The BBC reports on yet another fatal attack by dogs, this time on a 68 year old grandmother in the little seaside town of Jaywick, near Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.   She was visiting her 11-year-old grandson, but he was fortunately unhurt.  Neighbours and police tried to stop the attack, but were unable to.

The breed of dog has not yet been confirmed,  but there are suggestions that the attack involved the now banned “XL Bully” dogs and that there were puppies in the house that started fighting, as puppies do,  and this may have escalated into the tragic incident.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous dog offences and the dogs destroyed.

An XL bully is the largest kind of American bully dog. There are also standard, pocket and classic.  The XL’s are large dogs, muscular and with great strength.   Even the smaller varieties have power belying their size.

In England and Wales, the breed was added to the list of dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, having come into force on I February 2024   It means breeding, selling or abandoning them is illegal. In order to keep a Bully, an owner will need a Certificate of Exemption, costing £92.40. The dogs must be insured, neutered and kept on a lead and muzzled in public.

The problem there is that many attacks happen actually in the home, where the dog may not be muzzled.

There have been welfare questions asked about whether this is a fair way to keep any dog.  The Bullies tend to have quite “flat” faces and so a muzzle may not sit as comfortably as it might on say, a greyhound, with their long, narrow heads.   Dogs also do like to run and play free rather than having to be on a lead all the time.   Fenced dog exercise areas are now very popular as a farm diversification idea, where dog owners pay to hire the space for a certain time.

The ban will be introduced in Scotland later this year.  In the meantime, there is evidence that many of the breed have been taken to Scotland, hopefully to be re-homed before the ban is put into operation there.

We do quite a lot of claims relating to injuries caused by dogs and not just dog bites.  These are by no means all caused by dogs such as the Bullies and clients are injured by “out of control” dogs of any breed knocking them over or causing them to fall.

So,  you have to wonder whether banning certain breeds is the answer.  There are certain breeds which, due to their size and weight amongst other characteristics, means that if they DO attack, they will do more damage than a chihuahua.   But even then, small dogs can cause serious injury and even deaths to small children.   You would not want to be jumped on by even the most gentle wolfhound, which can weigh 10 stones, if they decided to be “playful”!

Do you just go on banning ever more breeds?  Each breed has a description of what constitutes that breed.  What will happen, as did with the notorious “pit-bulls”,  is that banned dogs will be bred with slightly different characteristics, or crossed with a similar type breed, to produce dogs that look like Bullies, but their breeders and owners will be able to claim they are not, often by using DNA,  So the “banned” restriction becomes worthless.

Statistics show that attacks are on the rise; 16 attacks in 2023 as opposed to 6 in 2022.

There seems to be no one particular reason for this, as research from Liverpool University shows in their article below:

The Independent newspaper had this to say:

           “The RSPCA wants a return to a licencing scheme for dogs, abolished in the UK in 1988, so local authorities and police can keep track of dogs, of all breeds, with training for owners.

Sam Gains, head of companions, animal science and policy, said: “When we look at what causes aggressive behaviour what we see is that it is down to a very complex mix of ownership, husbandry, genetics and the dog’s life experience. If you ban a dog breed, we don’t see the research to suggest it will improve public safety against attacks.”

Asked about the rise of attacks, she said it was difficult to pin down one reason but highlighted the impact of the pandemic when there was a surge in interest from people wanting to own a dog”

So what is the answer?  Can there be just one?

If you’re the owner of a dog of any breed, there are a few pointers:


  • Keep your dog under close control at all times and consider putting on a lead if there are people or animals around. A dog can be shot if found to be worrying livestock.
  • Train the dog to respond to even some basic commands, especially “Come here”.  No jumping up.   Don’t get a terrier if you expect obedience, though!
  • Choose your breed carefully, considering how appropriate the breed would be for your lifestyle in terms of space, exercise, shedding costs and costs, plus your experience with dogs.
  • Same goes for the individual pups. See them with their parents if at all possible and if either they or pup cause you concern with temperament , walk away.
  • Don’t buy from “puppy farms” or where you feel the seller is not being entirely straight with you.
  • Educate children, or indeed any family of friends to treat dogs with respect. Not all dogs like a lively 3-year-old hugging them in a vice-like grip.
  • Use commonsense. NEVER leave a baby or child alone with a dog.  If the dog or child looks to be getting upset, remove the dog somewhere else. You can’t expect small children to have care for their own safety.
  • But equally, try and socialise your dog from a puppy to equally respect humans and other dogs as far as they can.


There’s two well-known sayings with regard to dog attacks. The first is “Deed, not breed”, which advocates a case-by-case approach to attacks and injuries caused by any sort of dog.

There are also two ends to a dog lead.  The thinking is that it’s not the breed, but who’s on the other end of the lead that matters.   Make sure you’re the responsible one at that end!

If you’ve been injured in an incident involving a dog, contact our personal injury team on 01522 561020.




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