LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday described American XL Bully dogs as a "danger to our communities" and announced plans to ban the breed following a public outcry after a series of recent attacks.
Sunak said he has asked government ministers to bring together police and canine experts to legally define the characteristics of the American XL Bully, which is not recognized as a breed by groups such as the Kennel Club in Britain or the American Kennel Club in the United States.
"It is not currently a breed defined in law, so this vital first step must happen fast," Sunak said in a video statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. "We will then ban the breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act and new laws will be in place by the end of the year."
The government has been under pressure to take action after an 11-year-old girl was attacked and seriously injured by an American XL Bully on Saturday in Birmingham, England. Those concerns deepened Thursday after a man was killed in an attack that may have involved this type of dog.
"The American XL Bully dog is a danger to our communities, particularly our children," Sunak said. "I share the nation's horror at the recent videos we've all seen."
Four breeds of dogs are currently banned in the United Kingdom: the pitbull terrier, the Japanese tosa, the dogo Argentino and the fila Brasileiro.
Some campaigners have called for the American XL Bully, which was originally bred from the American pit bull terrier, to be added to the list because they believe dangerous characteristics have been bred into the animals.
The XL Bully is not recognized as a breed by the U.K.'s Kennel Club, which has argued that no breed of dog is inherently dangerous. The organization says breed-specific bans do not address the most important factors contributing to attacks, primarily irresponsible dog owners who train their dogs to be aggressive.
The bully breeds get their name because they were originally used in blood sports, such as bull baiting. The dogs have a muscular build and a heavier bone structure than pit bulls.