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American Bulldog Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Traits & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

American Bulldog

Height: 20-28 inches
Weight: 60-120 pounds
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Colors: White, brindle, fawn, brown, red
Suitable for: Active owners looking for a loving, intelligent dog, homeowners, experienced dog owners
Temperament: Loving, Intelligent, Affectionate, Protective, Active

The American Bulldog is muscular and stocky. He is incredibly agile, capable of jumping great distances, and not only does he require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, but he will also benefit from having a large yard or area he can run around in. His ability to dig, jump, and squeeze, means that the yard needs to be secure with a decent fence or perimeter wall. Without adequate exercise, he can become a serious challenge, and his boisterousness means that he is not really suited to life in a cramped apartment.

The Bulldog is not considered a suitable dog for first-time owners because he requires an experienced trainer. He was bred as a farm dog and has also been used for hunting and defending against wild animals including bear and boar. He needs an owner that knows how to assert themselves as pack leader. He is relatively easy to maintain with short hair that requires minimal maintenance.

He is still used as a working dog today, and owners can benefit from taking him to agility classes, on long walks, and any other form of activity that engages his brain and his brawn.

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American Bulldog Puppies

puppy american bulldog
Image Credit: Zanna Pesnina, Shutterstock


The American Bulldog is a popular breed, both as a family pet and as a working dog. As such, and because they are purebred, they do cost more than a lot of other breeds.

The breed’s popularity means that there are a lot of Bulldog breeders around the country. While this makes it easier to find puppies, their popularity also means unscrupulous breeders do exist. When choosing a breeder, ensure that you get recommendations from existing owners, or that you use a breeder that comes recommended by the AKC. Join breed groups, either online or locally, and even consider asking your local veterinarian practice. At the very least, they should be able to advise you of breeders to avoid.

Always visit a breeder before buying a puppy. This enables you to check the conditions in which the puppies and their parents are kept. You should be able to meet the mother, at least, which will give you a good idea of what to expect from your puppy. Ask to see screening and other health certificates and expect the breeder to ask you questions about your lifestyle and living conditions. They want to ensure that you are the right fit for one of their puppies, too.

The American Bulldog can be boisterous and strong. They can prove too much for some owners, especially novice owners. As such, they can be found in rescues and shelters across the country. In fact, there are a number of shelters that specialize in the rescue and rehoming of this breed. While this means that you can rescue an American Bulldog and provide it with a good and loving home, you should take care when going down this route.

It is vital that you meet the dog at least once before you take it home. Check that it has been socialized, determine whether it has had any training, and ask for details of their history and health history. Try to determine whether it has been tested with other dogs, whether it is good with strangers, and whether it has a strong prey instinct around cats and other animals.

3 Little-Known Facts About the American Bulldog

1. They Are Incredibly Agile

The American Bulldog is muscular and stocky, but he is also incredibly agile. They are known to be able to jump six feet, with some owners reporting that they can clear heights even greater than this. This means that they are perfectly suited to activities like agility classes, but it also means that owners will need to ensure that they have a fenced or walled yard area in which their Bulldog can play and run around.

Bulldogs like to burn off energy, so they do benefit from having outdoor space. As well as agility classes, you can enroll them in flyball or even Schutzhund classes. Schutzhund tests their tracking, obedience, and protection. It is used to determine a dog’s capability as a working dog but is also an ideal way to burn off excess energy.

2. Socialization Is Very Important

It is always recommended that puppies should be socialized from an early age. It teaches them that strangers and new people do not need to be feared. From a practical point of view, it will make your life, as an owner, easier in the long run. Your dog will be less prone to barking at everybody they pass, and it can prevent them from lunging towards or away from every stranger they encounter.

This is especially important with breeds like the American Bulldog that are known to be wary of strangers. Socializing a puppy means taking them for plenty of walks, ideally at dog parks, where they will meet other dogs as well as people. You can invite friends and family around to the house, especially those that are dog friendly and understanding of their requirements. You can also enroll your Bulldog in puppy classes. Even if you are an experienced dog owner and trainer, puppy classes enable you to introduce your dog to new people and new situations, surrounded by other people that are in the same boat as you.

3. The American Bulldog Wants to Be the Pack Alpha

The American Bulldog naturally wants to lead his pack. This means that he wants to be in charge of you, the rest of your human family, and any other pets that you own. If they do not receive proper training and socialization, this nature can lead to them being unruly and potentially even aggressive. It also means that, while they are an intelligent breed, they can prove more of a challenge to train. They will understand what you want them to do, but they will only do it if they believe it is in their best interest. Their alpha nature means that the American Bulldog may not be best for families with small children, and it also means that this breed may never get on with other male dogs of any breed.

brown american bulldog
Image Credit: Peakpx

Temperament & Intelligence of the American Bulldog 🧠

The American Bulldog is a working dog, and they are happiest when given a task that they believe is worthy of them. They are intelligent, but they are also headstrong and somewhat stubborn. They are big, strong dogs, which means that they are not suitable for all families, and you should carefully consider whether they are suitable for your home. If the Bulldog isn’t the right for you, they can become unruly and difficult to manage.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

With careful socialization and good training, the American Bulldog can become a loving and affectionate member of any family. However, they need a lot of attention and consistent training; something which is not easy to provide if you have very young children at home. Your dog will get mixed messages as you tell them one thing and the kids tell them another. If you are spending a lot of time with the children, it also means that you may not be able to devote enough time to proper training. There’s also their size to consider.

