The man who says he created the XL Bully claims the breed was originally bred to be docile but with a "bodybuilder-like" appearance.
The UK government is set to ban the American XL Bully following a spate of attacks, with Rishi Sunak adding the breed to the list on the Dangerous Dogs Act. One of the latest victims was dad Ian Langley, 54, from Sunderland, who died after a suspected mauling, for which a 44-year-old man has been arrested for murder.
Protesters who want to stop the dog being added to the banned list were recently seen outside the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, bearing placards asking for the government to reconsider. One person who doesn't want to see the dog banned is the man who says he originally created the relatively new breed in the 1990s.
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Dave Wilson from Virginia, US, crossed an American Staffordshire terrier with an American bulldog and other breeds to create the XL Bully. The breed can be bred in sizes ranging from XXL to a miniature, which is similar in size to a French bulldog.
Wilson originally bred pitbulls, but said that the United Kennel Club (UKC) changed the standards at one point in the 1990s, so he decided – along with others – to create something different.
He told The Telegraph he wanted to create something new with a different name, purpose and identity. “We wanted a dog that was like a bodybuilder . . . a heavy-muscled, shorter dog," he said.
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“We also wanted to make sure that demeanour didn’t represent what the stereotype would be. So we started to create a dog with a very docile temperament. The ultimate companion breed.”
In 2004, the American Bully was created, and Wilson started the American Bully Kennel Club. It showed dogs of the breed and disqualified any aggressive ones.
The dogs started appearing in the UK in 2014, with a huge spike in people buying the breed during the pandemic. According to a campaign group called Bully Watch UK, XL Bullys are responsible for 43% of the dog attacks in the UK.
But they admit their main source for statistics is Nextdoor and Facebook, and because of this the data "will be biased". Despite living in the United States, Wilson believes that the proposed ban isn’t right, and is campaigning against it, .
He says: “The true nature of the breed really isn’t what is being portrayed.”
Wilson says that there are no safety concerns around the breed in the USA, and argues that the UK "needs to stop pointing the fingers at dogs and start putting the fingers at the people that are actually doing wrong".
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