American Bulldogs are taller and more agile than their English Bulldog cousins and over the years they have become a popular choice as both companion dogs and family pets in the States. Thanks to their good looks and kind natures, they have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people here in the UK and other countries of the world. As yet, American Bulldogs have not been recognised as a breed in their own right by The Kennel Club, but they are recognised by the United Kennel Club as well as the American Breed Club and as such a standard has been set for these loyal and courageous dogs by both clubs.
American Bulldogs were bred by immigrants who took their Old English Bulldogs with them when they resettled in America. Like their English cousins, they were bred as a working and sporting dogs. Their job was to help farmers and ranchers who used these courageous dogs as all-rounders which included guarding their property. They were also used for bull baiting before the sport was banned. At the time, they were not considered a "breed", but rather a generic type of bulldog.
No breeding records were kept with farmers and other people breeding dogs with an end goal being to create a "type" of dog that would suit their particular needs. As such, numerous bulldog types were found in different regions of southern America. It's thought that bulldogs were popular because they were able to control the numbers of feral pigs that had been introduced to the New World at that time. It was particularly important to keep feral pig numbers under control because there were no natural predators. As such, bulldogs became highly prized being a settler's only way of keeping vermin and feral pigs under control.
However, by the time World War II started, the numbers of bulldogs in southern American fell dangerously low and they were only saved from extinction when a man called D Johnson together with his father took it upon themselves to find as many bulldogs as they could in order to save them from vanishing forever. Their endeavours caught the attention of Alan Scott, who started working with them with an end goal being to increase the number of bulldogs. He introduced working bulldogs he found on farms which led to the first of the American Bulldogs being bred. Johnson then crossed his line of dogs with English Bulldogs truer to type found in the north which were dogs that boasted having retained their natural athletic ruggedness.
Today, the American Bulldog is one of the more popular breeds in the States and their numbers have risen as a consequence. They have also become a popular choice in other parts of the world, including here in the UK thanks to their striking, athletic looks and kind natures. They have proved themselves in many canine sports which includes obedience competitions, weight pulling as well as many other popular activities.
Although, American Bulldogs are gaining popularity in the UK, they are not recognised as a breed in their own right by The Kennel Club (June 2016), but they are recognised by the American Kennel Club and the UKC.
Height at the withers: Males 50 - 71 cm, Females 50 - 61 cm
Average weight: Males 32 - 54 kg, Females 27 - 41 kg
The American Bulldog is an athletic, powerful looking dog that boasts being longer in the leg than their English cousins. They have large, broad heads that give the impression of these bulldogs having a tremendous amount of power. They have a well-defined stop which is both deep and abrupt being set at a right angle to a dog's muzzle. However, their foreheads are wider than they are high which adds to the breed's distinctive look.
Muzzles are thick and broad, but taper slightly from the stop to a dog's nose. They have a reverse scissor bite and noses are large and black with wide open nostrils. Their eyes are medium in size and anything from round to almond shaped being set well apart on a bully's face. Their eyes can be any colour, but a dark brown is the preferred colour with dogs having black rims to their eyes. Ears can be small or medium in size and they are set high on the head, they can drop down, be semi-pricked or rose ears are acceptable too.
A bully's neck is extremely well muscled and powerful, being just as broad as a dog's neck and has a slight arch at a dog's crest before it tapers slightly from the shoulders to a dog's head. Bully's often have a slight dewlap on their neck. Shoulders are extremely strong and muscular with shoulder blades being well laid back. Their front legs are heavily boned and extremely well-muscled.
An American Bulldog has a compact, extremely muscular body with deep and moderately wide chests. Ribs are well sprung and their topline slopes slightly from the wither to a dog’s muscular, broad back. Loins are also broad, slightly arched and short merging into a sloping croup. Flanks are moderately tucked up and very firm. Back legs are very well muscled with dogs boasting well developed lower thighs. Their feet are medium in size and round with dogs having well arched, tight toes. Tails are thickest at the base and set low before tapering to the tip. Dogs carry their tails upright when alert but between their back legs when they are relaxed.
