In September 2023, The Guardian shared the article, ‘Why are American XL bullies being banned and how will it work?’ which discusses Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak’s decision to ban the American XL bully in the UK.

In response to this article, ASI Board Member Julie Iovine submitted the following piece:

Breeding dogs to fight is animal abuse plain and simple

Breeding dogs to fight is animal abuse plain and simple. On September 15, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a ban on American bully XL terriers, a relatively new super-sized dog developed for competition fighting, and responsible for several recent fatal dog attacks in England.

As Prime Minister Sunak wrestles with defining the precise weight and size to ban— a 99 lb. bull terrier makes a safe family pet while a 130lb XL terrier is an outlaw? —he is missing the point. Banning breeds does not solve the problem. Cracking down on the horrific tradition of dog fighting might.

It would not be a quick fix. Dog fighting is a felony throughout the United States and has been outlawed in England since 1835. And yet this blood sport persists (and was officially supported by the United Kennel Club until the 1960s) especially in poorer neighborhoods where a wide range of betting activities from gambling to animal fights can be a default form of income.

The Dangerous Dogs Act in the United Kingdom has banned three other fighting breeds since 1991 —the Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro—with no concurrent decrease in dog-related fatalities. Incidents have increased in pace with the enormous rise in dog ownership, nearly 10 % in the past year in the UK where 57% of households include dogs and in the United States reporting 40% households with at least one dog.

Dangerous dog bites are not limited, of course, to fighting dogs. Mishandling and misreading the arousal signs in any dog, no matter its size or usual temperament can lead to a nasty bite. And dog attacks will likely rise as long as the real roots of the problem—breeding fighters; aggression training; unprepared dog owners— are not addressed.

To effectively deal with lethal dog attacks, we must look to the other end of the leash.


If you are interested in reading further on the topic of dogs deemed as dangerous, as well as breed bans, ASI’s policy paper Dog Bites: Problems and Solutions offers a comprehensive discussion of dog bites and society.

In addition, the following articles are from ASI’s managed journal, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS):

Is That Dog a Pit Bull? A Cross-Country Comparison of Perceptions of Shelter Workers Regarding Breed Identification (Open Access)

Comparison of Adoption Agency Breed Identification and DNA Breed Identification of Dogs



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