Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that the American bully XL dog will be banned, following a spate of recent attacks.
A man died after a suspected attack by an American bully XL in Walsall on 14 September. Days earlier, an 11-year-old girl, along with two men, were attacked by an American bully XL in Bordesley Green, Birmingham.
Another man died after being attacked by a suspected bully XL on Wednesday near Houghton-le-Spring on 3 October, a day after a toddler was taken to hospital in London after being bitten by a dog thought to be the same breed.
The prime minister said the dogs would be banned by the end of the year under a law that applies in England, Wales and Scotland - once work had been done to define the breed.
Owners, however, insist that despite their fearsome appearance and build, the dogs make loveable household pets.
What is the American bully?
American bullies are said to have originated in the US in the late 1980s, when American pit bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers were crossed.
There are four variations: standard, pocket, classic and XL.
The XL can weigh more than nine stone (60kg) and is strong enough to overpower an adult.
The American bully is regarded as a specific breed in the US. However it is not recognised as such by the main British dog associations, such as the Kennel Club.
Bully Watch, a group of London-based policy experts, told BBC News the breed first appeared in the UK "around 2014 or 2015", and that numbers grew rapidly during the pandemic.
The United Kennel Club in the US says that an American bully "makes an excellent family dog".
"Despite its powerful appearance their demeanour is gentle and friendly," it says, but also notes that "dog aggression is characteristic of this breed".
What happens when a dog breed is banned?
The UK's chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss says there will not be a cull of American bully XLs, but the government will instead adopt an "amnesty" approach.
Owners will have to register their dogs and take certain actions, she says, adding: "Your dog will need to be neutered. It will need to be muzzled when out in public and on a lead and insured."
If owners comply with these actions then "yes, absolutely you will be able to keep your dog", she says.
The introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 saw the breeding, selling or gifting of banned breeds unless going abroad prohibited, while the dogs had to be muzzled and on a lead when in public.
There was an "amnesty period" to allow owners to keep them under certain conditions. When that came to an end, owning one became an offence unless certain exemptions were met.
The current exemption scheme for the breeds already banned allows for an exemption if a court is satisfied that the dogs do not pose a danger to the public and their owners are deemed to be fit and proper people to own a dog of that type.
Before a dog can be exempt it must be neutered, micro-chipped and have third party insurance. There are also strict conditions, including being kept on a lead and muzzle in public.
Four breeds have been banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991: the American pit bull terrier, the Japanese tosa, the Dogo Argentinos and the Fila Brazileiro.
The act gives the government the power to ban any breed appearing "to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose".
Police have the power to seize any prohibited dog that is in a public place.
The American bully XL is not specifically recognised by the Kennel Club, and banning it under existing legislation could prove challenging as the breed is extremely difficult to explicitly define.
Fears had previously been raised suggesting that outlawing it would inadvertently outlaw a range of other dogs.
A government source said the Department for Farming, Environment and Rural Affairs had been working on plans to outlaw the American bully XL, with experts being consulted to define the breed.
How dangerous is the American bully?
Apart from the two most recent incidents, American bullies have been involved in several high-profile attacks.
In April, a 65-year-old grandmother was killed after she tried to break up a fight between her two American bullies at her home in Liverpool.
And last year, a 17-month-old toddler was mauled to death in her own home by one of the dogs in St Helens, just a week after her family had bought it.
- A good majority of attacks are on children.
- XL Bully's if they are so worried about children attacks, then simple do not allow families to own the breed. Your soon find the attacks on children will stop.
- Some attacks are between two of the same breed or another dog.
- All two often it is siblings living together fighting over something.
- Another reason is due to other owners not controlling their pet, allowing their pet to either attack the XL Bully on the lead or allowing their pet to mither an XL Bully that is on a lead.
- All to often the XL Bully in question attacking has no collar on, no lead and often no owner there to control them.
- Owners that have proven time and time again they can not control their XL Bully or an owner that knows what they are doing is risky or wrong, they should have their dog removed and not allowed to own an XL Bully.