While the Bulldog can be loving, they can also be boisterous, and this can lead to accidents that injure the dog and your children. Older children that are experienced at handling dogs can live happily with Bulldogs but, again, older family members may be too easily injured or bowled over by an excited Bulldog.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The American Bulldog has a strong prey drive. He was bred as a catch dog, which means that he not only located prey but was used to bring down his quarry. Traditionally, this would have included cattle, but the modern Bulldog’s prey drive may lead to him instinctively chasing other dogs, cats, and virtually any animal. It is possible to introduce a well socialized and well-adjusted Bulldog to other pets, but this should only be done carefully, gradually, and with supervision.

There are a number of reports of Bulldogs, especially male Bulldogs, asserting their dominance over other male dogs, of any breed. This can lead to aggression from the Bulldog, and their size and strength mean that other dogs can sustain injuries. So, while it is possible to introduce him to existing pets, a male Bulldog will usually do best as an only pet.

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Things to Know When Owning an American Bulldog:

The American Bulldog can make an excellent family pet, as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort to get the best results. Before buying or adopting this breed, there are a number of factors you should consider.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The American Bulldog is somewhat prone to obesity, so it is important that you monitor the amount of food you give them. With that said, they are high octane dogs and they have a dietary requirement to match. Expect to feed your dog up to four cups of good quality dry kibble every day. Look for a kibble that is specifically geared towards working dogs and big breeds. Some owners prefer to give this in two meals, while others opt for three meals a day. As with any dog, they need access to a constant supply of clean drinking water.

Exercise 🐕

The Bulldog is a working dog and has high exercise requirements. He will need a minimum of one hour of outdoor activity every day, and ideally as much as two hours. This can include walking or running, playing with a ball, or taking part in any kind of agility or high-octane sport. If you do not give your Bulldog this amount of exercise, he will become unruly and is likely to destroy your furniture and other items.

Training 🦮

Although he is highly intelligent, the American Bulldog is also dominant and headstrong. As such, he can be resistant to obedience training and will prefer to do things his own way, unless you keep him in check.

Like any dog, the Bulldog starts to learn when he is a puppy. He will pick up new traits and adopt new behaviors. As his owner, it is your job to ensure that he picks up good habits and avoids bad habits.

Fortunately, the breed is playful and enjoys playtime. You can use this to your advantage when it comes time to train. By turning training into a game, your Bulldog is more likely to pick up new skills that you teach him.

Socialization should be considered an integral part of training your Bulldog. Introduce him to friends and family, take him on plenty of walks, and teach him to react to new people. Ideally, you should do this from the first day you adopt your puppy, although you do need to ensure that he has had his injections and inoculations before training classes and before walks.

american bulldog puppy with tennis ball
Image Credit: rzierik, Pixabay

Grooming ✂️

Although the American Bulldog has short hair, he also sheds a moderate amount, and short hair can be more challenging than longer, smooth hair. It will get on your clothes and furniture, and it can become rooted and difficult to remove. Regular grooming enables you to manage the hair more easily. With that said, you shouldn’t need to groom your Bulldog more than once a week, except during shedding season, when you will need to up this to two or three times a week.

Only bathe your Bulldog when it is absolutely necessary. Regular washing and bathing can remove the natural oils in your dog’s fur, and this leaves them unprotected, so it actually does a lot more harm than good.

Check his ears once a week and remove any excess wax or accumulated gunk using a damp cloth.

Brush your Bulldog’s teeth two or three times a week. Start the practice when he is a puppy. This will get you into the routine and it will also ensure that your Bulldog is comfortable with the practice, so it will be easier in the long run.

Finally, monitor the length of his nails. If you can hear him clicking on wooden and hard floors, it is time to get the clippers out and give the nails a trim. Again, this is best started from a young age, because some dogs can find it a harrowing experience if you start when they are older. If it really is a struggle, consider getting a local groomer or even your veterinarian to regularly clip for you.

Health and Conditions ❤️

With a life expectancy of up to 16 years and a hardy condition, the American Bulldog is considered a healthy breed. However, they can be prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, and some health complaints that are commonly caused by being overweight or obese. In particular, look for signs and symptoms of the following conditions, and get them checked out as soon as possible:

Minor Conditions
  • Sunburn
  • Cataracts
  • Mange
  • Hypothyroidism
Serious Conditions
  • Skin cancer
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Obesity

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Male vs Female

As is typical with most breeds, the male American Bulldog tends to grow to be bigger than the female. Males tend to be more territorial, but females can be protective over their nest and their brood. Male Bulldogs are more likely to assert their dominance over other male dogs, too, which can be a problem even when walking them, although good training and early socialization should help prevent this from becoming a major problem.

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Final Thoughts

The American Bulldog can be a caring and loving addition to any family, but it is important to remember that this breed was bred as a catch dog, which means that it was used to hunt and bring down larger animals. They may still exhibit some traits of this type of breed, including a strong prey drive. They will, if left untrained and unsocialized, want to assert their dominance over you, other family members, strangers, and other dogs, highlighting the importance of early training.

This breed can be playful and boisterous, and they can be prone to causing accidents by running into people. They tend to do better in a home with plenty of outdoor space, but remember that they can jump very high so any yard or garden should have a high perimeter fence or wall to ensure that they do not get away easily.

Featured Image Credit: atsme, Pixabay

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