The killer breed behind record number of fatal dog attacks

EXCLUSIVE – Why more people will die unless the XL Bully is BANNED: Experts warn the American crossbreed can kill in 60 seconds and UK deaths will soar as breeders ‘create monsters’ by changing DNA of the animals to give them ‘enhanced muscles’

  • Last year, Britain saw a record number of deaths caused by dog attacks
  • Vets and experts are calling for American Bully XL dogs to now be banned 

They are social media stars and status symbols beloved by athletes, rappers and  countless dog-loving Brits across the country. 

However, the controversial American Bully XL has been involved in the majority of fatal dog attacks in the UK since 2021, shocking data has revealed, leading to calls from PETA and several vets and experts for the breed to be banned in Britain. 

Stan Rawlinson, a dog behaviourist with more than 20 years of experience, was called as an expert witness for the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act and specialises in dog aggression.

He told MailOnline that the Bully XL is ‘very, very reactive’ and warned deaths caused by the breed could soar in the coming months and years.

Mr Rawlinson explained: ‘We averaged three dog attack deaths a year for the past 25 years. From that, we had 10 last year with up to seven related to the XL Bully. This is only going to get worse. 

‘They could kill you in about a minute and the worst thing is no one knows how many there are in the UK. There are at least thousands but we just don’t know for sure. 

‘Amateurs are tinkering with DNA, giving these dogs enhanced muscles, trying to create monsters. 

‘And they’ve managed it. It’s going to get considerably worse.’

Deaths caused by dog attacks have more than doubled in the past two years, from four in 2021 to a record 10 in 2022, and experts like Mr Rawlinson say the rise in bullies is a clear factor.

Two of four fatal dog attacks in the UK in 2021 involved a Bully XL, with the number increasing to six out of ten last year. 

Among those killed by bullies were ten-year-old Jack Lis in November 2021 and 17-month-old Bella-Rae Birch in March 2022. Pictured is the dog that killed Jack Lis

The number of fatal dog attacks in the UK have soared in recent years – hitting a record high in 2022

Various celebs own American bullies, including rapper Drake who owns dog Winter (right)

So far in 2023, there have been at least two fatal bully attacks – with fears the breed could have also been involved in three other dog killings. 

Online adverts and the surging number of the animals seized by police suggests the number of the dogs in the country could be rising rapidly. 

Among those killed by bullies were ten-year-old Jack Lis in November 2021 and 17-month-old Bella-Rae Birch in March 2022. 

Mr Rawlinson added: ‘I wouldn’t go near one. I’ve been around all sorts of dogs, even the most dangerous. But these XL Bully dogs are very reactive. They’re like the old Roman dogs of war that attacked Britain and helped forge an empire across the continent. 

‘More people are going to die unless we do something about it. 

‘They aren’t an official breed, it’s impossible to track them. The American Pitbull has been banned since 1991 but they are still coming in. That dog is the starting point for the XL Bully and more are being brought in every day.’

What is an American Bully XL and what makes it so dangerous? 

American bullies are a relatively new breed, having originated in the 1980s. 

They are mixed breed bulldogs, typically American pitbull terriers crossed American, English and Olde English bulldogs. 

Despite their relative popularity in the UK, they are not officially registered as a breed by the UK Kennel Club, making it difficult to know exactly how many are in the country. 

They are seen as ‘status symbols’ and are often purchased for their intimidating looks. 

Though the bully XL is the most common, the dogs can also be bred with mastiffs and other larger dogs to make them bigger, XXL or even XXXL. 

Controversial and illegal practices such as ear cropping are also carried out to make them appear more intimidating. 

The males can weigh between 70 and 130 pounds of muscle bone and have enormous strength. 

The ‘status symbol’ nature of the dogs has seen them become something of a weapon, purchased by people who want a thuggish and scary looking dog. 

Despite their lack of official certification, there is also a booming market with puppies regularly sold on Facebook and through places like Gumtree for anywhere between £500 and £3,000. 

However, experts are at pains to warn of their potentially dangerous nature, especially if their aggression is encouraged. 

They descend from bull-baiting dogs and if they aren’t trained properly then their aggression could surface.   

This could pose a real threat to humans, particularly children, and has been seen in several shocking recent deaths involving the dog.  

Elisa Allen, Vice President of Programmes for PETA, believes that all Bully XLs should be spayed or neutered to stop the breed spreading in Britain. 

She explained how the breed’s powerful bodies and strong jaws make them a threat to humans and also pointed out how the dog was bred for bull-baiting and fighting – not as a family pet.

