American Bulldog: Your Complete Breed Information Guide

A white American Bulldog standing

The American Bulldog is a powerful and athletic breed, known for its muscular build and courageous demeanor. Initially bred for farm work and guarding, this dog has become a beloved companion for many. This dog will likely exhibit traits like loyalty and confidence, which make them excellent family pets when properly trained and socialized.

Understanding the needs of an American Bulldog is key to ensuring they live a happy and healthy life. They require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation due to their high energy levels. Their short coat is easy to groom, but they can be prone to certain genetic health issues. By staying informed about their health and providing regular veterinary care, you can help your American Bulldog thrive.

While their appearance might seem intimidating to some, American Bulldogs are actually quite affectionate with their families. However, since this is a powerful breed, it’s vital to do your research before searching for American Bulldog puppies for sale. So, we’ve compiled the best information from expert owner and breeder like Davette Fournier to give you a complete dog breed overview.

So, What Is An American Bulldog? Breed Overview

The American Bulldog is a muscular, sturdy, and powerful breed, known for its loyalty and courageous temperament. Originally bred for farm work and guarding, this breed is characterized by its strong build, intelligence, and affectionate nature towards family. They require regular exercise and firm, consistent training.

There are two main types of American Bulldogs:

  1. Standard or Scott-type: These are usually sleeker and have a more athletic build. They have longer legs and are very agile. If you’re looking for a more active companion, the Scott-type might be for you.
  2. Bully or Johnson type: Also called the Classic type, this one has a bulkier and more muscular frame with a shorter muzzle. If you prefer a more laid-back and substantial-looking dog, the Bully type could match your tastes.

Regardless of what type you choose, fans of the breed agree that these are one of the best Bulldog breeds for active families.

As Davette Fournier states; “once you own one of these American Bulldogs; you’re an American Bulldog lover for life. Best Breed ever. Having great temperaments, they are great with children.” She adds that they are also very versatile and are great for hunting and hiking, as well as other activities.

Despite their tough appearance, American Bulldogs are known to be affectionate and protective of their families. They’ve got a history that includes being farm dogs, which means they’re no stranger to hard work and are happy when they have a job to do.

This dog will require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy, so they are best suited for active individuals or families. With proper training and socialization, they can get along well with children and other pets.

Keep in mind, the American Bulldog should not be confused with the American Bully, which is a blend of different bulldog and Pitbull breeds and recognized as a distinct breed with it’s own sub-types.

American Bulldog History and Origin

Jackson-type American Bulldog red and white close up

In exploring the legacy of the American Bulldog, you will discover a breed with a rich history, significant roles in agricultural society, and a transformation into a recognized dog breed that has adapted over time.


The lineage of the American Bulldog can be traced to ancient bulldogs in England, known during Roman times as “pugnaces Britanniae”. These powerful dogs eventually evolved, taking on various roles from bull-baiting to farm work. Smaller bulldogs made their way across the Atlantic, assimilating into the rugged lifestyle of early American settlers.

Historical Significance and Development

Bulldogs maintained a presence in rural America, valued for their capabilities as all-purpose farm dogs. With the advent of World War II, the breed’s future became uncertain due to its dwindling numbers. 

Pioneers like John D. Johnson and Alan Scott sought out the surviving bulldogs across southern farms, honing a breed that was both hardworking and amiable. It was during this time that two distinct types emerged: the athletic Standard, or Scott-type, and the stout, vigorous Bully, or Johnson-type American Bulldog.

The Breed Today

Once teetering on the brink of extinction, the American Bulldog has become a symbol of robust health and versatility. This breed now thrives beyond its farm beginnings, admired for its temperament and stature as a steadfast companion and an effective working dog in many capacities.

Kennel Club Recognition

In a notable step for breed enthusiasts, the American Bulldog received official recognition from the United Kennel Club in 1999, solidifying its standing within the world of purebred canines. More recently, in 2019, the breed was included in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Foundation Stock Service, marking another milestone in the history of the American Bulldog.

Physical Appearance

The American Bulldog boasts a sturdy and muscular frame, capped with a broad, imposing head. Its short coat showcases a variety of accepted colors, minus a few disqualifications.

