Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
American Bulldogs are guardian dogs known for their muscular build, large head and sturdy bodies. Though some people may be intimidated by their appearance, these pooches are friendly, love kids and are loyal and affectionate with their pack. They’re great guard dogs, which means they may need strong training and will keep an eye out for you and your pack.
Also Known As…
AmBulldog. Old Country Bulldog. “Whoa, check out that huge Pit Bull!” “That’s actually an American Bulldog, my man.”
American Bulldogs are descended from the English Bulldog, pooches that were used as work dogs to wrangle in cattle and to guard homes for their owners. Sadly, English Bulldogs were then bred and forced to take part in bloodsports like bull baiting.
After bloodsports were made illegal in England in 1835, the practice of using Bulldogs for these vicious sports continued in the late 1800s in the United States. Nearly facing extinction after World War II, dedicated Bulldog lovers bred more of these dogs, bringing them into popularity in their current form, the American Bulldog.
Bulldogs have an average height of 20-28 inches. They’re much stronger than their size due to their muscular builds.
The American Bulldog can range anywhere from 60 to 120 pounds, a significant range to consider, especially if you’re adopting a puppy Bulldog. They may be twice as large as expected, so keep that in mind when considering how large your home is, how much space they’ll have to play, and whether you’re up for a 120-pound lapdog. They’re affectionate, so they don’t really mind how big they are and will make a home for themselves right on your legs.
American Bulldogs are big, and have big hearts, too. They’re gentle and sweet, and good with kids. They’re born with protective instincts in place, so they’re not afraid to try to establish themselves as the leader of a pack. They want to take care of you, and think they know best, which is why they’re also known for their heroic deeds protecting their humans from danger. They can get bored easily and, due to their size, definitely will need good amounts of exercise to keep them happy and well-behaved while you’re out of the house.
Intelligence / Trainability
It’s best to begin training with an American Bulldog at a young age. They can be stubborn and strong-willed, but with some work, the right owner can effectively train an American Bulldog. To do so, owners will have to establish themselves as the firm leader of the pack. Power struggles are never good for a dog-human relationship, and with their confidence and strength, these dogs are pretty much positive they’ll be a great pack leader.
Best Training Techniques For American Bulldogs
You’ll need to be firm with an American Bulldog, while still using a training method that is centered around positive reinforcement. Start socializing your dog early to get them used to you being around other people, and to see that strangers aren’t a threat outright. You’ll of course need to use treats to train your dog how to obey commands such as “sit” and “come,” but don’t be afraid to tell your dog “no” when they start jumping on you. Remember that they’re going to grow into large, strong dogs, so they’ll soon have very different results when jumping on someone from puppyhood to full maturity.
When they begin chewing on something with their strong jaws, tell them “no” and redirect their attention to something else, such as a chew toy. Once they’ve done so, give them a treat to let them know they’ve done the right thing.
Depending on the size of your American Bulldog, whether 60 or 120 pounds, they’ll have different needs for how much space they’ll require. Overall, they’ll do fairly well with a decent sized yard or regular, long walks to get out their energy. Once inside it’s easy for them to calm down, so if they’re well-exercised they can rest easily while you’re away for several hours, even in an apartment. They’re guard dogs so will occasionally bark – if you live on a busy street with lots of distractions, your American Bulldog may bark more than if they’re in a quiet area.
However, barking varies not just from breed to breed but from pooch to pooch. They’re adaptable dogs, so give them some time in a new environment and they may just calm down with their protectiveness and resulting barking.
Good For Families And Kids?
American Bulldogs are a great choice for a family dog. Gentle, sweet and playful, they may be a perfect match for a kid who needs to burn off some energy, too. Just be sure to train your dog not to jump, as a 100-pound bulldog can knock over pretty much everyone, let alone a 5-year-old kid playing in the yard.
American Bulldogs have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years.
American Bulldogs are considered generally healthy dogs. However, any dog is susceptible to some health problems, and American Bulldogs are no exception. Some common ailments include kidney and thyroid disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, cherry eye and dysplasia in the hip and elbow.
American Bulldogs are energetic and require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. They’ll play with kids and keep up on long walks, but once inside they calm down fairly easily (once out of puppyhood, that is).
Friendly With (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
These dogs are great with kids and deeply protective of their pack, making them highly affectionate guard dogs. Because they’re wary of others, they may be reticent and shy around strangers even after being well-trained. However, that’s far better than being reactive with strangers, so remember the importance of training these large, strong dogs.
They’re not the most excited to hang out around cats and can be reactive toward household pets. They can also display this reactivity with other dogs. However, all of these behaviors can be preempted or corrected through proper training and socialization. Once they’ve been successfully socialized, they can be gentle and calm with other animals in the house and out on the street.
Coat & Grooming
American Bulldogs have a short, harsh coat that’s easy to take care of. Just use a firm-bristle brush to comb them down regularly, especially during shedding season, and bathe when necessary. They’re average shedders, so they’re low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Come shedding season, though, be prepared to break out the lint roller. It’s common to most short-haired dogs, and regular brushings will help.
Toys American Bulldogs Would Like Best
American Bulldogs are strong, with powerful jaws and a muscular build. They have energy to burn, but once they do, they calm right down for couch time. A quick game of tug-of-war with a Tug toy is a great way to wear out your pooch, give them a way to use their jaws and have fun along the way.
They also may enjoy a Super Chewer Toy to work those jaws while you’re out of the house or busy tending to other tasks around the house. These toys can stand up to even the toughest of dog jaws, American Bulldogs’ included.
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
If you find your dog is struggling with hip dysplasia or achy joints, you may want to introduce hip and joint supplements into your American Bulldog’s daily routine. As always, it’s best to consult your vet before administering these things.
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your AmBulldog with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with joint issues, pain relief, and ease aggression in dogs during stressful situations. ($17.99-22.99.)
For older AmBulldogs or dogs suffering with arthritis or hip dysplasia (or just any dog that likes lying down!), a comfortable, supportive dog bed is probably a good idea.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s stout body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your favorite AmBulldog. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The American Bulldog Of Your Dreams
If you’re looking to rescue an American Bulldog and give a pooch their forever home, check out these organizations.
- AmericanBullDogRescue.org. This organization showcases American Bulldogs available for adoption or fostering. You can work directly with them to bring a pup home.
- Bulldog Rescue Network aims to place rescue bulldogs with those ready to adopt or foster a dog. They work across the US and Canada and work to match dogs with owners to make sure their bulldogs find their forever home.
- RescueShelter.com offers a list of American Bulldog rescue shelters around the U.S., so you can find a rescue organization specific to your state.
- Adoptable American Bulldogs on Petfinder
Notable Instagram American Bulldogs
Can’t get enough of those stocky, gentle dogs? Check out these Instagram accounts dedicated to the American Bulldog.
Bulldogs on beds, bulldogs on walks, bulldogs finding their forever homes.
***Looking for a gift to blow your American Bulldog’s mind? Spoil them with a Super Chewer BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 super-durable toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and 2 chews. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month.
Featured image via TheSquinkies/Instagram