She said: ‘It is an undeniable fact that most serious and fatal dog attacks are by ‘bully’ breeds. These breeds were intentionally developed long ago for ‘gameness’, meaning they are prey-focused and hard to distract once in attack mode and have extremely muscular, powerful bodies with strong jaws. 

‘When dogs attack, it can be because they have been tormented, beaten, poorly socialised, isolated, caged, or chained by a current or previous owner, but no one can pretend that owners are solely to blame, as these breeds were selectively bred for bull-baiting and fighting. 

‘We can prevent more attacks by banning the breeding of these types of dogs – which can be done by mandating that all bully dogs be spayed or neutered.’

The exact number of Bully XL dogs in the UK are unclear as the Kennel Club doesn’t officially recognise the breed. 

However, social media is awash with bullies and, this week, the Met revealed that it has seized 44 American bullies so far in 2023, up to May. 

This is almost three times the next most common breed and means that, on average, the force confiscated up to two bullies a week. 

To put it in greater context, in 2018 and 2019, no American bullies were seized by the Met.

These figures only apply to London, and with the majority of fatal attacks taking place outside the capital, there are potentially thousands of bullies across the UK. 

These numbers are believed to have soared during lockdown, as dog ownership surged while people were stuck at home. 

And the rise of TikTok, as well as the popularity of bullies with major celebrities like rapper Drake and Little Mix Leigh-Anne Pinnock, have made the dog a status symbol. 

Dr Lawrence Newport, a law and criminology lecturer at Royal Holloway University recently published a detailed report on the Bully XL.

He told MailOnline that the dog’s breeding for fighting posed a big risk to children.  

‘The past two years has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of people killed by dogs, including several children,’ he said.

‘American Bully XLs (closely related to the banned Pitbull breed but larger, able to reach weights of 60kg) are disproportionately responsible for these deaths.

‘Retrievers were bred to retrieve. Pointers to point. But these dogs were historically bred for fighting so we should not be surprised that even good owners have found themselves, or their children, maimed or even killed by these dogs.

‘The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can add these dogs immediately to the banned dogs list under the Dangerous Dogs Act and must do so now.’

Brighton-based vet Marc Abraham previously spoke about how the Bully XL breed has become a status symbol instead of a pet. 

‘These dogs are a nightmare when they are in the wrong hands,’ the vet said. ‘And the trouble is, very few people have the right hands.

‘These dogs have low frustration thresholds. Coupled with the fact they often aren’t exercised enough because they are status dogs, they can act dangerously.

‘Genetically, they are compromised in terms of communication with other dogs and then they are trained to be killers.’

One of the children killed by a bully was Jack Lis, 10, who died in November 2021 after suffering catastrophic injuries after being mauled by a seven stone dog while playing at a friend’s house in South Wales.

The dog named Beast, was shot dead by armed police officers following the attack on Jack.

Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock is known to own a dog from the controversial breed

Aaron Chalmers, of Geordie Shore fame, also owns one of the dogs – and has attracted controversy for its cropped ears

After Beast’s death it was found to be an 115lb American Bully or XL Bully. The dog is believed to have been given away for free on Facebook. 

The grieving mother asked MPs to support her call in banning XL bullies and taking steps to ensure that ‘nobody else is ever put in the position of me and my family’.

‘There needed to be a ban of the breed. Get rid of every single one of them,’ she said.

‘This won’t bring my son back, but I realise it’s not as simple as banning certain dogs. There will always be another breed involved.’ 

Met Police reportedly deal with at least one dangerous dog each day and seized 479 out-of-control animals last year. The force seized 333 in 2021. 

The rise in dog attacks in recent years, which has ballooned from around 3,300 in 2002 to more than 8,800 in 2021, has sparked some calls for a revamp of the Dangerous Dogs Act.

That 1991 law saw a blanket ban imposed on four specific ‘fighting-style’ breeds in the UK; the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasiliero.

Dog psychologist Bruce Clanford previously told MailOnline that dog attacks are undoubtedly on the rise and he shared his own fears about a lack of responsible dog owners.

He said: ‘There’s no regulation on owning dogs, or people handling them, there’s also no standard of education which means there are too many people who don’t know what they’re doing.

Metropolitan Police data shows how the American Bully has become the most seized dog in London in recent years

The dogs are widely available on Facebook and sites like Gumtree (pictured) for potentially thousands 

‘Lockdown didn’t help, many people had a knee-jerk reaction to just get a dog because it helped them get out and about while we were locked down.

‘So many dogs have now come out over the past few years that have had to be rehomed, people didn’t understand how to look after them.

‘Personally, I’ve seen this a lot in the last two years.’

Hospital data for England also laid bare the increase in dog attacks in England. 

