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American Bulldog: The Ultimate Guide

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When you look for a dog, you will usually have a breed in mind, or at the very least a type of dog. It’s important to figure out which breeds you’re interested in, but also which breeds your lifestyle is suited to because at the end of the day you have to be able to provide the appropriate care. 

Bulldogs are incredibly popular, and there are many different types of bulldogs to take into consideration. American Bulldogs, which we will talk about in this article, are a descendant of the old English Bulldog, and they are a pretty big icon of American culture. (Hence the name!) 

American bulldog

American Bulldogs are known to be strong and tough, and sometimes they even get a bit of a bad reputation. But deep down, these dogs are absolute softies, full of love. But is an American bulldog the dog for you? There are many different factors to consider, and you need to know about all of their basic and daily needs before you make a decision. 

We can help you with this, as we’ll tell you everything you need to know and more in this ultimate guide about American Bulldogs. Ready? Then let’s get right into it! 

Key facts about the American Bulldog:

The American Bulldog is a large breed, originally descended from the Old English Bulldog. They were originally bred for utility purposes, and nowadays they are still used on farms, in sports, and for showing. As well as being family pets and companions, of course! 

Often represented as being big and tough, they’re a pretty popular symbol and icon of American culture, so it’s not rare to see them as the official mascot of many different organizations and sports teams. 

In 2019, the American Bulldog was finally added to the American Kennel Club (the AKC), and the Foundation Stock Service (the FSS), which is quite recent, but which officially registers them as a breed of dog. 

We’ll talk about different aspects of the American Bulldog in more depth later on. But to get started, let’s kick it off with some key facts, so that you get an idea of what kind of dog it is. 

  • Average lifespan: Between 10 to 15 years 
  • Size: Large
  • Coat: Short and harsh 
  • Minimum exercise needed per day: between 1 to 2 hours
  • Minimum average cost per month: an average of around $100 per month

The appearance of an American Bulldog:

American Bulldogs are very sturdy, muscular, and powerful. They’re bulky with a compact frame, but they’ve got longer legs and are more agile and swift than the English Bulldog. IN fact, American Bulldogs are pretty athletic and have a pretty high jump! 

Size-wise, they are a large breed. On average, the height is between 20 to 26 inches, and the weight is between 75 to 125 pounds. It is also important to note that males are larger and sturdier than their female counterparts. Plus, some American Bulldogs are deliberately bred to be as large as possible! 

One of the main physical traits of the American Bulldog is the big head with large and strong jaws. The skull is quite square in shape, with broad features and a strong muzzle. They usually have brown colors, but they can vary, and sometimes they’ll have one brown eye and one blue eye. 

They have different types of ears, from cropped to half-priced, to floppy. They have a low-set tail, heavy-boned front legs, and they are overall sturdy with well-defined muscles. 

As for the coat, it is short and smooth, and can sometimes feel harsh to the touch. Sorry, no fluff there! But on the upside, super easy to take care of! 

It can come in all shades of brindle, including red, white, brown, tan, fawn, and piebald. 

Basically, it’s like taking a traditional bulldog, and making it taller and more athletic, so that it is a complete power machine of muscles and strength, as well as speed and agility. And of course, they are absolutely super cute. 

The temperament of an American Bulldog:

All dogs have their own unique personality, with their quirks and traits, making them one in a kind. Plus, the kind of upbringing a dog receives will majorly affect their behavior, so this is something to consider. 

However, the overall temperament of a dog will usually be down to the type of breed, as it is linked with the original purpose of the breed, as well as the main traits of the dog itself. 

American Bulldogs look tough and scary, which is why they often have a bad reputation for being dangerous, aggressive, and hard to control. Lots of people will deem them unsafe for children and families, and many people want them to wear a muzzle for “safety” reasons. However, it is completely unfair to judge a dog by its appearance.

Because, sure, the American Bulldog looks tough and scary, but these dogs are full of love and they’re actually completely safe if treated right. (In fact, they’re safer than many other breeds of dogs!) 

American Bulldogs are loyal, reliable, brave and very determined. They’re alert and self-confident, and you can 100% count on them. They have a very strong sense of family and loyalty, and will be incredibly affectionate and loving with those close to them.

They are also incredibly good with children, as they will know to be gentle, and will aim to keep them safe from harm. They are equally good with other pets within the family, and they will act as the household’s protectors. 

As they are so loyal and instinctively protective, they might struggle with being friendly towards strangers or other dogs. However, this can be encouraged through training and regular socialization. 

American Bulldogs are very intelligent and always eager to do things. However, they can be stubborn, so they need a firm hand in training. Once they know you’re in charge, then they’ll follow your lead without hesitation. 

American Bulldogs also love feeling like they’re part of the group, and they crave a lot of affection and attention. So they won’t do very well when left alone for long periods of time.

They would rather be able to accompany you wherever you need to go. Or at the very least, to be left with another animal or member of the family, so that they’re not fully alone. 

So basically, they look tough and aggressive, but they are absolutely perfect for families with children. They are gentle, loving, and intelligent. 

Health and Grooming of an American Bulldog:

American bulldog

Just as humans have to take care of their cleanliness and health regularly, the same goes for dogs. Only you have to take care of it for them! American Bulldogs are pretty easy-going in this regard, and you won’t have to spend excessive amounts of time and effort to keep them well-looked after. But let’s look at the details. 


Grooming is super easy with an American Bulldog, because they are super low-maintenance and easy to keep clean. They have a short and smooth coat, so there won’t be any issues with tangled or matting hair, or too much shedding. 

Brushing them once or twice a week should be enough to keep their coat clean and shiny. As for bathing, it’s only ever really necessary if they get particularly dirty, like for example if they’ve been rolling in mud.

