of co-ownership where you get the dog for free but the dealer gets to breed from it."

When it comes to their size, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium-sized dog, while the XL Bully is a large dog.