The American Bulldog is stocky and muscular, but also agile and built for chasing down stray cattle and helping with farm work. In fact, some are known to jump six feet or more into the air.
American Bulldogs are intelligent and affectionate, which makes them great, protective family dogs; although, they have high exercise needs and require an experienced, active pet parent. They can vary in appearance, as there are multiple types, including the Bully or Classic type, also known as the Johnson type, the Standard or Performance type, also called the Scott type, and hybrids of the two.
With patient training and care, American Bulldogs can make loving family companions. If you’re looking for a loving, energetic best buddy, then this may be the dog for you!
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks. You can find a great jacket for your dog here!
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Working DogsHeight:20 to 28 inchesWeight:60 to 120 poundsLife Span:10 to 16 years
More About This Breed
American Bulldogs are generally happy, family-loving dogs that do well in homes where they have plenty of space to roam.
A big, fenced-in backyard is practically a must-have for one of these energetic dogs, though exercise needs may vary by specific type and breeding. They may be just fine with urban life, so long as they get plenty of walks, and they can even make good jogging or running buddies.
They do not, however, take very well to being left alone for long periods of time, and they can feel cooped up in an apartment. If their physical and mental stimulation needs aren’t met, they can become bored and destructive.
American Bulldogs need experienced owners who can be patient with training and start socialization early. So long as they are well trained, they’ll get along just fine with children and other pets, though it is still important to supervise them as you would with any dog.
Whether they are used for hunting and farm work or just cuddling up with their humans, the American Bulldog makes for an excellent, loyal companion and a competent watchdog.
- Although they were used for bull baiting a long time ago, they have since become working farm dogs and family companions.
- The breed almost went extinct near the end of World War II, but the breed has since been revived and is in no danger of disappearing.
- There are multiple types of American Bulldogs in modern times, and though they used to be mostly white, they now come in a variety of patterns and colors.
- This breed does not do well being left home alone for long hours, and they have high exercise needs. They are not well-suited for apartment life and prefer a large, fenced-in yard to roam around.
- Their appearance often gets them confused with the Dogo Argentino, which is a separate breed entirely. They may also be confused with American Pit Bull Terriers, though the American Bulldog tends to be quite a bit larger.
- American Bulldogs can be suspicious of strangers and territorial, which can make them good watchdogs. They require socialization training so they know how to behave around invited guests.
The ancestor of the American Bulldog is the Old English Bulldog, which was brought to North America by working class immigrants who wanted to keep their working dogs to help on the farms. Rather than being concerned with maintaining breed purity or certain genetic traits, early farmers bred the dogs with the best working qualities for all-around farm work. The breed’s agility, intelligence, and loyalty made them very helpful for handling cattle, as well as hunting. Wild pigs were an invasive species not native to the American south that had no natural predators, and the strong jaws and muscular build of the American Bulldog was perfect for hunting them down.
There is a sad part of the American Bulldog’s history, too. They were originally used in the barbaric sport of bull baiting. By the end of World War II, the American Bulldog was almost extinct until a few breeders scoured the south for specimens to revive the breed. Today, the American Bulldog is in no danger of extinction and is mostly a family-friendly companion.
This breed stands quite a bit taller than the English or French Bulldogs. Adorable American Bulldog puppies will grow to 20 to 28 inches in height and 60 to 120 pounds by the time they reach adulthood.
Although these sizes are considered to be standard for the breed, American Bulldogs can be quite a bit larger or smaller.
American Bulldogs are friendly, intelligent, and affectionate, though that affectionate nature often leads them to be territorial and overly suspicious of strangers. This makes them lovely family dogs and watchdogs, even for families with children, but they will need socialization training, especially as puppies to get along with unfamiliar humans or other dogs that stop by for a visit. Luckily, their intelligence makes them highly adaptable and trainable.
The American Bulldog is a playful breed that has some high exercise needs, and they do well in families that are able to stay active with lots of walks and play time. They aren’t the best breed to be kept in apartments or small spaces that don’t allow for them to burn off energy. When they aren’t physically or mentally stimulated, they can become destructive and chew on things they aren’t supposed to.
The American Bulldog is generally a healthy breed with a life expectancy of 10 to 16 years. Some are predisposed to certain medical conditions such as cataracts, mange, or hypothyroidism. If they suffer from obesity early in life, they may develop hip or elbow dysplasia.
The breed is somewhat brachycephalic, meaning they have short snouts. This may make it more difficult for them to tolerate hot weather, especially while exercising. It is important to make sure they have enough water and monitor them and make sure they are not struggling to breathe.
Most of the care that is necessary for the health of an American Bulldog is meeting their needs for exercise and mental stimulation. Failing to do so can result in anxiety, boredom, and destructive behavior. So long as those needs are met, the rest is fairly standard.
Maintain normal vet visits, check their ears weekly, keep up with monthly nail clipping and normal dental care. One of the issues you may face is the potential for drooling that is common among bully breeds. You should take care to wipe your dog as needed unless you want a generous amount of slobber all over your home.
An American Bulldog diet should be formulated for a large to giant breed, and their high energy level should be taken into consideration. Their needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood.
It is best to ask your veterinarian or professional nutritionist about your dog’s specific nutritional requirements. You should discuss with them how to form an appropriate diet for your dog.
Coat Color And Grooming
American Bulldogs can come in several different colors. Traditionally they are white with patches of brindle, red, or black, but there are quite a few more color variations to the breed in modern times. They may have patterns that include shades of black, red, brindle, brown, or fawn.
American Bulldogs usually have black on the nose and the rims of the eyes, but they may also have shades of pink. Their eye color is usually brown. Although these are breed standards, some American Bulldogs have been known to be merle or have coats that contain shades of blue.
American Bulldogs have a short coat that sheds moderately throughout the year, and they don’t require extensive grooming. Weekly brushing should keep it under control with baths as needed.
Children And Other Pets
As with most breeds, socialization training should begin early for American Bulldogs. So long as they are trained properly, American Bulldogs are great with children and are very loyal to all members of the family. It is also important to train children on how to properly handle and treat animals to avoid incident. Even with properly trained dogs, you should always supervise them when they play with children to make sure things don’t get out of hand. American Bulldogs are large animals, and overly energetic play can cause injuries.
The same can be said for interactions with other pets. So long as American Bulldogs are socialized and trained, they usually get along with other dogs just fine. Play should be supervised, especially with smaller dogs that can easily get hurt when playing with a large, muscular American Bulldog. Generally, this breed is friendly, but injuries can happen when they are too eager to play rough or don’t know their own strength.
If you’d like to adopt an American Bulldog, you can check out American Bulldog Rescue, a non-profit group that specifically tries to find home for dogs of this breed.