May 15, 2013 PetGuide
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American Bulldog

  • Height: 20-28 inches
  • Weight: 60-120 lb
  • Lifespan: 10-16 years
  • Group: Not Applicable
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles, watchdog, houses with yards, farms/rural areas
  • Temperament: Active, protective, strong, loving
  • Comparable Breeds: Bulldog, Pitbull

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He may have its roots in fighting and working, but the American Bulldog is a big old softie at heart. Now, you’ll find him as a much-loved companion in many households in North American and around the world. He’ll keep a watchful eye over the family and work his tail off all day, but he’s just as content to curl up at your feet on the couch.

When trained and socialized on time, the American Bulldog is a friendly, loving dog that fits in well with families of all shapes and sizes. They are very active, though, and will do best with an owner who can meet their exercise requirements. As a large dog with a working background, the American Bulldog will not be the best choice for a first-time dog owner. An experienced owner who can assert themselves as the leader of the pack is an absolute must.

If you’ve got enough energy to keep up with this active breed, as well as enough attention to give, the American Bulldog may be the perfect fit for your family. He does best in a household with no other animals, but will protect and guard his family with his life. Read on to learn more about this wonderful breed and decide if this is the right dog for you.

It may have its roots in fighting and working, but the American Bulldog is a big old softie at heart.

Making its way into the United States in the 1800s, immigrants brought their working Bulldogs with them in order to make life in the new country easier. This breed was especially popular in the Southern States, thanks to its ability to bring down and catch feral pigs. As the working dog of farmers and ranchers, the American Bulldog was also used for bull-, buffalo- and bear-baiting. During WWII, the breed almost died out, but could still be found as cattle and livestock dogs and farm protectors in the south-east. But thanks to a man named John D. Johnson of Summerville, Georgia, he saved the breed from extinction by selecting the best of the breed he could find and started a selection program.

A strong-willed dog, American Bulldogs can be a challenge to train until your leadership is established.It is most likely that the American Bulldog is probably descended from Mastiffs and the English Bulldog that exists in America today.  Others speculate that the breed can also trace roots back to the Boxer, Pointer, and Saint Bernard.

A hard working dog, the American Bulldog needs the right food to fuel his busy lifestyle. In most cases, pet owners decide on dry food to meet the dietary needs of their dogs, although some go the alternative route and opt for raw food (BARF) or cooking food for their pets. While an American Bulldog can be perfectly happy on these diets, you will have to consult a veterinary specialist to make sure they get all the essential nutrients. Otherwise, you risk their health. In the case you want to feed your pet kibble, you will have to make sure you are choosing the right type of dry food for your American Bulldog’s requirements.

Start with a high-grade dog food, with meat as the first ingredient. Crude protein should be no less than 30 percent and crude fat no less than 20 percent. As well, the fiber content needs to be 4 percent or less. In other words, only high-quality dry food for dogs will do. As a rule of thumb, a formula for active breeds is usually a good choice for an American Bulldog, as it fits their activity level and size. To boot, you should also pay attention that their kibble is age-appropriate, as seniors, adults, and puppies all have different needs.

On average, your dog will need circa 4 cups of food each day, but make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent overfeeding. Too much kibble can bring about obesity, and with it, a myriad of preventable health issues.

As dogs with a strong will, American Bulldogs can be a challenge to train until you establish the leadership.

As dogs with a strong will, American Bulldogs can be a challenge to train until you establish the leadership. You’ll have to prove you’re in charge, so this is probably not the best pooch for a first-time dog owner. Training needs to be consistent and firm. Always approach training with a calm-assertive stance, and use plenty of positive reinforcement and treats for incentive. Once you’ve establish who’s in charge, your American Bulldog will be able to take on advanced obedience and agility training.

American Bulldogs stand 20 to 28 inches in height and tips the scales anywhere from 60 to 120 pounds.

The American Bulldog loves people.Even though the American Bulldog got its start in bullbaiting, farming and hunting, this breed became the ideal companion for families. He keeps an eye out for his people and property to make sure no harm comes to them. You’ll find him to be playful and energetic, as well as an attention and affection hog. Even though he loves people, this dog may not get along with other dogs and should be kept away from cats. At the end of a hard day of running and playing, all this dog wants is a scratch behind the ear and a nice belly rub.

This is a dog-aggressive breed, so if you have other dogs in your household, you should bring an American Bulldog in as a pup. But even if you do, there may still be so problems with dogs of the same sex. This breed also likes to chase cats, so felines should keep their distance.

This breed loves people. They may bark when a stranger approaches, but once they raise the alarm, they will introduce themselves to this new friend. Know the history and genetics of your dog, so that you can carefully assess at-risk situations.

As a breed, American Bulldogs are generally healthy. There are a few issues these dogs can be prone to, though, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, cherry eye, entropion, and ectropion, as well as a higher risk of bone cancer. Similarly, there are some specific genetic issues that are common for certain lines of American Bulldogs, including neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) and Ichthyosis. Luckily, there are genetic screening tests for both of these issues, so the breeder should do them before producing a litter. A reputable breeder will offer you a health guarantee for his dogs, so avoid turning to pet stores or dubious puppy mills. Not only that their dogs are more likely to be sick, but they’re also cruelly mistreated.

The American Bulldog can live anywhere from 10 and 16 years.

If you have an active family, the American Bulldog will fit right in. Expect to give you dog about an hour or two of outside exercise per day. If you don’t deliver these exercise requirements, the American Bulldog will take it out on your home.  Activities can include walking, jogging, chasing balls, agility, farm work, and advanced obedience training.

Unless you can fulfill the outdoor activity requirements, apartments and condo dwellers should stay away from this breed. Houses with big fenced-in yards or farms/rural areas are the best choices for the American Bulldog.

Even though the American Bulldog got its start in bullbaiting, farming and hunting, this breed became the ideal companion for families.

The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize the American Bulldog at this time.  However, this breed is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC), Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), America’s Pet Registry, Inc., American Bulldog Association, Animal Research Foundation, National Kennel Club, National American Bulldog Association, American Rare Breed Association,   American Bulldog Club of Canada, All American Bulldog Club., Continental Kennel Club, American Canine Registry and the Dog Registry of America, Inc.

The grooming requirements of an American Bulldog are fairly simple, thanks to smooth and short coat. This coat comes in a variety of colors, including all shades of brindle, white, red, brown, tan, and fawn (white is the most common colors of an American Bulldog).

You should brush his coat on a regular basis in order to control year-round shedding. Baths are only needed if your dog becomes dirty. It is a good idea to wipe the folds of his face regularly, as bacteria can develop, leading to a host of skin issues.

American Bulldog puppies are full of energy and cute as buttons- not unlike all puppies. However, their adorableness aside, these dogs need a firm hand and an experienced owner to grow up into lovely pets they have the potential to be. They need timely training to correct any unwanted behaviors and prevent issues down the road. Because this can be a dog-aggressive breed, American Bulldog puppies should be socialized as puppies to treat other dogs with respect.

Photo credit: Nikolai Tsvetkov/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds

Go to Bulldog


  • Height: 12-16 inches
  • Weight: 40-55 lb
  • Lifespan: 6-12 years
  • Group: AKC Non-Sporting
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
  • Temperament: Mellow, easygoing, comical, amiable
  • Comparable Breeds: Bull Terrier, French Bulldog
Go to Pitbull


  • Height: 18-24 inches
  • Weight: 35-60 lb
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Group: Not Applicable
  • Best Suited For: Families with older children, active singles, houses with yards, guard duty
  • Temperament: Loving, energetic, watchful, brave
  • Comparable Breeds: Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier