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American Bulldog

Other names : Ambulldog

American Bulldog
American Bulldog
Puppy

The American Bulldog is a dog of molosse type, originating, as the name suggests, from the United States. This dog is not part of any breed group since the FCI has not yet formally integrated this breed into its nomenclature. There are two types, Standard (Scott) and Bully (Classic). Used exclusively as a farm or guard dog at the time, they are now present in many households, including those with children. Affectionate, loyal, faithful, playful and intelligent, this dog adapts very well to family life. Despite appearances, this dog has never been a fighting dog and its categorisation is far from truthful.

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Key facts about the American Bulldog

  • Life expectancy : Between 11 and 14 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful
  • Size : Big
  • Type of coat : Short
  • Price : Around £650

Physical characteristics of the American Bulldog

Adult size

Female dog Between 22 and 25 in
Male dog Between 24 and 27 in

Weight

Female dog Between 68 and 90 lb
Male dog Between 90 and 110 lb

Coat colour

The American Bulldog can have a white coat with or without brindle, chestnut, fawn, or red shades. Solid black, blue, merle or tricolour coats are not accepted.

Type of coat

The fur is short.

Fur can vary between soft and stiff but must never be long, curly or frizzy.

Eye colour

Preferably black or dark brown, the eyes can be of different colours but brown or blue eyes with a lack of pigment constitute a defect.

Description

The American Bulldog is medium to large in size, of molosser type. They have a powerful, compact and athletic look. The skeleton and musculature is well developed. The male is stockier, with a heavier frame than the female, which is typically more slender. The head is large and broad, the flat forehead gives the impression of a square skull. The stop is deep and well defined (slightly less for the Standard type). The ears are average in size and preferably drop or rose. Pricked or hound ears are a major fault. The tail is carried at mid-height, thick at the base, it tapers to the point and must be carried upright over the line of the back.

Three types exist: Bully type (classic) which is bigger and used as a guard dog; the Standard type (scott) which is taller, slender and is more often used as a farm dog; and finally the hybrid type, the most common, which is a cross between the two previous types.

Varieties

Bully American Bulldog (Classic)

Standard American Bulldog (Scott)

Hybrid American Bulldog (Bully x Standard)

Temperament

Affectionate

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The Ambulldog is considered tender, jovial and very expressive towards members of the family. Therefore they make very pleasant companion dogs, especially with children.

Playful

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The clown-like side of this athletic dog, make this breed particularly enthusiastic when it comes to playing. Beware of their enormous amounts of energy which must be channeled from a young age.

Calm

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This dog will be calm once it has used up its energy. That being said, they appreciate family life, especially spending time with their master, with whom they will become attached to very quickly. They will adapt a lot depending on their owner’s mood.

Intelligent

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Built for work, whether as a watchdog for the Bully type or farm dog for the Standard type, their fine intelligence is put at the service of the missions entrusted to them.

Hunter

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The American Bulldog, Standard type (or Scott) is from a cross with a Pitbull, and has a much more accentuated hunter instinct than the Bully type (or classic) which is exclusively used for the guarding.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Very suspicious and vigilant around strangers, the American Bulldog should not be too shy or aggressive because this is considered a flaw. By nature, this dog is wary of strangers but never attacks without reason.

Independent

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These dogs are very loyal and have an unfaltering admiration for their owners and all those around them.

Behaviour of the American Bulldog

Tolerates solitude

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Since this dog is very close to the members of its adoptive family, it does not cope well with loneliness. An American Bulldog will suffer if left isolated or excluded and gradual habituation to short absences is necessary.

In no case can an American Bulldog remain alone at home for an entire day, otherwise serious behavioural disorders could develop (excessive barking, destruction, separation anxiety, etc.). Ambulldogs require their families to be available and present to feel safe.

Easy to train / obedience

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Although more docile than their molosser cousins, the American Bulldog remains a bit stubborn and can be difficult to educate, especially by amateur masters.

However, if a relationship of trust and mutual respect between the master and his dog is established and the educational methods respect the principles of positive and non-violent education, it can be very pleasant to interact with an American Bulldog. 

