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American Bulldog

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Powerful and boasting an intimidating appearance, the American bulldog is a surprising friendly soul and is rarely aggressive. These energetic dogs can be great pets but often boast stubborn streaks and a desire to dominate which can make them harder to train. They are good watchdogs and are loyal but require a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation.

Which breed group is the American bulldog in?

Breed group: none – not recognised by the Kennel Club 

American bulldog breed history

American bulldogs are the descendant of English bulldogs which were taken to America by immigrants to work on farms. They were seen in the southern states as early as the 17th century but random breeding meant that the characteristics of the dogs varied from region to region. They were excellent guard dogs, could control feral pigs and were effective at dealing with vermin. Bulldogs were later used for fighting and bull baiting.

By the advent of World War II, the number of bulldogs in America had dwindled. They were saved by John D Johnson and his father who collected bulldogs and began breeding them with English bulldogs from the north of the country. Their work attracted the attention of one Alan Scott who began breeding non-Johnson catch bulldogs to create what is now known as the Standard type American Bulldog, also called the Scott type. Johnson’s dogs became the Bully type American bulldog, also known as the Johnson or classic type.

The breed began to rise in popularity due to the dogs’ friendly natures and athleticism. They have excelled in obedience competitions and weight-pulling and continue to work on farms.

American bulldog breed characteristics

Boasting longer legs than English bulldogs, American bull dogs are powerful and athletic. Their foreheads are wider than they are high. The Bully type dogs are smaller than standard types with larger and rounder heads. Eyes are medium in size and are set wide on the dogs’ heads. Ears are small to medium and set high. American bulldogs are distinguished by muscular necks. The necks of Standard types are longer than those of Bully types.

Both Bully and Standard bulldogs are extremely powerful with heavily boned legs, medium sized feet and arched toes. Tails are carried upright when alert but between the back legs when the dogs are relaxed.

American bulldogs possess short and dense coats which can be coarse or soft. The only acceptable colours are all white and pied (85% colour which may be brindle, black, fawn or red).

These dogs are rarely overly aggressive or nervous. They are confident and courageous animals which are dominant by nature and which like to be the leaders of the pack. These memorable characters are fun loving and whimsical which makes them a pleasure to have around and they enjoy interacting with their owners.

  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Height: up to 71cm
  • Weight: up to 54kg
  • Powerful
  • Thick necks
  • Wide foreheads
  • Medium eyes
  • Small to medium ears
  • Tails set high
  • Arched toes
  • Confident
  • Courageous
  • Rarely aggressive
  • Dominant

Health issues with American bulldog

  • American bulldogs tend to lead comparatively long lives for larger dogs but are predisposed to a number of health conditions which are as follows:
  • Bone cancer
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL)
  • Ichthyosis
  • Nemaline myopathy
  • Kidney issues
  • Thyroid issues
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL problems
  • Cherry eye
  • Entropion eyelids
  • Ectropion eyelids
  • Allergies

What is the American bulldog bred for?

These dogs were originally bred to work on farms, controlling vermin, guarding livestock and tackling feral pigs.

What sort of owners does the American bulldog suit?

Loyal and devoted American bulldogs can be amazing pets but must be trained well if they are to live with children. They are large, powerful animals which don’t know their own strength and so can represent a danger to small children. They are excellent watchdogs and friendly but like to dominate, a tendency which must be kept in check. As such, they are best suited to experienced owners.

American bulldogs require a lot of exercise and constant stimulation. They are happiest in homes where at least one person is with them all day and they may become destructive when bored.  Puppies can be very boisterous and adult dogs may be aggressive towards other animals. Bulldogs tend to be stubborn and require a firm approach to training, but these dogs don’t need frequent grooming.

The perfect home for an American bulldog would be a farm or house with a garden in a rural location. Gardens should feature high fences as these dogs benefit from impressive spring and love to jump. They will thrive with owners who can devote plenty of time to them and who enjoy life outdoors.


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