It revealed that there has been an 88% increase in attendances, from 4699 in 2007 to a staggering 8819 in 2021-22.

Dr John Tulloch, a veterinary public health expert at the University of Liverpool authored a 2021 research paper that revealed a startling rise in the number of dog bite incidents over the past 20 years.

He told MailOnline that although wider research into the cause of this explosion in these attacks was limited, there had been an emergence of ‘worrying’ trends that he has witnessed in more recent dog ownership. 

He said: ‘In the last 20 years or so there’s been a definite rise in cases of severe dog attacks, it has been creeping up and up and up and we should be calling it what it is, a growing public health problem.

‘In most cases, it’s a dog that is known to the victim as these events are occurring behind closed doors. 

‘Children still account for around 25 per cent of hospital admissions due to dog bites, but we need to understand why adults are being attacked more now, it’s a striking problem. 

‘And more deprived areas of the country have higher dog bite hospitalisation rates compared to the least deprived communities, which had the lowest.’

Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive at the Kennel Club said it does not have data on the dogs. 

However, he added: ‘It’s a sad fact that breed-specific legislation, within the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, which focused on the type of dog rather that the act, has failed to reduce the number of dog bites and shows why action should focus on the ‘deed not breed’. Prevention is by far the best cure and responsible breeding, adequate socialisation and environment are all critical.

‘We urge all dog owners to ensure that their dog has had appropriate socialisation, maintain vigilance of their dogs and recognise their dog’s body language, so that they can prevent a situation from escalating. 

The American Bully XL is not recognised by The Kennel Club – there is a process in place for any breed to be officially recognised which requires them to meet an approved breed standard which includes, but is not limited to, sound temperament, avoidance of unhealthy exaggerations and ears that are not cropped – features which can sometimes be seen in breeds that we do not recognise, including the American Bulldog.

‘Similarly, it’s vital that children know when and how to safely interact with dogs, recognise the warning signs and know how to behave to prevent situations from escalating into an attack.’



Jack Lis, 10, died in November 2021 after suffering catastrophic injuries after being mauled by a seven stone dog while playing at a friend’s house in South Wales.

The dog named Beast, was shot dead by armed police officers following the attack on Jack.

After Beast’s death it was found to be an 115lb American Bully or XL Bully. The dog is believed to have been given away for free on Facebook. 

Jack Lis was attacked by the XL bully dog while playing with a friend at a house after school in Pentwyn 

Little Jack Lis suffered ‘severe injuries to the head and neck’ when he was set upon by the seven stone XL Bully while playing at his friend’s home


Bella-Rae Birch was just 17 months old when an American Bully XL mauled her to death at her home in Blackbrook, St Helen’s on March 21. 

The dog had been bought by her father ‘for buttons’ just one week earlier and was ‘humanely destroyed’ following the shocking attack, Merseyside Police said.

According to her devastated mother, the family had been given the dog a week before the incident and had made sure that it was safe for the children.

No legal proceedings took place as Bella-Rae was not on her own when the attack happened and the dog wasn’t under the Dangerous Dog Act.

Bella-Rae Birch, pictured, was mauled to death by an American Bully dog which had been recently bought by her father Ryan 


Adam Watts, 55, was attacked at the Juniper Kennels and Cattery in Kirkton of Auchterhouse, near Dundee, and was pronounced dead at the scene on December 22 in 2021. 

The bully – who was involved in an incident with another dog – had been put into the care of Mr Watts’ kennels by police after being seized under warrant in August. 

Tributes were paid to Mr Watts online after news of his death broke, with one dog charity praising his ‘gentle, calm nature’ in trying to gain the trust of abused animals in his care. 

Mr Watts left behind five sons, aged between 10 and 18, who lost their mother Eileen Watts in 2013 to cancer, at the age of 46. 

Adam Watts, 55, was attacked at the Juniper Kennels and Cattery in Kirkton of Auchterhouse, near Dundee, and was pronounced dead at the scene on December 22 in 2021


A two-year-old American Bully dog known as Cookie sunk its teeth into the leg of Keven Jones, the father of its owner, in north Wales in May 2022. 

His daughter-in-law Chanel Fong needed someone to help care for Cookie and their other four dogs while she went out, with the son Josh away at Wembley watching a football match.

She came in to the house on Holt Road, Wrexham, on 23 May and heard Keven shouting: ‘He’s got me’.

As she turned the corner, Fong found him laying on the floor, blood gushing from his leg. 

He later died of blood loss. 