One must not in any case seek any balance of power with him, at the risk of fanning his aggression and turn him into a dangerous dog. There are no bad dogs, only bad teachers, so it is important to know how to educate a dog with firmness and gentleness before adopting this breed.

Socialisation will have to be one of the key points of your dog’s education because this breed tends to want to dominate other dogs, sometimes seeking a fight.

Barking

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The Ambulldog rarely barks, their presence alone serves as a deterrent.

Tendency to run away

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Far too faithful and close to their social group, this guard dog prefers to stay with their family to watch over them and participate in family life rather than run away.

Be careful though the Standard type can be more of a hunter than the Bully and can therefore be tempted to chase after prey. But they’ll always find their way back home.

Destructive

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The powerful jaw of this mastiff can do a lot of damage, especially when they’re left alone without having been trained to handle loneliness.

Given their strong attachment to their social group, it is usually objects that smell of their owners that will be the victims of the American Bulldog’s destruction (a phone, the remote control, cushions, the sofa, etc.).

However, if these dogs have not had enough exercise and are unable to use up their energy then they will take out any frustrations on everything they come across, mainly exits (doors and curtains etc.)

Greedy / Gluttony

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A very good eater, be careful not to overfeed this dog because it should under no circumstances be overweight. It is therefore important to ration your meals and avoid giving too many treats outside of mealtimes.

Guard dog

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The American bulldog (and particularly the Bully type) is an excellent guard dog that is committed to protecting family from any intrusion. Vigilant and courageous, they are afraid of nothing and will not hesitate to impose themselves to defend their family. On the other hand, they are never aggressive without reason, especially if well trained and socialised.

First dog

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Not particularly easy to train and being very powerful, this dog cannot afford to be adopted by novice or lax owners. Training must be both firm and gentle, it is appropriate to find the right balance to highlight all the good qualities of this dog who, unfortunately, has a bad reputation.

Lifestyle

American Bulldog in a flat

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Country life is an ideal living environment for this breed, but they can still cope with city life, in an apartment, if regularly let out every day (a minimum of 3 daily walks).

With very little ability to handle isolation and loneliness, it is advisable to let your bulldog sleep indoors, in the warmth.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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The American Bulldog is a sporty dog, endowed with a lot of energy that must be used up every day to avoid developing behavioural disorders related to boredom.

It is best to be a dynamic person to adopt this dog, to offer various physically stimulating activities. But beware, their squashed noses can unfortunately cause some breathing problems; intense exercise, especially when hot, should be avoided.

Travelling / easy to transport

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This dog can reach a fairly impressive size and is not the easiest canine to carry. Additionally, their categorisation as a breed can hinder smooth travel.

Compatibility

American Bulldog and cats

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Because they can be very predatory, cohabitation with a cat can be complicated and is not recommended. Nevertheless, there are of course exceptions and in many cases it is possible, especially if both pets have grown up together.

American Bulldog and dogs

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If well socialised from an early age, the American Bulldog puppy can get along with other dogs but beware, with this dog, nothing is guaranteed.

Even when he is a puppy and gets on well with his peers, he could still "click" when he reaches his physical and emotional maturity (about 18 months) and become more aggressive. In fact, socialisation must be constant in order to have a socially balanced dog.

On the other hand, there is no chance of two dogs of the same sex living together, especially males.

American Bulldog and children

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This breed loves children and enjoys playing with them. However, as it is the case for all other breeds, it is not advisable to leave a child alone with a dog unattended or to let a child irritate a dog.

Safety rules must be in place for children to learn to respect this dog and to cohabit serenely (do not disturb them when they’re in their basket, do not ride on their back, pull their ears or tail, ask parents for permission before playing etc.).

American Bulldog and the elderly

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Since this dog needs owners who are available and present, retired people can prove to be good masters for the American Bulldog but must still be dynamic enough to meet their energy needs.

Price

The price of an American Bulldog varies according to their origins, age and sex. This breed would cost on average £650. 

