Posted By: Gudi - Vet

Navigating Neutering in the Era of Breed-Specific Legislation

Neutering procedures are amongst the most common surgeries we perform for dogs and cats, being a daily feature of our ops list. Of course, every patient is an individual and we consider every surgical procedure carefully, but these operations tend to follow a very routine protocol. But when 18-month-old Tren visited our wells branch for his castration recently there was aspect of his management that was not so routine, as Tren was the first patient for which I have had to sign a ‘confirmation of neutering’ certificate.


Tren has the characteristics of an XL Bully type dog, and as such falls under the new legislation which essentially bans dogs of this breed type. This legislation means that, from the 1st of January 2024, it is illegal to sell, abandon, breed or give away an XL Bully dog and, from 1st February 2024, it is illegal to own a dog of this type without a certificate of exemption. Any dog whose owners are not able to meet the requirements for a certificate of exemption will unfortunately need to be put to sleep.


These new rules are an attempt to address the disproportionately high incidence of serious and fatal dog attacks involving this breed, but they are hugely controversial. Of course, these dogs are very often lovely, gentle pets with very responsible owners, but without good training and socialisation some individuals can develop reactivity towards other dogs and people. And the sheer size and strength of these dogs means that, should they become aggressive, they can be impossible to restrain and control and are capable of inflicting severe and fatal injuries. So, this is a complex and difficult subject and there are very heartfelt and differing opinions on the legislation across dog owners, trainers and vets. However, regardless of each individual’s opinion, these rules are a new reality that we must now face and manage with professionalism and understanding.


The new legislation states that it is up to an owner to decide whether their dog is an XL Bully, using government guidance on the characteristics. Tren is a lovely dog who is always very easy for us to handle and deal with and has always been considered since puppyhood to be a staffie-cross. However, his very responsible owner was aware that he could easily be considered to be an XL Bully due to his size and features. As such she has been making plans to apply for his certificate of exemption ready for February.


In order to comply with the regulations Tren now must be on a lead and muzzled at all times in a public place, so his owner has worked hard to muzzle-train him to ensure he is happy and comfortable with this. His owner has also had to take out public liability insurance and ensure that he can be kept safe and secure at home without escaping. Tren must also be neutered, so his owner was keen to book him in for his castration in good time.


Tren thoroughly enjoyed his visit to the practice on the day of his castration. His surgery and anaesthetic went very smoothly and it was no time at all until he was fully recovered and getting a big fuss from the team. His post-op checks have gone well and his owner now has his signed confirmation of neutering form to ensure his certificate of exemption is valid.


Although owners who wish to keep their XL Bully dogs will need to apply for a certificate of exemption from 31st January 2024, they have until 30th June 2024 to be neutered, or 31st December 2024 if the dog is currently under 12 months. Owners will need to contact their vets in good time to arrange for neutering, or euthanasia if this is necessary.  You can find lots more information about XL bully dogs and the new rules on the government website at

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