The American Bulldog is one of the fastest growing breeds in the United States, despite not being recognized by many breed registries. This powerful, intelligent dog can make an excellent companion for the right dog owner.
The American Bulldog's ancestry dates back to 1121 BC and it has existed in the United States since the 17th century. It has also been called the English White, White English, Alabama Bulldog, Southern Bulldog, Old Southern White, American Pit Bulldog, and Bulldog. The current name emerged in the 1980s. The dog was originally bred for bull, bear and buffalo baiting and as "catch dogs" in the Southeast. Farmers used them for general protection and for catching big animals.
Registry and Types
Recognized by the American Bully Kennel Club, the American Bulldog consists of two main types: the Scott and the Johnson, named after the breeders who created them. Each type has its own distinct characteristics:
- Johnson types tend to be larger and stockier with undershot lower jaws like an English Bulldog. Mostly white, they look like Bull Mastiffs or English Bulldogs.
- Scott types have a more level bite and are smaller. They look more like an American Pit Bull Terrier, just larger and with longer, more athletic legs. They're usually white with brown, black or red patches, although some are all white.
- A third type, the Hybrid, blends the Scott and Johnson varieties. A few other types in the Southeast are smaller subsets of the breed.
Compared to English and French Bulldogs
While all bulldogs have similar origins, they have different characteristics.
- An American Bulldog is much larger, weighing up to 120 pounds, and was primarily a working and protection dog.
- English Bulldogs, also known as British Bulldogs, weigh up to about 55 pounds. Today, they are bred as companion dogs.
- French Bulldogs weigh up to 30 pounds and were first created as miniature English Bulldogs. They have perky ears and less droopy facial features.
Is an American Bulldog a Pit Bull?
A pit bull is not a breed but refers to a type that includes the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Many people consider the American Bulldog part of the pit bull group since they share a similar ancestry. Although they look similar, the American Bulldog is considered a working dog within the mastiff group while pit bulls are in the terrier group. The American Bully is also often confused with the American Bulldog.
The American Bulldog is a powerful dog with a unique look. They run 20 to 28 inches in height and can weigh 60 to 120 pounds. Life expectancy is 10 to 16 years. They tend to be muscular dogs that range from stocky to athletic. The short coat requires minimal grooming aside from regular brushing and a few baths during the year. American Bulldog coloring is either all white or a mix of white with brindle, fawn, red or tan patches.
Personality and Temperament
The American Bulldog is a powerful dog that requires training. Early socialization is a must.
- They tend to be affectionate with their humans but can be protective around strangers.
- They were bred to be working dogs and need to have adequate mental stimulation and physical activity to be happy.
- They can do fine with cats and other dogs but are known to be aggressive with other unfamiliar animals or dogs of the same sex in their home.
- They are extremely intelligent and enjoy positive reinforcement training. They are active in sports like agility training and weight pulling.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia can lead to complete loss of mobility in advanced cases.
- Skin allergies can manifest as an especially dry or oily coat, sometimes with visible flakes of skin.
- Demodectic mange causes the dog to feel incredibly itchy all the time.
- Deafness can be heriditary and can start within weeks after birth, if not already at birth.
- Entropion is when the eyelid "rolls" inward and hair rubs up against the cornea.
- Thyroid issues can lead to lethargy, dullness and weight gain.
- Brachycephalic Syndrome affects flatter-faced varieties.
How to Find an American Bulldog
If you want to find a purebred American Bulldog puppy, you can find a breeder via the American Bulldog Association and the United Kennel Club. If you prefer to rescue, try contacting American Bulldog Rescue or Maryland American Bulldog Rescue. Another great resource is Petfinder. Expand your search to include pit bull, bully breed and large dog rescues, and of course, check with your local shelter too!
Is This the Breed for You?
The American Bulldog does best with an owner who can meet their needs responsibly. This includes providing active and regular physical activity, ensuring early and continued socialization throughout their life, and dealing with possible aggression. Be aware that some people may see your dog as a pit bull and subject you to Breed Specific Legislation, as well as difficulty getting home insurance.