Pet Care Blog

American Bulldog Breed Guide: Characteristics, History & Care

Aliyah Diamond
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
American Bulldog standing in the driveway

Despite their powerful looks, American Bulldogs are gentle giants who are happy to play with you and your children. They’re affectionate, intelligent, and protective, which makes them great family dogs. However, the members of this breed also have high exercise needs and require an active pet parent.

Keep reading to find out more about the breed’s characteristics, including physical traits, behavior, and grooming requirements to figure out whether American Bulldog is the right dog for you.

Table of Contents

Pro Tip: One in three pets require veterinary treatment each year and vet bills can come to thousands of dollars. Pet insurance can give you peace of mind when your dog gets sick, especially for breeds like the American Bulldog that are prone to certain health conditions.

American Bulldog characteristics

Physical characteristics

American Bulldogs are stocky and muscular dogs. Male Bulldogs are visibly larger and stockier than females and typically grow 22 to 28 inches tall and weigh between 70 and 120 pounds. Female Bulldogs can be 20 to 26 inches tall and weigh from 60 to 100 pounds.

The breed is characterized by a large, square head, broad and square muzzle, and powerful jaws. Their eyes are either almond-shaped or round and most commonly brown in color, but some members of the breed can have blue, grey, or hazel eyes. The ears are typically folded forward in a flap and the lips are pendulous.

American Bulldogs have a short and soft coat which is typically white with patches of black, brindle, black, red, or shades of gray or brown.


The American Bulldog temperament is characterized as brave, loyal, and prepared to protect their owners whenever necessary. On the other hand, they’re very affectionate and never display hostility or aggression towards their family or people they trust (which makes them excellent watchdogs). American Bulldogs are great with kids and enjoy the company of multiple people.


American Bulldogs typically live from 10 to 16 years (the average lifespan is about 11.5 years. Out of all the Bulldog breeds — including the French Bulldog and English Bulldog — the American Bulldog is the healthiest. It has the longest life expectancy and fewer genetic health problems.

Side profile of young American Bulldog

American Bulldog care tips

Training and exercise

Puppy training classes and early socialization are highly recommended. American Bulldogs need strict routines, good training practices, and positive reinforcement in order to retain proper boundaries.

American Bulldogs are very energetic and athletic dogs that require quite a lot of exercise and a wide range of activities that involve a companion, such as hikes, jogs, and tug-of-war games. They require constant stimulation and don’t like being left alone in a backyard.


When it comes to grooming, American Bulldogs are quite low maintenance as they don’t shed profusely. Regular brushing is needed in order to keep their coat clean and shiny. They don’t need frequent baths unless they become dirty. The ears should be cleaned about once a month, the teeth should be brushed regularly, and the nails should be trimmed every couple of weeks.


Because American Bulldogs are muscular and very active, they require food that is rich in meat protein and omega-3 fatty acids but low in carbohydrates in order to prevent weight gain. Some members of the breed are prone to becoming overweight, in which case you will need to keep an eye on your pet’s food intake and/or consult your vet for a special diet. Adult Bulldogs should also be given muscle and joint supplements.

Living with Bulldogs

As long you keep your American Bulldogs engaged and active, they will be happy in any type of home, be it a family house with a big yard or a city apartment. Although they generally get along well with other animals they’ve known since puppyhood, American Bulldogs can get a little grumpy if they try to eat their food or play with their toys.

Be sure your yard is securely fenced so that your dog can run around safely. American Bulldogs can be quite persistent and can easily jump over a fence when chasing a squirrel or a rabbit.

Consider creating a busy box or maze to provide enough mental stimulation and prevent boredom which might result in undesirable behavior. When you are not around, be sure to leave interactive toys to keep your Bulldog busy.

Portrait of tiger coat American Bulldog in yard

Common American Bulldog health issues

The American Bulldog is generally considered healthy but there are some genetic issues that are common to the breed, such as:

  • Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL, a group of progressive degenerative diseases of the central nervous system)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Disorders of the thyroid and kidney
  • ACL injuries
  • Cherry eye (prolapsed third eyelid)
  • Entropion (an ocular condition that causes the eyelids to roll inward)
  • Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)

Pro Tip: Deciding which pet insurance plan is right for your American Bulldog’s medical needs is easy at Pawlicy Advisor. We can help you compare pet insurance providers side-by-side in terms that are easy to understand, and offered at the best possible price.

