The Government ban on American XL bully dogs could lead to increased abandonment rates for the breed, a charity has said.

New rules due to come into force on December 31 will make it illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, rehome, abandon or allow XL bully dogs to stray in England and Wales.

It will be illegal to own an XL bully from February 1 2024 unless the animal is on an exempt list, called the Index of Exempted Dogs.

Those who wish to keep their dogs have until the end of January to register them with the exemption scheme or they can choose to have their dog euthanised and apply for compensation.

Owners will be forced to comply with strict rules including the requirement to muzzle them and keep them on a lead in public, but the dogs must also be microchipped and neutered.

The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) fears the rules may lead to a “postcode lottery” on vets being able to help owners meet the terms, the BBC reported.

The charity said: “We fear that these factors will result in a postcode lottery on helping owners euthanise or neuter their bully XLs, and could increase abandonment rates for owners that have nowhere else to turn.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been contacted for comment.

At the start of the month, following a Government update on the ban, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home released a statement on behalf of the Dog Control Coalition that expressed concerns over Defra’s definition of an American bully XL type.

The group said: “As a coalition of the country’s leading dog welfare and veterinary organisations we…will take time to thoroughly review this, whilst continuing to support owners in any way we can, including offering support and advice.

“We will also continue to support those working in the animal welfare sector who care for American bully XLs, and the vets who may find themselves asked to euthanise healthy dogs for no other reason than how they look.”

XL bully dogs
The breed will be banned from the end of the year (Jacob King/PA)

Dogs more than a year old on January 31 must be neutered by June 30 next year, while those less than 12 months old must be neutered by December 31 2024.

Owners without a certificate of exemption will face a criminal record and an unlimited fine if they are found to be in possession of an XL bully as of February 1, and their dog could be seized.

Then environment secretary Therese Coffey confirmed earlier in the year that she was adding the breed to the list of dogs prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act, adding that ministers have taken “quick and decisive action to protect the public from tragic dog attacks”.

The changes came following a spate of attacks involving the dogs.

In October, a woman was injured after she was attacked by her own American XL bully in Norfolk.

In September, 52-year-old Ian Price, from Staffordshire, died in hospital after being attacked by two American XL bullies.

XL Bully dogs protest
People take part in a protest in central London against the Government’s decision to add XL bully dogs to the list of prohibited breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act (Jeff Moore/PA)

In November last year, Jack Lis, 10, was killed by a American XL bully while at a friend’s house in South Wales.

The owners of the dog, Amy Salter and Brandon Haydon, were jailed as a result of the attack.

Owners of the breed have staged protests against the ban, including a march through central London in September, where demonstrators did not take their dogs.

An official definition of the breed has been published by the Government, with features including a “heavy, large and broad” head and a “blocky or slightly squared” muzzle.

It is also described as being “heavily muscled” with a “large, blocky body giving the impression of great power for size”, and a glossy, smooth and close coat.

The XL bully joins a list of other banned dogs, including the pit bull terrier, Japanese Tosa, fila Brasileiro and dogo Argentino.