American Bulldog: Choosing an American Bulldog

post imagepost image
post imagepost image

Athletic, intimidating, and beautiful describe the American Bulldog‘s appearance. Happy, protective, and energetic describe this awe-inspiring dog’s personality. Though yet to be recognized by the American Kennel Club, this breed is gaining popularity as both a family dog and a working dog.

History and Origin

Bulldogs in the 17th and 18th Century were used in catching livestock, guarding homes, and the “sport” of bull-baiting. Settlers brought the bulldogs to the United States for use as working dogs and in gambling. In 1835, bull-baiting was made illegal in the United Kingdom. Bulldogs in the UK then became more popular as family pets and were bred into today’s English Bulldog, while the American Bulldog experienced less change.

During World War II, the American Bulldog became less popular and came close to extinction. Two dog enthusiasts, John Johnson and Alan Scott, worked hard to breed the remaining bulldogs and preserve the breed. Johnson and Scott saved the breed and developed the two distinct variations of the American Bulldog which exist today as family pets, competitive athletes, and working dogs.

Appearance and Size

The American Bulldog is stocky and very muscular. His expression varies from goofy and fun-loving to stern and intimidating. His coat is short and can be a variety of patterns and colors, including combinations of white, fawn, and brindle. This dog is typically 60 to 125 pounds and 20 to 28 inches tall at the shoulders. It is preferred to leave the ears natural, although some choose to crop them. The tail is left long.

There are two distinct variations of the breed, the Classic (also called the Johnson or Bully) and the Standard (also called the Scott or Performance). The Classic is larger than the Standard variety and has a shorter muzzle. Mixes of these two varieties also exist.


This breed is a confident guardian who loves and is devoted to his family, especially children. This dog is known for acts of heroism, willing to risk his life for his family. Because of their protective instincts, these dogs can have a tendency to be aggressive toward strangers and other animals. American Bulldogs are obedient, energetic, and happy.

Home and Family Relations

The American Bulldog is extremely devoted to his family and especially loves children. Because this breed is so strong, it is very important to closely supervise him around small children, as he may not know his own strength.

It is important to keep in mind that this dog was bred to protect and catch livestock; therefore, the American Bulldog may have some aggressive tendencies toward strangers and other animals.

This dog would do best with a family who has plenty of time to spend with a pet, as he is happiest around people. He also needs a family who is willing and able to provide a significant amount of exercise. Without this outlet, the American Bulldog’s excessive energy will lead to behavior problems.


Training and socialization at a young age are extremely important for a well-behaved American Bulldog. If done thoroughly, this dog can learn to be friendly toward other animals and be selective about when to use his guarding instincts.

Special Concerns

Brushing and bathing are only necessary on an as needed basis, as this breed’s coat is easy to maintain.
Because of the breed’s large, droopy jowls, this dog tends to slobber.


Common Diseases and Disorders

  • Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
  • Elbow dysplasia is the abnormal development of certain parts of the elbow joint during the growing phase of a dog’s life.
  • Prolapse of the third eyelid, also known as cherry eye, is a condition of the eye that is not painful and may occur spontaneously.
  • Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
  • Retinal dysplasia is a congenital disease of the retina.
  • Deafness can be present at birth or develop later in life.
  • Demodectic mange is a parasitic skin disease caused by a mite. Hair loss and itchiness are common.
  • Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) is a congenital birth defect caused by a blood vessel that normally closes after birth, but remains open resulting in the passage of extra volumes of blood into the lungs.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital condition that includes 4 heart abnormalities: pulmonic stenosis, ventricular septal defect, dextrapositioned aorta and right ventricular hypertrophy.
  • Aortic stenosis this disease is caused by stenosis of the aorta and causing symptoms such as weakness, collapse and sudden death.
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD) a congenital defect of the ventricular septum of the heart.
  • Brachycephalic syndrome a group of conditions that cause resistance to airflow through the upper respiratory tract (nose, larynx) in short-nosed breeds of dogs.
  • Laryngeal paralysis is a dysfunction of the larynx, or voicebox causing respiratory distress. Most common is the acquired idiopathic form.
  • Urolithiasis is a condition affecting the urinary tract resulting in the formation of bladder stones.
  • Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately.
  • Epilepsy is a disorder that results in seizure activities.
  • Life Span

    The average life span of the American Bulldog is 8 to 15 years.

    number-of-posts0 paws up