American Bulldog breed history

Bulldogs were originally bred for bull-baiting in the 17th century. Later, when this gruesome sport went out of fashion, Bulldogs slowly became family dogs in England. The English version of the breed was brought to North America to be used as working dogs on farms. Due to their strength, intelligence, agility, and loyalty, Bulldogs were often used for both hunting and herding.

By the end of WWII, the breed was almost extinct, and only survived thanks to devoted breeders like John D. Johnson and Alan Scott who started breeding American Bulldogs after the war. During this period, two different lines of Bulldogs appeared but today’s American Bulldog is a cross between the two.

The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the breed in 1999. The American Bulldog is not registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), but the AKC recognized the breed into its Foundation Stock Service in 2019.

Adopting or Buying an American Bulldog

Check out the American Bulldog Association for a breed registry of American Bulldogs, as well as the Bulldog Club of America. If you’re getting your dog from a breeder, be sure to ask for a relevant medical history and any diseases in the dog’s bloodline. Another option is to look at rescue organizations such as the American Bulldog Rescue.

If you are interested in similar breeds, consider looking into Boxers, French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, and American Pit Bull Terriers.

Key Takeaways

  • American Bulldogs are powerful but affectionate and protective pets. Their love of children makes them great family dogs.
  • These gentle giants require lots of exercise and don’t like to be left alone for a long time. If they get bored, they might display undesirable behavior, so make sure to consider your lifestyle before getting an American Bulldog.
  • In general, the breed is considered to be healthy but some Bulldogs are prone to certain health issues such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cherry eye, bone cancer, etc.

Do you want to find the best pet insurance?

Let's analyze your pet's breed, age, and location to find the right coverage and the best savings. Ready?

Analyze My Pet

About Pawlicy Advisor

The pet insurance marketplace endorsed by veterinarians, at Pawlicy Advisor we make buying the best pet insurance easier. By comparing personalized coverage and pricing differences we can save you a ton of money, up to 83% in some instances!

Pawlicy Advisor helping a pet parent and their dog find a great deal on insurance

Instantly Compare Pet Insurance Plans

Get Quotes


How Pet Insurance Works

How To Compare Plans

Determine If Pet Insurance Is Worth It

Determine If Wellness Plans Are Worth It

Vet Visit Costs

New Puppy Checklist

Comparison Charts

ASPCA vs. Pets Best

Pets Best vs. Embrace

Embrace vs. Pumpkin

Pumpkin vs. MetLife

More Comparison Charts

Find Your State

New Jersey





New York



More States

Dog Insurance

German Shepherd




English Bulldog

French Bulldog

Great Dane





More Breeds

Aliyah Diamond

Aliyah Diamond
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Aliyah Diamond has more than ten years of experience in animal hospitals - working with dozens of species from dogs and cats, to elephants and snow leopards. Her lifelong passion for helping animals currently has her earning her doctorate of veterinary medicine at Cornell University and helping Pawlicy Advisor educate pet parents.

More you might like

Dog cooling off with hose
7 minute read

How to Cool Down Dogs

Small dog lying on the floor inside
6 minute read

Hiccups in Dogs & Puppies

Dog steals clothes from laundry
6 minute read

Pica in Dogs

Woman kissing cat in mirror reflection
5 minute read

5 Ways to Practice Self-Care with Your Cat

Dog drinking from water bottle
5 minute read

Heat Stroke in Dogs

Mongrel dog overheating outdoors
7 minute read

How Hot Is Too Hot For Dogs?

