TWO North Wales animal rescue charities have stopped taking in XL Bully dogs ahead of the breed being banned in the coming months.

It was reported in September that North Clwyd Animal Rescue manager Owain Horton said he expected a declining interest in adopting the dogs following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's initial announcement on the proposed ban.

But more detail on the dates have now come to light - with breeding, selling, advertising, rehoming, abandoning and allowing an XL Bully to stray in England and Wales set to become illegal from December 31, 2023.

From this date, XL Bullies must also wear a muzzle and be kept on a lead when out in public.

Then, from February 1, 2024, it will become illegal to own an XL Bully unless it is included on a list of exempted dogs.

Mr Horton said: "We have stopped taking them at the moment. Most charities have.

"And obviously because we have dogs that fit the description we need to discuss what options we have.

"A behaviourist is here today so they are being assessed.

"Ideally we would hope to home them and will help any adopters through the process."

Almost Home Dog Rescue, which has kennels in Nercwys, has also stopped taking in XL Bully dogs.

David Sutton, who has 40 years of experience working with dogs and is a qualified canine behaviourist, opened the charity seven years ago.

He explained: "The problem is that if we have them when the ban comes in, we can't rehome them.

"We have homed between 1,100 and 1,200 dogs and a percentage of them will fall into XL or XL types.

"We're making a list of those people and contacting them all to ask if they need help with muzzle training - and with the third party insurance which will be required."

Speaking of the public reaction to the latest information, Mr Horton said: "People are really worried.

"We have staff here who have XL Bullies and customers who have adopted.

"We are telling them to muzzle train and neuter their dogs so they are covered.

"We will support anyone who adopted from us to go through the exemption application process."

Mr Horton said XL Bully dogs became very popular during lockdown and he expects there may be thousands of people who own the dogs across North Wales.

The Leader: David Sutton works with a dog (Image: Almost Home Dog Rescue)David Sutton works with a dog (Image: Almost Home Dog Rescue) (Image: Almost Home Dog Rescue)

He encouraged them all to neuter and muzzle train their canine companions, as well as working on behavioural issues in anticipation of behavioural testing for exemption assessments.

"Temperament is one of the standpoints in the exemption process," he added.

"A lot will pass that with flying colours.

"It's the ones that don't which could have issues.

"Again, it's early days and the information is quite vague."

Mr Sutton continued: "Not every XL Bully is a bad dog. They are as loving as any other breed but some have been got hold of by bad people.

"The responsible owners treat the dogs well and they are safe - but they are the ones who will be targeted by this legislation.

"It's the irresponsible breeders and owners, people who have these dogs as a status symbol, who aren't going to adhere and are the ones we need to target."

Mr Sutton said puppies which are removed too early from their litters by irresponsible breeders who want to make money quickly don't learn the natural 'bite inhibition' that they would otherwise.

"If we take them away from that too soon," he explained, "that's something they don't learn.

"A lot of dogs go through a stage called mouthing - which is when they put their mouth around your hand and hold onto you.

"That's the stage at which they're asking; how hard am I allowed to do this?

"And if no one tells them any different they carry on and it gets harder.

"Then we have idiots who actually encourage them to bite."

Speaking of the ban itself, Mr Sutton said: "There are enough laws currently to deal with this situation, but no one is enforcing them."

Thanks to a grant, Almost Home Dog Rescue is currently offering financial help to XL Bully dog owners to get their animals neutered.

Mr Sutton added: "It can cost £200 to £300 to neuter an XL Bully.

"That's a lot of money and not everyone can afford it, especially at this time of year coming up to Christmas.

"We're asking people for a £50 contribution and we pick up the rest.

"We have had very good uptake for it and we're trying to prioritise people in the local area who are on low incomes.

"But we have had people getting in touch from all over the country."