When it comes to their coat, the American Bulldog boasts having a short, dense and close coat that can be either stiff or soft in texture. The accepted breed colours under AKC rules are as follows:
The colours not acceptable under AKC rules are as follows:
American Bulldogs are confident, high energy and very social dogs that form strong bonds with their families. They get more outgoing as they mature, but puppies are always ready to get involved in everything that goes on in a household. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of early socialisation when sharing a home with an American Bulldog, because they are large, powerful dogs when they are fully grown which can make them harder to handle if they have not been well socialised and trained at a young enough age. The problem being that all too often, Bully’s just don't know their own strength especially when they are playing which can be a problem if there are younger children in a household.
In the right hands and in a suitable environment, an American Bulldog makes a wonderful, loyal and affectionate family pet. However, they need to know their place in a pack and who is alpha dog in a household. In short, they are never happier than when they know who they can look to for direction and guidance. As such, they are not the best choice for first time owners, being a much better choice for people who are familiar with the needs of this type of high energy, intelligent dog. One thing worth noting is that American Bulldogs boast having a very high pain threshold. This can make it that much harder to spot when an American Bulldog is unwell or injured in any way.
Being so intelligent, they are easy to train and are known to be exceptionally obedient as long as their training was started early enough for a dog to understand what their owners expect of them. They do well in households where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house because they are known to be quite demanding dogs by nature. As such, they do not like being left on their own for any length of time. If they are left to their own devices, they can quickly get bored and this can lead to American Bulldogs developing all sorts of behavioural issues which includes separation anxiety and being destructive around the home.
American Bulldogs are capable of leaping great heights and have been known to clear over 3 foot with no trouble at all. As such, garden fencing not only has to be very secure, but it has to be high to keep these athletic and powerful dogs safely in.
American Bulldogs are intelligent and they like nothing more than to please their owners. However, they are powerful and extremely confident dogs and if they are not socialised early enough, correctly trained and then well handles, they can show a more assertive and dominant side to their natures which can see a dog becoming wilful and therefore much harder to control.
Their training has to start as soon as possible, it has to be consistent and always fair. American Bulldogs do not accept any sort of harsh correction nor do they answer well to a heavy handed approach to their training. They do, however, respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which brings the best out of these dogs with the end result being a confident, well behaved and obedient dog. American Bulldogs have to be taught the limits and boundaries from an early age which helps them understand how far they can go, although they may well test these from time to time which is why their training has to be consistent throughout their lives.
American Bulldogs get on well with children they have grown up with in a household. However, playtime can get a bit boisterous and these dogs have no idea of their own strength which means they can easily knock a younger child over. As such any interaction between the kids and their dog should always be well supervised by an adult.
They need to be extremely well socialised from a young age which has to include them meeting other dogs when out on a walk once they are fully vaccinated, although even then an American Bulldogs may well lunge at another dog it encounters. Care has to be taken when they are around small pets and animals which includes cats.
The average life expectancy of an American Bulldog is between 10 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the American Bulldog is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these high energy, powerful dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, American Bulldogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
American Bulldogs boast having short, tight, close coats which in short means they are low maintenance on the grooming front. However, because they are prone to suffer from skin allergies, it's best to give them the once over a few times a week. The earlier a skin problem is detected the better because if left for too long, it could flare up into something painful and a lot more severe. A regular wipe over with a chamois leather will also keep an American Bulldog's coat nice and glossy.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
American Bulldogs are intelligent, energetic and inquisitive dogs. As such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise that's combined with as much mental stimulation as possible to keep them happy, fit and healthy. Ideally, they need to be given anything from 40 to 60 minutes exercise a day and more if possible. If they are left to their own devices for long periods of time, not only will boredom set in which could lead to dogs developing some unwanted and destructive behaviours, but it could also lead to them putting on far too much weight. This can shorten a dog's life by several years.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure and high to keep these inquisitive, energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, American Bulldog puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs for this very reason.
If you get an American puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy an American Bulldog, you would need to pay anything from £400 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old American Bulldog in northern England would be £53.10 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £118.99 a month (quote as of June 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an American and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an American would be between £90 to £170 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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