Size and Build

MeasurementMale (Standard or Scott-type)Female (Standardor Scott-type)Male (Bully or Jackson-type)Female (Bully or Jackson-type)
Height (in)23 to 27”21 to 25”23 to 27”22 to 26”
Height (cm)58 to 68 cm53 to 63 cm58 to 68 cm56 to 66 cm
Weight (lb)75 to 115 lbs60 to 85 lbs80 to 125 lbs60 to 105 lbs
Weight (kg)34 to 52 kg27 to 38 kg36 to 57 kg27 to 48 kg

The American Bulldog’s physique varies between the Standard and Bully types. The former displays a more athletic build with longer muzzles and square heads, while the latter shows a heavier frame and shorter muzzles. You’ll find the Bully type to often have a rounder head, contrasting with the box-like, wedge-shaped head of the Standard type.


The American Bulldog comes in two main types, each with distinct appearances:

1. Jackson-Type American Bulldog (Also known as the Classic or Bully Type)

Jackson-Type American Bulldog
  • Build: The Jackson-type has a more robust and stockier build.
  • Head: They have a broader head with more pronounced cheeks and a shorter muzzle.
  • Body: This type tends to have a more muscular and bulky body.
  • Size: Generally, they are slightly larger and heavier than the Scott-type.

2. Scott-Type American Bulldog (Also known as the Standard or Performance Type)

Jackson-Type American Bulldog
  • Build: The Scott-type is leaner and more athletic in appearance.
  • Head: They feature a longer muzzle and a more streamlined head.
  • Body: Their body is less bulky, showcasing a more defined and athletic muscle structure.
  • Size: They are usually slightly lighter and more agile compared to the Jackson-type.

Both types share the breed’s characteristic strength and tenacity, but these physical differences reflect their historical uses and breeding goals. The Jackson-type was more commonly used for work that required brute strength, while the Scott-type was bred for agility and endurance.

Coat and Colors

The American Bulldog’s coat remains slick, within an inch in length, ranging from a soft to a slightly stiffer texture. They do shed year-round and they are not hypoallergenic.

The American Bulldog’s breed standard allows for a wide variety of colors and patterns, with a few specific exceptions. Here’s a breakdown of the acceptable and unacceptable colors, including details about eye color:

Acceptable Colors and Patterns:

  • Wide Range: Any color, color pattern, or combination of colors is generally acceptable, except for the specific exclusions mentioned below.
  • Common Colors: Include white, brindle, brown, red, and fawn.
  • Markings: Dogs often have patches or other markings, which add to their distinctive appearance.

Unacceptable Colors:

  • Solid Black or Blue;
  • Merle Pattern;
  • Tricolor; and
  • Full Black Mask.

Special Considerations:

  • Brindle Coats: Some dark brindle coats might appear black unless examined under very bright light, like sunlight. Judges are advised to check these dogs in bright light before making a disqualification decision.
  • Buckskin Pattern: This pattern, where the base of the hair is fawn and the tips are black, might also appear solid black. Again, bright light examination is necessary to ascertain the actual color.
  • White Markings: Having less than 10% white markings is considered a serious fault.

Eye Color and Unusual Features:

  • Heterochromia: American Bulldogs can sometimes have two different colored eyes, but this is not accepted in the breed standard. However, it’s more of a cosmetic issue and doesn’t affect the dog’s health or abilities.

Temperament and Personality

White American Bulldog resting lying down close up

American Bulldogs are renowned for their distinct disposition, their ability to interact with children and other animals, and their unique behavioral traits. This section will guide you through understanding the personality nuances of these dogs.

General Disposition

The American Bulldog comes in two main types, Scott-type and Johnson-type, which may show some subtle differences in temperament. The Scott-type, also known as the Standard American Bulldog, is generally more athletic with a temperament suited for high-energy activities. 

On the other hand, the Johnson-type, often called the Classic American Bulldog, is somewhat more laid-back with a bulkier build. Both types are known for being alert, outgoing, and confident. You may find that these dogs exhibit some assertiveness around other dogs which is normal for the breed.

Suitability with children and other animals

With proper training and socialization from an early age, American Bulldogs can become affectionate companions for children. They are protective and can be gentle, making them good family pets. 

