Owners urged to prepare for changes.
The first of a two-stage approach to new legal safeguards on XL Bully dogs will come into force on 23 February subject to parliamentary approval.
From this date, it will remain legal to own an XL Bully dog but owners must ensure their dogs are muzzled and on a lead when in a public place.
Selling, gifting or exchanging XL Bully dogs will also be prohibited.
Stage two of the new rules, which come into force from 31 July, will make it an offence to own an XL Bully without an exemption certificate or having applied for an exemption certificate.
This means existing XL Bully dog owners will need to consider whether they wish to keep their dogs and if so will have to apply and pay for an exemption permit by that date.
Full details as to what date applications for an exemption certificate will open, how to apply and the support available will be announced in the coming weeks.
The new regulations, which are subject to approval by Parliament, are being introduced as a consequence of similar controls on the breed that have been introduced by the UK Government in England and Wales, which have resulted in reports of dogs being moved to Scotland.
Minister for Victims & Community Safety Siobhian Brown said:
“It is vital XL Bully dog owners get ready for the first stage of legal safeguards that will come into force on 23 February.
“These new rules are intended to prevent risks to public safety and animal welfare and keep our communities safe.
“The second stage of legal safeguards will provide owners seeking an exemption an appropriate length of time to decide how to prepare for the forthcoming change in the law ahead of the 31 July deadline.
“The vast majority of dog owners are responsible animal lovers and we know owning a dog brings with it important responsibilities.
“I would encourage owners to make themselves aware of the new laws and get ready for them.”