With XL bullies being responsible for roughly half of dog bites in the UK in the last couple of years, there are calls for this breed to be banned - but banning the breed isn’t going to solve the problem.

While we tend to have societal preconceptions about certain breeds, with four already on the list of banned breeds, every dog is capable of biting a person.

What makes the difference between a dog that bites and one that doesn’t is more of a cocktail of genetics, environment, health, and emotional and behavioural experience.

When we look at genetics, it’s easy to assume that this means breed; it’s much more nuanced than that.

Within a breed, we can see a lot of genetic variation, with some genes predisposing individuals to more aggressive behaviour. The issue here doesn’t lie in the breed itself, but in irresponsible breeding.

Irresponsible breeding increases with a breed’s popularity, and the XL bully has seen a huge upswing in popularity over the last few years.

Irresponsible breeding is when individuals are bred despite inappropriate behavioural patterns and poor or inadequate health.

Puppies that come from these environments are also less likely to have proper early experiences – all of which make them more likely to become aggressive, even before they’ve been placed in a home.

Northwich Guardian: Dog behaviourist Alyssa RalphDog behaviourist Alyssa Ralph (Image: Alyssa Ralph)

In tandem with this, we must also recognise that XL bullies saw their popularity start to rise around the same time as the pandemic.

This has an ongoing impact as these dogs were not able to be properly socialised, as evidenced in research by the RVC, and many individuals of all breeds are showing the downstream behavioural impact of this.

So, what can we do about the concerning attacks if not ban the breed?

On a legal level, we should be looking at improving (and enforcing) breeding legislation, alongside better guidance for dog ownership.

We should also be providing more education on what warning signs a dog gives before they bite, so that everyone – not just the owner – is aware of these early signs and can take preventative action.

In line with this, dogs must always be supervised around children by an adult with awareness of these signs.

And, if you’re looking to bring a puppy into your family, make sure you meet both parents to check out their temperament, and check that they’ve had all the relevant health testing.