American Bully

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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] Neither the International Canine Federation, The Kennel Club, nor American Kennel Club (AKC) have recognized or accepted the American Bully into their registry as a purebred dog.[citation needed]

There are several variants of the American Bully including the XL Bully, the Pocket Bully, the Micro Bully, and the Toadline Bully. 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 over 50% of the deaths caused by dogs in the UK in the period between 2021 and 2023. The British government has committed to banning the breed by the end of 2023.


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][2]

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.[2]

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.[3][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.[4] 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; however, a level of dog aggression is characteristic of the breed.[1] Breeders have acknowledged that American Bully dogs can be very dangerous if improperly raised or bred.[4]


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.[5] 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.


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.[6] The breed's development and popularity are commonly tied to the growth of hip-hop culture.[7][8]

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.[9] 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.[2] 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.[2]

The American Bully should not be confused with the several other bulldog-type breeds.[1][2]

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.[10][11] 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.[12]

Attacks on people

In the UK, XL Bully dogs were responsible for half of all dog-related human deaths between 2021 and June 2023, with a total of 10 people dying in attacks by the breed.[10] The London-based pressure group, Bully Watch, which campaigns for controls on the breed, places the number of deaths at 14 between 2021 and 2023.[11]

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.[11]

On March 22, 2022, a 17-month old toddler, Bella-Rae Birch, was mauled to death in St Helens, Merseyside. The dog, an American XL Bully, had been bought as a family pet one week prior to the attack.[13]

On July 16, 2022, Joanne Robinson of Rotherham, England, was killed when she was attacked by her pet American XL Bully. The dog, one of a pair, weighed 196 lb (89 kg).[14]

On August 10, 2022, Ian Symes, an experienced and professional dog-walker, was mauled to death by an American XL Bully while walking through a park in Fareham, Hampshire.[15] At an inquest, Coroner Sarah Whitby stated "Mr Symes engaged in some play with Kong who responded with default behaviour aggression and bit his neck and torso repeatedly, severing the voice box and puncturing all four major blood vessels of the neck and severely damaging his spinal column." Dr. Candy d'Sa, a dog behaviour expert who was part of a team that tested Kong in the days after the incident before it was euthanised said: "I believe Mr Symes was having rough play with Kong. [The dog] became over-aroused and quickly became aggressive. If the dog has not been trained to stop it won't stop. The dog weighed more than the victim and standing up it would have been at face height on its hind legs."[16]

On January 12, 2023, Natasha Johnston, a 28-year old dog walker, was killed whilst walking eight dogs in Surrey, England.[17] An inquest found she died from "multiple penetrating bites to the neck",[18] with Surrey Police confirming she died of shock and haemorrhage, including a wound to her left jugular vein.[19] Police confirmed that one of the dogs, an American XL Bully, belonged to Johnston. After a forensic veterinary report, the dog believed to have been responsible for Johnston's death was euthanised.[20]

On May 18, 2023, a 37-year old man, Jonathan Hogg, who worked as a dog carer, was killed in Leigh, near Manchester. Detective Chief Inspector John Davies said: "Greater Manchester Police officers searched two houses and seized 15 American XL Bullies (six adults and nine puppies) believed to be the same breed as that which attacked Jonathan."[21]

On September 14, 2023, a 52-year old man and father-of-two, Ian Price, was killed in Stonnall, near Walsall, Staffordshire, by two American XL Bully dogs. The next day, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the government would ban American XL Bully dogs by Christmas 2023.[22]

Scheduled ban

XL Bullies arrived in the UK as a legal dog, with breeding allowed as with any other breed. As dog attacks and resulting fatalities increased, legal controls were proposed for the XL Bully. 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.[23] The Kennel Club have argued that the problem rests with irresponsible dog owners, and that an outright ban of certain dog breeds will not address that.[24]

In 2023, following an attack on an 11-year-old girl, Home Secretary Suella Braverman requested urgent advice on the feasibility of banning the Bully XL 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] On 15 September, shortly after the public announcement that a man had died after being attacked by two dogs believed to be Bully XLs, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the Bully XL breed would be banned by the end of the year.[26][27]

Criminal activity

In January 2023, a British Broadcasing Corporation (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.[28]

The Metropolitan Police, covering the Greater London area, seized 479 out-of-control dogs in 2022 under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The American Bully was the second most commonly seized breed, with 73 dogs seized. Prior to 2020, no seizures of American Bullies were reported. In the first five months of 2023 the force had seized 44 American bullies, almost three times the next most common breed, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, of which 16 had been seized.[29]

Breed-specific legislation


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.[30]


In Turkey, it is illegal to own or breed an American Bully.[31]

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates "prohibits the possession and circulation of the American Bully for individuals and commercial establishments."[32]

United Kingdom

In September 2023, it was announced that ownership of the XL Bully would be banned in the UK by the end of 2023. The months between the announcement and ban would be used for experts to properly define the breed.[33]

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. ^ a b c d e "The American Bully Registry". Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ a b "American bully dogs bred as lovers, not fighters". San Francisco Gate. August 24, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  5. ^ "The New Breed: Is there trouble with designer dog breeding?". Sinclair Broadcast Group. November 5, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  6. ^ GmbH, Vollevue. "🐾American Bully – Race description: Character &Co". dogbible. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  7. ^ "Pit Bulls and the Hip-Hop Culture". July 30, 2007. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Breed Standards: American Bully - United Kennel Club (UKC)". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Murray, Jessica (August 16, 2023). "Perfect pets or dangerous dogs? The sudden, surprising rise of American bully XLs". The Guardian. Retrieved September 11, 2023.
  11. ^ a b c Matt, Murphy. "What is an American bully XL and should they be banned?". BBC. Retrieved September 13, 2023.
  12. ^ Tennant, Colin (May 22, 2023). "How killer American bully XL dogs became dangerous 'weapons'". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  13. ^ "Bella-Rae Birch: Dog that killed toddler was legal American Bully XL". BBC News. March 24, 2022. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  14. ^ "Mother of Rotherham dog attack victim warned of dangers". October 7, 2022. Retrieved October 7, 2022.
  15. ^ "Heartbroken family pays tribute to beloved Wiggy Symes who died after Fareham dog attack". August 19, 2022.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "Dog walker Natasha Johnston died from neck bites in Caterham attack". BBC News. January 31, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  18. ^ Stephens, Max (May 17, 2023). "Dog walker mauled to death in Surrey may have been killed by own pet". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  19. ^ "Dog owned by Croydon woman mauled to death by group of dogs in Caterham put down". Your Local Guardian. May 18, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  20. ^ Davis, Barney (May 18, 2023). "Tragic dogwalker may have been 'mauled to death by own bulldog'". Evening Standard. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  21. ^ "Police seize 15 'American Bully XL dogs' and arrest woman after father, 37, mauled to death in Leigh". LBC. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  22. ^ "Ian Price: Dog attack victim 'a pillar of the community'". BBC News. September 16, 2023. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Gecsoyler, Sammy (June 4, 2023). "American bully: dog breed under spotlight in UK after fatal attacks". The Guardian.
  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. ^ "Inside the world of organised crime and extreme dog breeding". BBC News. January 23, 2023. Retrieved June 23, 2023.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "No dogs are banned in Ireland but 11 are on restricted list". December 7, 2022.
  31. ^ "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.
  32. ^ "UAE updates list of dog breeds banned in the country". November 23, 2021. Retrieved September 5, 2023.
  33. ^ "American XL bully dogs to be banned after attacks, Rishi Sunak says". Sky News.

External links