When seasonal shedding comes along they will shed some hair, but as the hair is short, it shouldn’t be much of a hassle. Upping the regularity of the brushing should be enough to deal with this! 

Other grooming habits of notice for your American Bulldog should include brushing their teeth, as these can easily get quite dirty. And dirty teeth lead to a stinky breath, which is something you will want to avoid at all costs! 

Besides this, you should make sure to trim their nails every few weeks or so. If your dog gets plenty of exercise outdoors in rough terrains, then it could be that the nails trim themselves. But just in case, always check, so that your dog doesn’t accidentally scratch any home surfaces. 


As a general rule, American Bulldogs are considered pretty healthy dogs. The breed doesn’t often struggle with major problems, and although there are a few health risks common to the breed, you will often not have to deal with any health problems whatsoever if your American Bulldog has good parentage and leads a healthy lifestyle. 

If you’ve bought your American Bulldog, always inquire after the health of the parents. Ask your breeder if there are any major health problems in the lineage, as most health problems are hereditary! 

If not, then your dog should mostly be fine. 

Nevertheless, it’s important to know which diseases and health problems are the most likely to affect an American Bulldog, so that you know what to watch out for if you ever notice something not being right. 

Here are the main Health issues you should be aware of in an American Bulldog:

  • Canine Multifocal Retinopathy 1
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Hyperuricosuria
  • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis 10
  • Ichthyosis
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Deafness

The trainability of an American Bulldog:

American Bulldogs are highly intelligent, and can therefore be trained with ease. However, they do require a firm hand and an established leader that gives the orders, so that they understand who is in charge and can follow instructions more easily.

Basically, they need to know that someone is the boss, or else they will go and do whatever they want, causing chaos. Once a boss has been established, American Bulldogs are actually really good at following the lead and obeying. 

Socialization is one of the most important parts of training for an American Bulldog. They’re very loyal and protective of their own family, which means they’re absolutely amazing with children and at home.

But this means that they might be standoffish towards strangers and even become aggressive towards other dogs that they see as potential threats. 

Socialization from early stages will help reduce this and turn your American Bulldog into a friendly and lovable companion who can interact with everybody you approve of. 

As American  Bulldogs are intelligent and active, they will find training sessions very mentally stimulating, and they can grow to enjoy them. Just remember that they do need consistent training, and to be told that they aren’t in charge.

So if it’s your first time owning this breed of dog, it might be worth asking someone more experienced to help, or signing up for a professional dog training course, so that everything is done right. This is important especially because American Bulldogs are large, so if they get out of hand they can be accidentally dangerous to others. 

History of the American Bulldog:

American bulldog.

The American Bulldog descends from the Old English Bulldog, but it is set apart by the more athletic build, with long legs that allow for superior speed and agility. American BUlldogs were bred either for bull baiting (unfortunately) or as working dogs for farms and ranches.

As working dogs, they were good for guarding, hunting, watching, and even herding cattle. Pretty much an all-rounder working dog with plenty of capabilities. 

However, despite being such amazing working dogs, the American Bulldog almost became extinct at one point. John D. Johnson of Summerville, Georgia, returned from World War II and found that American Bulldogs were almost extinct, much like the English Mastiff.

So in order to prevent this, he gathered all of the best specimens of the breed from all over the South of the US and started breeding them. He is the reason why American Bulldogs still exist today, and he is the most respectable breeder when it comes to this dog. 

Nowadays, thanks to the efforts of bringing the breed back, American Bulldogs have become popular once again. So much so that they have become an icon of American culture and a recognized breed of dog. They are still used as working dogs in many farms and ranches, but they are also popular as family pets and household companions. 

Costs of having an American Bulldog:

As amazing as it is, having a dog does not come for free. And in most cases, it also doesn’t come cheap. The truth is, dogs have a lot of needs, and you need to make sure they are all covered, through the right lifestyle, diet, and more. 

Some dogs are more expensive than others, depending on their needs and how much they cost daily. Let’s take a look at all of the primary costs that having an American Bulldog involves:

  • Purchase cost:

American Bulldog puppies are very expensive to buy. They are still making a comeback, but are highly sought after, so if you find a reliable breeder you can bet that they won’t be cheap. On average, an American Bulldog puppy will cost you anywhere between $1500 and $3500. 

Alternatively, you could try adopting an American Bulldog from an animal shelter or rescue center. This will be a lot cheaper, as you will only have to pay for the adoption fees and give a dog a second chance at a loving home.

There are quite a few American Bulldogs to be found in shelters, unfortunately, because many people wrongly assume that they are dangerous, or because they are rescued from fighting pits. 

  • Initial costs:

When you first get a dog, you have to cover a few initial costs. Especially if you’re getting a puppy. Some of these costs include vaccines, neutering, microchipping, registering or passport fees, and all of the first-time buy items such as a dog bed, a collar, a lead, and more. 

A lot of these initial costs will be long-term or once in a life. However, some will become regular depending on whether the items have to be replaced or not!

  • Ongoing costs:

As we mentioned earlier, the average cost of maintaining an American Bulldog is around $100 per month. Of course, this can vary depending on where you live, and what kind of lifestyle you and your dog live. 

Nevertheless, there are a few ongoing costs that are inescapable, such as dog food, dog treats, dog toys, and similar. 

  • Other costs:

Many other costs are associated with taking care of a dog, such as pet insurance, vet bills, emergencies, and more. But it’s all worth it in the end! After all, the love of a dog is priceless! 

Fun Facts about American Bulldogs:

  • American Bulldogs are the most popular dog breed in all of Los Angeles, and the sixth most popular breed in all of the United States
  • The dog “Spike”, from the popular cartoon Tom and Jerry, is an American Bulldog!


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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.