Keven Jones, 62, had gone to Wrexham to help look after his son’s dogs, one of which fatally attacked him

Cookie-Doe (pictured) was put down by a veterinarian at the scene following after he bit Keven Jones


Joanne Robinson, 43, was mauled to death by her pet American Bully XL dog after it ‘turned mad in the extreme heat’ in July 2022. 

Her partner, Jamie Stead, 42, was left with injuries to his hands, stomach and face as he tried to saved her and pull the animal off her.

Joanne had two XL Bully dogs – Rocco who was nearly two, and Lola.

Ms Robinson’s heartbroken son paid tribute to his mother, calling her his ‘best friend’ and a ‘caring mum and the best Nannan to my kids.’ 

Joanne Robinson (pictured) owned two Bully XLs and was killed by one of them in 2022

Joanne is understood to have been the owner of the animal, called Rocco (pictured), which is on the legal dog breeds list and attacked her at around 10pm 


Ian Symes, who weighed 7st 12 lbs and was 5ft 10ins, was walking a ‘powerful’ American Bully XL at a public park in Fareham, Hampshire when it overpowered him. 

The Bully XL reverted to its ‘aggressive’ natural instincts and repeatedly bit down on Mr Symes’ neck after he began playing with it.

The dog weighed a massive 8st 3lbs. 

It was the first time Mr Symes tried to take it out for a walk, just a day after a friend bought it from travellers over Snapchat 

Ian Symes, from Fareham, had owned Rottweilers in the past and photographs on social media show him smiling lovingly with his pets 


Retired nurse Shirley Patrick, 83, died in hospital 17 days after suffering ‘life-threatening injuries’ during a ‘hellish’ and ‘violent’ dog attack in Caerphilly, South Wales on December 3, 2022. 

She suffered ‘traumatic lacerations’ and significant wounds to her head, body, face and arms during the attack.

Her provisional cause of death was given as ‘sepsis caused by pneumonia and infected scalp wounds’ following the attack.

She was attacked by a large black XL Bully Cross Cane Corso – just half a mile from where Jack Lis was previously killed. 

Shirley Patrick, 83, died in hospital 17 days after suffering ‘life-threatening injuries’ in the attack


The country was horrified after Natasha Johnston, 28, was mauled to death by the eight animals she was walking in a Surrey park in January. 

Witnesses to the horrific attack said the dogs turned into a pack of ‘wolves’ when they attacked Natasha at the Gravelly Hill beauty spot in Caterham. 

She died from multiple bites to the neck, including one that perforated her jugular vein, an inquest heard. Eight dogs were seized at the scene of the frenzied attack.

Police confirmed last month that Ms Johnston’s dog was the only animal to have been destroyed, which they believe to be an American Bully XL. 

Natasha Johnston  died from multiple bites to the neck


Four-year-old Alice Stones was mauled to death by a dog in the back garden of her home in Milton Keyne

The breed of the dog that killed her has not been officially confirmed but is believed to be an American bully. 

The tragic girl’s family revealed that the dog was a family pet. It was later put down by police. 

Alice’s mother was described as being distraught and ‘completely heartbroken’.

The dog at the centre of a fatal attack on a four-year-old girl Alice Stones (pictured) in Milton Keynes was a family pet


Jonathan Hogg was killed last month by an ‘out of control’ dog just four months after his son’s birth – and three days before his daughter turned two. 

The dog was forced into a cabin in a yard next to a static caravan and, when armed officers arrived, the animal was shot dead. 

Greater Manchester Police later searched two houses and seized 15 dogs, including six adults and nine puppies, believed to be the same breed as that which attacked Mr Hogg.

Jonathan Hogg, 37, died after being mauled by an American Bully XL dog

What is the Dangerous Dogs Act? Which dogs are banned? And why is it controversial? 


The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans or restricts certain types of dogs and makes it an offence to allow a dog of any breed to be dangerously out of control.

It was introduced 30 years ago by Home Secretary Kenneth Baker ‘to rid the country of the menace of these fighting dogs’ after a string of attacks.


It is illegal to own four breeds of dogs without an exemption from a court. They are:

  • American pitbull terriers
  • Japanese tosas
  • Dogo Argentinos
  • Fila Brazileiro  

The law also criminalises cross-breeds of the above four types of dog – meaning that whether a dog is prohibited will depend on a judgement about its physical characteristics and whether they match the description of a prohibited ‘type’.


You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months if your dog is dangerously out of control. 

You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.

If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to five years or fined. If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’.

And if you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine. 


Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the British Veterinary Association have protested against the ban, insisting there is no scientific evidence that all individuals of a breed are dangerous.

However, Met Police data suggests that in incidents involving ‘dangerously out of control dogs’, banned breeds account for about a fifth of offences.

Source: Read Full Article