However, their strong prey drive as working hunting dogs means they may chase after smaller animals. On a farm setting, they can adapt well to being around livestock, assuming they have been trained to manage their instincts.

Common Behavioral Traits

American Bulldogs are inclined to show courage, loyalty, and vigilance, making them effective as watchdogs or for personal protection. It is typical for them to be reserved with strangers, but their confidence grows as they mature. 

By 18 months, an American Bulldog’s true self-assured personality is evident. Be aware that training is essential to curb any tendency towards dog aggression and to prevent overly shy or aggressive behavior, which is considered a fault in the breed.

Health and Lifespan

Red and white face American Bulldog sitting Scot-type standard grey background

Maintaining the health and extending the lifespan of your American Bulldog involves understanding common health issues, providing preventative care, and being attentive to their diet and exercise needs.

Average Lifespan

American Bulldogs typically live between 10 to 15 years. Factors like genetics, diet, and regular exercise can influence their lifespan. Consistent veterinary care is crucial for early detection and management of health issues.

Common Health Issues

American Bulldogs may develop disorders such as kidney and thyroid issues, hip dysplasia, and different forms of eye conditions like cherry eye. Allergies and skin conditions due to their short coat can also be problematic, which necessitates regular grooming. Wrinkle care is important; learning how to manage this is essential to prevent infections in these areas. 

Take note of any weird smells from your dog, as it could mean a health issue.

They are susceptible to orthopedic problems such as cruciate ligament tears, hip and elbow dysplasia, which can be screened with a Penn Hip or OFA evaluation. Bulldogs can drool, and issues such as foul odor may arise, which is why they need consistent care and cleaning.

Preventative Care Tips

Regular brushing and a diet appropriate for their breed can help manage shedding and skin health. It’s advised to consult your veterinarian for DNA testing to screen for neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) and Ichthyosis, hereditary conditions known to affect this breed. 

Additionally, Bulldogs should undergo regular hearing tests to check for deafness. To support joint health and mitigate risks of hip dysplasia, maintaining an optimal weight through diet and moderate exercise is essential.

Exercise & Housing Needs

When you have an American Bulldog, ensuring they get enough exercise and have the right living space is crucial for their health and happiness.

Daily Exercise Requirements

Your American Bulldog needs regular physical activity to stay fit and avoid boredom. Aim for at least one hour of exercise each day. This can include walks, runs, and playtime in a fenced yard. They love interactive games like fetch or tug-of-war, which also strengthen your bond with them.

Space Requirements

Despite their size, American Bulldogs can adapt to various living spaces. They do best with access to a large, fenced-in yard where they can roam freely. They are usually not the best choice for apartments, but can adapt to smaller yards if they get enough exercise. Remember, they need room to move to burn off their energy!

Housing Needs

Indoors, your American Bulldog will need their own space. A comfy bed and some chew toys in a quiet corner work well. Make sure their living area is temperature-controlled since they can be sensitive to extreme heat or cold. Consistent routines and a secure environment help them feel safe and content at home.

Training and Socialization

When it comes to your American Bulldog, proper training and socialization are essential. These dogs are strong, athletic, and full of energy, so teaching them obedience and how to interact with others from an early age will make for a happier, well-behaved companion.


Your American Bulldog is highly intelligent and capable of learning a lot. These dogs respond well to consistent training with clear and firm instructions. They excel in dog sports and agility, so you can engage them in these activities as part of their training regimen. Remember, a mix of exercise, play, and training not only keeps their body strong but also their mind sharp.

However, they are a strong-willed and independent breed. So they are not the best choice for first-time owners, and they do need consistent life-long training.

Socialization Needs

Early socialization is crucial. Introduce your American Bulldog to different people, pets, and environments early on. Their energy level and playful nature mean they can sometimes be a little too boisterous, but socialization helps them learn appropriate play behavior. 

This breed can sometimes be aggressive with other dogs, so socialization is vital.

This breeds’ strength and athleticism make them great as working dogs, but they need to understand how to behave in various situations.

