American Bulldog Breed Traits & Facts

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: The American Bulldog is a breed that may appeal to those who have experience with strong-willed dogs and want a family dog who can be trusted but still shows a sense of whimsy. They are a hardworking breed that loves to be around their owners. Although they’re family-friendly dogs, they still must be properly trained and socialized. Like many large dog breeds, American Bulldogs also risk developing hip and elbow dysplasia. They’re also more likely to be deaf than other breeds due to their color pattern. As for their lifespan, they can live anywhere from 10 to 15 years.

Imagine yourself as a small child. You are a lover of animals and adventure and have just seen the amazing film Homeward Bound. Three animals believe that their family has abandoned them. They set out to find their family, and they succeed in defeating Odysseus. Shadow, an old Golden Retriever, Sassy, a long-haired cat, and Chance, an American Bulldog, are the animals featured in the movie.

The American Bulldog is well-known for his friendly personality and work ethic. American Bulldogs, which are strong and squarely built, are agile athletes. This friendly but hardworking breed was originally created to be a farm dog.

The American Bulldog Association calls the breed “all the dog anyone could want and too many dogs for anyone.” Due to their size and power, bulldogs must be trained consistently to be good pets. The American Bulldog is a highly active breed that thrives on human interaction. They are intelligent, trainable athletes who have boundless energy.

American Bulldog

Breed Background and History

The original “bull dog” came from England to America with early settlers in the late 1600s. In colonial America, bulldogs were working farm dogs. The origins of the American Bulldog can be traced back to these bulldogs that were brought to America by colonists.

The dogs survived by catching wild pigs and remained in the Southeastern United States. These bulldogs helped with large farm animals and protected property and family. Because of their work, they were often called “bulldogs.”

Appearance and Size

The American Bulldog’s appearance reflects the goals of breeders who created and refined it over the past 100 years. They can be traced back to four breeders in the South, each creating a different type of dog. The Scott and Johnson American Bulldogs have a distinctive appearance.

The differences in lineages are evident in the shape of the head and muzzle and the length of the leg relative to the body. The Johnson American Bulldog is the larger of the two types, standing between 23 and 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing ninety to one hundred and twenty pounds. Because of the English Bulldog blood Johnson infused into his line, his jaw and head shape are more like an English Bulldog. The Scott American Bulldog is smaller and more agile than the Johnson, but he’s also more energetic. He weighs in at around eighty to one hundred pounds.

The American Bulldog is gender-difference. Males are typically larger and more muscular than their female counterparts. The breeds’ working origins are evident in the UKC breed standard which states, “Honorable scars resulting from field work are not to be penalized.” The muscular neck and forequarters of the American Bulldog reflect his background as a catch dog and give him the strength to wrestle an unruly bull to the ground. He has the strength to work all day because of his deep girth.

Coat and Colors

The American Bulldog’s main coat color is white, but it is possible for him to have other colors. His coat may be all white, white with black, brindle or brown, or even tan. Although his short, wavy coat can be stiff or soft, it’s easy to maintain. It just requires a weekly brush to remove any loose hair and maintain the health of his skin and coat.

American Bulldogs don’t have as much wrinkled skin as their English cousins, but they do need special attention to keep their skin clean and healthy. Your dog’s skin may become wrinkled from food and saliva. To gently clean these folds, use baby wipes, Wrinkle Wipes, or a soft cloth moistened with water and a bit of fragrance-free shampoo.

Ask your veterinarian for a product that has antiseptic properties if your dog already has dermatitis. Wrinkle Balm can also be applied to prevent infection, rashes, and more after cleaning.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The American Bulldog strives to please. An outgoing, highly trained bulldog with a friendly personality, he protects his family members. If raised around children, he can be gentle with them and their other pets. However, his energy and size make it easy to overwhelm small children. Even though all dogs should be monitored around children, this is particularly important for dogs of this size and weight.

