- AKC recognized: N/A
- Lifespan: 10-15 years
- Size: Large
- Energy level: Medium
- Recommended Crate Size: 42” dog crate
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Table of Contents
The American Bulldog originated in the United States around the 18th century.
The original breed was preserved by working-class immigrants. They brought their dogs to the American South. They used them to do many farm works such as watchdog, catcher dog, and stock dog.
There are no clear records for the pedigrees of American Bulldogs. This breed was almost extinct by the time of World War II.
It was John D. Johnson, Alan Scott, and several other breeders who successfully revived them. What’s more, the result of this revitalization is 2 different types of American Bulldog, classified as Standard and Classic.
Today there are a lot of breeds mixed from these two original lines.
American Bulldogs are not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. Yet, they have been registered in other organizations like The American Canine Registry and The United Kennel Club.
American Bulldogs have earned his stars and stripes, like many other Americans, by working hard at what he does. He’s a go-getter who has pulled himself out of some close calls of extinction by his tenacity and eagerness to work.
This large, stout and sturdy dog is a utility dog and is a direct descendant of the Old English Bulldog. It is sturdier and broader than the Pitbull.
But his working abilities coupled with his affectionate and protective nature to guard those he loves reigned. With the help of a few good men, his attributes were finally appreciated and embraced and the valiant breed lived on.
If you are thinking that you too would like to embrace the American Bulldog’s fine attributes, there are some very important things to be aware of. Read on to find out more about this dog and to see if you and he might be a great match...or not.
These medium energy dogs are known as active and confident. They are also affectionate to their family companions.
They can have strong protective instincts toward their owners by showing aggression to any strangers, so obedience training is recommended.
They can be quite great with children. Again, they still need close supervision as running or screaming kids can easily set them off. It is important for you to teach both your children and dog about how to treat each other properly.
Although they have a loving personality, this does not necessarily go the same when they meet other dogs. Without proper training, they can start a fight even to their own pack!
You can expect them to be very energetic and this energy needs to be managed, along with early obedience training. You can release any pent-up energy by offering them plenty of exercises every day. They can do a lot of things like walking, running, biking, swimming, or even skateboarding.
Known as the “gentle giant”, American Bulldogs hail from the United States where he got his start in the 18th century.
The American bulldogs' ancestor came to America with his working-class owners so he could help out around the farm. This Bulldog evolved into the American version of the Bulldog but they have many similarities.
American Bulldogs are stocky and have a muscular build, being heavily used in the South where life was hard as a rule. He was a catcher, a watchdog, and a stock dog as well. His main job was keeping feral pigs at bay. Some wonder if many would have prospered or even lived if not for American Bulldogs. He was that vital.
But by the time World War ll came along, he was almost extinct. It was as if his hard and diligent work efforts had been forgotten and he had toiled in vain. Recognizing the importance of the breed, John D. Johnson, Alan Scott, and some other breeders set out to revive the American Bulldog breed. And that...they did.
Not only did they save them, they were successful at getting them classified into two different types - the Standard (the mix of both types) and the Classic (the Johnson type mixed with English Bulldog, also called “Bully”). Many breeds have stemmed from the two original lines.
Although American Bulldogs are not, at present, officially recognized by the notorious America Kennel Club, it is registered in some prestigious dog organizations such as The American Canine Registry as well as the United Kennel Club. You might say it’s progress, but not perfection. In time, American Bulldog enthusiasts hope the breed will be officially celebrated in all the clubs and organizations.
Now safe from extinction, American Bulldogs have gained in popularity. They are used for protecting families and farms against wild pigs, assist as cattle drovers, and are even employed as service dogs. They are active in many areas of competition such as the Iron Dog and weight pulling.
Such sports for Bulldog breeds have not always been so humane though. They were used in cruel sports, especially in bull-baiting, until it was banned in 1835. But that didn’t stop the criminal who continued to abuse the breed.
Even today, Bulldogs and other tough breeds are used in dogfighting. Law enforcement agencies, as well as animal cruelty activists, are working hard to stop such barbaric acts.