Behavioral Training Tips

Start training your American Bulldog from a young age to take advantage of their eager to please attitude. Use positive reinforcement such as treats and praise to encourage good behavior. A strong, energetic dog like the American Bulldog needs a consistent routine

Always be consistent with commands and rules. Avoid lengthy training sessions to keep your dog focused and interested. Lastly, daily exercise is important, not only for their physical health but also to manage their behavior. A well-exercised dog is typically more relaxed and easier to train.

Diet and Nutrition

Proper diet and nutrition are pivotal for maintaining your American Bulldog’s health and vitality. Knowing what to feed and when to feed can make a significant difference in your dog’s life.

Dietary Needs

Your American Bulldog requires a balanced diet that supports its energetic lifestyle. This includes:

  • Proteins: Vital for muscle development and repair. Look for high-quality animal proteins like chicken, beef, or fish in the ingredient list.
  • Fats: Provide energy and help absorb vitamins. Sources should be wholesome and easily digestible, such as flaxseed oil or chicken fat.
  • Carbohydrates: Necessary for energy, but should be given in moderation. Whole grains or vegetables are good options.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Essential for bone health and immune function. A commercial diet or natural supplements can fulfill these needs.

Remember, it’s important to adjust feeding amounts and ingredients to your dog’s age, weight, and activity level.

Feeding Schedule

A consistent feeding schedule helps regulate your dog’s digestive system and manage weight.

  • Puppies: Under six months old should be fed 3-4 times daily.
  • Adults: Typically do well with one or two meals per day.

Always ensure fresh water is available, and try to feed your dog at the same times each day to establish a reliable routine. When implementing a new diet or schedule, observe your pet’s response and adjust as needed for their well-being. 

How much you feed your dog should depend on their body condition. Because of their tendency to have joint or ligament issues, it’s vital that never become obese or overweight. Remember, feed your dog to a healthy weight and make sure to keep an eye on their body condition scores.

An active dog will always need more food than an inactive dog, and every dog has a different metabolism, so there is no single rule for exactly how much food your American Bulldog should get.

Special Dietary Considerations

When feeding your American Bulldog, it’s essential to balance their diet carefully. This breed can be prone to bloat, a serious condition. To lower the risk, feed them smaller, frequent meals and avoid exercise right after eating. Also keep the fat percentage in the food lower.

For joint support, look for foods with:

  • Glucosamine;
  • Chondroitin; and
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane).

These ingredients help maintain healthy joints.

Calcium and phosphorus are crucial for your Bulldog’s correct growth. The ratio should be about:

  • 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus

Too much or too little can cause joint and bone problems.

Add Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids to their diet for:

  • Healthy skin
  • Reducing inflammation

Dogs with thyroid or kidney issues need a prescription diet tailored to their needs. Always consult your vet for the best advice.

Grooming Needs

Taking care of your American Bulldog’s coat keeps them looking their best and feeling comfortable. Let’s focus on how often to groom, what tools you’ll need, and some handy tips to keep your Bulldog’s grooming routine top-notch.

Grooming Frequency

You don’t have to groom your American Bulldog every day – a good brushing once a week usually does the trick. This helps to keep their short, smooth coat free of dirt and loose hair.

Grooming Tools

For the best results, get:

  • A bristle brush: This is your go-to tool for weekly brushing.
  • A rubber grooming mitt or hound glove: It can help remove loose hair during shedding seasons.
  • Nail clippers: To keep their nails short and prevent problems with walking.
  • Dog shampoo: Choose one that is suitable for your Bulldog’s skin, to use during their monthly bath.

Grooming Tips

  • Be gentle: Your Bulldog’s skin can be sensitive, so brush with care.
  • Regular baths: Give your dog a bath once a month to keep their coat clean.
  • Nail trimming: Clip their nails every few weeks to avoid overgrowth.
  • Check the folds: Wipe their face folds with a damp cloth to prevent dirt and bacteria buildup.

Cost of Ownership

When you decide to welcome an American Bulldog into your home, you’re looking at two main types of expenses: the initial cost for purchasing your new furry family member, and the ongoing costs that will be a part of your life for the duration of your pet’s time with you.

Initial Cost (American Bulldog Puppy Price)

The price for an American Bulldog puppy can vary widely. Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $3,000 for a puppy, depending on the breeder’s reputation, the dog’s lineage, and the region you’re purchasing from. 

