XL Bully dogs will have to be muzzled in public from next month in Northern Ireland

Breeding or selling XL Bully-type dogs will also be banned

It will become an offence to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Legislation restricting the ownership of XL Bully dogs in Northern Ireland will come into effect next month.

From July 5th, owners must ensure their dog is muzzled and on a lead when in a public place. Selling, gifting, exchanging or breeding from an XL Bully-type dog will also be banned.

It will become an offence to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate from December 31st. Owners who wish to keep their dogs must apply and pay for an exemption certificate from that date.

For those who choose not to do so, or who no longer wish to keep their dog, the Department pf Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) said “provision will be made to surrender that dog and owners will be able to apply for compensation”.


The North’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Brian Dooher, advised XL Bully owners to “read the guidance available” which would assist them in “understanding the new requirements before they come into effect on July 5th and enable them to take action in advance such as muzzle training their dog, walking on a lead and ensuring it has a valid dog licence.”

Announcing the changes in March, the minister, Andrew Muir, said he had taken the decision to protect public safety.

“The level of risk associated with XL Bully breed type dogs is however well known, with a concerning number of attacks resulting in serious and fatal injuries,” he said.

With 140 XL Bully-type dogs licensed in Northern Ireland as of March – an increase from around 90 the previous October – he said it was “time to act, whilst numbers remain manageable and we can – in the main – track where these dogs are”.

Earlier this month 23-year-old Nicole Morey from Limerick died after being mauled by one of her own dogs, understood to be an XL bully.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times