These courageous and confident dogs are super tough in the rough and rugged terrain. They are workhorses with ethics like none other. But when it comes to their families, they turn into Teddy bears. They just melt and are quite affectionate, even with young children who are not being rambunctious.
Too much of a good thing isn’t always good though. American Bulls can be too protective toward their humans. If not socialized and trained properly, they can be aggressive to strangers who they feel are a danger.
The intimidating stance and look of the Bulldog have been a stumbling block for him in the years past. And...he drools. American Bulldogs have a little way to go before they even near perfection. But this breed is determined to do it right and to do whatever it takes to be an all-American dog.
The Classic American Bulldog has a bulky body with heavy bone structure and a large head. The Classic's appearance is more the Bully breed than the Standard.
Both of these types have a short and smooth coat. In the past, a white-colored coat was more dominant with red, black, or brindle patches. Now there are more color patterns like red, black, brown, fawn, and various brindle shades.
The eye color is usually brown, but there are a few cases of heterochromia, which is a difference in coloration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin.
Generally, the height of American Bulldog is 20-28 inches with a weight between 60-120 pounds. But, some dogs can exceed these dimensions, especially the non-working ones.
Powerful and compact, American Bulldogs run about 20-28 inches in height and weighs in between 60 and 120 pounds. It is not unusual for a non-working dog to surpass these numbers, however.
The Classic version of American Bulldog sports a stumpy, thick and bulky body frame and has a heavy bodily bone structure. His hindquarters are strong and thick as well.
American Bulldogs have a thick and muscular neck. It tapers from the head to his shoulders. His head is large and square with muscular cheeks. With his powerful, broad, square muzzle, he has more of a bully look to him than the Standard does.
It is preferred that the American have a reverse scissor bite. A slight under-bite is not frowned upon.
The ears of American Bulldogs can vary a bit. Some are cropped and some are rose or half-pricked while still others are flapped forward.
American Bulldog eyes are well-rounded. They are sharply defined and have a deep stop. They generally are brown.
Sometimes one is brown and one is blue. Occasionally a dog turns out to have a different coloration, known as heterochromia, which may also affect the color of his iris, skin, and hair as well.
The eye rims can be either black or pink. Black is the color preferred on the white coated dogs. Pink is actually considered to be a fault.
The Standard appears more athletic in his body frame and has a more moderate body rather than the squatty, stout look of the Classic American Bulldog.
The coat of both the Classic and the Standard is smooth and short. White colored coats with patches of black, brindle, or red are common but more color patterns other than those with white backgrounds are becoming popular as well such as black, brown, red, fawn, and shades of brindle.
The look of American Bulldogs are one of distinction and might. On one hand, he looks like the name implies, a bully. But on the other hand, he has the appearance of being just a big ole baby.
It is recommended that you feed your American Bulldog food that is recommended for his breed by his veterinarian. He is large and will require a good bit of food but you’ll want to be sure it’s high quality and meets his nutritional requirements. He’ll need ample protein to fuel the energy his breed has.
At first, your vet may recommend you feed him small meals more often when he’s a puppy. The quantity and frequency of his meals are likely to change as he grows and the food the vet recommends may change to an adult variety.
Limit treats lest he becomes obese. Even with such high energy, he still can get overweight if he’s not exercising enough and/or is eating too many high-calorie treats.
As with all pets, be sure to keep plenty of clean, fresh water available to him at all times.
American Bulldogs have a short coat, but they can shed a lot, especially during changes in season. Thus, brushing it every day is necessary to remove dead hair. This also works to distribute skin oils.
There’s not a lot of maintaining involved with American Bulldogs. His short coat does need to be brushed every few days for the health aspect of it - to distribute the oils and to get dead cells off of him.
But brushing is also good for this breed because he sheds way more than you would think. Especially during the changing of the seasons, you’ll want to diligently brush him, every day if not several times a day. He won’t mind. He loves the attention.