Please note that it can be difficult to get an American Bulldog since the breed is not officially recognised outside the United States. 

Regarding the monthly budget, a dog this size will cost about £50 (food and typical annual care included).

Grooming

Maintaining an American Bulldog is very simple thanks to their short hair. Weekly brushing is enough to maintain the beauty of the coat.

Eyes and ears should be monitored and cleaned regularly to prevent infection.

This dog does not need to be groomed unless very dirty obviously Frequent baths could harm and remove the protective layer which gives the dog a degree of protection against the cold and parasites.

Hair loss

This breed’s light coat means they lose very little hair.

Nutrition of the American Bulldog

An American Bulldog’s nutrition is very important and must be closely supervised. Food should be adapted for the Ambulldog to prevent skin problems.  

Seek advice from a vet to ensure you are meeting your dog’s nutritional requirements. 

The diet should be adapted according to the age, the weight, the health but also the daily activities of the dog.

It is advisable to give this Bulldog high quality croquettes, sold in specialised shops, because it can be very difficult to find the perfect balance for this sensitive dog.

Health of the American Bulldog

Life expectancy

Life expectancy is around 13 years.

Strong / robust

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This is a robust and resistant dog that can nevertheless suffer from respiratory problems, because of its brachycephalic morphology.

Withstand heat

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The American Bulldog’s squashed nose does not tolerate heat well and means they can suffer from respiratory problems and are unable to quickly adapt their body temperature.

Withstand cold

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Despite their robustness, it is advisable to let your dog sleep indoors because it may not be able to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Tendency to put on weight

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Very greedy, an American Bulldog can quickly become obese if they are not fed a balanced diet as well as enjoying regular physical activities.

Common illnesses

  • Displacement of the hip and elbow
  • Allergies
  • Respiratory problems
  • Entropion
  • Ichthyosis (skin disease)
  • Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis or "NCL" (loss of control of the hindquarters, inability to move, etc.)

Good to know

Despite appearances, this Bulldog is not automatically implicated by the Dangerous Act 1991 about the so-called dangerous dogs, but this still sparks debate. This dog shares the molosser physique and it is problematic that the breed is not recognised. 

Indeed, the American Bulldog is not officially recognised by the FCI and therefore nor by the Central Canine Society, it can not be a recognised pedigree according to the KC but can however have a pedigree issued by US institutions.

Moreover, to be part of this category (dogs considered "dangerous"), the dog must closely resemble certain morphotypes like the American staffordshire terrier, Boerbull, Mastiff or Tosa. However, many specialists and experts of the breed defend them by highlighting the clear differences that exist between the American Bulldog and the “dangerous” category dogs.

The Minister of Agriculture response to this question (answer published in the Senate of April 9, 2015): all questions that owners of an American Bulldog want to ask about the potential categorisation of their dog are treated case by case, according to the morphology of the dog.

In fact, owners must use a vet or a judge of the certified dog trainer to decide (determine the characteristics of a species) this will allow the issue of a certificate that confirms (or not depending on the results) whether the dog belongs to the first category of the 1999 law on so-called "dangerous" dogs.

Origins and history

Before the 19th century, there is no sign that this breed existed. The modern American Bulldog is thought to have originated from ancient breeds similar to those of other mastiff breeds. At the time, American Bulldogs were used exclusively for work as a butcher's, farmer's or guard dog. They were absolutely not domesticated but modern selective breeding made it possible to highlight the undeniable qualities of this dog which make it a very good pet too. It was the breeders John D. Johnson and Alan Scott who allowed the development of this breed from the 40's.

There are currently two types of American Bulldogs: standard (pitbull descendant) and bully (descendant of the English bulldog). However, nowadays, it is mainly American hybrid bulldogs that you will see (a cross between the Bully type and Standard type).

The official recognition of the breed in the United States was established in 1970. Unfortunately, the differences between the dogs within the breed complicates the recognition of the breed in other countries as well as at the international level.

Names

Good names for an American Bulldog: Clyde, Joly, Nuno, Sia