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A close-up view of an American XL Bully. Alamy
dog controls

XL Bully: Government consulting Attorney General about banning dog breed, minister announces

It’s already a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in the UK without a valid license.


MINISTER FOR RURAL and Community Development Heather Humphreys has said she is consulting with the Attorney General about how a ban on the XL Bully would work in Ireland in a speech addressing the Seanaid this afternoon.

Humphreys said she has also asked former Deputy Garda Commissioner, John Twomey, to chair a Stakeholder Group that will look at “what further actions we can take around strengthening policy and legislation on dog control”.

“I think having a former Deputy Garda Commissioner in charge of that group sends a very clear message about how serious I am about strengthening our enforcement on dog controls,” she said. 

Humphreys said that one of the key issues being prioritised is that of restricted breeds.

“I want to talk specifically about the XL Bully,” she said.

“The XL Bully is a cross-breed of the American Bully and is already covered by the restricted breeds list. I believe we need to go further,” she said.

“I am consulting with the Attorney General on how a ban on the XL Bully would work in Ireland and what legislative changes may be required to give effect to this – that work is underway.”

She said she has asked the Stakeholder Group to look at examples of legislation around the breed in countries like Denmark, the UK and France, which have implemented similar bans.

She said the ban of the XL Bully in the UK has been the subject of a judicial review, “so it’s important we get this right”.

“I know some people will not like hearing this today,” she said. “They will tell me that they own an XL Bully and it would never hurt anybody. I can’t ignore the facts.

“We all love our dogs but no dog’s life is worth more than human life.”

Humphreys has said that the Government does not intend to oppose a Private Members’ Bill put forward by Senators Erin McGreehan, Robbie Gallagher, Eugene Murphy, Micheál Carrigy, Malcolm Byrne and Diarmuid Wilson, calling for further dog controls. 

This move comes after the death of 23-year-old Nicole Morey in Limerick last Tuesday, after she was attacked by her own pet XL Bully dogs. 

“I want to extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Nicole Morey,” Humphreys said, while also referencing an attack on Alejandro Mizsan, a young boy attacked by an XL Bully in Wexford last year.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, Taoiseach Simon Harris said he would like to see the taskforce conclude its work as quickly as possible. 

“This work needs to happen in an expeditious manner. I think of Nicole Morey and her family, and extend my sympathies and condolences to her at this most tragic and traumatic time for them. But there is a clear need for government auction in relation to this,” said the Taoiseach. 

Harris said his initial view is that the breeds should be banned, but said he is happy to hear from the taskforce, stating that it’s important to listen to them.

There is currently an XL Bully ban in place in the UK, where it’s a criminal offence to own an XL Bully unless you have a valid exemption certificate.

However the breed is restricted in Ireland, alongside Staffordshire, American and English Bull Terriers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Japanese Akita and Tosa, Rottweilers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Bull Mastiffs. 

An XL Bully ban is due to come into effect in Northern Ireland and Humphreys said she believes the Government should be in line with policy in north of the border.

There is currently no register for restricted dog breeds in Ireland, so we don’t know how many XL Bully dogs are in the country. 

XL Bully dogs were banned by the UK government as it said that they have been “disproportionately” involved in dog attack deaths in recent years. 

The UK XL Bully ban was introduced in October 2023 – the government received over 60,000 license applications before the law was implemented.

The dogs are highly muscular, and are the result of inbreeding by breeders.

Restricted dog breeds in Ireland must be muzzled in a public space, kept by someone over 16 who is able to control them, walked on a strong short leash, and be wearing a collar with the owner’s name and address at all times. 

With reporting by Christina Finn and David Mac Redmond

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