XL bully dog ban: UK government branded 'cavalier and reckless' for 'bourach' dog ban

The UK government has been branded ‘cavalier’ for bringing in a dog ban with a loophole that allows dogs to be ‘dumped’ in Scotland

New laws to ban XL bully dogs in Scotland are being described as a “bourach” that risks pitting neighbours against each other.

The UK government has been accused of “cavalier and reckless behaviour” that shows a “shocking disrespect” for the Scottish Parliament.

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From Friday, dog owners in Scotland will be banned from selling, breeding or abandoning XL bully type dogs.

XL bully dogs are set to be banned from Friday. Image: Jacob King/National World.XL bully dogs are set to be banned from Friday. Image: Jacob King/National World.
XL bully dogs are set to be banned from Friday. Image: Jacob King/National World.

The breed must also be muzzled and on a lead at all times when out in public, and anyone breaching this could face six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000.

This comes after a similar ban was introduced in England and Wales at the end of 2023, which led to concerns XL bully dogs were being brought up to Scotland and “dumped”.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame called for the ban in Scotland to be officially annulled, saying it was “bad legislation”. Ms Grahame, who authored the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 that gave local authorities the power to impose dog control notices on dog owners, said: “I think this is a complete mess. I am horrified by dog attacks on people and other animals, but the proposed legislation is not the answer.

“This is bad law – it was bad law in England and Wales too. This is a bourach.”

Ms Grahame also referenced the offensive behaviour at football matches legislation, saying it was similarly “bad law from start to finish”. She warned the XL bully dogs ban was “starting out on the same trajectory”.

Speaking during a debate at Holyrood’s criminal justice committee on Wednesday, Ms Grahame said one of her main concerns was the definition of an XL bully type dog in the proposed legislation.

She said dog owners would need a PhD to work out if their dog was classed as a banned breed under the legislation, stressing “nothing is clear”, which would result in “public policing on social media and newspapers”.

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Ms Grahame added: “The day I take evidence on legislation from social media and newspaper headlines is the day I pack in caring. I’m asking you to consider a better way forward in the interest of public safety and legislation that doesn’t demonise a breed and doesn’t demonise owners who are good people.”

The committee voted down her calls to throw the legislation out, although admitted the Scottish Parliament had been “backed into a corner” by the UK government on the issue.

Former deputy first minister John Swinney said Holyrood has been put in an “entirely impossible situation” by the UK government because of the loophole in the law south of the border.

He said: “The source of the loophole is the cavalier behaviour of the UK government. Some people might think this is about constitutional questions, but for me this gets to the nub of the reckless behaviour this Parliament is now on the receiving end of.

“This is a shocking disrespect for this Parliament and a shocking disrespect for intergovernmental relations. This is a wake-up call for a UK government that creates mayhem and doesn’t care about its consequences for the devolved settlement.”

A UK government source said: "The Scottish Government was kept fully informed of UK government bully dog proposals through several letters as well as talks between officials. Today the Scottish Government minister Siobhian Brown admitted she declined the UK Government's invitation to discuss our plans to protect people against attacks. So any bourach is entirely of the Scottish Government's own making."

A spokesman for the UK government added: "We are pleased the Scottish Government are following the example of the UK government by introducing this important measure to protect public safety. We will continue to engage closely with them to support alignment as they take forward a ban.”



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