He will need an occasional bath but just one every three or four months should be sufficient unless he has an encounter with a skunk or gets unusually dirty or muddy. Use a gentle shampoo when you do so he doesn’t have an allergic reaction.
His ears will need to be kept clean and dry. His toenails will most likely naturally wear down when he is outdoors getting his exercise. But, it’s a good idea to keep up with them and make sure there are no cracks, splits, or chips that could cause problems and get hung up.
Brush his teeth once per week for his optimal dental hygiene. Use a toothbrush and a doggie toothpaste in a flavor he likes so you’ll get his full cooperation. American Bulldogs are prone to dental disease more than most breeds are, so be vigilant in this area.
This dog breed will require a lot of exercise. You can play fetch with them or do other sports games like running, swimming, skateboarding, etc. Do the training from the first day you have the dog. Aim for between 20-60 minutes of daily, moderate exercise like walking.
American Bulldogs are happiest and healthiest when they are active. Whether it’s jogging or hiking alongside you or pulling your child (or you) in a wagon or sled, he has the drive to do something that resembles work.
He should get physical exercise in between walks too though. He is all about playing Fetch and other interactive games so...let ‘er rip. Embrace the time you get to spend with this guy. He will do the same.
American Bulldogs are quite intelligent, especially when it comes to problem-solving, as is required when hunting and dealing with the things he had to deal with. Engage his mind is some active games. He will thrive when you do, mentally and physically.
Including your American Bulldog when you take part in an activity is fun for both you and him and is a good way to get his energy out. If you are going to the lake, take him along.
Just remember to bring a leash since he may or may not get along with other animals he may encounter. And, keep that trait in mind when walking him too.
As long as the American has his exercise time, he’s as docile as a little kitten. That is unless he sees one...then, his old instincts kick in.
Pet Crates Direct recommends a 42” dog crate for most adult American Bulldogs.
American Bulldogs have been forced to live down a reputation of being an aggressive fighting dog due to his powerfully strong body features and his history of being abused in dogfights.
Although he can hold his own when it comes to a tangle, he’s more likely to exhibit such an action when he’s defending his loved one and not just because he can.
This dog is a lover with deep roots that stem right from his furry little heart. He adores people and constantly craves their attention. While not real fond of cats, he may or may not play well with other dogs. But two-legged creatures, like humans, he can’t get enough of.
The American is an energetic work dog. He simply must have a job to do. He is content to live on a ranch and help tend to the duties of keeping wild boar away. But, if you live in town and he’s confined to the backyard, then that might present a problem.
Unless, of course, you walk him regularly and play physically with him as well. In that event, he should do fine, even in a small space such as an apartment. Making sure he gets his exercise is key.
Was it mentioned that American Bulldogs have an independent streak? Well, he does. He is likely to show it unless he has a strong leader. It’s not really a negative characteristic unless he is showing defiance against his owner though.
Consider what it took for him to survive in the wild or to do his job as a bore chaser. Pigs are mean and wild boar can be deadly, especially the razor-backed ones found in the original areas he patrolled.
This guy would not back down except if his pack leader demanded him to. Such is the importance of a pack mentality in his life now as well.
Not only did this breed hunt, but they also herded too and still do. They are excellent at prodding cattle along and keeping livestock in line and orderly.
Don’t be surprised if some of these traits come out in his everyday actions. He may try to herd you or the children which should never be permitted but it is certainly understandable that he tries to.
Some make the attempt to take the urge totally away from their American while others simply give him a ball, even a bowling ball, or some other type of toy or object to satisfy his desire.
This dog is loyal to a fault. And, he’s brave too. He requires a firm leader, however, so he will be able to trust your judgment on who is a friend and who is a foe.
He can easily become bored and get into trouble or he can become high strung. You're loving, yet assertive, the alpha role will make all the difference where this dog is concerned.
It can’t be stressed enough that he is a pack animal and requires having a leader. If you aren’t that leader, he’ll gladly step in and volunteer for the role.
Picture the days of old when boar and other beasts roamed the field and mountains right outside the family home. The danger was always lurking. A stranger might be an intruder too.
