My time with an XL bully: Are the dogs 'cuddly bears' or ferocious animals that should be banned?

14 September 2023, 09:31 | Updated: 15 September 2023, 15:31

Henry Riley meets Dublin the XL Bully
Henry Riley meets Dublin the XL Bully. Picture: LBC
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

Heading to North London to meet Dublin, the 8 stone American Bully XL, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive - even nervous.

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The breed has been dominating headlines in recent weeks for all of the wrong reasons and has prompted an almighty political row about whether the dogs should be banned.

We met Dublin, with his owner David, at a special dog walking park which gave me an opportunity to properly get to know the dog.

As Dublin entered the park I waited, trying to be cool, calm and collected, until he sprinted towards me. I could see the drool slipping from his mouth, and a dog that I would be no match for bound towards me.

Read more: What does the XL Bully ban mean for dog owners?

LBC's Henry Riley meets XL Bully dog Dublin

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What I was greeted with, though, was an extremely excitable, docile, larger-than-life pet who wanted to be my best friend - as well as an abundance of dog hair and mud on my best suit

After spending an hour with Dublin, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t developed a huge fondness for the dog.

I’ll admit to having been somewhat dog prejudiced before our meeting, but by the end I was well and truly won over.

But it is important not to underestimate how strong these dogs can be.

At 8 stone and with extremely strong legs, if Dublin wanted to, he could have easily taken me with him when I was walking him on the lead. And at one point nearly did when he spotted something interesting in a nearby bush.

Dublin is very lucky to have fantastic owners who not only treat him well, but give him the same love and attention as a small child. I couldn’t believe that when I was offered the chance to give Dublin a “treat”, instead of offering a doggy biscuit, maybe some corn-beef style dog food - I was given ribs to feed him. (In fact, he has a fantastic diet with his owners telling me he will often have steak with blueberries and broccoli for his dinner).

It was also an enlightening experience. I could not believe that David, Dublin’s owner, had heard of cases of the breed being sold for £45,000- and that he could “easily get” £15,000 for the dog.

He also explained the challenges of owning a “celebrity dog”.

Dublin is a dog-actor of sorts and has appeared in TV shows as well as in rap and drill music videos (the songs and artists, I have to confess I was unfamiliar with). He will often be hired because of his “ferocious look”, when his owner David instead says he is just a “big cuddly bear”

As we left North London David had a message for the Home Secretary. He was irritated at the government threatening to ban these dogs and told me there was “no chance” he would ever hand Dublin over.

Instead, he offered Suella Braverman the chance to spend the day with Dublin, claiming she will “fall in love” with this American XL Bully.