American Bulldog: Guide To This Bulldog Breed

American Bulldog

The American Bulldog is a much-loved breed that requires a devoted owner to live its best life. This high-energy affectionate dog has an expected lifespan of 10-16 years and needs a lot of love, attention, and care.

Before you jump in and buy or adopt this breed, you need to be sure you are capable and willing to take on the long responsibility of owning this gorgeous high-maintenance dog. 

This sturdy and robust dog usually grows to 20-28 inches and weighs 60-120 pounds in adulthood. Males grow bigger than females. It is a smart dog that makes a loyal and loving pet. It needs a lot of exercise and training, so it needs a firm and dedicated owner.

The American Bulldog can reach its highest potential when it is raised in an environment with everything it needs, including plenty of training, socialization, and exercise.

It is generally considered to be a healthy breed of dog, although it is prone to some genetic illnesses and diseases, including kidney and thyroid issues, cherry eye and bone cancer. For hip dysplasia, it has one of the highest rates of all dog breeds, but that doesn’t mean all dogs suffer from the disease. 

Today the American Bulldog is a faithful pet, show dog and farm dog. There are two kinds – the bully and the standard. The bully, or Johnson dog, is larger and has a shorter snout than the standard. The standard dog is also known as the Scott dog. Both are stocky, muscular and strong in appearance.

Characteristics and Nature

The nature of The American Bulldog is loving, devoted, gentle and affectionate. It loves people, including children and therefore makes a great family pet. Even though they are known to be soft and loving towards children, you still need to supervise them when together.

The dog is strong and can easily knock a small child over accidentally during play. For puppies that grow up with children, the bond is exceptionally strong and evident. 

The American Bulldog has a fierce and brave personality and is very devoted to its owner, especially when trained correctly from puppyhood. An owner that is seen as a leader with a firm hand is what this lovely dog needs.

It will also be protective over family members and property, so they can make a great guard dog. It won’t usually bark excessively unless there is something alerting it, such as a visitor or stranger on the property.

This breed tends to drool and dribble a lot as does the English Bulldog. Its dribble can be messier than its fur shedding. Like the English Bulldog, it can also produce a lot of gas. If you don’t hear it, you will smell it. These features can be all part of the charm for the American Bulldog lover. 

Its ears can hang or be semi-erect naturally. The tail might be long or docked. Its appearance can come with a wrinkled face and adorable eyes. Its cute appearance wins many hearts of admirers who stop to greet the dog if they see it in the street. They generally appear friendly and approachable. 


The American Bulldog doesn’t need a lot of grooming due to it’s short and smooth hair. A quick brush often will keep the coat looking nice and healthy. It will shed seasonally so you might notice more fur at certain times of the year. Always use a quality medium-soft brush on your pet.

Most American Bulldogs have white coats but there are variations of patterns and different colors including brown, red, tan and fawn.

Clean your bulldog’s teeth regularly. It can be bathed when needed but doesn’t need baths too frequently. Every few weeks, nails need to be trimmed. Once a month, ears can be cleaned or as required. 

Training and Socialisation

It is best to train the American Bulldog from an early age. They will love, protect, and watch over their owner and family and get along with other pets in the family unit.

They can act unfriendly and be wary of outsiders, both humans, and animals. But they don’t take long to warm to new people once they realize they are not threatening. 

They need a firm, calm, and dominant owner, so they know who the leader is. Puppies can benefit significantly from training classes to build on the training you do yourself.

They need to know the rules, boundaries, and have a routine to follow so they learn how to behave correctly. They can be stubborn so that is why early training is recommended.

The prey drive is still strong due to the breeding history so firm training is needed. If not trained correctly, it could be prone to chasing animals, including stock such as cows and sheep. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement and consistent training. 

Socialization in a range of locations, situations, and with people and other animals is essential. Since your dog is so social, it will be happy to run errands, go shopping, visit friends, and basically follow you everywhere you go.

While this is great for your dog’s mental health, it is also being socialized simultaneously. The more socialization your pet can get the better so take your dog along for the ride at every opportunity. 

American Bulldogs need plenty of attention and stimulation in an enriched environment. If they don’t get enough care and exercise, they can become bored and destructive. 


The American Bulldog needs a lot of exercise and enjoys being outdoors. It loves an active owner and can take it for frequent walks or runs in the park. With a lot of energy to burn daily walks or twice-daily play sessions and exercise are recommended. 

Since this athletic breed is very smart and sharp it needs a range of physical activities to be happy and healthy both mentally and physically. Take different routes for walks, makeup games with various toys, and invent challenges for your dog to complete.