American Bulldogs are a hardworking breed that loves to be around their owners. If you do work outside, he will be happy to go along with you. If you don’t have a large yard or farm, you’ll need other ways to exercise your canine friend. This Bulldog also needs variety to stay engaged. Dogs with insufficient exercise and mental stimulation often find the wrong outlets to relieve boredom.

American Bulldogs are stubborn, but they love to learn. They need a gentle but firm trainer. They are highly motivated by food, so treats should be used sparingly. They are a bit difficult to train, but they are willing to please. They are best paired up with an experienced Bully breeder. An American Bulldog is not the best choice for a new dog owner.

Exercise and Living Requirements

The American Bulldog is a dog that lives to the fullest. this can be from different bloodlines and may have higher energy levels or lower. However, he is an energetic dog who needs to get exercise daily to avoid developing bad habits.

He prefers country living, where he can exercise and do his work with his family. While a quieter person may be able to manage in an urban or suburban setting, his best friend must make sure he gets enough exercise. American Bulldogs can become bored quickly, which could lead to their boredom taking a destructive turn in your home.

Aim to do at least two sessions of 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. You can play tug of war or throw a ball later on if you spend your first exercise time jogging along a familiar path. Take him on a gentle hike on a calm day.

This breed needs variety to thrive. When you exercise with him, be aware of his type. Johnson American Bulldogs have a more brachycephalic profile and may require less strenuous exercise due to breathing problems.

Training and Socialization

American Bulldogs are a loyal breed. However, they have their own opinions. Many resources online and in print are available to help people retrain this breed. As with all strong-willed breeds, it is crucial to start training your dog early.

Establishing rules and routines before your puppy enters your home should be a priority. Consistency is the key. They need firm, loving corrections and lots of positive reinforcement. They will become good canine citizens if they are trained and socialized with other dogs and people early.

Grooming Requirements

Keep any facial wrinkles on your American Bulldog’s face clean and dry. The Johnson American Bulldog is more likely to have a wrinkled face, so they will require more grooming. Their coats are short and can be soft or stiff. Your pup’s skin may become irritated if it is not well groomed.

Bath your American Bulldog as often as the weather permits with a shampoo or conditioner designed for dogs. This breed sheds seasonally, but brushing him a few times per week with a bristle brush will help remove the dead hair and keep his coat healthy. Although American Bulldogs are low maintenance as far as grooming goes, they need the same nail and dental care as other dog breeds.

Nutritional Requirements

Free-choice feeding is not a good idea. Grown pups consume more than mature dogs. Follow the feeding chart on the brand of feed you’re using, but be sure to choose a puppy food designed specifically for Bulldogs. These formulas reduce the risk of developing musculoskeletal issues such as joint dysplasia, which can be linked to rapid growth.

As an adult, your dog can consume between three and four cups per day. Feeding only a single meal per day increases the risk of bloat, a life-threatening condition that can occur in any breed but is most often seen in deep-chested dogs. Exercising immediately following a large meal, or drinking lots of water, can also be a risk factor.

Splitting the ratio into multiple meals per day may reduce risk. Also, ensuring that he eats a calcium-rich diet with protein sources like meat/lamb, fish meal or chicken by-product meal, or meat meal may help to prevent this potentially fatal condition.

Feeding your dog the highest quality food is more economical than buying cheap kibble. Look for large breed formulas that are appropriate for his age to keep him healthy and lower his risk of developing health problems. A high-quality kibble that includes meat protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acid, vitamins, minerals, and vitamins will provide for his nutritional needs. It’s less likely that you will need to supplement with expensive supplements.

Health Issues

The American Bulldog is an athletic breed, but he also has heritable conditions. While some of these conditions can benefit breeding dogs, others can have serious consequences. A reputable breeder will test breeding dogs for these conditions and should be able to show you the results for both parents upon request.