This dog has a built-in alarm and a heart of gold. He would gladly lay down his life for his loved ones. The problem is that the neighbor’s cat is not the danger he may see it as.
Still, he will chase it if given the chance. The mailman, unless you train him differently, is an intruder that has come to slaughter the ones he loves.
You have to get inside the mind of an American to see where he’s coming from and it is imperative you teach him new thoughts such as the fact that the neighbor’s cat is not a boar and the mailman is not dinner.
Despite the fact that he is affectionate to those he loves and is a sensitive fellow, there are many apartment leasing agencies that have restrictions on American Bulldogs and individual private landlords as well.
Much is due to the fact their looks and size can be intimidating. Once again, this underdog must plug on and make his way in a society that is not the most favorable for him at times.
On the bright side, this dog has stolen the hearts of many. The characters “Spike and Tyke” in the same franchise the cartoon “Tom and Jerry” is from, are American Bulldogs. Chance in “Homeward Bound” was one too. In “Cheaper by the Dozen”, the family dog was an American.
The rich and famous adore this breed too. Ozzy Osbourne, Olivia Wilde, Adam Sandler, Willow Smith, Brad Pitt, Pink, Joe Jonas, Janice Dickinson, and Miley Cyrus all have American Bulldogs, just to name a few.
American Bulldog puppies are highly trainable at an early age. They have had jobs for centuries and those duties often required them to work alongside humans who basically told them what to and what not to do.
But, the breed is also known to have a streak of strong will so they can be a challenge to train. That is until the alpha leadership role is established. Then they are much easier to train.
Potty training is usually not a problem with American Bulldogs. They seem to just take to it and understand that the place to “go” is outdoors.
Next up is socialization. This is an imperative training for Americans. They may never like cats so it may not even be on the lesson plan to try to get him to change that deep-rooted trait.
But, you can socialize him with other dogs, especially if there is a reason such as if he will be living with them. Or, if there is a dog he’ll be spending time with, like your best friend’s dog.
Be sure to socialize him with humans of all ages and personalities and take him to settings that vary. He should be able to be around loud and busy places although he may never be totally comfortable in such places.
Obedience is a biggie too. He simply must be made to mind you, for his sake, for your own sake...and for the sake of other humans and animals. He’s got a lot of brute force so a flub up on his part could result in severe injury.
Be consistent and loving. Treats and praise go far with the American Bull. Never let him slide. Let him slide an inch and he’ll try to slide a mile. That’s just the bull in him.
Agility training is great for this dog. It will help him stay physically fit and will let out some of his pent-up energy too.
Mental training, like brain games, is great. The best ones for him will be those that combine action and thinking. He’ll ace them.
You might even be able to teach this dog some tricks, especially those that are within his element. When you think of tricks or activities to involve him in, remember his heritage and what his ancestors did.
They hunted, pulled wagons, and did a lot of physical things. He’ll be a natural when you keep things in his league. Plus, he will love pleasing you and will eat up all the praise you give him.
The American Bulldog is a healthy dog. His life expectancy is up to 16 years. Especially because he has full-blooded genes that make him vulnerable to get certain diseases and ailments, you cannot be guaranteed he will not come down with something.
Be sure to keep a good eye on him and watch for any of the health problems the breed is prone to get. At the first sign of trouble, take him in to see his veterinarian.
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, or Batten disease, is a condition that affects the nervous system. It is present in dogs, humans, and other animals too like sheep and goats.
It is a group of inherited lysosomal storage disorder in which the cells that break down waste storage don’t function properly. The debris from the waste accumulates and wreaks havoc on the mental and motor functions and they begin to deteriorate.
Mental confusion is a symptom of the disorder. It is most common that these conditions surface in dogs ages 4 to 6. They may sport an abnormal gait, have difficulty balancing, and may wander aimlessly. If you suspect your American Bulldog may have this disease, contact his vet immediately.
Disorders of the thyroid are not uncommon in American Bulldogs. If your dog is losing hair or is overly lethargic, you may want to have him checked out.