The more varies the activities can be the more your dog will thrive. Mix up exercise session locations by being in your backyard, the beach, the park, and any other local outdoor areas you can find. 

Care needs to be taken with puppies. The exercise should be non-impact on their bones and joints to prevent injury and due to health issues that the breed is prone to later in life.

Rope pulling, swimming, nose work, and plenty of walking are all great activities for American Bulldog puppies. They also love to chew toys and balls so they can play by themselves when they have to.


This dog prefers to be with a companion and doesn’t much enjoy alone time. It is well-suited as a family pet as there are many people to give it attention.

An active single person can also be an excellent match. A dog owner who has experience owning dogs will also have the knowledge and skills to successfully raise this dog. 

They are happiest in a home with plenty of space and ideally a garden area to run around, rather than an apartment. 

If you are away from home a lot, busy with work and travel or are not a physically active or able person, this dog might not be the right breed for your lifestyle. 


The American Bulldog should eat regular dog food combined with supplements for muscle, joint, and coat health. Puppies shouldn’t be given calcium until after 14 months old. 

They are active dogs so they need a diet that is high in protein. Omega-3 fatty acids and some carbs are also needed for maximum health. Buy quality dog food with meat as the main ingredient.

There are many great products on the market, including formulas specially designed for big and active canines.

Dry dog food is commonly fed to American Bulldogs, although many owners opt for raw food (BARF) diet or a combination. If unsure which kind of food is best for your pooch consult with your breeder or veterinarian. 

Dog treats can be used as a reward for good behavior and during training and can give a calorie boost. Be careful not to overfeed your dog with treats to avoid an overweight dog.

Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water with bowls inside and out. With their active lifestyle, they can require a lot of water. Hydration is essential, especially in the summer months.

Keep a bottle of water in the car and with you when outdoors too. A dehydrated dog can quickly develop further issues that can be serious. 


The American Bulldog descended from the English Bulldog. The bulldog arrived in American in the 1800s with immigrants. It was a productive member of the farming community and used for many farm jobs including guarding property and stock and controlling and catching stock.

It was almost extinct at one point until it was bred again after World War II by John D Johnson and Alan Scott. Numbers grew and so did the dog’s popularity. At that time it was sometimes used in police work and more often in competitions. 

It was commonly used as a farm dog and was valued for its confident, strength, intelligence and speed. These attributes made it a great working dog. It is still used as a farm dog today.

Other Interesting Facts

They give birth to litters of 7 to 16 puppies, which is considered very large.

They are slow to mature and reach adulthood around 2 – 2.5 years of age. So you can enjoy the puppyhood joys for quite some time. 

American Bulldogs are a major part of American culture. For many years and still today, they feature in cartoons, literature, movies, branding and many conversations. It is considered by many people, an American icon. 

Many bulldogs snort, sniffle and make funny noises, sometimes as a form of communication with their owners and other animals. 

Scott type bulldogs have a more level bite than Johnson type bulldogs.

The American Bulldog can jump more than three feet high thanks to its power and muscular build. This is quite the sight to see and truly impressive. 

Buying Or Adopting Your Dog

The American Bulldog can develop genetic health problems, as can all dog breeds. Breeders can perform genetic screening for common health issues, so there will be a minimal chance your dog suffers from these problems. 

Using a reputable breeder who you can rely on when sourcing your puppy and throughout its life is essential. A great breeder should offer you plenty of information and advice and answer all your questions willingly and in detail. 

When researching for a breeder look for recommendations. Search online, ask friends and family and local vets, pet stores, and other people involved in the pet industry. Don’t rush into buying until you are in contact with a breeder you feel is excellent.

Never buy a dog from a pet store or puppy mill. The dogs are often mistreated and can come with numerous health issues. 

You may wish to consider adopting an adult or senior bulldog. There are many needing rescuing and homes. This might require a lot more work, depending on the dog’s previous home or situation but can also be greatly rewarding. A senior dog can be less active and not need so much exercise.

At the same time, you should find a professional veterinarian who will take care of your dog’s vaccinations and any medical issues that arise during its life. 

The American Bulldog is a wonderful pet and companion if you are willing to devote the time and energy needed to own this particular breed. It may be useful on the farm or in the show ring and will undoubtedly be a friend for life. 

Before buying or adopting, make sure your lifestyle and expectations are suitable for this dog. Once you decide you are a great match, it will be time to find the breeder and begin the process that will make your life enriched, more joyful, and defiantly busier!

John Kilmerstone

I love dogs and believe that in particular, the bulldog breeds make great family pets and companions. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of bulldogs. Discover how to care for and look after this faithful pet and make the most of your valuable time together.

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