Joint Dysplasia (Hip and Elbow)

Like many large dog breeds, American Bulldogs risk developing hip and elbow dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) tests adults and pups. However, dysplasia can also occur from rapid growth in puppies. It is important to feed large-breed puppies with a diet that is designed for them. Joint dysplasia in the hips and elbows typically presents as lethargy, general stiffness, and signs of pain.

Skin Disorders (Ichthyosis)

Ichthyosis is a heritable skin condition affecting American Bulldogs that can be severe enough to warrant euthanasia. The Greek word “ichthyosis” means fish. The thickened, affected skin looks like fish scales. The skin may be marked by a distinct odor or secondary infection. Your vet will perform a biopsy.

Although symptoms of ichthyosis can be controlled temporarily with medicated shampoos or rinses, it is ultimately incurable. There is genetic testing available. It is important to ensure that any puppy purchased is not from a breeding stock with this disease.

Eye Problems (Canine Multifocal Retinopathy)

American Bulldogs are one of the breeds at risk for Canine Multifocal Retinopathy (CMR1). This disorder can cause retinal detachment in dogs, but it does not usually lead to blindness. All dogs considered for breeding stock should be tested to ensure they aren’t carriers.

Deafness (Cochleo-Saccular)

American Bulldogs are more likely to be deaf than other breeds due to their color pattern. The most common cause of hereditary deafness is cochleo-saccular and associated with coat color patterns. This is most common in dogs with white spots. It can lead to deafness in either one or both of the ears. This can be seen in puppies as young as three weeks old. You will need to be able to accept your dog’s deafness.

Neurological Disease (Degenerative Myelopathy)

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) has more serious repercussions for both dog and owner. Dogs suffering from DM often show the same symptoms as adults. The disease progresses to the point that the dog cannot walk and loses coordination in their hind limbs.

Large breed dogs are more likely to develop degenerative myelopathy. They may lose their ability to walk within six months to two years of the initial symptoms.

The American Bulldog as Family Pets

This breed is generally:

  • A friendly, hardworking dog.
  • Better suited to an experienced dog owner.
  • Protective of his family and home.
  • Aloof with strangers until they are eighteen months to two years old.
  • High-energy, but this varies by bloodline.
  • Healthiest with about an hour total of daily exercise.
  • Happy to be a lapdog from time to time.
  • Destructive when bored and left alone for extended periods of time.
  • Best in a home with a large yard unless his exercise needs can be otherwise met.
  • Good with children and other family pets (Scott more than Johnson).

Breeders and Puppy Prices

Pups will cost from $800 on the lower end of the scale to between $1,200 and $3,000.

When looking for a reliable breeder, the first thing you need to do is decide which type of American Bulldog to add to your family. A Johnson breeder is a good choice if you want a more calm American Bulldog. They are less energetic than the Scott line, but they can be territorial, so they may not be suitable for small children and other pets.

Talk to your breeder about your family, including your other pets. Listen to their recommendations. A reliable breeder can tell you whether the breed is right for your family. They’ll also be able to provide proof of genetic testing that has been done for any heritable conditions. If you already own your dog and are curious about its breed makeup, you can do a test at home with a dog DNA kit.

Rescue Centers and Shelters for Adopting

American Bulldogs may not be the right dog for everyone and could end up in shelters and rescue centers. American Bulldog rescue groups are well-versed in the needs of this breed. They are great places to find your next best friend. They have had dogs with experienced foster families and can tell you how they do with children and other pets.

Rescue centers are located all around the country, and an excellent place to start your search is the AmericanBulldogRescue. These chapters are located in many states and can help you find the right addition to your family. You can also search online through for American Bulldogs in your area.


The American Bulldog is a breed that may appeal to those who have had experience with strong-willed dogs and want a family dog who can be trusted but still shows a sense of whimsy. The American Bulldog is an athletic, outgoing breed that embodies the spirit of early farmers. The American Bulldog is a companion that can be as energetic and adventurous as you.

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