American Bulldogs are popular household companions and their strength and impressive build also make them great working dogs. Although these dogs were mostly bred for their working abilities and not their looks, they are still quite an attractive breed. In this guide, we will study different American bulldog lines/types, size, weight, colors, temperament and other cool facts.
- American bulldogs were used by ranchers and southern farmers as working dogs.
- They unfortunately garnered negative press and attention as a ‘fighting dog’ but despite this reputation; they are still a beloved household pet owing to their sensitive, emotional and affectionate natures.
- The breed’s ancestry can be traced back to the Old English Bulldog and large mastiff. English settlers are believed to have developed this breed for hunting vermin, herding livestock and protecting their homes. The Catahoula Leopard cur could have also featured in the ancestry of the American bulldog.
- There are two other bulldog varieties that we can compare the American with: the French bulldog and the British or English bulldog. There are several differences between the three and these are not just physical differences. Where the French bulldog mainly originated in England and France, the American bulldog is a truly-American breed. The exercise needs and temperament of both varieties vary greatly.
- In the 1980s, the American bulldog breed was on the verge of extinction. One could literally count the number of breeders of the American bulldog and most of them lived in the Southern States of USA. Thankfully, lovers of this breed took steps to promote it else it would certainly have become extinct. Soon the popularity of the breed took it across the Atlantic.
- Three lines of American bulldogs exist in the United States. They are named: Painter American bulldogs, Johnson American bulldogs and Scott American bulldogs. These lines are named after the breeders who researched and developed the three lines. All three lines have greatly influenced the American bulldogs of today.
- American bulldog size – Known to be giants, American bulldogs can stand as tall as 20-27 inches and can weigh over 70-120 lbs. The French bulldog is petite while the American falls in the large category.
- Colors – American bulldogs come in several coat colors: red brindle, white, red, brown, tan and piebald.
- The breed was not developed to become a guard dog but thanks to its intimidating looks, it can still scare away potential intruders.
- They have a black nose, dark eyes and an undershot jaw on an impressive head.
- American bulldog vs. Pitbull – Pit bulls may have been used in breeding of catch dogs that later became the American bulldogs of today. American bulldogs are larger and broader than pit bulls.
Where to find an American Bulldog
In America, many breeders continue to cross breed the bulldog so your chances of finding purebred American bulldog puppies are much better if you turn to European breeders. Many European breeders have expressed an interest in breeding dogs with willingness to work rather than as dogs meant to scare. Keep in mind that the primary function of the American bulldog was to do ranch work. Today, people who buy American bulldog puppies are usually looking for a guard dog and breeders in United States also continue to focus on breeding dogs with strong protective instincts. However, the breed’s wonderful pet potential must not be overlooked. So once you have shortlisted several breeders from the official website of the American Bulldog club of America you may want to ask each one what his/her intentions are behind their breeding program. If it is an ethical breeder you meet, then be prepared to answer several questions about your intentions behind keeping a bulldog as a pet.
American bulldogs are extremely protective, loyal and hardworking dogs. However, they have a tendency to quickly become aggressive and overly hot headed. This can be avoided with proper socialization and obedience training. It is important that the dog only meets strangers with barking and mild suspicion as long as they are in the presence of its owner. While most people stress upon the breed’s aggression and working qualities, we must not forget that this dog has a silly and goofy side to him. The true American bulldog is reliable, steady and a fun loving dog that loves human companionship and spending time in the yard and on walks with its owner. Those who have had the pleasure and honor of loving a bulldog will describe what is known as the ‘bulldog smile’.
Training your buddy
Start training your puppy as soon as he comes home. A young pup will soak up all that you teach him and he would be willing to please you. Always start with housetraining; show your puppy where to eliminate. Most owners use newspapers to housetrain and it works. Food ranks very high in your pet’s list of rewards so always hand out food treats and follow up with praise when he ‘goes’ where you want him to. Timing is a vital tool in house training your pet. Remove soiled newspapers immediately and replace them with fresh ones. You can place a bit of the soiled paper in the middle of the fresh ones for the scent. After successful housetraining, you can progress to basic commands like sit, stay, etc. You can also seek help of an experienced dog trainer or obedience classes near you to further train your pet.
It is very important that you evaluate your bulldog, its line and specific needs before coming up with an outline of exercise program. The reason for doing this is that the kind of exercise that will benefit a full grown 85 lb hardworking stock dog could actually end up killing a 130lb dog from the Johnson line. So, a single exercise regime might not benefit the different American bulldog types. So work with a trainer or your vet and know your dog’s needs before coming up with an exercise program. The programs need not be anything out of the ordinary; in most cases, a regular three mile walk, three to four times a week can benefit an adult bulldog. For hard working dogs, you could even include outdoor running and weight pulling.
Dogs learn by consistency and they thrive on a routine. Regular grooming will help him get used to it and he will appreciate this time of bonding with you. Use a natural board bristle brush to groom your pet. This will stimulate the coat’s natural oils and also remove dead hair and parasites. In general, this hardy dog with its short coat does not need too much grooming. Bathe your pet once a week. You must also wipe its coat if he gets wet in the rain during training. Check your pet’s ears from time to time and make sure you brush its teeth daily.
Owing to crossbreeding in the 1970s, several health issues have arisen in American bulldog and it is best that potential dog owners are aware of them. Common health issues seen in the American bulldog are an enlarged heart, and kidney and lung disorders. Some dogs also have undersized lungs and thyroid issues. Diseases like hip and elbow dysplasia, certain cancers, skin problems, allergies and mange are also reported in this breed. Naturally, these problems can be avoided by selecting a puppy born to purebred working dogs. Many good breeders have their litters examined and certified by the OFA or Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. You can also ask your breeder to show you this documentation. On an average, the lifespan of an American bulldog is 10-12 years.