Kidney problems are another culprit to the American. The kidney regulates calcium and phosphorus levels. If your dog is drinking water excessively, has disinterest in eating, or is urinating frequently, he may have a kidney issue and should be seen.
Elbow Dysplasia and Hip Dysplasia are common in dogs that are built like the American Bulldog. There’s a lot of pressure put on their hips from their boxy, muscular bodies.
Dysplasia can be hereditary or can stem from environmental issues like constant climbing or jumping on rough terrain. This condition entails the hip or elbow popping out of joint due to the inability of the socket to hold it in.
The deformity can be corrected through a surgical procedure for severe cases. If your dog limps, seems to be in pain when he is walking or using his elbow, or if he isn’t walking at all, consult his vet. Tests can be run and treatment may be an option.
Dental problems plague the American Bulldog. He is apter than most breeds to get issues like gum and root infections. Dental disease is actually the number one most common chronic ailment in pets. It affects 80% of our canine furry friends.
The American Bulldog far surpasses this percent so you can imagine how serious the problem is. It begins with tartar buildup and then progresses on the infection and decay.
Be adamant about keeping your American Bulldog’s teeth brushed and limiting snacks that are not conducive to good dental health. Keep a regular dental check-up routine going at the vet clinic and stay on top of all his dental needs.
Cherry eye is yet another American Bulldog woe to watch for. As the name implies, the condition entails the reddening of the eye area, but it also includes what is referred to as a “third eye”.
This issue is fairly common in both cats and dogs and is a disorder of the nictitating membrane which is the third eye, so to speak. It most often inflicts pups who are two years of age and under.
You will be able to notice the redness and the deformity so consult your vet if your American has this condition and she will talk over options you may have concerning the situation.
ACL tears are painful and debilitating. The American Bulldog is prone to them due to the weight he places on his short, squatty legs and the fact that it may be in his genes to have the weakness.
In the event your dog suddenly limps or goes lame in his hind leg, he very well may have ruptured or torn his cranial cruciate ligament which is the equivalent of a human’s ACL that connects the front of the tibia bone located just below the knee to the back of the femur which is located right above the knee.
Medication may be prescribed for the discomfort or an ACL surgery may be in order if your dog has this condition. Surgery doesn’t always guarantee his ACL will be normal but it almost always at least helps.
Believe it or not, even though the list for the ailments the American Bulldog is hereditarily set up to possibly get, he is still very strong and healthy in general.
Being dedicated to watching for symptoms that something isn’t right increases the chances that if he does fall ill, you can have him back to new again in no time.
Is an American Bulldog the Right Choice for Me?
The American Bulldog is, in part, very misunderstood. Perhaps he always has been. Through his willingness to work hard and his affection to those he holds dear, he has managed to survive. That does not mean he thrives, however.
There are many rescue centers and even kill and no-kill shelters who are housing the overflow of Americans who could not find a place in today’s society. Humans are much to blame for that. Many take on this adorable, stout fellow but are not able or willing to provide what he needs.
If you have small, loud children or live in a busy household where there are multiple animals, he may not be for you, especially if a cat is one of the family members.
If you have a family that is more settled and your children are older, the American Bulldog may be just the guardian that helps you sleep well at night. Still, you’ll want to supervise him.
Are you active? If you run, skateboard, hike, or just love the outdoors, this guy will be your faithful companion until the end. It’s even better if you live on some land where he can have ample room to unwind and get all his energy out.
There may be dental issues to deal with if you take on an American Bulldog. You will need to commit to brushing his teeth, getting him in for dental checkups, and footing the bill if he has cavities or infections. The possibility of dental problems in this breed is high.
Can you handle a little slobber? This dog drools. It may sound adorable but it might not be when your rug is covered in it or...when you are covered in it. Be sure you are up for the drooling challenge if you are seriously considering getting an American Bulldog.
If you think the American Bulldog is the dog for you and if you are sure you are the pet parent for him, you are in for a real treat with a loyal and loving companion forever by your side.
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