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American Bully
American Bully
Common nicknamesAm. Bully
OriginUnited States
Height 33–50 cm (13–20 in)
Weight 20–60 kg (44–132 lb)
Coat Short, smooth and glossy
Color All colors
Litter size 4–8
Life span 8–13 years
Kennel club standards
UKC standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The American Bully is a modern breed of dog that was developed as a companion dog, and originally standardized and recognized as a breed in 2004 by the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC). Their published breed standard describes the dog as giving the "impression of great strength for its size". In 2008, the American Bully was recognized by the European Bully Kennel Club (EBKC), and on July 15, 2013, by the United Kennel Club (UKC).[1] The UK Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, and International Canine Federation do not recognize the American Bully as a separate breed.[2][3][4]

Temperament in adult dogs is highly dependent on training, and the breed can be very demanding and needs to be properly trained. The American Bully Kennel Club divided the American Bully into four categories, including the XL, Pocket, Standard, and Classic, whereas other registries, including the UKC, have approved one consistent size standard.

Due to the size, strength, and aggression level of the American Bully, legal controls on the ownership of the breed exist in several countries. The XL Bully was responsible for 10 of the 19 deaths caused by dogs in the UK in the period between 2021 and 2023, and in December 2023, the UK Government added the breed to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, making it illegal to sell, breed, abandon or have a Bully XL in public without a lead and muzzle in England and Wales.[5]


The United Kennel Club (UKC) and American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC) breed standards are similar, except the ABKC recognises four varieties of size, based on height, whereas the UKC recognises only one standard size.[1][6]

Within the ABKC, the four varieties are separated by height without specification of weight. All these varieties are expected to follow the same standard with minor alterations.[6]

All dogs are classified and shown as Standard until they reach a year of age, at which point they are separated into the varieties and shown against their own type.


Standard type in side view

The standard American Bully type is a medium-sized dog with a compact bulky muscular body, heavy bone structure and blocky head. Male dogs must be 17 to 20 in (43 to 51 cm), while females must be 16 to 19 in (41 to 48 cm) at the withers.


A pocket American Bully

The "pocket" type is a smaller variant, with full-grown males 14 to 17 inches (36 to 43 cm), and females 13 to 16 inches (33 to 41 cm), at the withers.


Champion XL American Bully Stud

An XL type is determined by its adult height, with males 21 to 23 inches (53 to 58 cm), and females 19 to 22 inches (48 to 56 cm), at the withers.


The classic is a lighter-framed dog than the standard, but falls within the same height range. These dogs do not display the exaggerated features often found in the other varieties, and arguably display clearer American Pit Bull Terrier/American Staffordshire Terrier lineage.[7][better source needed]

Non-standard sizes

Outside of the breed standard, dogs shorter or taller than the named variations have been bred. Smaller dogs are sometimes called "Micro", and larger ones are called "XXL", but neither are recognized by the kennel clubs as legitimate varieties.


The American Bully is a highly adaptable and trainable breed.[8] Many dogs, despite acting as lapdogs in the home, do well in sports such as weight pull and flirt pole. Human aggression is discouraged in breed standards.[1] Breeders have acknowledged that American Bully dogs can be very dangerous if improperly raised or bred.[8]


Health problems vary within the breed and span the entire spectrum, with some varieties being plagued by problems, and others being well-documented for health and quality.[9] Testing is not as commonplace in the breed as in older breeds, though hip and elbow scoring are the most frequently conducted. Cherry eye, ectropion, and entropion are often seen affecting the eyes, while brachycephalic respiratory syndrome can be seen in the shorter muzzled dogs.[citation needed]


The American Bully, as it is now known, began development in the 1980s with the majority of the final behavioral and aesthetic product being completed in the 1990s.[10] The breed's development and popularity are commonly tied to the growth of hip-hop culture.[11][12]

There is consensus that at least five other breeds were used to attain the physical traits[clarification needed] desired as well as the more diminutive size of some lines.[13] The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) was the foundation (parent breed) used to create the American Bully.[1] The APBT has maintained a characteristic appearance and temperament for over a century,[1] with different strains of APBT emerging within the breed, each with different physical attributes.[1] One particular APBT strain was crossbred to create a stockier physique that breeders originally misrepresented as purebred APBTs. Eventually, enough breeders agreed that these dogs were disparate enough from APBTs that they should be called a different breed altogether.[1] The bloodline of these mixed breeds was further influenced with openly-acknowledged breeding with the American Bulldog, English Bulldog, and Olde English Bulldogge in order to fine-tune desired physical characteristics and personality traits.[1]

The breed was first recognized by its breed club, the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC), in 2004.[6] This registry first acted as a means to document pedigrees and show the breed against its written standard. According to the ABKC, the initial desire for this breed was to produce a dog with a lower prey drive and more of the "bully" traits and characteristics than the American Staffordshire Terrier. Mass and heavy bone was prioritized to ensure such a look, and due to this many of the dogs shown today display the wide front for which they were originally bred.[6]