When considering an American Bulldog as a new addition to your family, it’s essential to think about the costs that come with this initial purchase. This is not just a chance to buy a pet, it’s a commitment to bringing a new member into your home where they will be loved and part of family activities, including playtime with kids and socialization with other pets like cats.

Ongoing Costs

Owning an American Bulldog, just like any other pet, comes with recurring expenses. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand what to expect:

  • Food: Expect to spend roughly $40 to $80 per month to feed your American Bulldog a balanced diet that will keep them healthy and happy.
  • Vet visits: Regular check-ups and vaccinations are important and can cost around $100 to $300 annually, without unforeseen health issues.
  • Pet insurance: This can range from $20 to $60 per month, offering you peace of mind against unexpected medical costs.
  • Supplies: Items such as a leash, collar, bed, and toys are essential. Initial costs for supplies can be up to $200 and will need replacement over time.
  • Training: Socialization and obedience training are key, especially if you have children or other pets. Classes can range from $50 to $200.

Remember, female dogs might have additional costs related to spaying. If you plan to welcome puppies in the future, there can be additional costs for pregnancy and care of the litter. As an owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure your American Bulldog gets the love, socialization, and care they need to thrive in a family environment.

American Bulldog Adoption and Buying Tips

When you’re looking to bring an American Bulldog into your home, it’s essential to know where to adopt or buy one, identify reputable breeders, choose the right dog for your family, and understand the support provided by clubs and organizations.

Where to Adopt/Buy an American Bulldog Puppy


  • Rescue Centers: Consider homeward bound journeys through rescue organizations. These centers often have American Bulldogs waiting for a forever home.
  • Shelters: Your local shelter might have puppies or adult dogs available for adoption.


  • Reputable Breeders: Look for breeders who provide detailed health information on their puppies. The American Bulldog Association can point you in the right direction.
  • Beware: Steer clear of backyard breeders and puppy mills which often neglect proper care and health tests.

What to Look for in a Breeder

  1. Health Testing: Confirm that the breeder conducts essential health tests to screen for genetic conditions.
  2. Transparency: Choose breeders who are open about their breeding practices and allow you to visit the premises.
  3. Reputation: Check for reviews or ask previous customers about their experiences.

Choosing the Right Puppy/Dog

  • Temperament and Behavior: Observe the puppies’ behavior; it should be playful and alert.
  • Health Checks: Look for clear eyes, healthy skin, and a clean environment — signs of a well-cared-for puppy.

American Bulldog Clubs and Organizations

  • Support and Information: These groups provide breed-specific information and can help you with any questions you have about American Bulldogs.
  • Networking: Clubs often have connections to reputable breeders and can point you in the right direction.

American Bulldog Breed Special Considerations

When exploring the American Bulldog, remember they’re a robust breed with specific needs. Here’s what you need to understand if you’re considering one as a pet.

Climate Suitability

American Bulldogs have a short coat that doesn’t offer much protection against extreme weather. In cold climates, they’ll need extra insulation, like doggy sweaters. On hot days, keep them cool to prevent overheating, as they can suffer from heat exhaustion.

Compatibility with Lifestyle

If you’re active, an American Bulldog might be a good fit. They require regular exercise to manage their powerful build. However, if you’re a first-time dog owner or not experienced, be cautious; their strong-willed nature calls for confident handling.

American Bulldog Special Needs

Remember, this breed requires firm training and socialization from an early age. Without it, they can become hard to manage. Consistent leadership will help them understand their place in your pack and prevent behavioral issues.

Breed-specific Legislation: Is it legal to own an American Bulldog?

Some areas might have legislation affecting the ownership of certain dog breeds. Although American Bulldogs are generally allowed and legal in most areas worldwide. Nevertheless, allways check local laws to ensure you can legally own an American Bulldog in your community or Home Owners Association (HOA), as they can sometimes be confused with breeds that are more commonly restricted.