Portrait of a long haired Chihuahua
6 minute read

Chihuahua Dog Breed Guide

Full profile of a Siberian Husky
6 minute read

Siberian Husky Breed Guide

Beagle dog panting
7 minute read

Beagle Dog Breed Guide

Rottweiler puppy laying in field
6 minute read

Rottweiler Dog Breed Guide

English Bulldog laying on the floor
9 minute read

English Bulldog Breed Guide

Spayed dog wearing cone with vet
5 minute read

How Much Does it Cost to Spay or Neuter a Dog?

Cat with glowing green eyes and matching collar
4 minute read

What Does Your Cat's Zodiac Sign Mean?

Vet scanning dog microchip
4 minute read

How Much Does It Cost to Microchip a Dog?

Two German Shepherds in grass field
6 minute read

German Shepherd Guide

Vet examining sick cat
5 minute read

Giardia in Cats

Orange cat sleeping
2 minute read

10 Cute Cat Pictures That Help Us Get Through Monday

Veterinarian smiling and holding dog
7 minute read

Primary Care Veterinarians

Cat laughing on couch
2 minute read

7 Hilarious Cat TikTok Accounts to Make You Laugh

Dog wants cat food
5 minute read

Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

Cat heart murmur
5 minute read

Heart Murmur in Cats

Vets examining Boston Terrier dog
7 minute read

Kidney Failure in Dogs

Beagle dog laying on floor in pain
5 minute read

Pain Relief For Dogs

Pug tilting head
6 minute read

Top 10 Pet Care Myths

Boxer dog running
6 minute read

Boxer Breed Guide

White and black French Bulldog
6 minute read

French Bulldog Breed Guide

Spotted Great Dane in sunshine
6 minute read

Great Dane Breed Guide

Woman walking Pug dog
7 minute read

Pug Breed Guide

Boston Terrier with wrinkles laying on the floor
3 minute read

11 Photos of Dogs to Help You Make It Through Monday

Man giving high five to yellow Labrador Retriever
7 minute read

What Is Preventive Care?

Dachshund acting like a ventriloquist dummy
2 minute read

8 Hilarious Dog TikTok Accounts to Make You Laugh

French bulldog with upset stomach laying on ground
10 minute read

Remedies for Upset Stomach in Dogs

Cat with blue eyes and blue collar
5 minute read

Probiotics For Cats

Gray cat receiving pet and appearing to be sick
8 minute read

Constipation in Cats

Cat stepping out of litter box
7 minute read

Diarrhea in Cats

White Standard Poodle standing in yard
8 minute read

Poodle Dog Breed Guide

Dog on the beach
6 minute read

Summer Essentials for Dogs

Small dog in carrier receiving a shot
11 minute read

What Vaccines Do Dogs Need?

White dog looking at bowl of vegetables
11 minute read

What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?

Vet examining a dog near a woman wearing a face covering
8 minute read

Should I Take My Pet to the Emergency Room?

Golden Retriever has dry nose
6 minute read

Why Is My Dog's Nose Dry?

person wrapping a dog's paw with gauze
14 minute read

Top 10 Items To Put In A Dog First Aid Kit

Dalmatian dog eating fruits on table
12 minute read

What Fruits Can Dogs Eat?

Cat drinking milk from a bowl outside
6 minute read

Can Cats Drink Milk?

Cat Near Bananas on Counter
5 minute read

Can Cats Eat Bananas?

Cat staring at food on the floor
16 minute read

Human Foods Cats Can and Can't Eat

Dog eating a blade of grass laying down in a field
6 minute read

Why Is My Dog Eating Grass?

Cat sniffing a branch of an apple tree
7 minute read

Can Cats Eat Apples?

Cat eating corn from a bowl on the floor
7 minute read

Can Cats Eat Corn?

woman in rain coat petting dog
7 minute read

Pet Emergency Kit Checklist

Back to Blog
A family with pets that are insured by Pawlicy Advisor
Pawlicy Advisor is the leading independent marketplace for finding the best coverage for your pet at the lowest rate.
Join 2,438,795+ insured dogs and cats across the US.
Get a Quote
Our pet insurance partners
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Logo
Pets Best Pet Insurance Logo
Embrace Pet Insurance Logo
Pumpkin Pet Insurance Logo
MetLife Pet Insurance Logo
Prudent Pet Insurance Logo