Are you thinking about becoming the pet parent to an American Bulldog? Or have you just added a new American Bulldog pup or adult dog to your family? Then you’ve come to the right place! We’ll help you learn all there is to know about American Bulldogs in this guide!
History of American Bulldogs
The American bulldog breed, as we know it today, originally started with bulldogs in England. The English bulldog was a working dog and was used to herd and catch livestock. This breed eventually came to the American colonies in the 1700s. During colonial times this breed was often used by butchers and farmers, but was also used in baiting events (bull, bear and buffalo baiting). Thankfully, this any kind of baiting contests were outlawed long ago, and this breed no longer is used for that purpose.
Over the years, these bulldogs were bred to use on the homestead or farm, where they worked as guard dogs, as livestock herders. They’re also popular hunting dogs, prized for their excellent noses and the ability to chase down prey. In modern times, this lovely breed has become a family favorite, although they are still used as working dogs on farms and ranches to this day.
American Bulldog—One Breed, Different Lines
While the American Bulldog is a recognized breed, there are different lines of dogs within the breed. It’s common to hear these dogs by their lines—such as Johnson or Scott lines.
Alan Scott and John D. Johnson were friends who decided to breed bulldogs. Scott decided to breed dogs more adept at dealing with cattle, while Johnson bred bulldogs that were more protective, with characteristics of a mastiff. These men traded dogs back and forth and they quickly developed their own separate lines of American Bulldogs.
From there, the breed developed further into other lines, including the Painter, Williamson, Tate or Bailey strains. Each of these strains belongs to the breed American Bulldog, but each strain has slightly different characteristics that make it distinct from the others.
American Bulldog Physical Characteristics
You’ve probably seen this breed many times! They are typically stocky and heavy-boned, with short legs and a barrel chest. They have squarish heads, with a short muzzle and very powerful jaws. American Bulldogs are most often white but can also have coats with patterned colors. Their ears also come in a variety of shapes—you’ll find this sturdy breed with ears that are half-pricked, with a forward flap, cropped etc.
Male American Bulldogs are generally 22-28 inches tall, and weight from 75-125 pounds. Females are a little bit shorter—from 20-25 inches and weight from 60-100 pounds.
American Bulldog Grooming
These dogs are easy to take care of when it comes to grooming. They have a short coat that sheds moderately through the years. In order to control shedding, you’ll need to brush his coat at least once a week. His nails will need to be trimmed about once a month (or more often, if need).
Your pup’s facial wrinkles are adorable, but will also need regular cleaning. It’s important to keep these areas dry and wiped out on a regular basis. This will keep bacteria from taking hold in his facial wrinkles.
As with all dogs, your American Bulldog fur baby will need to have his ears cleaned regularly. Not only will he have clean ears, but once-a-week cleaning will help your fur baby avoid ear infections caused by bacteria, yeast and parasites.
American Bulldog Temperament
Despite their tough looks and demeaner, these dogs are known to be gentle and affectionate—your tough-looking bulldog fur baby may enjoy lounging in your lap! Your canine companion will enjoy staying by your side most of the time. These dogs can have a hard time being separated from their loved ones.
American Bulldogs are excellent when it comes to being trained. These dogs are known for their intelligence, but they’re also known to be strong-willed. You’ll need to establish yourself as the pack leader with your dog from the beginning. When it comes to training, these dogs do great if you use a firm, but gentle hand. They respond well to positive reinforcement.
This breed is wonderful for families—in fact, your children will have the best companion in an American Bulldog. They love children. Your family will also gain a very protective guardian in such a dog. These bulldogs have been known to save the lives of family members in times of danger. This is how devoted they are to their loved ones. One note—never leave your fur baby and children unattended. Any dog can quickly harm a child—you just never know. So always be in close proximity when your kids and dog are together.
American Bulldogs tend to be active and playful; they’re also known for their high energy levels and intelligence. Don’t forget they were bred to be working dogs. In fact, your pup will need regular exercise and play to give his active mind and body occupied.
