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American Bulldog

American Bulldog Dog Breed

The American Bulldog, also known as the Old Country Bulldog, is classified under the UKC (United Kennel Club) category of guardian dogs. Lacking resemblance to the English Bulldog, the American Bulldog is instead similar to older (circa 17th Century) dogs that were used for entertainment fighting.

Male American Bulldogs have a height range of 22 – 28 inches (55 – 70 centimeters) and a weight range of 70 – 120 pounds (32 – 54 kilograms), although some are able to go up to 150 pounds (68 kilograms).
Female American Bulldogs have a height range of 20 – 26 inches (52 – 65 centimeters) and a weight range of 60 – 100 pounds (27 – 45 kilograms), although some can be up to 120 pounds (54 kilograms).

They have a lifespan of up to 16 years.

History/Origin

The American Bulldog was developed during a time before written records existed, so an accurate date and place of its origin is not provided. It is determined, however, that the American Bulldog’s lineage started from the English Mastiff, a breed present in England for over two millennia. The original breed was actively used in the bull-baiting sport as well as for agricultural work (catching livestock so that they could be collected/killed). They were also used as guard dogs.

Compared to the English Bulldog, the American breed is faster and more agile, perhaps due to its longer legs. The American Bulldog neared extinction during WWII, but managed to revive itself with the help of an individual by the name of John D. Johnson.

Physical Appearance

American Bulldogs range heavily in various physical appearance aspects, including size, build, muzzle/head shape, and coat coloration. In addition, American Bulldogs come in two distinct lines, the Performance (Standard) Type and the Classic (Bully) Type. These two lines, however, have been so mixed over time that American Bulldogs of one line will also exhibit characteristics of the other. Generally speaking, Performance Types are smaller and have a more athletic build compared to the Classic Type, in addition to a smaller head and a longer muzzle.

American Bulldogs have a wide chest along with a muscular neck that may or may not have a dewlap. They have longer legs than their British counterparts. Depending on the Type of American Bulldog, their heads can range from being flat and square (Classic Type) to being wedge-shaped (Performance Type). Despite types, their heads are not as large/broad as the English Bulldog’s. Classic Types have more facial wrinkles than Performance Types. The ears are very variable, and will likely differ from each individual dog .

The coat of the American Bulldog is short and close-cropped, and can vary in texture (soft – prickly). Their coats can come in various colors except for solid black/blue, any shade of merle, and tricolour.

Personality/Temperament

As they were originally bred to be working dogs, American Bulldogs have the temperament of such. They are very hardworking and will form a tight bond with their owners over time – as well as the family if it is intended to be a family companion. American Bulldogs are a sweet breed, and get along extremely well with children (note: some dogs may not realize that young children are not suitable for engaging in rough play with, and as such, may unintentionally injure them). Inherently protective, it will guard its master and family against strangers.

Proper socialization is highly recommended for this breed, as without it, American Bulldogs may come to view every single stranger as a threat and may act on their suspicions. Contrary to popular belief, American Bulldogs are not hostile, but they will physically act in defense when they deem necessary; e.g. if a family member gets injured or if a stranger tries to use force against the dog.

American Bulldogs are aggressive towards other dog breeds. Because of this, they require strong training and socialization at a young age. Even with training, they will likely still be lacking trust towards other dogs, but their aggression issues will be minimized. Bred to catch livestock, the American Bulldog is also very aggressive towards other animals – they are not recommended to be brought into families that have other animals. American Bulldogs are highly intelligent, and will need constant stimuli in order to prevent boredom and consequently, destructive behavior.

As they are very energetic and active, American Bulldogs have high exercise/activity requirements. In addition, they are known for various ‘doggy’ activities including digging in dirt, knocking things over, demanding for a game of catch, etc.

General Care & Health

American Bulldogs are relatively easy to take care of. Their coats need regular brushing, as brushing will reduce shedding (they shed year-round) and aid in removing dead hair. They only need to be bathed whenever they get dirty, i.e. after running around in mud. Their ears should be checked weekly, and the outer ear should be cleaned with a cotton ball and a cleanser obtained through a vet. Teeth should be brushed regularly as they are prone to bad breath, and nails should be trimmed once or twice a month. Check for signs of infection whenever grooming occurs, and keep an eye out for redness and inflammation of the skin, eyes, nose and mouth.

The recommended daily amount of food an American Bulldog should be getting is 1½ to 2 cups of dry food, divided into two or three meals throughout the day. Despite the presence of a guideline, the amounts can be altered if the dog is highly active or otherwise.

American Bulldogs are prone to the following diseases:
• Hip Dysplasia – a disease caused by the malformation of the hip joint that prevents the leg bone and hip from connecting properly, dogs suffering from this disease will experience discomfort/pain, lameness, and possibly arthritis.
• Cataracts – this disease causes opacity to form in the lenses of the dog’s eyes, and because they prevent light from passing through the lens, it may lead to a substantial decrease in sight.
• Deafness – either unilateral or bilateral.

American Bulldogs are prone to hearing and sight problems in general, along with skin conditions such as rashes and sunburn.

Summary

The American Bulldog is a dog that’s capable of doing many various tasks. Used in hunting, guiding, and guarding, the American Bulldog is cherished by many. With its friendly nature towards people and inherent protectiveness, they are also deemed to be great family companions. They do, however, require extensive training and socialization in order to make them more manageable.


Image Credit

Photo by Tim RebersCC BY 2.0

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