Loyal, sturdy, and wrinkly, the American Bulldog is a gentle, loving companion and protector for the family. Bulldogs are notorious for their muscular builds, pushed-in noses, undershot jaw, and long, wrinkled jowls. In November 2019, the American Kennel Club accepted the American Bulldog into the Foundation Stock Service, so it is one step closer to becoming a fully recognized AKC breed.
The official AKC breed standards are still being established for this breed. However, their website says the breed always has a short, white, and glossy coat but can have brown, red, tan, black, or brindle markings. American Bulldogs can vary in size, appearance, and energy level, according to the line or strain they were bred. For example, Scott-type American Bulldogs tend to be smaller than those from the Johnson line yet larger than those from the Painter line. There are also the Williamson, Tate, or Bailey strains. They may differ in build, head shape or muzzle, and leg length.
American Bulldogs usually always have sweet, round brown eyes and a confident, smiling expression. Their ears are generally small to medium size and high set. The tail is thick at the base and tapers towards the tip, similar to a pump handle. American Bulldogs are a reasonably large breed with heavier bones. They have big, broadheads attached to a thick, muscular neck and powerful jaws capable of taking down livestock. The length of the body is just slightly longer than the height. There are distinct sizing differences between genders. Females grow to be 20-23 inches tall and weigh 60-80 pounds. At the same time, males are between 22-and 25 inches tall and weigh around 75-100 pounds. An average American Bulldog lives somewhere between 10-and 12 years.
According to the AKC website, we know a few different names initially known today. Many know that the American Bulldog is a descendant of the English Bulldog, a working-class dog. He was known as the White English Southern Bulldog in the South but was most commonly referred to as simply "bulldog." The fearless breed achieved the hard-earned title through their brutal work as bull baiters in the ring until bull baiting was made illegal!
It is estimated that the bulldog came to the United States around the 17th and 18th centuries. Immigrants brought their working dogs with them when they first arrived in the 1700s. The Bulldogs made fine companions and farm guardians. Farmers and ranchers used the all-around working dog for catching and stocking dogs for many tasks. In the South, they survived mainly due to their ability to bring down and see feral pigs and cattle. Some survived on farms primarily in the southeast. The two world wars brought trouble for the dogs; the breed nearly died out. Alan Scott and John D. Johnson are the individuals credited for bringing the breed back from the brink of potential extinction. Several strains of the American Bulldog have developed since then.
In 1886, the AKC formally recognized the Bulldog as an official breed. The French Bulldog soon followed and earned its own certificate of authenticity in 1898. The American Bulldog is well on its way to achieving its full AKC recognition and is currently enrolled in Foundation Stock Service®. FSS breeds are now able to compete in Open Shows, Companion Events, and Performance Events the AKC deems applicable. Completion of this step is required to become an AKC recognized breed. Click the AKC FSS link to learn how and why breeds enter the FSS.
The official AKC breed standards are still being established for this breed, so there could be room for discrepancy in temperament. As stated before, the various strains of the American Bulldog can affect temperament. The U.S. Service Dog website claims that a pup's personality and temperament largely stems from their mother's genes, environment, and temperament while raising them. Factors such as early socialization and learned behaviors (from mother and sibling pups) can significantly affect a dog's temperament. To become well-adjusted adults, all pups need plenty of socialization both before and after moving into their new home. A safe, loving home encourages an even keel temperament.
According to the Vetstreet website, American Bulldogs are very intelligent, powerful dogs, so it is especially important to train and socialize them early. At the same time, they are still small and easier to train. We recommend reading PETMD's informative guide that includes wonderful tips on successfully introducing two dogs. No matter the breed, every dog needs a calm, capable alpha, and that should always be the owner. Not every dog wants the pressure to be alpha, but they will always assume the role if there is no clear leadership, which could cause them unnecessary stress. Owners that confidently and automatically assume the alpha role tend to have happier, more relaxed dogs in the long run.
For best results, be clear and consistent while training the American Bulldog. Also be aware that they are a bit sensitive and do not like to disappoint their owners. Use positive reinforcement. American Bulldogs can be strong willed, but are eager to please, therefore, easier to train. They are excellent watchdogs that do not bark a lot, but will gruff to alert you that someone or something is there. These dogs were bred to be watchdogs, being territorial and protective is in their nature. Train your Bulldog to not get aggressive over food when someone needs to grab or replace their bowl while they eat. Many Bulldogs can even get along with cats; the earlier they are introduced to other animals the better.
American Bulldogs are known to be assertive, big-hearted, and dependable. This breed is known to be very affectionate and can be gentle with young children. He may try to be a lap dog, even though he's huge. Some may be reserved towards strangers at first because they are guard dogs. This is another reason why they need to be socialized and trained as early as possible to get comfortable with other dogs and children. However, some American Bulldogs inherit the silly, affectionate side of the English Bulldog and are described as clown-like when they get excited. This is a sweet, equable, yet resolute, and courageous breed. The American Bulldog fearlessly defends its owner.