The American Bully is bred to be a companion dog and should not be confused with the several other bulldog-type breeds.[1][6]

United Kingdom

American bullies first arrived in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2014 or 2015, and increased in popularity during the COVID lockdown of 2020-2021.[14] Because the breed is not a registered breed with the UK Kennel Club, it is unknown how many dogs or breeders there are in the UK.[15]

Attacks on people

In the UK, XL Bully dogs were responsible for more than 50% (10 out of 19) of the dog-related human deaths between 2021 and June 2023 despite being estimated to only make up a few thousand of the also estimated thirteen million dogs in the UK.[16] The London-based pressure group Bully Watch, which campaigns for controls on the breed, places the number of deaths related to XL Bullies at 14 between 2021 and September 2023.[14] Victims have included a young toddler,[17] professional dog walkers,[18][19][20] and elderly individuals.[21]

According to Richard Barker, a National Health Service (NHS) consultant surgeon, wounds caused by XL Bullies are more severe than those caused by other breeds. He stated that the dogs' bite can shred skin and crush bones, carrying particular risk of irreparable nerve damage.[14]

Move towards ban

In June 2023, MP John Hayes raised the issue in the House of Commons, calling on the government to urgently ban the XL Bully following attacks in recent years.[22] The Kennel Club has argued that the problem rests with irresponsible dog owners, and that an outright ban of certain dog breeds will not address that.[23]

On September 11, 2023, following an attack on an 11-year-old girl by an XL Bully,[24] Home Secretary Suella Braverman requested urgent advice on the feasibility of banning the breed. It was reported that there were concerns within Defra, the government department responsible for administering the Dangerous Dogs Act, over the practicality of a ban.[25] Four days later on September 15, it was announced that a man had died after being attacked by two dogs believed to be Bully XLs. Shortly thereafter Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the Bully XL would be banned by the end of the year.[26][27] Following this announcement a protest took place within London against the ban.[28]

The subsequent ban was introduced in stages, with the intention to sell, give away, abandon or breed from an XL bully being banned from 31 December 2023 along with a requirement that the dogs be muzzled and on a lead at all times. From 1 February an exemption certificate, along with insurance and microchipping of the animal, must be obtained. By the end of 2024 any Bully XLs still owned must be neutered.[29]

Criminal activity

Prior to 2020, no seizures of American Bullies by the Metropolitan Police, covering the Greater London, were reported. In 2022, the force seized 479 out-of-control dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The American Bully was the second most commonly seized breed, with 73 dogs seized. In the first five months of 2023 the force seized 44 American bullies, almost three times the next most common breed, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, of which 16 had been seized.[30]

In January 2023, a BBC investigation found that organized crime in the UK was moving into the lucrative market of extreme dog breeding, specifically American Bullies, as a means of money laundering.[31]

Breed-specific legislation


Germany has passed a law on dangerous dogs (Dog Transfer and Import Restrictions Act) in 2001. It prohibits the import or transfer of certain dogs and includes the following breeds: American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier, as well as crossbreeds and mixed-breeds of these dogs.[32]

On February 9, 2023, the Rhineland-Palatinate Higher Administrative Court ruled that the classification of a dog whose father was an American Bully as a dangerous dog is permissible under the state law on dangerous dogs.[33]

Within the span of a year, 2 people were killed by American Bullies, both family pets. Statistically, Germany has about 3 fatal dog attacks per year.[34][35]


In Ireland, the American Bully is restricted as a 'Bandog'. It must be muzzled and on a lead no longer than 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) when in public, amongst other requirements.[36]


In Turkey, it is illegal to own or breed an American Bully.[37]

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates "prohibits the possession and circulation of the American Bully for individuals and commercial establishments."[38]

