18 Sep, 2023 @ 16:37
2 mins read

EXPLAINER: Is the American Bully XL illegal in Spain? All you need to know as Britain prepares to ban the breed

Pit bull

THE move by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ban the dangerous dog breed known as the American Bully XL by the end of this year comes after it has been involved in a number of attacks – some deadly – in the UK over the last few months.

The most recent death in the UK was that of Ian Price, 52, who was attacked by two suspected American Bully XLs in Stonnall, near Walsall, Staffordshire last week.

Passersby tried to come to the victim’s aid and attempted to get the dogs off him, but he later died from the mauling in hospital.

Just days earlier, a 60-year-old man was arrested after his American Bully XL was filmed savaging several people, including an 11-year-old girl, in Birmingham.

The girl required eight stitches to her arm and shoulder after being attacked by the dog, which had twice broken free from its collar.

Two men who tried to help her and chased the dog across a garage forecourt were also savaged and needed hospital treatment.

Spain has not been immune to the American Bully XL, either. 

In February, British woman Anne Shields, 67, died in a Valencia hospital after being attacked by a dog that she had taken into safe-keeping a few days earlier.

Animal-lover Shields thought she was rescuing the dog, called Choccy, after seeing it had been abandoned by its owner.

British woman dies after pit bull dog attack on road in Spain's Valencia
American Bully XL dogs are not currently categorised as potentially dangerous dogs in Spain

All of the local animal shelters were full so she decided to look after it herself, despite a vet warning her that the dog was too dangerous to have as a pet.

The dog turned and lunged at her while out in the street and savagely mauled her head and arms.

When paramedics arrived at the scene at around 2.00pm, they had to wait for Guardia Civil officers to shoot the animal before they could attend to the victim, who had gone into a ‘state of shock’ due to suffering ‘catastrophic bleeding’ from her arms.

The 35-year-old owner was charged with reckless homicide and dog abandonment.

Yet in Spain, the American Bully XL is not classified as a potentially dangerous dog, unlike its parent breeds, including the Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Staffordshire Terrier. 

Puppies of this breed can even sell for over €1,000 in Spain.

Spanish law defines potentially dangerous dogs as those that belong to breeds considered aggressive, with powerful jaws and a strong physique. 

Owners of potentially dangerous dogs must obtain a licence, register the dog, and follow specific regulations regarding their care and handling.

Dangerous Dogs
Owners of potentially dangerous dogs must obtain a licence, register their dogs, and follow specific regulations regarding their care and handling.

These include getting the dog fitted with a microchip, having it wear a collar with owner information, and muzzling it and keeping it on a leash in public places at all.

Owners should also carry liability insurance to cover any damage caused by their dogs.

There are high levels of training and socialisation expected of these dog owners to ensure that they can behave well around other dogs and people at all times.

None of these rules currently apply to the American Bully XL. It is unclear if the Spanish government will undertake a review of this breed’s status in light of the moves in the UK.

Owners of dangerous dogs that attack people in Spain can face fines, ranging from a few hundred euros to several thousand, depending on the severity of the attack.

In some cases, dog owners can face imprisonment, particularly if the attack results in serious injury or death.

Meanwhile, the dog may be taken away from the owner and in the most extreme cases, particularly if the dog is deemed to be a serious threat to public safety, it may be destroyed.

Over a quarter of Spanish households were home to at least one dog in 2022, with around six million dogs in total, making it by far the most popular pet in the country.


Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? walter@theolivepress.es

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