If these intelligent, active dogs are left alone and become bored, they do have a tendency to cause some mayhem. You may come home to chewed up pillows, with their insides strewn all over the living room. Or your pup may decide your backyard needs some new holes—they will dig to the center of the earth, if given the opportunity! To avoid these issues, be sure to give your dog lots of regular exercise and attention.
American Bulldogs are used as hunting dogs—they will go after anything they perceive as prey. As a result, if you have other pets such as cats, rodents, etc.
It is a good idea to be sure to get a bulldog that has been properly socialized with other animals. This way, you’ll avoid aggression and harm toward the pets you already have.
American Bulldog Lifespan & Health Issues
This breed is generally considered healthy, with a lifespan of between 10-15 years, on average. However, American Bulldogs are known to suffer from certain genetic disorders including:
- Cherry eye (protrusion of the third eyelid that becomes red)
- Demodectic mange
- Elbow and/or hip dysplasia
- Brachycephalic syndrome (common in animals with “pushed-in” faces”)
- Sunburn/skin cancer (more common in white or mostly white dogs)
- Congenital deafness
- Bone cancer
- ACL tears
Even so, American Bulldogs are considered an overall healthy breed. It’s important to look for responsible breeders.
American Bulldog Breeders
American Bulldogs for sale—you’ll find many available. However, if you choose to adopt your forever American Bulldog puppies from a breeder, be sure to keep in mind the following:
- Certifications: Both the mother and father dogs need to have certificates from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip to certify the dog(s) have normal hips and elbows.
- Full-time breeder vs hobbyist: Make sure the breeder is a full-time breeder rather than a hobby breeder. With a full-time breeder, you’ll have a better chance of getting a healthy, well-socialized dog or puppy.
- Ask to meet the parents: they should be available for you to see; check their temperaments—watch for signs of aggression, or if the dogs are calm, friendly, etc.
- Ask to see the breeder’s pedigree registration papers: a good breeder will have registered their dogs with the AKC. Check to see that they have registration papers and forms to ensure you’re getting an AKC registered puppy.
- View the puppy’s or dog’s health records: ensure they’ve had all required vaccinations (and the dates the shots were given), have been de-wormed, and look for any other health issues in the dog’s records. It’s also a good idea to view the health records for the pup’s litter and of his parents. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting in your new fur baby and can ensure he’s healthy before he comes home.
Is an American Bulldog Right for You?
It’s important to consider the needs of this breed before you bring one home.
Here are some questions to consider:
Are you willing to train your dog and socialize him properly? These dogs are very protective and dominant—they’re very loving towards their family. However, they may show aggression towards strangers and animals they consider prey. It is highly recommended that you and your dog go through obedience training—the sooner the better. Are you willing to train your dog and socialize him properly?
Are American Bulldogs safe with children? Yes, but like with any other dog or pet, your children and fur baby should never be left unsupervised when together. This is especially true when your dog’s around children he doesn’t know.
Is this breed aggressive towards other dogs and other animals? Yes, they can be as American Bulldogs want to be dominant. In addition, males should never be with other males (American Bulldogs or other breeds), especially if the male(s) haven’t been neutered. Females may also fight with other females or males. It’s generally not recommended to have more than one American Bulldog in your family at any one time. These dogs can also be aggressive toward other animals, including cats. It’s important to be sure your puppy has been socialized with other animals from a young age. Never leave your dog alone with other pets.
In addition, you’ll need to commit to keeping your American Bulldog fur baby happy and healthy with enough exercise and playtime. These dogs require plenty of exercise every day to keep them more mellow and healthy. Walking, jogging, etc. are activities they love. You might also consider taking him to the dog park for frisbee chase!
American Bulldogs are known to act out when unhappy, left alone for large parts of the day, and if they don’t have enough exercise. They need lots of love and attention, in addition to exercise. Otherwise, they have a tendency to dig, shred, chew and other behavioral problems.
Adopting an American Bulldog into your family is a wonderful idea, just be sure you can commit the time, effort and love these special fur babies need to be a healthy, happy part of your family.
Related Sources: NY Times Washington Post NIH.Gov