United Kingdom

In September 2023, following a series of severe and fatal attacks in the UK, it was announced that ownership of the XL Bully would be banned in the country by the end of 2023.[39] The ban on selling, breeding, abandoning breed, abandon or having an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle came into force in England and Wales on December 31, 2023, with the ban on owning one without a certificate of exemption due to follow in February 2024.[40]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "United Kennel Club: American Bully" (PDF). Official UKC Breed Standard. July 2013.
  2. ^ "What is an American XL bully and why are they being banned?". BBC News. September 11, 2023.
  3. ^ Pomeroy, Ross (October 2, 2023). "The American Bully XL and the problems with banning dog breeds". Big Think. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  4. ^ "American Bully: Character & Ownership - Dog Breed Pictures". Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  5. ^ "Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs". GOV.UK. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e "The American Bully Registry". Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  7. ^ "Everything You Need To Know About The Fastest Growing Dog Breed: The American Bully". Bully King Magazine. Medium. March 3, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "American bully dogs bred as lovers, not fighters". San Francisco Gate. August 24, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  9. ^ "The New Breed: Is there trouble with designer dog breeding?". Sinclair Broadcast Group. November 5, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  10. ^ GmbH, Vollevue. "🐾American Bully – Race description: Character &Co". dogbible. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  11. ^ "Pit Bulls and the Hip-Hop Culture". July 30, 2007. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  12. ^ Cassidy, Rory (May 23, 2023). "Gangland torturer who carved his name into victim's chest had 'devil dog' empire". Daily Record. Retrieved September 16, 2023.
  13. ^ "Breed Standards: American Bully - United Kennel Club (UKC)". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c Matt, Murphy. "What is an American bully XL and should they be banned?". BBC. Retrieved September 13, 2023.
  15. ^ Tennant, Colin (May 22, 2023). "How killer American bully XL dogs became dangerous 'weapons'". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  16. ^ Murray, Jessica (August 16, 2023). "Perfect pets or dangerous dogs? The sudden, surprising rise of American bully XLs". The Guardian. Retrieved September 11, 2023. In 2021, there were four fatal dog attacks, two of which involved a bully XL. In 2022, there were 10 fatal attacks and six of them involved a bully XL. These huge animals... were also involved in at least two of the five deaths recorded this year.
  17. ^ "Bella-Rae Birch: Dog that killed toddler was legal American Bully XL". BBC News. March 24, 2022. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  18. ^ "Dog walker Natasha Johnston died from neck bites in Caterham attack". BBC News. January 31, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  19. ^ Davis, Barney (May 18, 2023). "Tragic dogwalker may have been 'mauled to death by own bulldog'". Evening Standard. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  20. ^ "Warning over aggressive dog breed at inquest into death of man mauled by XL American Bully". The News. April 5, 2023. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  21. ^ Gurner, Richard (December 20, 2022). "Woman, 83, dies after being attacked by dog". Caerphilly Observer. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  22. ^ Lynch, David (June 15, 2023). "MP calls for urgent action to ban 'bred-to-kill' American Bully XL dogs". Evening Standard. Retrieved June 23, 2023.
  23. ^ Gecsoyler, Sammy (June 4, 2023). "American bully: dog breed under spotlight in UK after fatal attacks". The Guardian.
  24. ^ "Man arrested after 11-year-old girl attacked by American XL bully crossbreed in Birmingham". Sky News. Retrieved October 4, 2023.
  25. ^ PA Media (September 10, 2023). "Suella Braverman pushes for ban on American bully XLs after attack". The Guardian. Retrieved September 11, 2023.
  26. ^ Media, P. A. (September 15, 2023). "American XL bully dog will be banned, says Sunak". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  27. ^ Murray, Jessica; correspondent, Jessica Murray Midlands (September 15, 2023). "Man dies after double dog attack in Staffordshire". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  28. ^ Walker, Amy; Clinton, Jane (September 23, 2023). "Hundreds protest in London against American XL bully dog ban". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved October 4, 2023.
  29. ^ "What is an American XL bully and why are they being banned?". BBC News. September 11, 2023. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  30. ^ Goodier, Michael (June 4, 2023). "Met police dealing with at least one dangerous dog a day, figures show". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved June 23, 2023.
  31. ^ "Inside the world of organised crime and extreme dog breeding". BBC News. January 23, 2023. Retrieved June 23, 2023.
  32. ^ "Customs online - Dangerous dogs". Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  33. ^ Landesrecht Rheinland-Pfalz. "Einstufung als gefährlicher Hund; Kreuzung von einem American Bully und einem Old English Bulldog" [Classification as a dangerous dog; Crossing an American Bully and an Old English Bulldog]. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  34. ^ Althaus, Peter (January 28, 2024). "Von eigenem Hund zerfleischt: Mann stirbt nach American-Bully-Angriff" [Man mauled by his own dog: man dies after American Bully attack]. Berliner Kurier (in German). Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  35. ^ "Familien-Hund beißt Frau (87) in der Pfalz tot. American Bully wird eingeschläfert" [Family dog bites woman (87) dead in Palatinate. American Bully is euthanized]. (in German). February 3, 2023. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  36. ^ "No dogs are banned in Ireland but 11 are on restricted list". December 7, 2022.
  37. ^ "Tehlike Arz Eden Hayvanlara İlişkin Genelge" [Directive on Dangerous Animals] (in Turkish). Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. December 9, 2021. Archived from the original on December 9, 2021. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  38. ^ "UAE updates list of dog breeds banned in the country". November 23, 2021. Retrieved September 5, 2023.
  39. ^ "American XL bully dogs to be banned after attacks, Rishi Sunak says". Sky News.
  40. ^ "Prepare for the ban on XL Bully dogs". GOV.UK. Retrieved January 1, 2023.