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
- American Bulldog characteristics
- American Bulldog care tips
- Common American Bulldog health issues
- American Bulldog breed history
- Adopting or buying an American Bulldog
- Key Takeaways
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American Bulldog 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.
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.
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)
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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.
- 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.