Often known as the Southern Bulldog, The Old Time Bulldog and the Old Country Bulldog, the American Bulldog is well known for its great character and strength. Currently, the American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize the American Bulldog and the dog doesn’t resemble the English Bulldog very closely. The breed is much like the old bull-baiting dogs from the 17th century that were used to fight bulls. Today the American Bulldog is a cherished pet and companion, although it may be used as a guard dog and hunting dog.
It’s thought that the American Bulldog breed probably descended from an ancient line of Mastiffs and it’s America’s closest relative to a very old breed known as the Old English Bulldog. The breed first appeared in the U.S. back in the 1800s when immigrants brought along their working bulldogs when they immigrated to America. This breed mostly survived, especially in the Southern States, much in part to its ability to attack and catch feral boars. The dogs have also been use within the U.S. for bear and bull baiting.
Before World War II, these dogs were used in the deep South on farms and ranches. During the war, the breed nearly became extinct, but John D. Johnson, from Georgia, found the best dogs he could and focused on saving this breed of dogs. It wasn’t until 1989 that the American Bulldog Associated was founded to oversee American Bulldog breeding. American Bulldogs can be registered with the Game American Bulldog Club and the Animal Research Foundation. In 1999, the United Kennel Club in the UK recognized the American Bulldog.
The American Bulldog is well built and very stocky. They have better agility and longer legs than the English Bulldog, but they are still quite compact and square. They are known for having extremely powerful jaws as well. In the past, the breed has been known to primarily be white, but over time, the breed now includes various color patterns, including brindle, red, fawn, black and brown. No matter their color, American Bulldogs have short, smooth coats. The nose and eye rims should both be black, although a small amount of pink is allowed by breed standards.
The front legs of American Bulldogs are straight, strong and very heavy. The back legs are thick and broad with well defined muscles. The chest is wide and deep, their neck is thick and the head is square in shape. Generally, these dogs have a reverse scissor bite, but under bits, scissor bites and even bites will not disqualify dogs from being shown. This breed also may have ears in several shapes, including forward flap, half-pricked, rose and cropped ears. Their tail is low set on their body and may curve up at the tip.
Most male American Bulldogs are 22-28 inches tall, weighing in at 75-125 pounds. Females are a bit smaller, and are usually 20-25 inches tall and between 60-100 pounds. In most cases, males are heavier boned and stockier than the females.
Originally, the American Bulldog had its roots in bull baiting, a violent sport. Later they were used for herding, hunting and other farm tasks. The roots of the dog have affected its temperament and this makes the American Bulldog an excellent companion for farmers or families that need to keep a watchful eye over property and people. These dogs are playful and active and they love attention. They enjoy playing and they work well, but they may not like other dogs and they don’t like cats. American Bulldogs are known for being aggressive towards other dogs, so it is important that they are socialized when they are young. However, they love people and are usually friendly, even to new people, although they will bark when strangers approach.
The American Bulldog is strong willed, which often makes these dogs difficult to train. However, once leadership is established, they become easier to train. Consistency is important when training bulldogs and a calm, yet assertive, approach should be used, along with positive reinforcement. Once leadership is established, these dogs usually do well in both agility and obedience training. These dogs also need vigorous exercise or they may become destructive. They enjoy various activities, such as farm work, agility activities, jogging, walking, chasing balls and more.
Since the American Bulldog has such a short, smooth coat, it makes them low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They shed moderately throughout the year, which can be controlled by regular brushing. Baths should only be given if the dog starts smelling or gets dirty. Since these bulldogs have wrinkles on their face, they need to regularly be wiped and then dried, which prevents the development of bacteria. After a bath, these wrinkles must be well dried as well. Regular tooth brushing is essential for preventing tooth loss. While most bulldogs naturally wear down their toenails, they should be trimmed if they can be heard clicking on a hard floor.
As a working dog, the American Bulldog often does well working on ranches and farms. They are also used across the world to hunt razorbacks or to help catch escaped pigs. Sometimes they are used as cattle drovers as well. American Bulldogs have even worked in Hollywood, appearing in movies and television shows, including “Cheaper By the Dozen,” “Joe,” “Return to Me,” and “Tucker and Dale vs Evil.”
These strong, active dogs usually live between 10-16 years and in most cases, they enjoy good health. Some of the health problems that are fairly common among American Bulldogs include hip dysplasia, bone cancer, cherry eye, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, entropion, elbow dysplasia, ACL tears, thyroid disorders and kidney disorders. Before purchasing an American Bulldog from a breeder, it’s important to carefully research breeders and the family history of the dogs they are selling. Before these dogs are bred, it’s recommended that they have an Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or Pennsylvania Hip Improvement screening. Breeders can also have DNA tests conducted on dogs before breeding to screen these animals for neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. Some dogs may also be prone to allergies. Common symptoms of allergies include rash and runny nose.