Loving, loyal and affectionate, the American Bulldog’s popularity as a beloved family pet is justly deserved. Its playfulness and high energy levels mean it thrives on a considerable amount of exercise, and its high intelligence level means that it requires mental stimulation to keep occupied and happy. Should you be looking for a four-legged friend that can provide help on a farm or guarding property, the American Bulldog would be an excellent choice. However, whilst the American Bulldog has always retained its protective instincts, its dedication and gentle nature combine to make it a faithful family defender and ever-present companion.
Height: 20-28 inches (50-70 cm)
Weight: 60-120 lbs (27-54 kg)
Average Litter Size: 11
Life Expectancy: Up to 16 years
Good with Children:Yes
Kennel Club Classification: N/A – the American Bulldog has not yet been recognised as a breed in its own right by the Kennel Club
Although historically, American Bulldogs were mostly white in colour, sometimes with brindle, black or red patches, nowadays they can be a variety of shades and patterns, including black, fawn, red, brindle and brown.
American Bulldogs have short coats and don’t require a great deal of grooming, besides the standard weekly brushing to keep their coat smooth and remove any loose hairs. Like all bully breeds, the American Bulldog can be prone to drooling, and it’s important to keep the area around their mouths clean and dry to prevent sores from developing.
Fortunately, the American Bulldog is a generally healthy breed with few inherent health conditions. They are sometimes prone to hip and/or elbow dysplasia and enquiries should be made to check whether a puppy’s parents have suffered with this condition. Occasionally, they can suffer with certain issues including mange, hypothyroidism and cataracts. However, whilst the owner should be alert to the materialisation of these conditions, each is relatively easy to treat by a qualified veterinarian. It is also important to note that, due to their short snouts, American Bulldogs have a low tolerance to heat, and should be closely monitored in warmer weather to ensure they are not experiencing breathing difficulties.
Despite its history as a working dog and its involvement in the savage sport of bullbaiting, the American Bulldog typically has a gentle and loving nature. It is fiercely devoted to its family, which can sometimes cause it to become a little territorial and defensive of unfamiliar people and dogs. Unfailingly reliable and brave, the American Bulldog will make a highly faithful addition to the family, although its loyalty can cause it to suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time.
American Bulldogs are highly intelligent and often take to training very well. However, due to their exuberance as puppies and their occasional tenacity, they generally require firm and consistent handling by someone who they consider to be their pack-leader, and for this reason may not be the best choice for an inexperienced dog owner. American Bulldogs require early socialisation to prevent them from becoming too territorial and averse to strangers. They also have strong prey drives that will need to be tempered by the owner in order to prevent the American Bulldog from reverting to its instinctual chasing behaviour. The American Bulldog responds well to positive reinforcement when it comes to training, but the use of any physical force against it may trigger its protective instincts, causing the dog to defend itself from harm.
Typically, the American Bulldog has a great deal of energy and will require a considerable amount of exercise. Ideally, they should have a substantial amount of outdoor space where they can be free to roam independently; although, depending on the dog in question, it may be sufficient to take your American Bulldog for several walks each day. Given their liveliness, American Bulldogs generally make for excellent jogging or running companions, and are also at home on farmland, where they can wander freely and assist with the work of the day. It should be noted that American Bulldogs that don’t get the appropriate amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation can become bored and stressed, which, in turn, can lead to some destructive behaviours.
The American Bulldog is descended from the British Bulldog and was originally known by several different names, including English White, Alabama Bulldog and Southern Bulldog. The breed originated in the southern states of America when working class immigrants relocated to the States, bringing their beloved dogs with them to work on their farms and ranches.
Historically, American Bulldogs were predominantly working dogs, with an aptitude for farm work – mainly herding and protecting cattle – and hunting. Thanks to its impressive strength and powerful jaws, the American Bulldog was often used to hunt wild pigs in the American south back in the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition, its high levels of intelligence and devotion make the American Bulldog an excellent watchdog for the protection of both people and property.
Aside from its use in farm work and hunting, the American Bulldog was also utilised in bullbaiting. This spectator sport was very popular at one time and consisted of the American Bulldog fastening its jaws around the snout of a bull while the enraged creature attempted to throw or crush the dog in turn. This utilisation almost drove the American Bulldog to extinction at the end of the Second World War, and its existence was only preserved by a small number of determined breeders who made it their ambition to continue its bloodline.
Despite having been a relatively popular dog breed since the 17th century, the American Bulldog was not officially named until the 1980s. Today, whilst the American Bulldog is not recognised by either the Kennel Club in the UK or by the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club and American Canine Registry both recognise the American Bulldog as a breed in its own right. Whilst its typical characteristics would still make it an excellent working dog, nowadays it is more popular as a devoted and cherished pet by families around the world.
American Bulldogs are regular frequenters of the big screen. In the 1993 film ‘Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey’, one of the three main characters was an American Bulldog called Chance, voiced by Michael J Fox.