XL Bully owners and ex-owners in Berkshire have come forward to speak about the "loving" breed which is facing a national ban come Christmas.

On Friday, September 15, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a public pledge to ban the American XL Bully dog breed in the UK.

It followed a series of attacks that were put down to the breed, with new data claiming the XL Bully is the breed involved in the most dog attacks.

READ MORE: American Bully XL dog breed will be banned by end of 2023

However, the ban means many current XL Bully owners are facing uncertainty, with the government stating that existing XL Bully dogs will be "safely managed".

Cassie, 44, from Windsor, is a former XL Bully owner.

She has described her dog Kiba, who she came to own from a puppy in 2009 as "placid", "laid back" and a "gentle giant".

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After 12 years in the family and with many visits to schools and hospitals for talks as part of the Blue Cross, Cassie said a sad goodbye to Kiba in 2021.

"I can honestly say he was the best dog I have ever owned," she said.

"I was a hundred per cent confident in his demeanour and nature - he was always very aware of his size.

"I always likened him to an elephant, he was big and slow and liked nothing more than laying down."

Cassie trained Kiba as a puppy and underwent the Silver Kennel Club training.

Speaking about the recent news, Cassie said: "It feels like quite a knee-jerk reaction to the situation.

"XL Bullies have become a lot more popular and they are big and very powerful dogs - it is easy to see a risk here and no doubt in the wrong hands they would be a risk.

"I think to own a dog everyone should be insured, basic training is vital and socialisation - and I do think humans should be vetted for their suitability for a dog."

Cassie said she was drawn to the breed as she likes bigger dogs and finds them to be lower energy than smaller dogs. 

Laura, 25, from Iver, also opened up to this newspaper with her thoughts on the ban as a current owner of a 10-month-old XL Bully.

"I agree that they are a big powerful dog that could damage if it was to be aggressive, but if they are well socialised and balanced they are not."

Laura says her dog is "no threat" to other animals or humans and is "very tolerant" around children.

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"Dior is loving and very goofy - there is no malice in her at all, she loves everyone. The most she'll ever do is dribble on you," Laura said.

"Now because of the media I am walking down the road and people are running away from her - it is heartbreaking."

She has concerns about the socialisation of XL Bullies should they be forced to wear muzzles, with the dogs becoming irritable due to the restraint.

Laura blames backstreet breeders for the XL Bully's bad reputation and believes that owners found to be in control of an aggressive dog should receive the same charges as those who carry weapons.

"They should bring back dog licensing for all dogs," Laura said.

Laura said Dior has been attacked on two occasions by a Shih Tzu and a Pug - with her dog not retaliating.

Now with the ban set to be passed, Laura has taken steps to ensure her dog will meet new regulations.

She has taken out insurance with Dogs Trust, has begun muzzle training and is planning to spay her dog after her first season.

Laura said she has owned many Bull-breed dogs, which suit her lifestyle with their calm and lazy temperament.

"Unfortunately people aren't researching the breed. They can be quite stubborn, they take a lot of persuasions to train them - they are not suitable as a first-dog," Laura added.

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The Dog Control Coalition, made up of the RSPCA, Blue Cross, Battersea, Dogs Trust, Hope Rescue, Scottish SPCA, The Kennel Club and BVA are all advocating against the banning of the bread.

A spokesperson from the coalition said: "The recent incidents are deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those involved and affected.

"The biggest priority for everyone involved is to protect the public - but banning the breed will sadly not stop these types of incidents recurring.

"For 32 years, the Dangerous Dogs Act has focused on banning types of dog and yet has coincided with an increase in dog bites and the recent deaths show that this approach isn’t working.

"The UK Government must tackle the root issue by dealing with the unscrupulous breeders, who are putting profit before welfare, and the irresponsible owners whose dogs are dangerously out of control.

"The coalition urges the Prime Minister to work with them to fully understand the wide-reaching consequences of his decision to ban American bully XLs, which will have significant impacts on owners, the animal welfare sector, vets, law enforcement and the public.

"It is also critical that any policy designed to protect public safety is based on robust evidence and we are deeply concerned about the lack of data behind this decision and its potential to prevent dog bites."

The Observer will continue to look into this story as it develops. Do you think XL Bullies should be banned? Get in touch with your thoughts at daisy.waites@newsquest.co.uk