American Bulldog Facts

Posted: October 11th, 2006

Is the American Bulldog the Right Breed for Me?


Are American bulldogs aggressive towards humans?

American bulldogs are very dominant and also very protective. They are very loving towards their own family, their pack if you will, but will show aggression towards strangers due to their protective instinct. These dogs have been bred for centuries to guard and excel at protection work. They can be taught what to perceive as threat. It is very important to do lots of obedience training, starting with sitting for a treat when they are less than six months. After six months you can teach them to sit, down, come, and heel on command. A class with an experienced instructor is a great way to do it. It is important that your dog knows that you are his/her leader and that you have control over him/her. It can prevent problems down the road. Early socialization is also very important. One trainer suggests that you should have 100 people over (not all at once of course) during the first 100 days after you get your dog. Getting them around a lot of people will help reduce problems such as shyness or fear aggression later on. And don’t worry, socialization will not take away your dog’s natural protective instinct.

Are American bulldogs good with children?

American bulldogs are great with children and are very loving and protective with them. However, this is a very strong and powerful breed with a very strong prey drive, which is easily set off by an excited, running, screaming child. Close supervision is a must when owning dogs with kids. A dog is not a babysitter. Make sure the child knows proper behavior around dogs. Carefully supervise an American bulldog where there are strange children, due not only to the dog’s prey drive but also the protectiveness toward strangers. Most injuries or deaths from dogs happen to children or the elderly. Attacks on adults in their prime are rare most likely because animals attack what they know they are more likely to defeat, that is, something weaker than themselves.

Are American bulldogs aggressive towards other dogs?

Often their strong drives and dominance cause American bulldogs to be aggressive towards other dogs. They love to play rough with each other, but unfortunately as they mature (1-2 yrs.) they often become aggressive with each other and fight. Intact males rarely get along with other males. Sometimes females will fight with other females and sometimes males and females will fight. It is very difficult and scary to break up a fight between two tenancious dogs such as AB’s. Careful planning must be done when deciding to own more than one dog. Socializing a young dog can help him/her get along better with other dogs but does not guarantee that he will never want to fight.

Are American bulldogs aggressive towards animals?

American bulldogs were bred to catch and bring down bulls and other livestock. They also excel at hog catching. These drives continue to be strong today. Care needs to be taken when around horses and other animals. Careful planning needs to take place when deciding to bring an AB into a house with cats. Many of them get along, but a few do not. Make sure the cat has some place he can access that the dog cannot just in case.

Do American bulldogs need a lot of exercise?

They are very energetic, therefore plenty of exercise each day will make them more likely to be mellow in the house, as well as keeping them in good health. Most AB’s love to go on walks, jogging, biking or skateboarding with their owner. They also enjoy fetching, frisbee, swimming and dog parks (if they are not aggressive with other dogs). They can also get exercise doing one of the many things they excel at such as agility, weight pulling, protection work and hog catching.

What health problems occur in this breed?

The most common and worst health problem is hip dysplasia. If you are buying a puppy from a breeder be sure to get one only from a breeder who has tested the hips of both parents and found them to be free of dysplasia by OFA or PennHip. American bulldogs also are often inflicted with skin disorders such as mange and ichtyosis (fish scale disease) and eye disorders such as entropian. Allergies and thyroid problems do sometimes occur. Deafness is rare.

Do American bulldogs shed?

Yes. Their fur is very short but they do shed year round and more during changing seasons. There may not be as much fur to clean up as with other breeds since they don’t have thick undercoat, but be prepared to do some sweeping!

How long do American bulldogs live?

Large breeds have slightly shorter life spans than small breeds. 10-11 is typical for a healthy American bulldog.

If you think this breed is right for you, consider adopting a rescue.

I would like to adopt a rescue but I am afraid they will bring with them a lot of baggage.

Dogs end up in rescue for a variety of reasons. Some have been abused or neglected. Some are brought to us as strays. Some are given up by owners for various reasons (see below).

Why would a person give up their dog?
The following are actual reasons:
Housebreaking problems
Behavioral problems
Not getting along with other dogs
Not enough time for the dog
Yellow spots in the lawn
The owner moved into a new place that does not allow dogs
The dog simply does not fit in their lives anymore

Most of the dogs that we receive into foster care are nice dogs with stable temperaments. We often get dogs with aggressiveness towards other dogs, who we place only in homes with no other dogs. We will not place a dog who is aggressive towards humans (some protectiveness towards strangers is allowed provided the adoptive home is experienced with guardian breeds). They will be put down. There are too many good dogs waiting to be placed in a permanent home.