The XL Bully is a variant of the wider American Bully breed type and was added to the Dangerous Dog Act in England and Wales in December 2023.

In Scotland, XL Bullies will also be illegal from July 31, 2024.

But what exactly does an XL Bully dog look like and how are they identified?

For a dog to be classed as a type “known as the XL Bully” it must meet the minimum height measurements set out by the government.

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In addition to this, the Department for Environment, Food and Affairs (Defra) says they consider that a dog will be of a type “known as the XL Bully” if the dog has a “substantial number of the other physical characteristics”.

How do I know if my dog is an XL Bully?

The XL Bully is typically larger (both in terms of height and body shape) and more muscular than other American Bully breed types such as the ‘Micro’, ‘Pocket’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Classic’, explains Defra.

Its “general impression” characteristics are outlined as follows: “Large dog with a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting great strength and power for its size. Powerfully built individual.”

The height of an adult male XL Bully is from 20 inches (51cm) at the withers.

Which dog breeds are banned in the UK?

The height of an adult female XL Bully is from 19 inches (48cm) at the withers.

Other physical characteristics of an XL Bully according to Defra are as follows (see the full list here):


  • Heavy, large and broad
  • The length from the tip of the nose to a well-defined stop (indentation between muzzle and the head) is equal to around one-third of the length from the tip of the nose to the back of the head
  • Muzzle blocky or slightly squared to fall away below the eyes
  • Topline of muzzle straight
  • Prominent cheek muscles with strong, well-defined jaws and lips semi-close
  • Often having prominent wrinkles on face
  • Nose is large with well opened nostrils


  • Level or scissor bite

Daily Echo: XL Bullies were added to the Dangerous Dog Act in England and Wales in December 2023XL Bullies were added to the Dangerous Dog Act in England and Wales in December 2023 (Image: Jacob King/PA)


  • Heavy, muscular, slightly arched, tapering from the shoulders to the base of the skull
  • Medium in length

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  • Heavily-muscled
  • Large, blocky body giving impression of great power for size
  • Broad, deep chest with well sprung ribs
  • Chest may be wider than deep
  • Topline level and straight
  • Loin short and firm
  • Generally appears square shaped from point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks compared with the withers (tallest point on the dog’s body excluding head and shoulders) to the ground

You can see all the characteristics that define an XL Bully dog including their feet, tail and coat on GOV.UK.