Puppies will need a safe space to run, tumble, and do puppy things. They require access to freshwater, a dog bed/rest area, as well as plenty of fun toys. American Bulldogs love to chew and can benefit from having some type of bone or chew toys, not just for entertainment, but because teething can be particularly painful for them. Bones, treats, and chew toys, can help alleviate the pain and keep them entertained for hours! For young American Bulldogs, puppy gates can be a good idea to help set boundaries inside.
Teaching your puppy how to be alone is an important step in growing up. Crate training your puppy can help. Make sure to make the crate as warm, safe, and relaxing as possible. To make it really feel like home, feed them meals in there, give them special treats, and toys they only get while in their crate. You want them to associate the crate with all positive things and not see it as a punishment. An especially anxious puppy may benefit from a white noise machine or other anxiety easing products. Put the puppy in the crate or exercise pen and leave the room to see how he reacts. If the puppy whines, wait to see if he will self soothe. Once the puppy responds positively and self soothes, leave the room for a little bit longer each time.
Dogs should always be supervised while around young children, or any kids that do not have as much experience with dogs, especially with a dog as powerful as this one. Environment can vary depending on which line the American Bulldog is, thus how much energy it has. Typically, American Bulldogs are very active and thrive in more open spaces, when given a constructive job. Although, some can take after the lazier English Bulldog. Sometimes the American Bulldog does not tolerate extreme heat well, because if the snout is very squashed, it can make breathing in very hot, humid weather a tad more difficult. However, their snout is not as pushed in as the English Bulldog, so this problem may not be as pronounced. If hot outside, just keep an eye on their breathing and avoid long, mid-day trips outside during the summer. American Bulldogs enjoy wading in shallow waters to cool off, but they are usually not the best swimmers due to their shorter, more stout bodies. However, there are exceptions. The American Bulldog is known to have longer legs and be way more athletic than its English cousin.
"This is a strong and active working dog that is best suited to life on an acreage where he can assist with controlling livestock and patrolling the property — any task that will keep him busy.
He can live in a city or suburban environment, but only if you can provide him with enough exercise daily.
The American Bulldogs' short, glossy coat sheds very minimally. A ten minute brushing 2-3 times a week should keep them spiffy. Use a soft brush, or a rubber curry brush for best results during heavier shedding seasons. The American Bulldog's face has a lot of loose skin, causing droopy eyelids and adorable wrinkles. Check-in between the folds regularly to ensure the areas are clean and dry. Moisture and food can get trapped, cause irritation or even infection. A cotton ball dipped in peroxide can easily clean these areas. Apply cornstarch afterward to help dry it faster. Avoid using both near the eyes. Be sure to keep the ears and area under the tail clean. Trim the dog's nails every two weeks or so.
Veterinarians ask owners to consider factors, such as age, size, and personality to help gauge exercise needs. Another key factor, for this breed, is lineage. Different American Bulldog strains produce slightly different acting and looking pups, with various energy levels. Breeder Caroline Powell of Cornerstone Bulldogs, recommends that owners who have a smaller yard or can't exercise their dogs as often, go for the Johnson lines, which are larger and require less exercise. Regardless, American Bulldogs are reported for their athleticism. Some can jump three feet into the air once fully grown!
Puppies will need more exercise the first two years of life. Many veterinarians recommend 5 minutes of exercise for every month of age twice a day for puppies. This means a 3 month old would need 15 minutes of exercise twice a day, 6 months would be 30 twice a day, and 9 months would require about 45 minutes twice a day.
Your dog must get time outside every day, for their overall mental and physical health. Owners with a fenced in backyard should have no problem meeting their dogs' exercise needs. Although, it's better to monitor your Bulldogs' outside time, rather than leave them out by themselves to do what they may, especially while they're still puppies. Like any other breed, a bored, unsupervised American Bulldog could do some unwanted digging or chewing. They usually make great companions for walkers, joggers, hikers, bicyclists, skateboarders, etc. Jogs, hikes, tug-of-war, and training exercises are great physical and mental stimulants for them. Even though American Bulldogs may not be the best at diving/swimming in deeper waters, swimming in shallow waters is a fantastic non-impact exercise that is easy on their joints, which is important for Bulldogs. Look for similar non-impact exercises as they age.
The American Bulldog will do well on any type of high quality dog food. Commercial dog food or home-prepared food is recommended with your veterinarian's approval. According to the PetMD website, some studies have shown that dry food is overall more beneficial to dogs' health than a canned food diet, larger kibbles. One study found that increasing the kibble size by 50% resulted in a 42% decrease in the accumulation of dental tartar. Supplementing their food with a daily dental chew can further help oral hygiene. However, if the veterinarian says the dog is lean and needs to put on some weight, incorporating canned meals with their dry food diet works well. Although, a diet that consists of purely wet food can make stools loose, but not always!
It is very important to select a age-appropriate food for your dog (puppy, adult, or senior). Dogs' nutritional needs slightly vary with age. Typically, a pup's food contains more calories, while a senior dog's food usually contains less calories and more fiber. As dogs age, they need to consume less calories (than a puppy). Treats should be given in moderation and according to instructions. If your dog is obese, speak to your veterinarian to learn about weight and diet options. To keep your dog at optimal health, learn about which human foods are safe or unsafe for canine consumption. Make sure your dog gets plenty of freshwater every day! Multiple water sources are encouraged.
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