Best Names for An American Bulldog

Choosing the perfect name for your American Bulldog can be both fun and important. You’ll want a name that matches their strong, loyal nature but also has a friendly touch. Here are some great suggestions to get you started:

Male NamesFemale NamesUnisex NamesPlayful Names
1. Brutus1. Bella1. Bailey1. Biscuit
2. Tank2. Daisy2. Casey2. Waffles
3. Duke3. Lola3. Harley3. Gizmo
4. Rocky4. Sadie4. Sam4. Ziggy
5. Thor5. Molly5. Alex5. Tug
6. Max6. Rosie6. Jordan6. Nugget
7. Zeus7. Ruby7. Taylor7. Scooter
8. Apollo8. Maggie8. Frankie8. Sprout
9. Chief9. Lily9. Quinn9. Spud
10. Rex10. Zoe10. Blake10. Fudge

Note: When picking a name, consider something that is easy to say and that your dog can easily recognize. A two-syllable name often works best for this.

Remember, the best name for your Bulldog should reflect their personality and your own style. Take your time, try out a few names, and you’ll find the perfect fit for your new companion!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When considering an American Bulldog as a pet, you likely have questions about their temperament, care needs, and costs. This section aims to answer some of the most common inquiries.

Is the American Bulldog A Pitbull?

No, the American Bulldog is not a Pitbull. They are two distinct breeds. The American Bulldog is larger with a bulkier build, while Pitbulls are a class that includes several terrier breeds.

Is the American Bulldog a good family dog?

Yes, with proper training and socialization, American Bulldogs can be affectionate and loyal family pets. They often form strong bonds with their owners and are protective of children.

How much does it usually cost to care for an American Bulldog?

The cost of caring for an American Bulldog includes food, veterinary care, and other essentials, which typically ranges from $500 to $800 annually, excluding any emergency medical expenses.

Is the American Bulldog aggressive?

American Bulldogs are not inherently aggressive, but like any breed, can become so without proper training and socialization. They are known for their loyal and protective nature.

Is the American Bulldog a good guard dog?

Yes, the American Bulldog is an effective guard dog due to its protective instincts, strength, and bravery. They are vigilant and can be wary of strangers, which makes them excellent for guarding homes.

What are the two types of American Bulldog?

There are two main types of American Bulldog: the Standard type, which is leaner and more athletic, and the Johnson type, which is larger and more muscular.

What is the American Bulldog mixed with?

The American Bulldog is not a mixed breed but a purebred. However, historically, they were bred from the old English Bulldog and various other local dogs.

Are American Bulldogs dangerous?

American Bulldogs are powerful dogs and can be imposing, but they are not dangerous if properly trained and socialized. It’s important to educate yourself on how to train them effectively.

What’s the difference between a Standard and a Johnson American Bulldog?

The Standard American Bulldog, also known as the Scott type, tends to be more agile and has a sleeker build, while the Johnson, or Bully type, is bulkier with a more pronounced boxy head.

Final Thoughts

When you consider adding an American Bulldog to your family, you’re choosing a loyal companion. These muscular and sturdy dogs not only bring a protective nature to your home but also offer unparalleled companionship. It’s essential to remember that they require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness.

Your American Bulldog will thrive with proper training. They are known to be strong-willed but respond well to consistent, positive reinforcement methods. Socialization from a young age is key; it helps your dog to be well-behaved around both people and other animals.

Remember, due to their build and respiratory structure, American Bulldogs can encounter health issues, such as hip dysplasia which is a common concern in large breeds. Regular veterinary check-ups and staying informed on their health needs can help your Bulldog live a full life.

Caring for your American Bulldog’s coat is straightforward; their short fur needs occasional brushing. But, they can have skin issues, so you should always be on the lookout for any signs of discomfort.

If you’re ready for a commitment, the American Bulldog can bring a lot of joy and character to your life. They are not just pets; they become a cherished part of your family. So, ensure you have the time, space, and energy to give them the life they deserve.

Tamsin de la Harpe

Tamsin de la Harpe, with a lively spirit and 15 years of experience in dog training and behavior, brings a unique flair to the team. Based in South Africa, she is deeply engaged in rehabilitating dogs, focusing on their mental and nutritional health. Tamsin's approach to dog behavior is hands-on and heartfelt, shaped by her life with her own dogs and horses. Her journey in canine behavior is ongoing, as she continues advanced studies in this field.

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